An important aspect of this study is how U.S. naval forces are preparing for response to anticipated and unanticipated capability surprises, as well as how they are developing and executing offensive strategies to surprise adversaries. This chapter discusses these topics by reviewing general preparedness, including quantitative and subjective measures of preparedness, and discussing what the committee has learned from its interactions with naval forces with respect to their current and planned actions.
With regard to actual warfare, surprise is a certainty. It has been said that even the best-prepared battle plan is modified or changed with first contact with the enemy.1 Operational and tactical surprise can take many forms and can vary in scope. The bottom line is that in addition to preparing battle plans against known and postulated threats, consideration and perhaps even anticipation must be given to the possibility of surprise capabilities in the hands of an adversary.
As part of this study, the committee reviewed preparedness and/or readiness to anticipate and counter these surprise threats. The DOD defines readiness as “the ability of United States military forces to fight and meet the demands of the national military strategy. Readiness is the synthesis of two distinct but
1“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower, USA (Retired) and 34th President of the United States, in Fred R. Shapiro, ed., 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., p. 232.
interrelated levels.” 2 There is individual readiness, which relates to the training, equipping, and performance capabilities of an individual, and there is unit/system readiness—the ability to provide capabilities required by the combatant commanders (COCOMs) to execute their assigned missions. “This is derived from the [estimated] ability of each unit to deliver the [wartime] outputs for which it was designed.”3
Naturally, these definitions raise the question of how to measure preparedness or readiness. Several elements of readiness are quantifiable through set criteria such as equipment inventory, material status, personnel staffing, individual and crew training, logistics stocks, or adherence to directives. Other elements of readiness or preparedness do not easily lend themselves to being measured because they involve nonquantifiable judgments about leadership, unit/crew morale, personal interactions, mission execution, and the like.
Given that surprise is by definition unpredictable in its details but inevitable, it is unrealistic to attempt to prepare for all contingencies and surprises. As surprise is anticipated but unknown as to timing, scope, direction, and so on, a clear understanding of the mission and purpose of the operation by all personnel is important when preparing for unanticipated events.
A primary method of preparing, responding to, or adjusting to counter surprise is through additional guidance from the commander that emphasizes his concept and scope of the mission. This guidance take various forms, including commander’s guidance, Commander’s Intent, and Mission Concept of Operations (CONOPS); special procedures and actions called tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs); and rules of engagement (ROEs). (See Appendix E for explanations of the military terms in this paragraph and the next three.)
To improve our forces’ ability to respond to and deliver tactical and operational surprise, our forces need to operate from a common training and operational base and they must have a thorough understanding of the mission at hand, a kit bag of TTPs, and a firm grasp of the ROEs.
In most instances the nature of the surprise, level of conflict, and ROE will provide a framework to determine which TTPs and urgent actions are appropriate for specific venues. Other factors might include these: Do the forces have access to the common operational picture (COP)? Do the forces involved have a shared local operational picture (LOP)? Are the forces involved governed by the same ROEs?
In general, the TTPs for regular warfare are straightforward and commonly practiced. However, TTPs to counter or respond to surprise in other types of conflict will frequently be less clear, and personnel may be hesitant to take
2Department of Defense. 2010. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Joint Publication 1-02, November 8 (as amended through December 15, 2012). Available at http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/dod_dictionary/?zoom_query=readiness&zoom_sort=0&zoom_per_page=10&zoom_and=1. Accessed July 11, 2013.
timely action, despite the number of times such conflict has been seen before. Examples of such types include irregular warfare, military operations other than war (MOOTW), noncooperative target recognition,4 information operations, and cyber operations.
Given the need for specificity in procedures under varying conditions, some examples of TTPs for an immediate response to counter surprise could include one or more of the following: emission control (EMCON), brevity codes, deception, deception events, limited access, cipher codes, quick reactions, disinformation, misinformation, operations security (OPSEC), countersigns, mike designator cards, and multiple option on-the-fly actions. More information about these is provided in Appendix E. Above all, once established, TTPs need to be routinely practiced.
Having TTPs is as important as having a CONOPS in order to deal with surprise. U.S. naval forces use exercises and training as well as experimentation to instantiate TTP and CONOPS and to develop and evolve them. However, today, naval activities are more typically devoted to planned mission areas, not potential surprises. Also, the committee found that experimentation programs involving new capabilities and new concepts have been curtailed.
Within the naval forces, specific organizations are responsible for developing TTPs and CONOPS. For the Navy, the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC), under U.S. Fleet Forces Command, directly supports fleet exercises and experiments. NWDC plays a central role in the development of guidance, doctrine, and CONOPS and also coordinates an annual experimentation program for the Navy. It engages in studies and analyses, modeling and simulation, war games, and red-team support and participates in exercises and experiments. It also collects experiences and lessons from recent operations. NWDC uses information derived from all these activities to evolve concepts, doctrine, and TTPs, all essential for adapting to surprise, though such activities are not typically
4Driving research into noncooperative target recognition (NCTR) is the fratricide issue, defined by MAJ Bill McKean, USA, as follows: The problem is our weapons can kill at a greater range than we can identify a target as friend or foe… Yet if you wait until you’re close enough to be sure you are firing at an enemy, you’ve lost your advantage. The procedural approach of more restrictive rules of engagement (ROEs), according to McKean: What they found was, if you tighten the rules of engagement to the point that you reduce fratricide, the enemy begins inflicting greater casualties on you. Waiting until you’re sure in combat could mean becoming a casualty yourself. Jim Garamone. 1999. “Fixes Touted to Combat Friendly Fire Casualties,” American Forces Press Service, February 2. Available at http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=41973. Accessed February 12, 2013.
directed at surprise. Other naval organizations also contribute to CONOPS and TTPs development.5
For the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) has overarching responsibility for TTP and CONOPs development. The command provides fully integrated Marine Corps warfighting capabilities, including doctrine, organization, training and education, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities. Experimentation activities are managed through the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), which provides guidance for concept-based experimentation for the development and integration of operational concepts and TTPs to enhance warfighting capabilities.
The Coast Guard established the unified Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM) with Service-wide responsibility for doctrine, training, exercise, readiness, and lessons learned and with centralized authority over all elements of the Service’s readiness life cycle. FORCECOM develops TTPs and CONOPS in conjunction with existing doctrine, continuously testing operational guidance through interaction with specific FORCECOM units6 colocated in key Coast Guard commands with special areas of responsibility (AORs).
How is force readiness actually measured today? There are many aspects to consider. As noted earlier, some are quantifiable using criteria such as equipment inventory and other material status, personnel staffing, individual and crew training, and adherence to directives. However, other elements are subjective in nature, such as leadership, unit/crew morale, personal interactions, mission execution, history and potential, etc.
For the quantitative aspects of readiness, one can look at known and measurable criteria. Assumptions can be developed and verified, and “status” can be measured, compared to desired levels, and charted to note current and forecast status of matrices for display and tracking can be developed. The result of this process provides insights but not a complete assessment of the preparedness or
5For example, the Fleet Forces Command (FFC) N03 unit analyzes capability shortfalls in warfare improvement programs to produce an integrated priority capability list and works with the training community to provide feedback continuously. The FFC Strike Force Training Atlantic and Pacific organizations extract lessons learned from prior deployments and inject them into the next carrier strike group (CSG) training cycle. The Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), which is naval aviation’s center of excellence, provides advanced naval aviation training and tactics development. NSAWC’s charter establishes it as the authority on tactics, tactics development and training for all facets of naval aircraft power projection.
6The Coast Guard’s FORCECOM executes through units located throughout the Service. These include the FC-A organization, which assesses readiness and in-place CONOPS and TTPs, and the FC-E, which specializes in supporting large-scale exercises. The FC-T has the majority of USCG training units that work in concert with the FORCECOM TTP unit (FC-P), which integrates and standardizes TTPs based on feedback from field units and lessons learned from exercises.
readiness status of an individual, a piece of equipment, or a unit. All of the naval forces currently have well-developed processes for identifying, measuring, and charting the quantifiable aspects of readiness.
The subjective aspects of readiness are much more difficult to identify and evaluate because they involve subjective judgments, such as the quality of leadership. These subjective readiness elements manifest themselves at the unit level as the mission is executed.
The Navy, the Marine Corps (USMC), and the Coast Guard (USCG) have implemented the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS) as a direct replacement for the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS), which had been used by all Services for over 25 years. SORTS focused on rules-based measurement or quantifiable readiness resources and people combined, measuring how they were trained and how the resources were allocated. SORTS for the most part did not use the commander’s subjective assessment of the unit and graded its overall readiness based on the lowest individual rating or weakest link.
For this report, the committee will focus on the potential of the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS-N) for the Navy and its use as a predictive tool. The USMC would be expected to use this reporting system in the same way. The USCG would only use this during national defense operations.
DRRS-N feeds the DOD DRRS-S, or Strategic Reporting System. DRRS-N is based on a common DOD framework that is capabilities based, is focused on missions, and heavily weights the commander’s subjective assessment of the unit. It is Web-based and allows near-real-time evaluation of unit readiness. Readiness data is capability based rather than sortie based, as it is for the aviation community.
Mission essential tasks (METs), and a set of conditions for each task that is to be executed, are how commanders measure capabilities of their units. As an example, the guided missile destroyer (DDG) has 14 METs that the commander has to measure. The commander’s assessment comprises the heart of the report, using his/her best evaluation judgment on each of the measures of performance.
Resource pillars that are reported on include personnel, equipment, supply, training, and ordnance (PESTO). The frequency of the report update varies by pillar. Personnel inputs are updated once a week; equipment and training are reported as they evolve but no longer that 30 days, and supply and ordnance are reported daily. Any significant event must be reported within 24 hours.
As an example, when a fighter squadron submits its report, it goes directly into the database; the air wing commander is not required to retransmit or collate. The Commander, Air Group (CAG) will report on his assessment of his staff and the overall health of the air wing, and that also goes directly into the database. The same applies for the strike group commander.
The Navy Readiness Reporting Enterprise System (NRRS) is the business intelligence or data aggregation group that interfaces with DRRS-N and multiple other reporting systems, including Aviation and Aircraft Carrier Readiness
programs, Maintenance Supply Readiness, and Reserve Readiness programs, to name a few.
This is the system the higher echelon commanders use to manage the enterprise with business rules to compare reported and predicted values. Reports can be tailored to the needs of the commanders and staff. It used to have a capability search tool, but that has lapsed from lack of use.
Based on its review, the committee observes that the force readiness system is not being used to address the unplanned and the surprising. Most existing readiness assessments cover the range of missions and threats for which the units are currently tasked. However, surprises, by nature, may fall outside the current tasking of the units, so at issue is the degree to which the current readiness reporting systems can capture such outside-the-box situations. Surprise situations might be a result of a surprise during an armed conflict, a sudden humanitarian assistance mission, or an unexpected turn during diplomatic negotiations. An additional complicating factor is whether the “surprise” is of a kinetic or nonkinetic nature.
Present readiness reporting captures the current and forecasted status of several quantifiable readiness elements that have, over time, proven to have merit when measuring readiness against traditional missions and capabilities. Because many quantifiable skills and capabilities are transferable, such data could permit war planners and commanders to explore readiness, or gaps in preparation, for nontraditional and/or surprise events. However, this is not being done currently.
It is clear to the committee that some important actions are being taken by naval forces to prepare for and respond to surprise. Dominating these are programs of exercises and training that include planning, conceptualizing, red teaming, and support of red cells. However, in such exercises and training, existing concepts of operation and TTPs are more typically applied. These activities take advantage of many of the provisions for surprise that have been designed into modern military equipment and capabilities but are not specifically tailored to potentially important but unexpected capability surprises.
Additionally, forces participate in a limited range of experimentation activities, some in conjunction with exercises, to enhance preparedness for surprise. Experimentation venues typically involve concept development, war games, modeling and simulation, and live events, many involving technologically advanced capabilities. Such exposure to and experience with innovation in an operational setting lead to new TTPs, as well as new technology, and serve to evolve concepts of operations. However, as will be discussed later in this chapter, such experimentation has been substantially curtailed, primarily due to current operational tempo.
Exercises and Training
The naval forces, numbered fleets, and combatant commands engage in substantial programs of exercises and training annually. For instance, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) participates in more than 1,500 exercises and similar activities.7 Such events typically have multiple objectives and often involve foreign military and coalition forces and assets. Major events can involve thousands of personnel and many platforms and capabilities. The Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise for 2012 involved 22 nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel.8
The exercises are an important component of preparation and maintaining combat readiness and hence reflect current U.S. strategic objectives and military strategy. For example, there is an increase in Pacific exercises anticipated in response to an enhanced U.S. military presence in the region.9 The RIMPAC 2012 exercise was the largest one ever conducted (the exercises have been conducted every 2 years since 1971), in concert with that objective.
The Navy participates in hundreds of exercises annually, many involving operations with U.S. and multinational forces. The Marine Corps is currently expanding its exercise program for readiness including extending interactions with coalition forces, such as those of Japan and Australia, the latter to build coordination among amphibious forces. Future plans have Marine Corps permanently rotating forces through an Australian base camp and developing coordinated amphibious force capabilities.
The U.S. Coast Guard has more than its Title 10 missions to execute—for example, the safety of life at sea (SOLAS) mission area. Despite the daily tempo, commanders lead a broad array of unit-level exercises and rely on a regimen of exercises and training. Commanders have a continuous exercise program at the unit level when not prosecuting an actual mission and quickly divert to mission operations when the need arises.
Since the USCG has limited resources for exercises above the unit level, it focuses on large-scale exercises that represent the greatest likelihood for surprising and overwhelming Coast Guard operational forces. Examples are hurricanes10 and spills of national significance. The USCG also participates in the biennial national-level exercises that involve most operational elements of national power.
8Rim of Pacific Public Affairs. 2012. “RIMPAC 2012 Conducts Sink Exercise,” Navy News Service, July 16. Available at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=68381. Accessed February 12, 2013.
9Michelle Tan. 2012. “Shifting Westward,” ArmyTimes, February 20, p. 22.
10While Hurricane Katrina involved a scale previously unanticipated, a weapon of mass effect without intent and without decapitation of local government, USCG forces had already prepared for every element of the disaster.
Ongoing preparedness relies heavily on exercises and training but also on experimentation, though to a much lesser extent. Military experimentation by the Department of the Navy was examined extensively in a 2004 NRC study.11 Much of the report is still relevant.
Military experimentation, per se, involves a spectrum of events, including studies and analyses, workshops, seminars and conferences, war games, modeling and simulation, as well as live events in the field. Experimentation is used to develop and evaluate doctrine, equipment, and TTPs—and, in effect, all aspects of the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF). Experimentation campaigns12 provide a framework for learning about new capabilities and, as such, prepare for capability surprise.
Many naval organizations participate in experimentation, such as the numbered fleets, type commands, warfare centers of excellence, Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the acquisition community. However, as already noted, NWDC (for the Navy), MCCDC (for the Marine Corps), and FORCECOM (for the Coast Guard) play central roles in coordinating and/or managing programs of experimentation for purposes of evolving doctrine, CONOPS, and TTPs.
NWDC, in collaboration with Future Forces Command (FFC) and the Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), coordinates the current Navy program of fleet experimentation, called FLEX. The FLEX program manages and facilitates experimentation requirements involving services for the fleet and its assets. The recent 2012 events include an experiment in provisions for unmanned surface vessels to deploy nonlethal weapons, RIMPAC 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Trident Warrior 2012 in San Diego, California, and Valiant Shield 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii.13
The U.S. Marine Corps has traditionally made use of experimentation to develop concepts of operation, doctrine, and TTPs. Recent operational tempo in Iraq and Afghanistan has significantly reduced the effort for experimentation. However, now the Marine Corps plans to increase experimentation through its exercise programs and through its Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), which publishes the annual Marine Corps Science and Technology Campaign Plan. This plan describes the Marine Corps science and technology goals and objectives and the projected limited objective experiments.
11National Research Council. 2004. The Role of Experimentation in Building Future Naval Forces, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
12An experimentation campaign is “a planned and cohesive, multiyear program of experimentation built on a series of experiments and related activities to develop the knowledge needed to inform major decisions about future forces, explore the viability of potential or planned changes to forces or their capabilities, and/or confirm that planned developments and directions will enable forces to perform as expected.” From National Research Council, 2004, The Role of Experimentation in Building Future Naval Forces, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., p. 3.
13U.S. Fleet Forces Command. 2012. FLEX News, Vol. 1, March 26. Available at http://www.public.navy.mil/usff/fltexp/News_Media/201203_FLEX_News.pdf. Accessed February 21, 2013.
The USCG, though largely a law enforcement organization, has certain national defense and global responsibilities. It must deal with certain high-risk maritime capability surprises, such as preventing the implanting of mines in a U.S. harbor or a coastal attack on U.S. personnel or critical U.S. infrastructure through the use of semisubmersibles, small vessels, underwater unmanned vessels, or high-powered, sophisticated offshore container vessels. For its own preparedness, the USCG participates in joint experimentation and demonstration programs such as the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstrations (CWIDs) and Joint Expeditionary Force Exercises (JFEXs).
Exercise and Training Programs
Today, naval forces conduct exercises and training to accomplish preparation. However, the committee reiterates that surprise is not being factored into these activities to the extent it should be.
The naval forces routinely engage in large numbers of exercise and training programs to achieve varying objectives, most of which are related to upcoming operational commitments. However, under such a regimen, there are few opportunities to inject real capability surprise and/or degraded environments into exercises and training.
With respect to exercises, opportunities may be increasing as overseas contingency operations (OCO) decline, but the current situation permits only limited excursions for surprise. There is little free play, and exercises are typically scripted with little deviation allowed.
This limits the naval forces’ preparedness to practice dealing with surprise effectively and in a timely manner—and limits the development of CONOPS that would respond to anticipated and unanticipated capability surprises.
More representative of the current status is that deployment schedules and a rigid training regimen are constraining, allowing little or no time to inject surprise into exercise and training scenarios. There is, for example, little if any time to explore advanced or degraded operations. Even the time for basic proficiency training is limited. There are no empty blocks on the exercise and training schedules. Full deployment schedules and pre-deployment certification also leave little time for experimentation. Consequently there is insufficient time for concept development and for TTPs associated with the use of new technologies or new capabilities, primarily because of high turnaround and high operational tempo and basic training requirements. More ambitious training and experimentation for surprises would require curtailing current operational deployments, which might occur as OCO commitments decline.
There are indications that some exercises are proceeding that allow more extreme and/or degraded conditions and more “worst likely” scenarios. These
provide anecdotal evidence of an emerging emphasis on anticipated surprise scenarios, such as a denial of space access, similar to the committee’s surprise scenario on space in Appendix A. Examples of such exercises include Bold Alligator 2012 and Terminal Fury 2012, summarized as follows:
• Bold Alligator 2012 was the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years and demonstrated a revitalization of amphibious operations.14 All of the naval forces participated. The exercise focused on revitalizing amphibious core competencies by looking to adapt skills to changes in force structure, technology, and culture. The exercise took place January 30 through February 12, 2012, afloat and ashore in and around Virginia and North Carolina, and involved over 20,000 U.S. and coalition personnel and 22 ships. What is particularly significant to this report is that this large 2012 exercise included degraded cyberenvironments and brought more information operations into play—more representative of realistic situations. Yet the exercise resulted in all forces having met all objectives, while “lessons were learned and gaps in processes and procedures were identified.”15 Recommendations were made to all components of DOTMLPF.
• PACOM conducts an annual major training exercise, Terminal Fury, to test command-and-control capabilities and prepare PACOM forces for western Pacific major contingency operations. The 2012 Terminal Fury exercise was cited in multiple briefings to the committee as representative of testing forces’ response in a degraded environment, including one where space access is denied. It allowed practicing procedures enabling command, control, and communication (C3) without full reliance on space-based assets.
Other examples of exercises that allow degraded conditions and/or worst-likely scenarios include a recent Neptune Scissors event simulating carrier strike group (CSG) operations in an antiaccess area denial environment and the biennial national-level exercises involving naval forces, such as for hurricane preparation.16
While such exercises have been cited by some as examples of forces’ preparation for surprise scenarios, they are not the norm. The constraints of training regimen, predeployment evaluation, and deployment schedules limit the resources available for excursions into surprise.
There are other factors that limit such excursions. For example, it is more
14Chad V. Pritt. 2012. “Bold Alligator Exercise Takes Fight to the Shore,” Navy News Service, February 7. Available at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=65202. Accessed February 21, 2013.
15Expeditionary Warfare Collaborative Team. 2012. Bold Alligator 2012 Final Report, Condensed Version, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., May 24, p. 6. Available at http://news.usni.org/2012/06/25/bold-alligator-2012-final-report. Accessed February 21, 2013.
16A biennial event involving all elements of national power focusing on capabilities to handle catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and fires, terrorist events beyond the 9/11 scale, and nuclear and biochemical warfare events.
typical to exercise while assuming chat rooms are operating and networks are functioning, because the denial of these would be “too hard.” Not only are these situations complex to depict and to induce and analyze, they require substantially more resources and time than are routinely available for the exercises. Rather than ending a war game prematurely because of a disruptive breakdown in command and control, complicating and possibly prolonging a war game carries a resource impact. Continuing fiscal pressures will exacerbate the limitations on resources and therefore likely to continue to inhibit excursions. A scenario with a severely limited cybercomponent, for instance, is so disruptive that it necessitates that top cover. Some elements of the naval services have not trained to operate for extended periods in a denied environment for many years, though that condition was more typical some 20 years ago, when there was not such reliance on technologies like communications satellites and GPS.
Preparing for realistic cyberdisruptions is an example of emulating potential surprise that is especially challenging. Adaptation and emulation are compounded by changing network architectures, by fast-moving technology, and by new threats that emerge daily, such as attacks on trust certificates or new malware. In the real world, the effects are multiplied and scale upward quickly. Given emerging focus on better preparation by the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), the intent is to adapt training, red teaming, and exercises to better reflect what may be the real operational situation. However, to date progress has been slow. Yet the consequences of any cyber failure and penetration inside our command-and-control cycle would be significant. The methods to effectively protect and/or defend our own cyber and communications systems, especially at the lower echelons, are not well understood and not well funded. Additionally there is no shared understanding of an information warfare CONOPS.
Naval forces need to proceed more aggressively by using more with unpalatable but potentially realistic scenarios in exercises and training to establish and validate adequate procedures. Such procedures can include requirements for voice recognition and other forms of validation, which must function in less-than-optimal environments. Extreme and degraded scenarios test the envelope of capabilities, flag limitations and vulnerabilities, and foster the formulation of mitigation strategies.
In general, to become more ready to deal with these types of surprise, naval forces must more frequently train for such environments, including those reflecting nonkinetic attacks. This is not the norm today, and our forces must be prepared to deal with the nonlinear effects of surprise elements of many varieties. Too many exercises stop short of “real breakage.”
Finally, there is a need to emulate our adversaries in exercises. This was emphasized in extensive discussions of red-teaming in earlier chapters of this report. The need for “realistic scenarios” includes the need to adapt and innovate like our adversaries. The committee discussed the issues of training against surprises such as space access difficulties and cyberintrusions with PACFLT. They concurred
that more realistic exercise opportunities in these domains would be helpful. In fact, such exercise opportunities are beginning to be provided, but more time and resources are needed.
As noted earlier, military experimentation was examined extensively in a 2004 NRC study.17 What is dramatically different from the state of play circa the 2004 NRC report and the present situation is the reduction in resources being applied to experimentation by the U.S. Navy and the USMC. The USCG was not addressed in the 2004 NRC report.
Experimentation efforts have been reduced dramatically primarily due to the operational impact of Iraq and Afghanistan. For instance, NWDC, in its central coordinating role for Navy experimentation under FFC, has experienced more than a 50 percent reduction in annual funding. At publication time, the 2004 NRC report cited funds available to NWDC for experimentation as totaling $20 to $40 million from ONR and $20 to $25 million from NWDC. Today that amount is approximately $15 million, which includes $14 million used for the FLEX program of experimentation.18 This is approximately a 70 percent reduction in real terms.
The USMC, significantly smaller than the Navy in terms of resources, did not have substantial funding for experimentation in 2004; however it did operate effectively using selective and disciplined experimentation campaigns that were highly successful in transitioning new concepts of operation. Prior to 2004, the USMC had successfully accomplished a series of these campaigns, called Hunter Warrior and Urban Warrior, as described in Chapter 6. The campaigns were critical to building forces for urban warfare in Iraq and dispersed operations in Afghanistan by moving new concepts, doctrine, and TTPs to the field. Today the USMC has moved from multiyear longer-term campaigns toward small, limited objective experiments, such as those included in the RIMPAC exercises.
The USCG has limited funding for experimentation, beyond that for minor experiments at its Coast Guard Research and Development Center (CGRDC), and those experiments are not directed at capability surprise.
Military experimentation has changed. The ability to experiment at sea is currently sharply limited by the demands of the high operational and deployment tempo. Units are so busy with predeployment training and certification, it is difficult to find personnel or time on the training schedule to support a long range and centrally planned experimentation program. Additionally, the past decade of ground combat has created stressed naval forces because of their high operational
17National Research Council. 2004. The Role of Experimentation in Building Future Naval Forces, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
18Navy Warfare Development Command, discussion with the committee on preliminary perspectives on capability surprise, May 16, 2012, Washington, D.C.
tempo. Budget concerns also contribute to the diminished service experimentation programs.
While forces strive to perform their assigned tasks, it is noteworthy that most of these tasks are conventional operations. However, surprise will likely come from an unconventional direction. Service-directed/coordinated and -funded experimentation will be necessary to prepare for just such an unconventional surprise.
There is insufficient time allocated to prepare for surprise in the training and exercise schedules, given certification and deployment requirements. Additionally, experimentation programs involving both the Navy and the Marine forces have diminished, while the USCG’s reduced RDT&E budget has eliminated all but the most urgent small-scale experiments.
Overall, this lack of preparation for surprise exists for many reasons. While there will be a reaction to any serious surprise, the committee’s concerns are whether the preparation and the response will be timely and effective, because the consequences of not being prepared could be catastrophic.
Additionally, in the committee’s overview and its review of how readiness is measured, it has noted that capability surprise is simply not being taken into consideration today, even though there is potential for the current system to work.
The way forward to enhanced response to surprise by naval forces has multiple paths. One has to do with achieving an understanding of how to prepare and react effectively to capabilities by training with environments and scenarios that are realistic and representative of what adversaries could produce and induce. This path includes exercise and training time that allow local units the opportunity for excursions, and includes all types of surprise—including those may be self-induced, such as for conducting operations not currently envisioned.19
To summarize, operational naval forces are not preparing adequately for surprise in current exercise and experimentation approaches. Exercises do not usually allow degraded environments or unexpected developments to be realistically addressed. Training now focuses on current missions and operations and leaves inadequate time for experimentation and the use of new technologies. There is insufficient development of concepts and tactics for addressing surprise and of practicing to deal with their impact. Additionally, readiness metrics focus on current missions and do not address surprise.
Operational commanders should incorporate, when feasible, degraded environments and aspects of surprise into exercise and training scenarios to improve preparation for and response to surprise. The FFC, including directed type
19An example would be that of the United States abruptly deciding to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan in the Second World War when the U.S. submarine forces had no experience, weapons, or TTPs for attacking merchant ships.
commanders, MCCDC, and FORCECOM, should expand experimentation and related activities to develop concepts and tactics to counter surprise. To offset the limitations of scarcer resources, experiments can be designed on a small scale.
These commanders should use the results from exercises and experimentation to analyze and assess preparedness for capability surprise. As appropriate, they should formulate and incorporate measures into the existing readiness reporting structures through the appropriate naval organizations and systems.
The results derived from incorporating surprise into exercises and experimentation will be forwarded to the appropriate Service organizations, including the surprise mitigation office, and entered into the training continuum, as appropriate.
Finding 6a: U.S. naval forces are not preparing adequately for potential capability surprise in current exercises and experiments. For example, naval exercises do not usually accommodate degraded environments or unexpected developments to be realistically addressed, and training tends to focus on current operations and leaves inadequate time for experimentation and use of new technologies.
Recommendation 6a: Operational commanders should incorporate, when feasible, degraded environments and aspects of surprise into exercise and training scenarios to improve preparation for and response to surprise. U.S. Fleet Forces Command (FFC), including directed type commanders, Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), and U.S. Coast Guard Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM), should expand experimentation and related activities to create concepts and tactics to counter surprise. To offset resource impacts, activities of limited scope, such as small-unit or small-scale experiments, may be utilized.
These commanders should use the results from exercises and experimentation to analyze and assess their preparedness for capability surprise. As appropriate, they should formulate measures and incorporate them into the existing readiness reporting structures through the appropriate naval organizations and readiness reporting systems.
The results of incorporating surprise into exercises and experimentation will be forwarded to the appropriate Service organizations, including the capability surprise office, and entered into the training continuum, as appropriate.
The committee believes that there are some strategies to implement Recommendation 6a that do not levy extraordinary resource requirements or require substantial changes to existing systems and methodology.
To Increase Surprise in Exercises and Training
Commanders could use theater-specific surprise scenarios when the operational tempo is slow. As an example, NWDC could provide a series of specific scenarios—one might be denial of Suez Canal transit rights. This could be a tabletop exercise whose results are fed back to NWDC for processing and data mining when completed. This strategy has the benefit of exercising intellectual capital based on actual readiness and preparing operational commanders for potentially relevant occurrences. Such surprise excursions could also easily include specific aspects when representative scenarios brought up in this report—space access denial, social media manipulation, and the Fukushima disaster. The latter two have particular relevance because they resemble recent surprise events, such as the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya and the disaster response required for Hurricane Sandy.
Military distance-learning courses could incorporate capability surprise. Basic proficiency training occurs well before the specialized training focused on mission readiness and is confined to core qualifications for readiness. Some of this basic training is delivered in the form of distance learning, with remote testing used to validate proficiency. In the commercial and academic sectors, it is common to use adaptive software techniques to introduce variation into tests for engineering and other technical certifications. This technique ensures that people cannot game the testing system itself and is also used to introduce surprise elements into the test. This latter aspect helps organizations validate that students are not simply drilling and repeating by rote, but instead have understood underlying principles and are prepared to apply what they have learned to unexpected challenges. Naval forces can apply these same low-cost adaptive techniques to existing military distance-learning courses, adding capability surprise to the curriculum and, more importantly, to the distance-learning qualification tests. Once this testing regime has matured, surprise-related results from these tests could be fed into both the broader and appropriate naval systems and into the capability surprise office.
Surprise, such as caused by our own processes, systems, and materiel is addressed by operational forces today through immediate action emergency procedure exams and casualty exercises. These are the norm in aviation, ship, and submarine units. Capability surprise could be practiced in the same manner.
To Expand Experimentation
Recommendation 6a cites the use of limited venues for experimentation. As noted earlier in this chapter, the use of military experimentation campaigns has been effective in the past. These consist of a full spectrum of planned activities and various limited experimentation venues, including war games and limited objective experiments, all supported by careful studies and analyses and careful, planned incremental progress. Such methods deliver systematic results and do
not necessarily require large-scale events involving substantial fleet assets. The committee supports recommendations of an earlier (2004) NRC study20 with respect to expanded use of such campaigns to maximize the effectiveness of experimentation and minimize the impact on resources. This approach could be effectively used to address surprise.
One example would be to plan a campaign of experimentation to evolve new TTPs, doctrine, and capabilities to combat and respond to different forms of attack that cause denial of space access under varying conditions. Potential events such as these are described in the first scenario of Appendix A.
To Measure Preparedness for Surprise
The current system, DRRS-N21, has utility for capability surprise given the currency of quantifiable and commanders’ subjective assessments of the units. The NRRE system could provide commanders an assessment for a variety of worrisome potential surprises. If, say, a humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HA/DR) scenario occurs in the western Pacific, including nuclear contamination, commanders would want to know the status of forces in the area of responsibility (AOR) and how they might contribute to the effort. A profile already created would search the NRRE database for a suitable HA/DR response capability. It would produce, in stoplight form, the status of all forces in the AOR giving a capability report on helicopter availability, small boat readiness, medical supply levels, medical personnel available, dosimeter availability and type, reconnaissance assets, supply reports and food stores, ability to generate emergency power and make potable water, ships availability, and fuel reserves, to name a few. These preset profiles could include any number of potential scenarios.
The merit of this approach is that operational units require no additional effort or reporting. Important potential surprises, i.e., HA/DR, denial of space access, noncombatant evacuation operations, would need to be staffed and defined at the FFC level. Specific metrics would then be identified and labeled for individual surprise profiles within the NRRE system.
A more ambitious approach, but more burdensome on reporting units, would be for FFC to define a reporting goal for the time nonengaged units should spend preparing for undefined surprises that the units themselves can identify. This would then be reported for inclusion in a database.
Since capability surprise is not integrated into daily naval forces activities and planning, it is essential that doctrine and training, especially for the commander, be established to ensure that leaders know how to exploit the information in DRRS. DRRS and NRRE are robust enough to incorporate additional data,
20See, for instance, Recommendations 3 and 4 in National Research Council, 2004, The Role of Experimentation in Building Future Naval Forces, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
21As noted earlier, the USMC would use this system analogously, and the USCG would use it for national defense operations.
if required. Such information will, for the first time, give commanders useful measures of unit readiness for surprise in the context of specific mission areas.
Finding 6b: U.S. naval forces do not have an advocate and resource sponsor to rapidly field new capabilities to counter pop-up surprises, nor are they taking advantage of any existing capabilities, as identified in the Navy Readiness Reporting Enterprise (NRRE), that could potentially counter surprises of all types.
Recommendation 6b: Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (FFC), should leverage the Navy Readiness Reporting Enterprise (NRRE) and provide operational commanders with any existing capabilities that could counter surprises of all types.
Long-term scientific research, technological developments, and/or capability acquisitions enable both defensive and offensive surprise. These are discussed in earlier chapters of this report.
In reviewing such long-term endeavors through the lens of naval force response, the subject of this chapter, the committee has already noted the need to increase the naval forces’ development and use of innovative capabilities, such as through enhanced experimentation programs. However, it also believes that our naval forces can improve their ability to spring their own capability surprises on our adversaries.
A number of surprise mitigation capabilities would be highly classified. The transitioning of highly classified developments and acquisitions into operational use can be problematic owing to the restrictions of “need to know.” This can present a fundamental barrier to ensuring readiness to apply such a capability in event of a surprise. The following is a scenario that the committee believes may occur:
A capability is under development. It would surprise an adversary and ensure an impact, but details necessary to ensure appropriate use are highly classified, often involving compartmented security constraints. There may be a general awareness of it by military operators, but there is extremely limited knowledge of scope and characteristics. It may, for example, involve a technology not usually associated with or demonstrated in military applications. CONOPS could, as a result, be thin, or scarce, or even nonexistent. Because there has been limited interface with the operational community and little to no experimentation involving that community, doctrine, training, and TTPs are missing or sketchy.
Consequently, the use of the capability for the designated military operation may be set aside or even forgotten because of its unknown consequences, or because its application is not sufficiently understood.
This possibility is inferred based on previous known examples. The next section is a well-documented example to further illustrate this difficulty and understand the potential impact.
An Example of the Difficulties of Accomplishing Surprise
The classic example of difficulties in bringing the Navy’s (then) very secret new torpedo influence exploder to bear on Japanese warships at the start of the Second World War remains instructive.22
During the 1930s, both Japan and Germany ignored or circumvented existing treaties that limited warship construction and built a growing number of large combatants that were well armored above and below the waterline to protect them against the then-prevalent contact-fused anti-ship torpedoes. The U.S. Navy, concerned about this development, embarked on a highly classified program to develop a torpedo exploder that would respond to the magnetic influence of a target ship with the intent of setting torpedoes so equipped to explode under the target’s keel.
The effective use of such a revolutionary new torpedo would indeed have been a major surprise for any prospective adversary. To protect this potential for surprise, the Navy tightly restricted knowledge of its existence and went so far as to ship to the fleet its inventory of the new exploders in sealed black boxes with no information on their prospective use. After Pearl Harbor, attempts to install the new exploders went awry, and the lack of direction for the proper employment of the modified torpedoes compounded the problem, as did the fact that the exploders had not been fully tested, in part to preserve security. It was of little comfort that the British and French navies were having similar difficulties with their own secretly developed exploders.
The net result was the loss of opportunity to take advantage of a major technical advance that would have been very effective against Axis warships had it been properly tested and employed. Instead, many allied lives were needlessly lost attempting to employ an ineffective weapon improperly, and the allies were forced to switch to contact-fused torpedoes for a long time early in the war.
To summarize, some key classified capabilities may not be disclosed to planners or operators and therefore will not be routinely incorporated into combatant plans or practiced by operators.
22Clay Blair, Jr. 2001. Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md.
Finding 6c: It is unclear whether some key classified capabilities—to the extent any exist—are disclosed to planners or operators and therefore may not be routinely incorporated into combatant plans or practiced by operators.
Recommendation 6c: Finally, operational commanders should work to ensure that any of our key classified capabilities—to the extent any exist—are disclosed to planners or operators so that they are incorporated into combatant plans or practiced by operators in responding to capability surprise.
The committee believes that naval forces’ preparation and readiness for capability surprise is insufficient. The current operational tempo has been a primary detriment to preparedness. However, pending budget cuts could significantly degrade readiness further. The committee believes that some actions, as specified in the Recommendations, may not require extensive expenditures of resources but will nonetheless improve the readiness posture. How these could be achieved is explained anecdotally in this chapter, with some examples linked to this report’s representative scenarios.