The world has changed. Sea control is out. Power projection is in. our future fleet must make the transition to sea-based land warfare—and cheaper ship alternatives—if it is to remain relevant.
Watching the 41-year-old USS Enterprise (CVN65) standing in on her return from the war zone, two things struck me. Warships really cost a lot—but they sure last a long time. As we shape the fleet of the future, we had better get it right, because we do not have money to waste, and today's decisions will be tomorrow's Navy for a lot of tomorrows to come. Before we decide what to buy, we first must determine what we need and why we need it.
In Admiral Stansfield Turner's classic formulation, naval force structure in the Cold War served four missions—deterrence, presence, power projection, and sea control. It was sea control, however, that dominated, with presence and power projection largely tucked inside it. We were a blue-water Navy with a huge Soviet Navy to counter and global sea lanes to keep open.