The U.S. Fleet is very capable today, but storm clouds on the horizon could not only jeopardize that situation, they could also threaten our capacity in the traditional warfare domains of sea, air, land, and space. Demand for maritime forces continues to increase to meet global requirements that include stability operations in the Middle East and western Pacific, new alerts brought by the 2010–11 Arab Spring, and counter-piracy and humanitarian-assistance missions. Heavy pressure on the U.S. budget and weariness after a decade of war resulting from 9/11 further complicate this picture.
Since the 1990s, the Navy has taken great strides to embed networking and information technology (IT) to improve operational and fiscal efficiency. Under this net-centric umbrella, a fleet can operate more effectively in a distributed fashion and reduce the operational impacts imposed by the maritime domain’s basic characteristic of distance. These technologies showed promise in reducing the greatest expenses to Fleet operations: manpower costs. The better the technology, the lower the demand for people, or so the theory goes.