tions are required to effect undersea battle space dominance. Whether in peace or war, naval forces must be capable of surveilling and controlling that battle space to the degree necessary to accomplish their mission.
ASW forces will be required to operate effectively both in the open ocean and in the littorals. The challenges of each are different and, in some cases, require unique capabilities. In any future conflict with submarine-capable nations, initial engagements will likely involve littoral ASW. This is an enabling mission that must be carried out prior to the transit of heavy-lift forces through straits and choke points or landing forces ashore. Submarines and mines are two practical means that can be deployed by an enemy to interrupt the flow of joint forces. Naval forces of the future must be able to rid the battle space of the threat posed by hostile submarines to allow for follow-on operations. ASW is also a key element in the nation's strategic posture, since much of the world's nuclear striking power will be based at sea. In many situations, time will be of the essence. To be effective, ASW forces will require system capabilities that allow for accurate remote sensing, targeting, and effective employment of weapons.
Currently, ASW resources are relatively constrained by the overall pressure on military spending, competing warfare priorities, and a continuing debate over the relative significance of the submarine threat. The continuing drawdown in naval forces and current deemphasis on ASW have seriously eroded the Navy's capabilities in this warfare area at a time when potential future adversaries are rapidly acquiring advanced quieting techniques and other offensive submarine technologies.
It is possible that U.S. maritime forces will indeed face a credible submarine challenge within the strategic planning horizon of this study. The who, what, and when of future submarine threats remain uncertain. Suffice it to say, however, that global interest in advanced submarine capabilities continues to provide the clear potential for credible submarine opposition in future conflicts. This opposition can generally be described as sea denial—a capability that is founded in the inherent stealth of the submarine. A small number of unlocated submarines, even with limited capabilities, can pose sufficient threat to disrupt operations of maritime forces. Unlocated submarines can influence events by forcing an advancing battle group to proceed with caution. The primary technical challenge in this warfare area is the requirement to detect increasingly quiet submarines. However, detection is not the only ASW requirement: effective weapons, fire control, and self-defense capabilities are all essential elements of a credible war-fighting capability. There are shortfalls in ASW in all of these areas, but each of these problems generally follows from detection limitations.
The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China have publicly declared the submarine as the capital ship of their navies. Many potentially