For two decades at the height of the Cold War, the Navy used cutting- edge computing technology and operational intelligence to predict the location of, and search for, Soviet submarines. This technology was very successful—finding targets at twice the rate of traditional manual planning methods.1 At Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Centers (ASWOCs) worldwide, planners combined sophisticated analytics and human decision making to hunt and track Soviet submarines.
After the end of the Cold War, U.S. ASW search planning entered the dark ages. The sophisticated computer systems used to find Soviet boats were discarded and never replaced. Advanced human-machine teaming methods were replaced with intuition and guesswork. Today, theater ASW (TASW) search planning—the process by which commanders use all tools at their disposal to hunt for a submarine of interest—is unacceptable given increasingly capable undersea threats. It is time the Navy brought 21st century analytics and computer assistance to TASW planning.
The Roots of Computer-Assisted Search