As we prepare for the forthcoming Quadrennial Defense Review to revalidate or adjust our Navy's configuration and our approaches for securing the global maritime commons, we should consider some irregular concepts that may characterize an operational design for the coming era of irregular warfare—a Navy with similar "DNA" but dissimilar configuration.
The future center of gravity for maritime security is shifting ashore to the seamy littoral areas where people live. Ports and harbors are the "border towns" of the global maritime commons where pirates, terrorists, and other malcontents find geographic access and a diverse mix of cultures, politics, and economic strata to exploit. As a Navy we have traditionally considered the littorals in terms of navigational hazards. We have entered the 21st century with an unprecedented ability to strike inland from the sea when at war but limited ability to engage onshore during irregular times. To meet the irregular challenges that will occur in or be connected with the maritime environment by geography or social network, we will need new capabilities.