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Surface Warfare: The Competitive Edge

11 January 2022

From Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO - Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, Commander, Naval Surface Forces released “Surface Warfare: The Competitive Edge”, at the Surface Navy Association National Conference, Jan 11.

The document was designed to better align the Surface Force in the face of increasing technological complexity and rising strategic challenges.

VIDEO | 01:54 | The Competitive Edge

In the paper, Kitchener cites the strategic importance of the Surface Force to America’s forward-deployed conventional deterrence posture, a posture that depends on surface ships creating “…numerous operational dilemmas arising from present, powerful, networked, interoperable forces.”
“The Surface Force and the Surface Warfare Enterprise must better align in order to get in front of the challenges we face—challenges stemming from serious strategic competition and the complexity of the force we are becoming,” said Kitchener.
Citing five main “Lines of Operation” along which the Surface Force must plan, Kitchener pointed to the coming decade as one of unprecedented complexity, in which ten new or modified platforms will either join the fleet or begin production. Adding to this complexity will be the fielding of a new fleet radar (the SPY-6 family), a new Electronic Warfare System (SEWIP Block III) and a new computer program that integrates them, AEGIS Baseline 10.
“This document directs action to lead the target, thereby providing our ships and crews with the tools they need,” said Kitchener. “Together, we will remove obstacles and break through barriers that impede our success.”
The Five Lines of Effort in the document (Develop the Leader, Warrior, Mariner, and Manager; Deliver More, Ready Ships; Achieve Excellence in Fleet Introduction; Create Clear and Innovative Operational Concepts; and Establish Infrastructure for the Future Force) are each assigned to responsible Flag Officers (“LOE Owner”) for action, and include specific tasks with deadlines for completion. 
Kitchener will lead these efforts and require periodic updates, as well as provide the Surface Warfare community with regular updates.
The Five Lines of Effort

  • Develop the Leader, Warrior, Mariner, and Manager: LOE Owner is Commander, Naval Surface Forces. The Surface Force builds leaders, warriors, mariners, and managers, and each of these roles requires training, education, and mentoring. While we continue to field increasingly sophisticated technology, the human element remains central. 
  • Produce More Ready Ships: LOE Owner is Commander, Naval Surface Forces. The essence of this LOE is to force new thinking about the Force we have and consider ways of getting more out of it by planning, maintaining, and operating it more wisely. 
  • Achieve Excellence in Fleet Introduction: LOE Owner is Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic. This LOE focuses on improving Surface Force performance in platform and capability introduction by applying lessons learned from both the successes and the challenges of the past 50 years.  
  • Create Clear and Innovative Operational Concepts: LOE Owner: Commander, Surface and Mine Warfare Development Command. This LOE tasks SMWDC with developing the people, the concepts, and the facilities necessary to derive and provide innovative warfighting concepts to accompany new platforms and capabilities. 
  • Establish Infrastructure for the Future Force: LOE Owner(s): OPNAV N95/96. This LOE focuses on the command and control infrastructure of Surface Forces, the physical infrastructure of Surface Forces, and the land-based, developmental infrastructure necessary to support Surface Force development.

Key Highlights of “The Competitive Edge”

  • Recognizes both the complexity of platforms and capabilities entering the Force in the next decade and the strategic challenges those platforms and capabilities are addressing.
  • Assigns responsible parties with required dates of accomplishment.
  • Strengthens Force emphasis on data analytics.
  • Considers the introduction of Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) to program offices to ensure tight coupling of concepts with acquisition.
  • Requires OPNAV N96 to produce an “Integrated Combat System Campaign Plan” and PEO IWS to produce an “Integrated Combat System Roadmap”. The Roadmap will have at least a ten-year horizon.
  • Considers the return of “Fleet Introduction Teams” to enhance transition of new platforms to the Force.
  • Assigns SMWDC to develop a “capability introduction road map” for Maritime Strike Tomahawk, as part of a larger emphasis on SMWDC growing into the center of warfighting innovation, experimentation, and virtual warfighting.
  • Requires a ten-year roadmap for class-specific land-based facilities and infrastructure requirements in order to reduce technical risk in capability introduction.

To learn more about the Surface Warfare: The Competitive Edge, visit


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