Sea control is the sine qua non for all Navy functions, missions, and endeavors. To get it and keep it requires large, fast ships, control of the air and sea, and strong antisubmarine and mine countermeasures forces.
Keeping first things first is not easy in an atmosphere of change. The emphasis on operations in the littorals to strike targets ashore, to send Marines to distant shores, and to support Army and Air Force deployments correctly mirrored the world situation after the Cold War, but important as these tasks are, they are not the primary purpose of a navy. A navy's first purpose is to control that portion of the seas of interest to its country. Establishing that control requires creating forces far in advance of the need and understanding the time necessary to execute the tasks-neither of these is of concern outside the Navy.