Strategic Enterprise: Transforming Today's Navy for Tomorrow’s Environment

Kenneth Rice

Visitors: 229

Flexible but Structured Design

Militaries are not usually mobs of men but rather organized socio-technical systems. As technology has more impact on the way wars are fought, more detailed organization will be required. Many different things affect military organization – tactics, training, weapon availability and deployment to name a few. Many organizations are so weighed down by politics and procedures that they are unable to effectively adapt their activities to meet the changing operational requirement. A military organization such as the U. S. Navy must have some degree of flexibility in the way it is structured in order to complete its mission.

“The crux of organizational competence is adaptability – and adaptability depends upon the capability of the organization to readily modify its operations as required by changes in its objectives, its missions, and its environments, (i. e. it flexibility). ” (Olmstead, 2002, p. 219). The Navy’s mission statement is extremely adaptable to today’s rapidly changing environment. The mission of the Navy is to “maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. ” In order to support this mission, the operating forces commanders and fleet commanders have a dual chain of command – administrative and operational.

Operationally, they provide naval forces and report to the appropriate Unified Combatant Commanders. As ships enter the area of responsibility for a particular geographical area, they are operationally assigned to the appropriate fleet (2nd Fleet – Atlantic Ocean, 3rd Fleet – Pacific Ocean, 6th Fleet – Mediterranean, etc. ). Administratively, they report to the Chief of Naval Operations and provide, train, and equip naval forces. Ships also report to the appropriate type commander. Organizational Design

According to Galbraith (2002), “Organizational designs that facilitate variety, change, speed, and integration are sources of competitive advantages. ” (p. 6). The Navy’s organizational designs of operational and administrative chains of commands are further supported by a type commander, which provides information, support, and training to support both the administrative and operational commanders. All naval units report to commanders based unit type. Aircraft carriers, aircraft squadrons, and air stations are under the administrative control of the appropriate Commander Naval Air Force. Submarines come under the Commander Submarine Force. All other ships fall under Commander Naval Surface Force. The type commanders are further defined by Atlantic and Pacific Fleets which mirror one another. The focus of this strategic design analysis is to examine the organizational make-up for Surface Forces, U. S. Atlantic Fleet (SURFLANT) who is administratively responsible for all surface warships in the Atlantic Fleet.

SURFLANT, one of the six United States Naval Type Commands, consists of 110+ ships; there are special mission and fleet support units that make up the more than 40 commands. SURFLANT has approximately 35, 000 personnel are stationed both Stateside from Bath, Maine to Corpus Christi, Texas and on the high seas from the Norwegian Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf of the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean. Additionally, SURFLANT ships provide a critical element to drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean Sea.

Mission Statement Analysis

The mission of SURFLANT is “to provide combat ready ships to the fleet; and supply those ships and supporting commands with the leadership, manpower, equipment, maintenance, training, and material needed to achieve operational excellence and conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea to ensure victory. ” This statement defines the principle product that SURFLANT must deliver as well as the elements required by the customer. The principle product that must be delivered is “combat ready ships” and he customer is “the fleet” or operational commander. SURFLANT must provide essential resources before these ships are “combat ready” or useful to the operational commander: Leadership, Manpower & Training, and Logistics Support – includes equipment, maintenance, and materials. The ability to deliver these resources is affected by internal and external factors.

Internal & External Environment Analysis

There are internal and external factors that affect SURFLANT’s ability to deliver combat ready ships to the fleet. A manning external factor, for example, would be the impact of an aircraft controller rotating from the shore establishment to a ship early in order to support the ship’s mission when air operations are required. An internal leadership factor would be the ship’s commanding officer properly training his sailors so that they function as a crew when fighting the ship. Each of the requirements has their own unique set of internal and external factors. I will not attempt to discuss each requirement in relation to these internal/external factors, but rather focus on the demand signal from the end user (operational commander) and how that signal drives the process of preparing hips for operational commitments in hostile environments.

The demands of the Global War on Terrorism have underscored the need for forces that can quickly be deployed to any “dark corner of the world, ” and arrive ready for the entire range of combat operations. This “War on Terrorism" is a campaign by the NATO governments and their allies’ governments with the stated goal of ending international terrorism by stopping those groups identified by the U. S. as terrorist groups and ending state sponsorship of terrorism. The “War on Terrorism" was launched in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington D. C. It has become a central part of U. S. foreign and domestic policy. Unlike earlier concepts and definitions of war—with defined nations, boundaries, standing armies, and navies—the “War on Terrorism" has largely been dominated by the use of special forces, intelligence, police work, and diplomacy. In 2005, the US’ strategic goals have been expanded, from fighting a war on terrorism to fighting “The Long War. " More recently, members of the US-government also used the labels “Global Struggle against Violent Extremism" and “World War III".

As the environment changes, we must evolve to meet these new challenges. “Our warfighting requirement decisions are driven by the current and future threats, naval strategy, affordability and joint interoperability. ” (Nathman, 1999). Before the events of 9/11, the naval concept of security was very basic and required only standard methods of training and equipment. After 9/11 the navy bolstered its concept of security that is now known as Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection which brought with it new training requirements, leadership development requirements, and additional logistics requirements such as improved body armor. The bottom line is though our mission statement remains unchanged, the demand signal or threat environment compelled us to assess and adjust how we fulfill our mission.

The Demand Signal

In the past the U. S. Navy has fought big wars, massed enough might to fight major wars on two fronts, fought giants such as Germany and Japan, and staved off Russia during the cold war. While preparing for such warfare, the U. S. Navy has increasingly engaged in smaller-scale operations such as fighting insurgencies, combating terrorism, rescuing noncombatants from war zones, supporting friendly governments, rendering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, participating in peacekeeping operations, as well as other challenges other than war.

The widely diversified and specialized Naval Surface Force Atlantic is an important instrument of national policy in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Persian Gulf. " SURFLANT ensures surface ships across are properly trained, maintained and crewed to support military operations with other U. S. Services, and with friendly nations anywhere in the world. We will provide operational commanders with well trained, highly effective, and technologically relevant Surface Forces that are certified across the full spectrum of warfare areas.

The demands of war underscore the need for forces that can quickly be deployed to any dark corner of the world, and arrive ready for the entire range of combat operations. The “War on Terrorism” was launched in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York ad Washington D. C. It has become a central part of U. S. foreign and domestic policy. Unlike earlier concepts and definitions of war – with defined nations, boundaries, standing armies, and navies – the “War of Terrorism” has largely been dominated by the use of Special Forces, intelligence, police work, and diplomacy.

The End Product

To support the forward deterrent and rapid response requirements of today, organizational constructs such as the Strike Group (CSG) and Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) have been instituted as key components of the global integrated naval force. Organizing naval deployments around ESGs and CSGs has increased the number of independently employable naval strike groups that provide Regional Combatant Commanders with greater operational freedom and scalable joint response options. Strike groups are formed and disestablished on an as-needed basis, and one may be different from another. However, they all are comprised of similar types of ships. Typically a carrier strike group might have an Aircraft Carrier, a Guided Missile Cruiser, two or three Guided Missile Destroyers, a Los Angeles-Class Attack Submarine, a Combat Air Wing, and a Supply-Class Replenishment Ship. The CSG could be employed in a variety of roles, all of which would involve the gaining and maintenance of sea supremacy.

The Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) centers on the flexibility and readiness of a combined expeditionary force. The total ESG provides operational freedom and expanded warfare capabilities, not only by land with embarked Marines, but at sea, as well. The exact make-up of an Expeditionary Strike Group is in the process of being defined, but mostly consists of an Amphibious Assault Ship, an Amphibious Transport Dock Ship, a Dock Landing Ship, a Guided Missile Cruiser, two or three Guided Missile Destroyers, a Frigate, an Attack Submarine, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a variety of combat air support aircraft such as helicopters.

This organizational design is very effective in meeting the current needs of the operational commanders. SURFLANT ships and their Sailors deploy around the world to provide “forward presence, ” helping to maintain regional stability in such potentially volatile areas as the Arabian Gulf. By contributing to stability, surface units maintain open economic markets and represent democratic principles. In today’s worldwide economy, surface ships operating overseas benefit Americans at home every day.

New Horizons: Global Concept of Operations

The U. S. Navy met the challenges of the Cold War by employing the Carrier Battle Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, which is very similar to the CSG/ESG strategy of today. In order to meet this Global War on Terrorism we must transform our force to meet global challenges by implementing a new Global Concept of Operations. Operational success in the future will be dependent upon the ability of naval forces to secure critical regions for U. S. Forces using technologically advanced ships and innovative employment concepts. Potential adversaries who rely on these regions for political, military, and commercial power have developed inexpensive naval mines, Fast Attack Craft, and torpedo-armed diesel submarines to deny or limit U. S. forces access to these regions. Development of enhanced combat capabilities designed to operate effectively in hostile environments is critical to long-term continued dominance.

As potential adversaries acquire cheap, effective weapons to deny access to critical regions, the U. S. Navy must look to develop new operational constructs that supports increased global presence. We must evolve in the way we think, plan, and wage war from the sea by leveraging technology for the information age and apply it to the realities of the 21st century threat. Specifically, there are two areas of evolution where the U. S Navy should focus: network centric warfare and innovative employment strategies.

Network Centric Warfare

The Navy has its own particular cultural dynamics, which differs in contexts, structures, and power relations from society. Any discussion of socio-technical change must also recognize an overarching set of beliefs and assumptions about technology that informs the processes of adaptation. Technology is not ‘merely’ a collection of bits and pieces, components, or design elements. McLaughlin (1999) contends “[Technology] should be regarded as an ensemble, whose component parts and their composition are held together by social relations among people, as much as by more physical ties such as screws, bolts or electrons. ” (p. 2). The social and technical systems must integrate and assist one another. We must harness the emerging information technologies to enable a fundamental change in the way our navy operates. This is called Network Centric Warfare, and it may be the most dramatic change in naval warfare since the advent of carrier aviation.

In simple terms, network centric warfare refers to the systems and processes for providing fully networked, naval command and control. The objective is to provide commanders the means to make better, timelier decisions than they currently can and to allow the effective execution of those decisions. The underlying premise from which network centric warfare gets its power is the network effect, which causes the value of a product or service in a network to increase exponentially as the number of those using it increases. The more units a weapon system can support, the more valuable is the weapon. The more decision-makers a sensor can support with useful information, the more valuable is the sensor. The more commanders, staffs, units, platforms, weapons and sensors are linked together in a network structure, the more powerful will be the network. This concept envisions extensive connectivity among network elements—greater by orders of magnitude than previously achieved. Since most headquarters are already well connected, the real power in network centric warfare is in connecting the extremities of the force—people, weapons, sensors, platforms, munitions, shipments, parts, and so on. An objective of is extending visibility and empowerment of the extremities. “Network connectivity will provide all nodes, naval and non-naval alike, greater access to information, which will become the common property of the network. ” (Alberts and Hayes, 2003, p. 23).

Innovative Employment Techniques

The U. S. Navy must be prepared to challenge potential adversaries in any threat environment. According to Johnson, Libicki, and Treverton (2003) “The change from a fairly predictable, symmetrical threat to the myriad unpredictable, asymmetrical threats possible has profound effects for defense planning. ”(p. 10). They also suggest that this change impels a shift from threat-based planning to capabilities-based planning and recommend a “portfolio ” approach to new capabilities (i. e. , trying to build breadth and flexibility in the hope that capabilities can be brought to bear across a spectrum of unpredictable threats —would be the most useful type). ” (P. 10-11).

Historically, the Navy has been a big-ship, “blue-water” Navy. This “blue-water” Navy was designed to operate far from coastal waters and to be station for long periods of time. Nuclear-powered carriers, the Joint Task Force and CSG/ESG constructs, and a long logistical tail further supported the power projection capabilities of the U. S. “blue water” Navy. Admiral Mullen envisions a Navy that will operate as a “blue water” force but as a “brown water" and “green water" force as well.

By contrast, “brown water” Navy takes the fight to the enemy’s inland waterways, riverine systems, and close coastal littoral environments. The U. S. Navy originated this term, and it refers to the small gunboats and patrol boats used in river systems. River gunboats and PT boats used during World War II were the forerunners of the “brown water” Naval concept. During the Vietnam War, our “brown water” force was a joint effort between the Navy and Army and patrolled the inland waterways and deltas. This “brown water” engagement was considered largely successful and critical due the region’s many inland waterways and large coastline.

The urgent need to provide support for global littoral and amphibious operations compels the U. S. Navy to change faster than any other branch of the armed forces. Navy platforms will be increasingly engaged in operations in the littoral—areas close to land and choke points where potential adversaries will attempt to take advantage of opportunities afforded by the proliferation of cheap and effective weapons. The continued evolution of Naval systems for littoral warfare will be developed using a common thread — off-board vehicles, stealth, and precision weapons. Unmanned vehicles – surface, undersea, and aerial – will have a progressively more important role in naval warfare. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be employed across the mission spectrum in reconnaissance, support, and then in selected lethal roles in Over-the-Horizon Targeting. Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) will reduce the risk to surface units while conducting mine clearance, and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) will extend the battle space significantly and add mission abilities of great importance in the areas of surface warfare.

Becoming the Agile Organization

Globalization is challenging the way organizations think and the way people interact within the organization as well as across organizational ties. People are no longer isolated within our departments and this new connectedness brings with it new responsibilities. For instance, it’s difficult for deployed sailors to complete major maintenance tasks today without interacting with more people from the continental U. S. The rapid changes in technology have made it possible for this interaction to happen at a distance. These changes have created an environment that requires organizations to be more agile where the Navy’s strategy and structure must be constantly reassessed. According to Hughes and Beatty (2005) “The best way for organizations to thrive in the face of this new reality is to become continual learning engines (p. 2). This also means that more sailors will be engaged in strategic planning. An agile and flexible approach ensures that people at all organizational levels, which affect the direction and momentum of the organization, have the proper understanding of the whole organization.

The transformation of America’s naval forces must be a continuous process, one that includes changes in the way we train, educate and employ our people; the way we organize and equip our war fighting formations; and the processes by which we distinguish and develop the naval capabilities that will be needed by future joint forces. At its core, transformation is based on a willingness to constantly challenge old thinking and introduce new concepts. Most important are the processes that are put in place to institutionalize a culture that promotes and rewards the introduction of new concepts and thinking.

The operational construct and architectural framework for Naval Warfare in the Information Age will be to integrate sailors, sensors, networks, command and control, platforms, and weapons into a networked, distributed combat force, scalable across the spectrum of conflict from seabed to space and sea to land. This framework provides critical shared direction, guiding principles, and projected evolutionary objectives for the Navy and Marine Corps development of future capabilities, to ensure Naval Forces will be ready in the future security environment. Network centric Warfare will serve as a vital and necessary bridge between the SURFLANT mission and the capabilities that the Navy must develop to ensure U. S. national security goals are met.


Alberts, D. S. and Hayes, R. E. (2003). Power to the Edge: Command and Control in the Information Age. Washington, D. C. DoD Command and Control Research Program.

Galbraith, J. R. (2002). Designing Organizations” An Executives Guide to Strategy, Structure, and Process. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.

Hughes, Richard and Beatty, Katherine (2005). Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization's Enduring Success. San Francisco, CA : John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Johnson, S. E. ; Libicki, M. C. ; and Treverton, G. F. (2003). New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decision-making Monographs/reports. Santa Monica, CA RAND Corporation.

McLaughlin, Janice. (1999). Valuing Technology: Organizations Culture and Change. London, GBR. Routledge.

Nathman J. B. (24 March 1999). Statement of Rear Admiral John b. Nathman, Director Naval Air Warfare Division before the Seapower Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Littoral Warefare in the 21st Century. Washington D. C. Navy Office of Information. Retrieved Electronically 23 May 2006 http:/ navy. mil/navydata/testimony/seapower/nath0324. txt.

Olmstead, J. A. (2002). Creating the Fundamentally Competent Organization: An Open Systems Approach. Westport, CT. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated.

Lieutenant Ken Rice is an Active Duty Naval Officer stationed in Norfolk VA. He is currently assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Force's Warfare Requirments Directorate as the FORCEnet Requirements Officer. Lieutenant Rice is responsible for the program analasys and budget oversight for Information Technology Transformation for the Surface Fleet. He is currently enrolled at Regent University working towards a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership.


Article Source:

Rate this Article: 
A Better Today Creates A Better Tomorrow
Rated 4 / 5
based on 5 votes

Related Articles:

Today It Is ... Tomorrow It Will Be ...

by: Sonny Julius (March 12, 2005) 
(Self Improvement/Happiness)

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

by: Jeff Earlywine (April 20, 2005) 
(Self Improvement/Motivation)

Laughlin Today Tomorrow and Beyond

by: Ray Lanfear (October 05, 2008) 
(Travel and Leisure/Destination Tips)

Shaping Tomorrow Through Today

by: Camuy Heremuru (July 19, 2008) 
(Business/Team Building)

Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow

by: Jim Rohn (January 21, 2005) 
(Self Improvement/Inspirational)

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

by: Jim Gustafson (February 13, 2007) 
(Health and Fitness)

Here Today, Worth More Tomorrow

by: Walt Kolenda (March 26, 2008) 
(Home and Family/Crafts Hobbies)

Tomorrow's Cliches Today

by: Nick Usborne (December 09, 2004) 
(Writing and Speaking/Copywriting)

Planning for Today and Tomorrow!

by: Alan Jones (May 18, 2011) 
(Computers and Technology/Software)

A Better Today Creates A Better Tomorrow

by: Avianca Small (April 14, 2008) 
(Self Improvement/Inspirational)