'Distributed Lethality' concept gains focus at NWC

NEWPORT, R.I. – A workshop focusing on the surface warfare community’s 'distributed lethality' concept took place at U.S. Naval War College (NWC) this month. This operational level of warfare workshop was designed to better define the emerging concept.

Distributed lethality is an emerging warfare concept to provide improved offensive capabilities to naval surface forces.

Distribution of credible combat power across the surface force combined with offensive capability delivered by submarine forces will enable fleet operations in the face of emerging sophisticated threats, according to William F. Bundy, NWC professor and director of the Gravely Naval Warfare Research Group which led the workshop series.

This third workshop was the last in this year’s series and involved resources from the Navy surface force, the submarine force, fleet representatives, program managers, and the research and development community. 

It was sponsored by Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, and Rear Adm. Peter Fanta, director, Surface Warfare in the chief of naval operation’s office.

“Improving and distributing credible combat power will complicate the calculus for a potential adversary. Every ship is shooter,” said Bundy.

Bundy says the new concept will extend Navy offensive options for joint force commanders to enhance conventional deterrence and escalation control options.

“For a long time now, Navy ships have been focused on self-defense and defense of the carrier strike group,” he said. 

Distributed and lethal surface warships will add another dimension to U.S. capability by creating a surface force that has the capacity to conduct offensive operations across the maritime battlespace.

“Some of the initial discussion and ideas on developing distributed lethality are already stimulating interest in the fleet. When I talk with surface warfare officers, they express a keen interest in the distributed lethality concept. Workshop results will inform in-depth research and analysis on developing a concept of operations for the Navy,” Bundy said.

Defining and advancing warfighting concepts is a core mission for NWC and for the Gravely Group.

Distributed lethality is one of the concepts under active investigation today either through individual student research or a combination of workshops and follow-on student research.

“Research at the Naval War College Center for Naval Warfare Studies has been instrumental in exploring nascent operational and functional capabilities that are in the fleet today,” Bundy said. “Several concepts that have begun with Gravely Group research are being used now.”

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Daniel L. Kuester
October 29, 2015

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