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Professional Knowledge Week 6: Operational Mission Area, Capabilities, and the Current Maritime Strategy

professional knowledge Oct 04, 2019

Plebes take mandatory professional knowledge (known as pro-know) tests each Friday. This Friday is the sixth week of pro-know, and the topic is “Operational Mission Area, Capabilities, and the Current Maritime Strategy.”

Understanding Naval Mission Areas are critical to understanding why we have specific platforms and shore commands designed to execute certain tasks.  Quite simply, mission areas set the framework for how the Navy executes naval warfare.

Listed below are the current mission areas, although it is important to note that mission areas are continuously evolving as new military capabilities are introduced to the world.

  • Amphibious Warfare - Operations conducted by the Navy and Marine Corps team with the goal of putting Sailors and Marines ashore to accomplish a mission.
  • Antisubmarine Warfare - Operations conducted with the goal of denying our adversaries the effective use of submarines. The Navy uses Submarines, Ships, and Aircraft to accomplish this high priority mission!
  • Air Warfare - Protection from enemy air platforms and airborne weapons. 
  • Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) - BMD refers to all of our measures taken to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of enemy use of ballistic missiles.
  • Command, Control, and Communications - Ensuring effective and reliable communications for coordination and control of unit operations. 
  • Expeditionary Warfare - Simply, a military operation conducted by the armed forces to accomplish an objective in a foreign country.  However, this is not specific to armed conflict, but rather encompasses the full spectrum of military operations including foreign humanitarian assistance. 
  • Information Operations (AKA the best mission area) - Using electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operational security in an integrated fashion in order to influence adversarial decision making and protecting outside influence from our own decision making. 
  • Mine Warfare - The strategic, operational, and tactical use and mines and countermeasures.  Most often you will see this in regards to Surface Warfare Officers stationed on Minesweepers, actively countering enemy-laid mines to permit friendly maneuver and use of waterways.
  • Mobility - The ability of our forces to have the freedom to maneuver so they can conduct their primary missions at all times. 
  • Strike Warfare - In the navy, we use the term “putting warheads on foreheads,” which references Naval operations to neutralize enemy targets ashore by means of Naval platforms, whether air, surface, or subsurface. 
  • Surface Warfare - Operations conducted to destroy or neutralize enemy naval surface forces. 

The next section talks about the capabilities of the Navy. It details the two largest operational units within the U.S. Navy: the Carrier Strike Group and the Expeditionary Strike Group.

The Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is the principal element of the United States ability to project power around the globe.  Although tailored to meet specific objectives, the CSG is detailed to include an aircraft carrier and its air wing, multiple surface combatants, a fast attack submarine, and a supply ship.

The Carrier and its air wing provide the primary offensive firepower of the CSG, with the supporting vessels providing defensive support for the carrier. Now, these roles aren’t exclusive, and all the vessels in the CSG have the ability to take on an offensive role.

The Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) contains multiple amphibious ships, an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Naval surface combatants, and a large variety of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.  The ESG is a scalable and flexible construct that provides the capability for rapid response where they are needed. The ESG can support a wide range of missions, from amphibious assault to humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

For example, the USS Bataan (LHD 5) and Norfolk-based Helicopter squadrons recently provided assistance to the Bahamas after the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.

Also covered this week is the current National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, as it is important for everyone in the military to understand the overarching commander’s intent in regards to our National Defense.

The current National Security Strategy, signed by the Trump Administration in 2017, is composed of four vital national interest pillars:

  1. Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American way of life.
  2. Protect American Prosperity
  3. Preserve Peace through Strength
  4. Advance American Influence.

Shortly thereafter in January 2018, former Secretary Mattis published the National Defense Strategy (NDS). The NDS outlines and provides a framework and roadmap that will drive the Department of Defense plans, organization, and activities. With a focus on the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition, the NDS is built on the DODs core values: 

  • Be strategically predictable but operationally unpredictable
  • Integrate with U.S. interagency
  • Counter coercion and subversion
  • Foster a competitive mindset. 

And it also contains three distinct lines of effort:

  • Build a More Lethal Force
  • Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners
  • Reform the Department for Greater Performance and Affordability

Finally, the plebes will be introduced to a document titled “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” which identifies the Chief Of Naval Operations (CNO) vision for building a lethal, talented, ready, and efficient Naval Force. 

This is a lot of high-level understanding for one week, but we know the plebes are up to the task.