Tactics are methods for using weapons to achieve a military objective. If optimized, those methods are force multipliers that are within the Navy's control; are cheap to develop; and do not chafe the political concerns of Congress or industry.
To be effective, however, tactics must be developed in a timely manner. The current time-line for tactical development and evaluation is too long in a changing world. It frequently takes over three years from the statement of the need for a battle group tactic to the completed evaluation of a candidate tactic. Then there are usually another few years to the inclusion of the tactic in a Naval Warfare Publication.
Timeliness is not the only concern. Tactics must be appropriate, executable, and robust. Yet many of the tactics resulting from current processes do not meet those criteria. As a consequence, some are not held in high regard and, in some cases, are entirely ignored. The Navy would therefore be wise to reform, quicken, and improve its processes for developing tactics. By taking the time now during this world "recess" to perfect the ability to develop tactics quickly, the Navy will enable itself to respond more agilely and effectively to the unknown dangers that will inevitably come its way in the future.
Although the Navy may today have enough power to counter any current enemies with current tactics, a focus on tactical development will enable it to accomplish its missions at lower costs in time, casualties, operating funds, and capital investment and more impressively and more thoroughly besides. Simple and effective tactics will also facilitate faster and cheaper training, and reduce dependence on command and control. By developing a quick and efficient process for developing tactics, the Navy will be able to respond more promptly and effectively to technological innovations (foreign and domestic, friends' and foes'), new enemies, new enemy tactics, new situations, and new missions (including those of potential enemies).
Lastly, an emphasis on tactical development will enhance the fighting ability and the morale of Navy personnel involved in the process.
As things now stand, the responsibilities for tactical development, evaluation, and training are fragmented among many commands. Although the current system works fairly well for unit tactics, it is generally inadequate for the rapid development and evaluation of group (multi-platform) and joint (multi-service) tactics. The following actions will facilitate quicker and better development of group and joint tactics.
Each Tactical Development Team is composed mostly of uniformed personnel. They are the ones who bleed, and so have a vested interest in quality tactics. It is also good training for them to think about tactics, and it enhances their professional development. Finally, uniformed personnel generally like to think about tactics, but currently have little opportunity or encouragement to do so.
The Fleet Tactics and Doctrine Center identifies a cadre of uniformed tactical specialists and ensures that their expertise is recognized and put to use in the development of tactics. This requires procedures to:
Professional analysts and evaluators are to evaluate (not develop) tactics. There are professionals within the Navy establishment (Warfare Centers, Center for Naval Analyses, and university labs contracted to the Navy) that can help in the evaluation of tactics, although that is not within their present tasking.
Tactics should not be developed by contractors. Contractors, despite being professional and dedicated, are more expensive than uniformed personnel and tend to be less up-to-date on naval operations and tactical requirements. Moreover, contractors do not have to put developed tactics into practice.
Contracting and review procedures, and the de facto requirement for contractors to think in terms of deliverable products, staffing considerations, and business considerations, slow the tactical development and evaluation process. If necessary, contractors can be used for administration, formatting, and publishing of tactical documents (although this too can probably be done within the Navy establishment).
And that is the Navy's fault, not theirs. return