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Sea Control First - U.S. Navy Naval Surface Forces Commander

SNA 2017 Show News - Sea Control
Sea Control First - U.S. Navy Naval Surface Forces Commander
By Vice Admiral Thomas A. Rowden, U.S. Navy
Our Navy must control the sea to project power anywhere around the globe. Yet despite the primacy of sea control to all other naval operations and to our nation’s security, we struggle at times to define “this wonderful and mysterious power,” not only to the public but also to ourselves. It is important to get the terms right, as it is only then that we can shape the path to our return to sea control.
Boeing Harpoon launch uss coronado lcs littoral combat ship 1 USS Coronado (LCS 4) launches the first over-the-horizon missile engagement using a Harpoon Block 1C missile. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Bryce Hadley/Released)
Talking about Sea Control
Naval thinkers often write of “command of the sea,” which I assert is the general condition of superiority of one naval force over all contenders. Command of the sea can be regional or global, depending on the era under consideration and the nation exercising it, and it exists in peacetime as well as during conflict. While it is a useful term for historical analyses, it is less useful in modern parlance.

“Sea control,” on the other hand, denotes a condition that is both temporally and geographically constrained. When a navy has established sea control, it can exercise the full range of operations of which it is capable within and from that area. In exercising sea control, a navy (or a portion thereof) dominates in all domains essential to its operations—undersea, surface, air, and electronic.
Preview of Distributed Lethality & Return to Sea Control, the themes of SNA 2017. US Navy video.
The challenge when using “sea control” with a modern audience is the degree to which the listener believes it is a term germane only to naval conflict—that the standard condition of the seas is to be uncontrolled and that control must be established, either by asserting dominance over a previously uncontrolled area or by displacing another naval force from a position of control through combat.

In contrast, I offer that sea control is a condition that exists when a naval force is capable of mounting the full range of combat operations within acceptable levels of risk given the threat and the desired combat objectives. Sea control can be either actual—in which case combat operations have occurred and maritime territory has been seized; or assumed—in which case a preponderant naval force reasonably can expect to be able to exercise the full range of combat operations should they become necessary.

Read the full article at this link