|By Arthur K. Cebrowski
Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski
is the president of the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
"There is nothing more
difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than
to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."
Machiavelli, The Prince
I believed, upon assuming command as
president of the new, reorganized Naval War College (NWC) last July, that the task ahead
was clear: to assist in preparing our Navy, and our nation, to be ready to win any
possible wars of the next century, not of the last. Just as 20th-century warfighting was
based on industrial-age assumptions, 21st-century warfighting will be based on
information-age assumptions. It is incumbent on our Navy's leadership to proceed at full
speed in discovering and adapting the Navy to the fundamental principles of the coming
information age. My job is to focus on the future. There are plenty of staffs throughout
the Navy that can focus on the present.
Historically, the Naval War College has
served the Navy and the nation by providing graduates who are prepared for the awesome
responsibilities of leadership in crisis and combat. That role will not change. As the
founder of the War College, Rear Adm. Stephen B. Luce, said, "It is only by a close
study of the science and art of war that we can be prepared for war, and thus go very far
toward securing the peace." However, the end of the 20th century has also posed other
challenges to the Navy.
In Washington, D.C., recently, the Navy's
leadership became aware that almost all of the innovations, ideas, and technologies
routinely referred to as "new" are, in fact, more than 20 years old. Stealth
technology is old (1970s), precision-guided weapons are old (1960s); the same is true of
space-based sensors and other systems and technologies. Where were all the new ideas?
Given the long history of innovation and technology leadership by the U.S. Navy, this lack
was surprising. On further investigation, we found that the press of current issues and
process of selecting and fine-tuning capabilities were entirely capable of eliminating new
ideas--and, sometimes, the people who brought them.
A History of Conceptual
What to do? Could the obstacles to
creativity be eliminated without sacrificing the Navy's strengths? Research into the
history of organizational change revealed that, as noted in the opening quote, bringing
about such change is difficult at best. It seemed that we needed a catalyst somewhere in
the Navy to spark innovation and change--but we needed it in the right place and staffed
by the right people. An examination of large U.S. corporations that had reorganized to
meet future challenges showed us that attempts to spark innovation within headquarters had
a poor track record. Washington, D.C., thus was eliminated as a location for such an
effort. Alternatives favoring one fleet concentration area over another were quickly shown
to be problematic, so those alternatives also were eliminated.
Newport and the Naval War College quickly
emerged as the right place for this effort. Throughout its 114-year history, the school
has been dedicated to conceptual development. Between World Wars I and II, the College was
the location of considerable innovation, such as developing the conceptual base for
aircraft carrier warfare, used to great success in the Pacific during World War II. After
that war, Fleet Adm. Chester A. Nimitz wrote that nothing in the Pacific campaign was a
surprise, except for the kamikazes. All else had been thought of and wargamed in Newport
long before the war.
The institution I inherited is superb,
and is still living up to its reputation. The War College has long been a Navy center of
excellence, and the academic side of the War College remains fundamentally unchanged. New
on that side of the house is a two-star Provost billet, currently filled by Rear Adm.
Peter A. C. Long. The student body is sub-divided into four resident colleges and one
nonresident college. They are:
- The College of Naval Warfare, the
senior-level resident school attended by senior-grade officers from all five U.S. services
and senior U.S. government civilian employees.
- The College of Naval Command and Staff,
the intermediate-level resident school attended by mid-grade officers from the five U.S.
services and U.S. government civilians.
- The Naval Command College, the
senior-level resident international school for senior-grade officers, annually attended by
officers from some 35 countries.
- The Naval Staff College, the
intermediate-level resident international school annually attended by mid-grade officers
from some 32 countries.
- The College of Continuing Education, the
nonresident program--which can be accessed in a variety of locations around the world.
The student body usually totals about 500
in number, approximately onehalf of whom are from the other military services and other
U.S. government agencies. The curriculum takes students through three trimesters of study
in the core areas of Strategy and Policy, National Security Decision Making, and Joint
Military Operations. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools
and Colleges, and successful U.S. students graduate with a Master of Arts degree in
National Security and Strategic Studies.
The Navy Warfare
Perhaps the most visible change at the
College has been the establishment of the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) under
the direction of Rear Adm. Bernard J. Smith. Although a separate command, the NWDC is
totally a part of the Naval War College, and can draw from the intellectual capital
residing at the NWC. Created to facilitate the innovation process, the NWDC provides a
network for harvesting fleet ideas, and is a catalyst for change that will accelerate the
Navy's capability growth in the information age, ensuring the fleet's ability to maintain
freedom of the seas and to provide forward-deployed combat power well into the next
However, the NWDC itself is not the
focus. Instead, our eyes should be on the products resulting from its threefold mission:
identifying and refining innovative operational warfighting concepts; experimenting with
these concepts in an operational context; and approving, synchronizing, and disseminating
doctrine. To carry out this mission requires three departments within the NWDC.
Concept Development Division
The personnel assigned to the Concept
Development Division (CDD) act as idea "finders," gathering the most
cutting-edge ideas and concepts from sources throughout the fleet, both officer and
enlisted, as well as from Navy laboratories, systems commands, the science and technology
community, the Marine Corps and the nation's other armed services (and their battle
laboratories), the Joint Battle Laboratory, civilian business, industry, and academia.
The ideas and concepts "found"
will be rigorously tested within the War College, many of them in the NWC's wargaming
department. Promising ideas and concepts will be passed to the Maritime Battle Center for
incorporation into Fleet Battle experiments.
Although the Naval War College is
certainly an intellectually rich environment, it is clearly recognized that the Navy
cannot afford to label Newport as the single center for Navy innovation. This
process must be one of total partnership with the fleet if it is to succeed. The NWDC also
will disseminate lessons learned and serve as a center of corporate knowledge, thus
increasing the speed with which concepts are examined, tested, and shared with the fleet
and the other services.
Maritime Battle Center
The Maritime Battle Center (MBC) is the
catalyst for the co-evolution of concepts, doctrine, organization, and technology. Its
main methodology is concept-driven operational experimentation. We are all familiar with
conducting exercises to hone skills--i.e., to get better at what we already know. Our
typical predeployment Joint Task Force Exercises are prime examples. What we need for the
future, however, is to expand the boundaries of our warfighting knowledge. We need to
experiment in an arena where new things can be tried for the first time in an environment
where failure is definitely an option. We need to know which new concepts will work and
which will not. We also need to develop in the fleet an inclination for continual
innovation, because this is where most of the answers to winning tomorrow's battles will
To support this mission concept, the MBC
oversees and focuses the Fleet Battle Experiment (FBE) process. The FBEs, steppingstones
to the future, are held twice annually, and are based on the principles of Network Centric
Warfare. The FBEs are genuine experiments, and not demonstrations or exercises; they start
with hypotheses and carefully considered specific measures of effectiveness. Exploring
such topics as shared battle-space awareness, sensor-performance issues,
command-and-control methods, and speed of engagement, they attempt to gain some
view--however dim--of what naval warfare probably will be like in the 21st century, and to
develop insights, based on innovative operational concepts, into the "art of the
The FBEs have become a very strong engine
for change in a brief period. As of January 1999 four FBEs already have been conducted,
and a fifth is scheduled for this Spring. The FBE process is designed to create and refine
(1) New doctrine;
(2) New insights into technology in an
(3) Identification of new operational
(4) Ideas for further warfare concepts
that can be pursued by the Warfare Concepts Division; and
(5) Ideas for future experimentation.
Of the four FBEs already conducted, the
first two, Alfa and Bravo, were partnered with the Navy's Third Fleet in the waters off
Southern California. Alfa, held in March 1997, experimented with coordinating naval
weapons fires in a new concept called "Ring of Fire," the arsenal-ship concept,
command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) issues, and was
coordinated with a Marine Corps Warfighting Lab "Hunter Warrior" Advanced
FBE Bravo, completed in September 1997,
again experimented with naval weapons fires coordination issues, including Joint Precision
Fires and GPS (global positioning system) guided-munitions planning.
FBE Charlie, conducted in May 1998,
partnered with the Navy's Second Fleet off Norfolk, Va., and experimented with coordinated
area air defense and further explored the naval contribution to joint weapons fires.
FBE Delta, completed in October 1998, was
conducted with the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Korean AOR (area of responsibility), and was
the first forward-
deployed experiment. Piggybacked on the joint and combined theater exercise Foal Eagle
'98, FBE Delta experimented with:
(1) Joint forces countering Special
Operations Forces (SOF);
(2) Counterfire, using an offshore Aegis
cruiser, against Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs) and large artillery systems; and
(3) The use of numbered fleet command
ships as an alternate command post for the joint force commander (JFC).
FBE Echo, currently scheduled for
March-April 1999, will partner again with the Third Fleet, and will coordinate with a
Marine Corps "Urban Warrior" Advanced Warfighting Experiment. FBE Echo will
further explore naval weapons fires, command-and-control issues, and Theater Air Defense
in the littoral urban environment. Smaller experiments, following soon after Echo, will
examine concepts for antisubmarine and countermine operations.
Warfare concepts to be explored in future
FBEs will include sensor coordination, coordination and control of weapons fires,
four-dimensional de-confliction of the battle space, battle space awareness, information
warfare, logistics in the littoral, counter-SOF operations, and much more. The advantage
of holding these experiments twice a year can be seen in the rapid maturation of the Ring
of Fire concept in the two years between FBEs Alpha and Echo. Ring of Fire is now
considered mature enough to be passed onto the third part of the NWDC, the Doctrine
The NWDC's Doctrine Division will
coordinate doctrine development with the operational fleet. Its role most closely matches
that of the former Naval Doctrine Command. Concepts proven viable through the FBE process
will be transitioned into doctrine. In addition, the Doctrine Division will coordinate for
the fleet the existing Navy Doctrine Continuum--Naval Doctrine Publications (NDPs), Naval
Warfare Publications (NWPs), Fleet Tactical Library, etc.--and will provide the Navy input
into joint and multinational doctrine. The objective is for doctrine to become dynamic,
real time, and interactive. Doctrine as dogma has no value. To be a strong tool of
leadership it must take on the speed and dynamics of modern combat itself.
The New Millenium
The new Naval War College has been
reconfigured to lead the U.S. Navy into the next century through the process of
facilitating warfighting innovation. This is a reprise of the role the College played 100
years ago when the Naval War College raised the professionalism of the Navy's officer
corps by teaching, for the first time, that warfighting is a science--and, like any other
science, could be learned, practiced, and improved. Today's new Naval War College links
together a number of elements to achieve a synergy much greater than the sum of its parts.
These parts include the operationally current student body, a superb faculty of both
officers and civilians, the CNO Strategic Studies Group--which looks even further into the
future--superb wargaming and modeling capabilities, the excellent Center for Naval Warfare
Studies, and the new Navy Warfare Development Command with its departments for concept
development, operational experimentation, and doctrine.
Our success hinges on active support and
participation from our operational fleet customers. How will we know when we have
succeeded? Many ways:
- When the fleet is inclined to habitual
- When the twice-yearly experimentation
catalyzed by Newport has changed into continuous experimentation in the fleet;
- When our warfighters see innovation in the
mainstream of their daily and warfighting activities; and
- When doctrine is no longer the
codification of the past, but a dynamic real-time process that fosters rather than stifles
Ultimately, though, our success will be
measured by the extent to which we have influenced the world toward the course of justice
and peace. I am for that reason both thrilled and awed by the voyage ahead. To our Navy
League and other readers: Wish us well, and please send us your prayers for fair winds and
following seas. Our children and grandchildren will inherit the naval legacy we are
creating, so we must create it very well indeed.