The success of the naval intelligence community in providing situational awareness of what threats are over the horizon—or across the ocean—has been eroding steadily. If unchecked, this trend creates a fundamental deficiency in the fleet’s ability to conduct its core missions.
The root of the problem lies in three factors
Scope and Numbers
Fleet operations continue to grow in terms of scope and contacts of interest. Whether a resurgent Russia moving naval forces into the Mediterranean or a Chinese Navy growing in size and confidence, understanding what is taking place on the world’s oceans becomes more difficult each year. Unconventional threats shift the challenge from daunting to almost unfathomable. The Chinese People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia, for example—a quasi-military force that has challenged U.S. units operating in the Western Pacific—has been estimated to comprise more than 140,000 vessels.1
Maritime Targets Are Going Dark