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This important essay includes command and control (C2) analytic thinking regarding distributed lethality, decentralized netted fires, adapting mesh networks, and network enabled vice network dependendent.  The author notes "Most of the article’s observations are culminations of several years of analysis by our (NPS) students, faculty, and fellow naval design strategists." 

Impacts of the Robotics Age on Naval Force Design, Effectiveness, and Acquisition

Abstract. The twenty-first century will see the emergence of maritime powers that have the capacity and capability to challenge the U.S. Navy for control of the seas. Unfortunately, the Navy’s ability to react to emerging maritime powers’ rapid growth and technological advancement is constrained by its own planning, acquisition, and political processes. Introducing our own technology advances is hindered as well. The planning and acquisition system for our overly platform-focused naval force structure is burdened with so many inhibitors to change that we are ill prepared to capitalize on the missile and robotics age of warfare.

Yet by embracing the robotics age, recognizing the fundamental shift it represents in how naval power is conveyed, and refocusing our efforts to emphasize the “right side” of our offensive kill chain—the side that delivers the packages producing kinetic and nonkinetic effects—we may hurdle acquisition challenges and bring cutting-edge technology to contemporary naval warfare.  Incorporating robotics technology into the fleet as rapidly, effectively, and efficiently as possible would magnify the fleet’s capacity, lethality, and opportunity—all critical to strategic and tactical considerations. Doing so also would recognize the fiscal constraints under which our present force planning cannot be sustained. As Admiral Walker advised above, it is now time to change.

After addressing the traditional foundations of force structure planning and the inhibitors to change, this article will discuss how focusing on the packages delivered rather than the delivery platforms would allow us better to leverage new technologies in the 2030 time frame. What would a naval force architecture look like if this acquisition strategy were employed? This article will present a force-employment philosophy and a war-fighting strategy based on the tactical offensive that align with this acquisition approach. The article does not present an alternative force structure with actual numbers of ships and platforms, but suggests a force-acquisition strategy and force-design concept that provide a foundational underpinning by which a specific force architecture can be developed. Three strategic force measures—reactivity, robustness, and resilience—will be used subjectively to assess this fleet design compared with our traditional programmed forces.

Jeffrey E. Kline, writing in Naval War College (NWC) Review, Issue: 2017 - Summer



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