When electronics fail, the Navy must be able to fall back on analog equivalents—such as the marine sextant—to navigate, communicate, and fight.
The next war will be analog, and the surface Navy is unprepared for it. Reliance on digital technologies is particularly acute in the realms of communications, propulsion systems, and navigation and has produced a fleet that may not survive the first missile hit or hack. Naval War College professor Jacquelyn Schneider has termed this the “capability-vulnerability paradox,” observing that greater reliance on computerization yields deeper susceptibility to hostile disruption. But this paradox is even more complex, representing a perverse feedback cycle between policy and practice. Strategic decisions have hobbled the operator’s ability to perform analog functions, and this tactical deterioration, in turn, has strategic repercussions.