After the Cold War, it made sense to divert shrinking defense dollars to priorities other than antisubmarine warfare (ASW), with the United States having no real underwater peer competitor. Since then Aegis destroyers have evolved into a highly advanced fleet of air-warfare-capable ships and are becoming the workhorses for ballistic-missile-defense missions around the world. The Arleigh Burkes are perhaps the finest destroyers ever built, but because of their capabilities in air battle, the surface force has necessarily focused on such threats and migrated away from an ASW mindset. With the growing number of submarines around the world and their increasing sophistication, this unacceptable erosion in ASW readiness must be addressed in the near term. Otherwise, the Navy will not be ready to rid the seas of submerged menaces that hinder our ability to deter aggression.
The technological superiority of a modern submarine, together with its highly trained crew members, produces a lethality that is difficult to match. So our challenge is to regain the focus in undersea warfare and bring back the proficiency with which the U.S. Navy once dominated.