This month’s Proceedings is full of great ideas from Marines. The winners of the Naval Institute’s Marine Corps Essay Contest, sponsored by BAE Systems, begin on page 24. It’s great to see three young active-duty Marines win the top honors: Captain Will McGee took first prize; Captain Walker Mills and civilian Erik Lampaecher took second; and Sergeant Abraham Cheng won third prize. Congratulations to each of them!
Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger shares a surprising concept: “The Marines Will Fight Submarines” (pp. 18–23). Long-time Proceedings author retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hoffman offers five principles to help guide the service’s ongoing effort to design the future force in his “Designing Tomorrow’s Marine Corps” (pp.40–45).
Coming in January, Proceedings will begin a major initiative called the American Sea Power Project, which will play out over the next year or two. Since the end of the Cold War and the resulting “peace dividend,” the national understanding of the need for sea power has steadily eroded. With no blue water adversary for more than 20 years, the Navy shifted its emphasis to power projection. Budgets, force structure, training, and readiness focused on meeting combatant commanders’ demands for forward presence—which became the self-fulfilling raison d’etre of the Navy, a role cemented after 9/11. Carriers provided aircraft to meet Army and Air Force air tasking order (ATO) demands; destroyers, cruisers, and submarines launched cruise missiles per the same ATOs; submarines also collected intelligence; P-3s were repurposed for overland intelligence collection, and the Marines primarily served as a second land army in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The rise of China and Russia has brought the need for naval and maritime power back to center stage. Sea control is no longer a given. On the contrary, prospective adversaries are attempting to build sea-denial zones to keep the U.S. Navy out. The American Sea Power Project will take our readers back to the basics. The United States is a maritime nation. What does that require in terms of naval power? Do the writings of Mahan, Corbett, and Huntington apply today? We will explore the ends, ways, and means of sea power, with one or two articles per month, plus a dedicated space for reader comments.
The conversation will build, starting with navalists, political scientists, and historians, and evolving into a discussion with operators about what form the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard should take. We envision this conversation will go from the “page to the stage” with in-person discussions taking place in the Naval Institute’s new Jack C. Taylor Conference Center and possibly building to a book project for the Naval Institute Press.
Finally, congratulations to the winners of this year’s CNO Naval History Essay Contest, sponsored by General Dynamics. Commander Joel Holwitt, U.S. Navy, is the winner in the professional historian category again this year—the latest in his string of victories. Marine 1st Lieutenant James Winnefeld took first prize in the rising historian category. Navy Lieutenant George Hageman took second prize, and Navy Lieutenant Commander Andrew Rucker won third prize. Commander Holwitt’s winning article is in the November/December issue of Naval History, and the other three essays will be published in Proceedings or Naval History in coming months.