18 October 2017

Command of the Littorals—Insights From Mahan

The Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps recently signed a new concept document called Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment. The concept is intended to drive wargaming, experimentation, analysis, and investment toward ensuring American naval dominance in littoral waters and the open ocean. The effort comes none too soon, as the proliferation of advanced weaponry to various adversaries threatens to erode the U.S. Navy’s littoral warfighting capabilities and even restrict American access to certain waters. But the rapidly-changing character of naval warfare presages no revolutionary change in its nature: a contest for command of the sea and the exploitation thereof. As the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps effort to modernize littoral operations proceeds, leaders in both services would do well to return to the insights of famed naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan.

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