The 2015 Proceedings article “Distributed Lethality” outlined the theory that came to define the surface Navy in the second decade of this century.1 In essence, the premise is that surface ships as individual units may engage the enemy independently of the carrier strike group. As distributed lethality took shape—the first major shift in surface tactics since the dawn of the aircraft carrier at the end of World War I—new antiair and antisurface weapons appeared, including the laser weapon system (LaWS), extended range surface missiles, and other over-the-horizon projectiles such as the railgun fires.2 This change in technology and tactics necessitates a corresponding adjustment in leadership methodology, the principle of distributed authority. The concept is simple: commanding officers (COs) must be empowered to fight their ships independently and break from the current leadership model in the carrier strike groups. Building ships that are more capable to fight surface battles will be for naught if the COs are not granted the authority to fight more autonomously.
Distributed Lethality Requires Distributing Authority
For this state-of-the-art surface-warfare concept to work, the U.S. Navy must recognize the leadership challenges it poses.In order to be able to fight to full potential, commanding officers must have their superiors’ unequivocal trust and be empowered to pull the trigger. Captain Curt A. Renshaw, in command of the USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) in the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, stands on the bridge wing during preparations for a joint exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy/Andrew Schneider)
By Lieutenant (junior grade) Andrew Beeler, U.S. Navy <p>