Vice Admiral Ann E. Rondeau (Ret.) signing the charter for The Wayne P. Hughes Jr. Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) on December 11, 2020. Photo Credit: Naval Warfare Studies Institute, Naval Postgraduate School. https://nps.edu/web/nwsi.
The Department of Defense is seeking new, innovative ways to maintain a military advantage over its adversaries and perceived threats. On March 10, 2020, the Department of Defense reported that “near-peer threats are at the highest point since the Cold War.”[i] China and Russia are seen as the closest military competitors to the U.S., with China making huge strides over the last decade to bolster its naval fleet. CNN reported that China may have the largest Navy in the world, surpassing the U.S. in recent months.[ii] The U.S. military is searching for new ways to tackle the rising challenge of China, as well as Russian regional aggression. Innovative thinking about the complex problems posed by China and Russia is paramount. The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), an institution that has worked to solve complex national security problems since its inception, took another step towards helping the U.S. maintain a military advantage by founding the Wayne P. Hughes Jr. Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) in December 2020.
NWSI is uniquely designed to address current and future national security issues by building relationships between six key stakeholder groups: the Naval Education Enterprise, the Naval Research and Development Establishment, the Service headquarters and supporting establishment, industry, academia, and the Sailors and Marines of the Fleet/Fleet Marine Force. Together, these stakeholders will “coordinate NPS inter-disciplinary research and education to accelerate and enhance warfare concept and capability development.”[iii]
One way NPS is fostering inter-disciplinary dialogue is by ensuring all NWSI members are aware of and focused on emerging concepts and capabilities through a series of “Seapower Conversations” events. The first event was held on February 9, 2021 and featured contributors to the Tri-Service Maritime Strategy entitled “Advantage at Sea.”[iv] The Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard representatives explained how the strategy focuses on “China and Russia, the two most significant threats to this era of global peace and prosperity,”[v] and also how the strategy outlines a plan for the next decade along five themes: generate Integrated All-Domain Naval Power, strengthen our alliances and partnerships, prevail in day-to-day competition, control the seas, and boldly modernize the future naval force. During the event, the moderators and presenters discussed the diverse challenges China and Russia pose for the U.S., and described how the Tri-Service Strategy prescribes an effective, unified solution for addressing strategic problems. The strategy is a testament to the knowledge and experience of the authors, as it displays creativity and ingenuity in addressing how the U.S. can best counter efforts by both China and Russia. NWSI helps ensure, first, that every NWSI member is aware of the strategy, and second, helps coordinate the collective planning, designing, and capability development necessary for strategy execution.
The innovative Tri-Service Strategy captures what can be produced through inter-service collaboration, as well as how NWSI can draw on its highly-talented and diverse membership to support its realization. As global challenges mount for the military, NWSI can be a hub for devising unique solutions and thinking creatively about concepts and capabilities. Sharing new approaches for complex strategic and operational problems between internal service stakeholders, key industry partners, and academia will play a crucial role in strengthening U.S. national defense. This collective effort to bolster U.S. national defense, with NWSI as a critical coordinator, is necessary for countering current and future threats posed by near-peer adversaries.
[i] David Vergun, “Near-Peer Threats at Highest Point Since Cold War, DOD Official Says,” Department of Defense, March 10, 2020, https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2107397/near-peer-threats-at-highest-point-since-cold-war-dod-official-says/.
[ii] Brad Lendon, “China has built the world’s largest navy. Now what’s Beijing going to do with it?” CNN World, March 5, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/05/china/china-world-biggest-navy-intl-hnk-ml-dst/index.html.
[v] United States Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard, “Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power,” December 2020,https://media.defense.gov/2020/Dec/16/2002553074/-1/-1/0/TRISERVICESTRATEGY.PDF.