Increasingly sophisticated missile weaponry fundamentally alters naval warfare and requires shifts in doctrine, among them the aircraft carrier giving way to a new centerpiece surface combatant.
It has been 67 years since the U.S. and Allied navies fought history’s last major fleet-to-fleet battle—against the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II—and 20 years since the Soviet Navy challenged the dominance and capabilities of Western fleets. For years, potential rising adversaries have assessed the basis for our naval dominance and have invested in their own asymmetric counters to those strengths. They have read Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, but they also have observed the impact of precision-guided missiles. Re-fighting the Battle of Midway in the Pacific is not the game our future adversaries have elected to play. Instead, like all competent military professionals, they have created operational employment dilemmas for American and partner naval-force developers and planners that potentially require expensive technology development and high-risk solutions to counter them and insure continued Fleet, expeditionary Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), and joint force combat success.