But as with the battleship debate, today there is an often-overlooked aspect of carriers that is getting increased attention—their vulnerability. In anticipation of the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, retired Navy Commander John Patch leads off this issue with a discussion of this highly-charged subject, and poses troubling questions. Could America stomach losing such an imposing and high-priced piece of hardware to a terrorist or missile attack? Commander Patch doubts it. Stand by for the debate to continue over how many carrier strike groups we really need.
On the heels of Commander Patch's sobering evaluation, long-time Proceedings contributor Milan Vego weighs in with his proclamation that our ships have yet to catch up with the Navy's focus on littoral operations close to shore. Professor Vego claims that the Fleet is still suited mostly for operations in deep blue water, and he cites several examples to bolster his case. Captain Victor Addison, from the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, takes the discussion further. In "You Can't Always Give What You Want" he points out that in light of the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Capstone Concept for Joint Operations, Navy leadership needs to reconsider its idea of what constitutes the most important elements of naval power. While the service prefers to plan and build for large fleet actions, Captain Addison believes that a new era of warfare has begun, one that increasingly places the Navy in a support role. We hope this is the first of several articles you'll be seeing from OPNAV N511 (Advanced Concepts) that will explore controversial topics. Feedback on these articles will contribute to the Navy's next generation of strategic concepts-the Independent Forum at its best.
Occasionally, the stars align around here that makes it look like we planned it to be this way all along. In this issue, as part of our annual spotlight on surface warfare, recently retired Captain Kevin Eyer presents a critical view of what some consider to be the backbone of the surface Fleet, if not the entire Navy—the Chiefs' Mess. He outlines several changes that must be made so that this institution can continue to enjoy such stature. Just before press time, we received word from the Surface Navy Association that Kevin is the first place winner of that organization's literary prize for his January 2009 article, " On the Care and Feeding of Young SWOs  ," which put the surface warfare community on notice for shortfalls in educating its officers. Please join us in savoring this happy news and in congratulating Kevin for landing this prestigious award.
Also included in our surface warfare section, Rear Admiral Scott Jones and Phil Howell take us inside the Surface Warfare Officer School, detailing all the parts of the whole that prepares the next generation of officers. Captain Ralph Tindal, the former commodore of Destroyer Squadron 2, tells how organizational changes in the way the squadron operates have improved readiness. And Commander Stephen J. Coughlin pays tribute to some of the Fleet's unsung vessels, the Cyclone-class patrol ships, which could provide the answer for what capabilities are needed for operations in the littorals.