The world of the warfighter is becoming more complex. The threats our sailors face are increasingly sophisticated and proliferating. In the undersea warfare (USW) arena, for example, estimates put the number of modern diesel-electric submarines operating in the Pacific at upwards of 130 by 2020—even as as our overall USW capacity declines.
The Navy’s approach in confronting these issues reflects that of the larger military: maintain a technological edge over any potential adversary sufficient to minimizing casualties while ensuring victory. Unfortunately, while this edge has given our forces the necessary advantage in recent encounters, it is certainly growing slighter, especially with regard to some possible peer-level military adversaries. Also, this situation is exacerbated both by an overall decline in the number of fully capable ships available to us, and by the mission creep that now takes ships away from USW for other endeavors, such as ballistic-missile defense. Meanwhile, we are assured that these new technologies can not only do the job better than our sailors, but that they can free us from the considerable costs of individual training.