Since the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy has provided a stabilizing global presence, preserving freedom of navigation, ensuring the enforcement of international laws, and reassuring allies of our commitment to mutual defense. During this time the overwhelming conventional warfighting capability of the U.S. fleet has proved an effective deterrent for potential aggressors. The operational context, however, has changed. Shifts in the balance of power since the end of the Cold War, increasingly complex rules of engagement, and the American public’s war weariness have reduced the utility of conventional maritime military deterrence, especially when this power is threatened as a counter to nonexistential threats. Our adversaries have found a strategic opportunity at the low end of conflict. While the U.S. Navy continues to dominate high-end warfighting, its reluctance to develop the concepts and capabilities to dominate maritime gray zone conflicts risks the erosion of U.S. maritime influence and global security.
Low-End Perils to U.S. Security