Happy New Year! Well, let’s hope 2021 will be happier and healthier than 2020. The start of vaccinations against COVID-19 certainly gives reason for hope. We begin this year with our annual focus on the surface navy, timed to coincide with the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium (11–14 January). We are proud to offer free open access to the January and February issues of Proceedings, plus our entire digital archive and member-level discounts on books, to SNA members for the next two months.
Our surface navy coverage features a number of powerful articles this month. In “Unleash Enlisted Sailors as WTIs", Navy Lieutenant Kyle Cregge makes the case for training enlisted surface warfare specialists as weapons tactics instructors to increase the combat effectiveness of the surface fleet. Retired Marine Colonel and National Defense University distinguished research fellow T. X. Hammes advances the “missile merchants” argument in “The Navy Needs More Firepower”. Hammes calculates that the Navy could purchase 40 “missile merchants” for less than the cost of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and its air wing—while adding 1,600 to 2,000 missiles to the fleet. We have two thought-provoking articles on how the Navy can use littoral combat ships to their full potential. Captain Dan Straub and Hunter Stires joined forces to write “Littoral Combat Ships for Maritime COIN”, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Pratt wants the Navy to “Deploy the LCS in Packs”. And continuing the recent string of excellent shiphandling articles, Commander Austin Duff, U.S. Navy, writes about “Driving Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships”, which sounds a lot more like maneuvering a fly-by-wire jet fighter than driving a propellor-and-rudder ship.
In November and December, I previewed the American Sea Power Project, and now it has arrived! The lead article in the series—“The American Sea Power Project” —is written by Commander Paul Giarra and Captain Gerry Roncolato, U.S. Navy (Retired), who identified the need for the project and proposed it to us early last year. In the coming year, a series of papers by specific experts will be published in a special section each month (with only a break in March for our international navies focus). The enduring nature of the project is intended to rekindle comprehensive thinking about the role of naval power in the face of dramatic change within the nation and around the world. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard professionals; leaders and staffs in the Maritime Adminstration; politicians, civilian officials, and the American public each have a significant role in determining how American sea power should be built and employed. Their support and input are critical to the success of this project. We hope it will stimulate broad participation and give rise to a renaissance in American naval thinking and capability. We ask our readers and members to read these articles, share them widely, discuss them with your shipmates, and submit comments, ideas, and observations for the dedicated Comment and Discussion section each month. Your thoughtful participation will be essential. In this month's Comment and Discussion section, the leading letter is from former Marine Corps Commandant Charles Krulak, who shares wisdom from his father, the legendary Lieutenant General Victor "Brute" Krulak.
Finally, the Navy’s interest and attention to mine warfare has ebbed and flowed. We ignore it at our peril. In “Reimagine Offensive Mining,” Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hevey, U.S. Navy, and Major Anthony Polman, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), write about technological advances that “provide the opportunity to revolutionize mine weapon systems . . . allowing planners to send . . . mines to seek out hostile forces.” This essay won second prize in the 2020 Mine Warfare Essay Contest. As Congress and an incoming administration wrestle with how to afford the Navy the nation needs, they should not overlook the fact that mines can provide significant “bang for the buck.”