Editor's Page

Help is on the way. Some significant directives have recharted the course of the U.S. Navy of late. Warfare Centers of Excellence have been redesignated as Warfighting Development Centers. A lot is happening now at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), which stood up last June and is rapidly reshaping the surface community’s approach to “establishing and enforcing standards for tactical excellence across warfare areas.” Rear Admiral Jim Kilby, SMWDC Commander, gives us the most detailed rundown yet of the measures that are “creating the framework to enhance tactical innovation and sharpen the surface force’s warfighting edge in the 21st century.”

SMWDC’s tactics-and-training developments get to the crux of “how we fight.” Closely allied with the “how” is the “who.” Officer retention in the surface Navy is also undergoing a renaissance. Surface warfare leadership has responded to the new talent-management initiatives announced last year under “Sailor 2025” and has “made a strong commitment to embrace a career-management model that shifts away from ‘our most willing officers’ and toward retention of ‘our most talented officers,” says Captain Brad Cooper, Head Surface Warfare Officer detailer. He provides the quintessential insider’s view of the paradigm shift and how “a fresh perspective of how we recruit, develop, and retain our junior officers offers extraordinary opportunity for the future surface force.”

Cultivating and training the most highly capable generation of officers ever will only get us so far; it is imperative that the warships they command be worthy of their talents and the challenges they will face. Lieutenant Commander Ryan Hilger warns that the Navy’s current ship survivability standards are not sufficient and must be reevaluated. A “bombshell,” he contends, was dropped in an April 2012 report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, which found that the Littoral Combat Ship “is not expected to maintain mission capability after taking a significant hit in a hostile combat environment.” This issue, he says, has been neglected “since the Navy first adopted official survivability standards in 1998, and more presciently, since the instruction was soon updated and reissued in September 2012.” He maintains that “discussions [of such standards] should have happened within these pages periodically in the years since, but they are conspicuously absent.” Citing historical examples, the author commences the debate.      

Paul Merzlak, Editor-in-Chief



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