Monday, December 31, 2012

Key US Navy Trends for 2013

In no particular order, here are a few things to watch for in 2013:

1.  More talk of integration between USN/USMC.  Driven primarily by the USMC's "Single Naval Battle" concept, 2013 will feature discussions of integration (rather than cooperation or interoperability) at the organizational, administrative, and operational levels.  Faster please.

2.  Nuclear-ization of Navy Leadership.  The CNO is now into his second full year, and his team is firmly in place.  Notable has been his advocacy of nuclear trained officers to leadership positions in the Navy and the Joint community.  I don't think this is an accident--my sense is that he is comfortable with others around him who have been trained to solve problems in a proven and familiar way.  Rosy narratives, complex power-points and fast talk will not satisfy a man driven by objective quality evidence.  The bar is high, and subordinates/subordinate commanders need take note.

3.  Even more emphasis on Seapower.  The Administration has cast its lot with Seapower.  Land forces will draw down, while more load is shouldered by the Navy.  The primary method of favoring Seapower will be to cut it less than other capabilities, rather than any substantial increase in resources.  This will be countered to some extent, by #4.

4.  New Leadership in HASC Seapower and Projection Forces.  I expect Randy Forbes (R, VA) to be an activist HASC Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman.  He will ask very hard questions of Department of the Navy leadership, he will hold their feet to the fire, and he will tell it like it is.  But he will also be a friend to a larger--but more efficient--Navy.  My sense is that while Forbes is obviously interested in things Naval by virtue of his district, his interests are more deep and strategic.  We will have an intellect running this subcommittee, the first in some time.

5.  Focus on the Air Wing.  The obsolescence of the carrier conversation will never die, but it will largely be subsumed by the more important (and strategically relevant) conversation about the future air wing....long range strike, unmanned, and sea control capabilities will all loom large in this discussion.

What others do you see?

Bryan McGrath

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