New Strategy From the US NAVY
Written by the US NAVY: Commander’s Intent for the United States Submarine Force and Supporting Organizations
We are a Maritime Nation. Approximately 70% of the world is covered in water, 80% of the population lives within a few hundred miles of an ocean coast, 90% of global commerce travels not by plane but by ship, and over 99% of intercontinental communications (including financial transactions) travel not by satellite, but via an underwater cable. Our founding fathers saw the importance of the maritime domain stating in the Constitution that the Congress had the power “to raise and support armies”…but requiring it “to provide and maintain a Navy.”
Our Challengers. America’s military remains the strongest in the world, but our advantage is shrinking due to rapid advancements by rival states Russia is investing in new military capabilities, including nuclear systems that remain our most significant existential threat. China is aggressively pursuing the most capable and well-funded military in the world, after our own. North Korea publicly seeks the ability to attack us with nuclear weapons. Iran supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction. Terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida are also determined to attack the United States, and threaten our way of life. These ever evolving challenges demand our continued vigilance, commitment to combat readiness, ability to quickly adapt and learn in the face of change, and our strict adherence to the Navy core attributes of our professional identity.
The Undersea, Critical to Homeland Defense. The SSBN force is the only survivable leg of our strategic deterrent triad, and under New START carries approximately 70% of the nation’s accountable nuclear warheads. Our SSN and SSGN forces have the unique ability to enable all-domain access and hold critical adversary assets at risk. Consistent with our history as a maritime nation, the responsibility to prevent challengers from using the sea to threaten the U.S. and its allies falls predominantly on the Navy. As antiaccess / area denial systems proliferate, the share of this Navy responsibility that falls on U.S. submarine and undersea forces will only grow.
Lethality and the High-End Fight.
For the first decade of the 21st Century our Navy primarily focused on a land war against Middle Eastern regional threats, with emphasis on power projection ashore and fighting from relatively uncontested littorals. We have now shifted to an emphasis on high-end combat in contested blue water against near-peer competitors. With increased capability and capacity of our challengers both individually and collectively, the Submarine Force must likewise concentrate on its overall lethality including each submarine’s high-end combat effectiveness. Because of our unique access, asymmetric capability, and far-forward ‘on scene unseen’ peacetime operations, much will be asked of us in all stages of conflict. Consequently, improved lethality and high-end combat effectiveness must permeate our day-to-day peacetime training, certifications, and culture, so we can be certain to dominate when abruptly shifted to combat operations. We also work closely with the rest of the Navy, and our partners and allies, to exercise our forces using worldwide response plans to ensure we are ready. Our nation depends on us to be ready and vigilant because - From the depths, we must strike.
The mission of the United States Navy per U.S. Code is to be ready to conduct “prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea.” Our Navy, prepared in this way, will protect America from attack and maintain our strategic influence in key regions of the world. The mission of the U.S. Submarine Force is to execute the mission of the U.S. Navy in and from the undersea domain. In addition to lending added capacity to Naval forces, the Submarine Force in particular is expected to leverage those special advantages that come with undersea concealment to permit operational, deterrent, and combat effects that the Navy and the Nation could not otherwise achieve.
These effects may be delivered within the undersea domain or across domain boundaries; they may be delivered from submarines far-forward or in broad ocean areas; they may be the result of carefully coordinated operations integrated with other forces or achieved by independent operations; and they may be accomplished in peacetime, a time of tension, or during conflict.
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Purpose of the U.S. Submarine Forces (“Why”)
The Submarine Force and supporting organizations constitute the primary undersea arm of the U.S. Navy. We provide: Conflict Deterrence: We use undersea advantages to provide a survivable strategic deterrent and a robust and credible conventional capability that deters both nuclear and conventional conflict. Access with Influence: We are an elite force charged by the Nation with exploiting unique undersea advantages to provide the U.S. influence, especially far forward where other forces cannot complete the mission, and where persistent undersea concealment provides unique access.
We use undersea concealment to provide unique intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of U.S. national interests in the variety of contexts that characterize today’s unstable international environment. Warfighting: Finally, if necessary, we use our undersea advantage to conduct strike warfare ashore, conduct theater and unit-level anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and perform other warfighting missions by employing special forces and advanced capabilities across multiple domains.
Concept of Operations(“How”)
We are uniquely capable of, and often best employed in, stealthy, clandestine and independent operations while maintaining the flexibility to fully integrate our resources and combat power with the fleet. We exploit the advantages of undersea concealment which allow us to: • Conduct undetected operations such as strategic deterrent patrols, intelligence collection, Special Operations Forces support, non-provocative transits, and repositioning.
• Penetrate adversary defensive perimeters to deny safe haven, reduce defenses, and exploit opportunities created by being inside their fence line. • Deliver attacks with surprise at a time and place of our choosing. • Be survivable without dependence on significant defensive weapons. • Create ambiguity and uncertainty, compelling inefficient adversary resource expenditure, plan disruption, and degraded confidence.
We remain at a high level of material and operational readiness to provide a global stabilizing presence in key locations, and when required quickly commence independent sustained deterrent patrols or offensive operations far forward. We maximize self-sufficiency and the ability to operate effectively with mission command orders and limited external guidance, material support, outgoing communications, or active transmissions.
We foster a force-wide culture of integrity, accountability (both for our actions and for mission accomplishment), initiative, toughness, self-improvement, learning, trust and motivational leadership at every level, which enables building individuals and teams that are competent, resilient and adaptable. We don’t live with problems and we constantly guard against normalizing deviation from our standards. Our peacetime culture of preparedness allows us to overcome obstacles and the ability to fight hurt when called upon in combat. We never compromise our high standards and constantly assess changes in risk and the situation at hand.
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