Staying closer to shore, Lieutenant (j.g.) Michael Proctor of Riverine Squadron 2 offers some valuable brown-water advice for the green-water realm. The littoral battlespace will be a key factor defining our evolving naval doctrine, and a template is already in place to guide us on the way: The Navy’s riverine forces have many arrows in their quiver that would serve well in the littorals, an environment tailor-made for the small-craft approach.
But before we get too focused on the littorals, Navy Captain Stephen J. Coughlin takes us back to the deep blue to address the erosion of antisubmarine warfare readiness. Since the end of the Cold War, resources have been diverted from this critical mission, a problem compounded by the focusing of Aegis destroyers on potential air battles rather than the subsurface threat. Our challenge, he maintains, is to regain the lead in undersea warfare and bring back proficiency in this area that the U.S. Navy once dominated.
Whether on an aircraft carrier, Aegis destroyer, submarine, or mine countermeasures ship, standing watch is a basic duty on board naval vessels. But traditional watch rotations can bring on fatigue—and endanger the ship and her crew. Captain John Cordle and Dr. Nita Shattuck of the Naval Postgraduate School lay out a new sea change that will preserve the circadian rhythm, which is key to a healthy and combat-ready crew.
As 2013 dawns, the main issue on the minds of most defense watchers, and I suspect many of our readers, is the looming “fiscal cliff.” By the time most of you read this, we’ll know if we’ve gone over the edge or averted (if only temporarily) a possible budget disaster. On 5 December, the Naval Institute’s Defense Forum Washington examined this topic. While some panelists predicted a late deal to avoid going over the cliff, others, such as former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, embraced the opportunity to make the leap into the economic unknown. Calling himself a “cliff diver,” Secretary Lehman believes that the “system for providing for the common defense is so broken that it will take a major crisis to be the catalyst to getting some real change.”
Although we’re seeing a glimmer of an agreement between House Republicans and the Obama administration as this is being written, there are still a few weeks to go. No matter the outcome, defense-budget analyst Captain Richard Miller tells us what potential deep cuts will really mean to the military, especially the Navy. He points out that although the Department of Defense has faced drawdowns and budget cuts in the past, this time will be different. The full effect of sequestration will result “in a fiscally unbalanced defense program with an overall steeper, deeper, and longer relative decline in defense spending than that experienced in recent history” he warns.