Over the past couple of years, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has argued forcefully for weapon systems that are directly relevant to the kinds of "hybrid and more complex forms of warfare" we are "most likely to face in the foreseeable future."1 Our "conventional modernization programs," he has said, "seek a 99 percent solution in years. Stability and counterinsurgency missions-the wars we are in-require 75 percent solutions in months."2 He has also noted a need to shift from short-range to longer-range systems to give the United States the capability to "strike from over the horizon."3
Whatever the nature of the most likely near- and intermediate-term conflicts, the need for effective Navy-Marine Corps sustainable force projection is certain. Ground troops cannot always count on the availability or timeliness of close air support. The only effective alternative is long-range, high-volume, flexible, accurate, sustainable, and inexpensive naval gunfire support.