Distributed Lethality: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid
Naval Surface Forces’ new distributed lethality (DL) strategy seems to be a fine idea and one that is arriving at just the right time. Before the Navy lunges, bass-like, at this particular shiny object in the water, however, some hard questions should be asked and answered to ensure this is not a house being built on a foundation of sand.
Since the end of the Cold War, the Navy’s broad strategy has shifted from sea control to power projection. Rather than dominating all the world’s oceans, as may have been necessary in the past, power projection delivered precise strike from the sea in support of the various combatant commanders’ land operations. Simultaneously, with the disappearance of near-peer adversaries, the fleet’s size was allowed to decline precipitously. Necessarily and inevitably, the majority of the surface-ship combat power coalesced into the carrier strike groups (CSGs), which became the isolated bastions from which this strike-capacity was largely generated.