Today, to a degree not seen in more than 60 years, a balanced naval capability is indispensable to underwriting American global leadership. The increasing over-optimization of naval forces for strike missions and the concomitant marginalization of expeditionary forces threaten our ability to project the power and influence necessary to affect international stability and the global peace and prosperity that flow from it. Standoff destruction, in comparison with littoral maneuver, limits our capacity to exploit control of the sea or enable the establishment of some measure of control on land when needed.
A Fleet out of Balance
While naval strike capacity has grown since the Cold War, it’s come at a cost to the amphibious capabilities vital to U.S. power projection.The Navy and Marine Corps face a number of challenges in the immediate future: austere budgets, resetting the force, the growing breadth of threats in a complex security environment, increasing anti-access/area denial capabilities, and more. Those are all important, but make no mistake, the greatest challenge is an internal one: the over-investment in strike warfare at the expense of other critical power-projection capabilities.
By Lieutenant Colonel James W. Hammond III, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)