Article By: MC1 Lewis Hunsaker
The Naval Postgraduate School’s Littoral Operations Center (LOC) hosted the 2nd Annual Wargame Planning Session at Ingersoll Hall, April 23-24.
“This discussion is timely, as the U.S. Navy surface fleet is at a crossroads,” said Deputy Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Chris Paul. “At the beginning of this century, the Navy planned a new approach to surface warfare supported by a family of new ships: missile defense cruiser, land attack destroyer and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).”
Littoral warfare refers to naval campaigns that take place in shallow coastal areas characterized by heavy traffic, varying depth and nearby population centers. The littorals have been a longtime focal point of 21st century naval strategy, culminating with the development of a new class of ship, the LCS, designed for these unique environments.
“The LOC at NPS is designed to enhance the U.S. Navy’s integration of land, air, sea and undersea operations along the world’s coastlines, through interdisciplinary research and development involving all the departments and schools at NPS,” said LOC Director, NPS Department of Defense Analysis Senior Lecturer Dr. Kalev Sepp.
During the first day of events, speakers from Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Indonesia and Nigeria used planning sessions in: Accessing the Littorals; Operating and Fighting in the Littoral Clutter; Lethality and Survivability in the Littorals; Applied Technology in the Littorals and NPS Wargaming and Research in Littoral Scenarios, to talk about different aspects of littoral areas.
Deputy Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Chris Paul talks about ‘Taking the Offensive in the Littorals’ during the Littoral Operations Center’s 2nd Annual Wargame Planning Session in Ingersoll Hall, April 23.
On the second day of the conference, officer-student working groups guided by NPS faculty examined various areas to include: “Implementing New Technologies and Materials for the LCS and LCS-Next; Improving LCS and LCS-Next Logistical Capabilities; Optimizing the Surface Warfare Officer Career Path; and Deploying SOF aboard LCS and LCS-Next.”
“What emerged from working groups throughout the day, and particularly from the international students and visitors, was that they saw wargaming as an extremely valuable and cost effective tool for testing concepts, requirements and operational planning,” said Sepp.
However, we are at the very beginning of the proper utilization of wargaming, he added.
Earlier this year, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work issued a memo to the Pentagon leadership on the importance of wargaming in the military community. Stating that he was concerned about the Department’s ability to test new concepts, capabilities and plans using simulation or other techniques, otherwise known as wargaming, has atrophied.
“During the cold war years, wargaming had been widely utilized, but with the end of the Soviet threat, those skills and support for it had atrophied, so at NPS we are in the process of rebuilding that,” said Sepp.
NPS researchers continue to explore littoral strategies and determine the correct mix of technology, weaponry and tactics, and are drawing upon the expertise of NPS’ unique student body through war-gaming exercises and campaign analysis courses.
“I have been very impressed by the great work from the NPS staff and the LOC,” said Paul. “It’s refreshing to see the LOC staff bring in people from various areas in the navy, industry, officers, enlisted and foreign allies.”
By 2019 there will be 24 LCS’ in naval service.
Posted April 30, 2015