Editor's Page

Moving from the surface to the air, the F-35 Lightning II is “a fighter built to fight the next war, with the versatility to dominate today’s conflicts,” notes Marine Corps Colonel Matthew G. Kelly. When it comes to the F-35, Colonel Kelly is as go-to an authority as you could heed, seeing as how he was one of the test pilots for the aircraft (he was the ninth pilot to fly the F-35 and the very first to fly the F-35B supersonic). As he explains, the Marines’ new fifth-generation fighter comes with a fifth-generation version of John Boyd’s classic Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) loop concept. “This fifth-generation OODA loop uses information as its key attribute, while taking into account current technology and tactics, which have changed greatly since Boyd helped shape the design of the F-16 in the 1970s,” Colonel Kelly reports. “Using this updated paradigm to shape the next generation of fighters yielded an F-35 designed around information flow, rather than dogfighting, as fourth-generation fighters such as the F-16 and F/A-18 were.”

Possessing asymmetric warfighting technologies such as those gracing the Zumwalt and the F-35 has long been one way to ensure the upper hand in battle, but recent Department of Defense calls to develop “disruptive” technologies have implied that “the next big thing has yet to be invented”—a dangerous mindset, according to Navy Captain Mike Studeman. “These perceptions . . . will prevent the Navy and the nation from capitalizing on innovative technology and concepts already within reach.” He argues that the service can further refine the capabilities it already has to make technological strides, and recommends that leaders hasten change within bureaucracies to push innovative concepts, further embrace modularity, examine seabasing options, and improve network support. “Ultimately, if the Defense Innovation Initiative overemphasizes invention, where success is mainly defined by technological ‘eureka’ moments, then the DOD will likely only enlist a sliver of American talent and wait longer for singular capabilities.”

This issue marks a personal milestone as it will be my last as Editor-in-Chief. This month I transition to the Naval Institute Press where I will serve as Editorial Director. It’s been an honor and a privilege to helm the professional journal of the Sea Services over these past seven years, and I’ve endeavored to be a good steward of the independent forum. In that task, I’ve enjoyed the support of a superb staff of editors and designers who were always extremely patient with me as I wrestled with story lineups, illustration ideas, article titles, or a word in a caption. A special thanks goes to my predecessor, Bob Timberg, who was a great boss and a wonderful mentor. These first 11 years at the Naval Institute have flown by (too fast at times) in a flurry of deadlines, and through it all I’ve watched fresh-faced lieutenants become grizzled commanders and had a front-row seat to the great naval issues of our time. I’m thrilled to be able to turn over the reins to the legendary Fred Rainbow. In one of those neat twists that life sometimes presents, it was Fred himself who in 2005 decided to take a chance on a former Air Force missile officer and “book guy,” and recruited me for the Naval Institute’s Periodicals team. I’ve been immensely thankful ever since.

Fred, you have the deck and the conn.   

Paul Merzlak, Editor-in-Chief



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