“We’re not trying to compete with the NWC.
Rather, we want to collaborate and cooperate for the
good of the fleet,” Sepp said.
Discussions took place in the context of Deputy
Defense Secretary Robert O. Work’s Feb. 9 directive that
the services “invigorate” their wargaming programs.
An “effort must be made to incorporate commercial
and defense industry expertise into the larger wargaming effort,” in order to “ensure its vitality and flexibility,” Work said in the directive.
In his welcoming address to session participants,
retired VADM Ronald A. Route, the president of the
Naval Postgraduate School, said, “This is an integrative
effort, combining the expertise of the academy, military
and industry. You are here because we don’t have all
the answers — yet.”
Participants included international partners, as well
as students and faculty of the school itself.
Two Naval Postgraduate School professors —
Robert Burks and Jeff Appleget — bookended the first
day’s workshops with explanations of what wargaming
actually is and how it works at the school.
Burks and Appleget are key players in the postgraduate school’s newly established Wargaming Hub, which
coordinates gaming and wargaming activities that support the faculty, student programs and curricula. The
hub incorporates a wide range of skilled practitioners,
from technologists and area specialists to operational
and strategic warfighters.
To date, Burks and Appleget said,
27 school-sponsored wargames
have been created and analyzed.
The games emphasized human
decision-making, rather than computer simulations.
Separate panels assessed the various littoral environments, discussed wargaming, operating and
fighting in what they called “the
littoral clutter,” and addressed
issues of lethality and survivability.
Peter Swartz, a senior naval ana-
lyst with the Center for Naval
Analysis, discussed the potential
threats posed by Chinese anti-ship
missiles — known in parlance as the
“Red Missiles.” Retired RADM Scott
Jones, now with Boeing Co., talked
about the future of the Navy’s own
anti-ship missile systems. Nigerian
Navy Capt. Pakiribo Anabraba, a
student at the school, addressed the
challenges his country faces in fight-
ing piracy and smuggling in the
Gulf of Guinea. The increasing aggression in the Baltic
Sea by Russia also drew considerable attention.
“The point of studying the littorals [is to] move
toward a comprehensive understanding of that opera-
tional environment,” Sepp told Seapower. “Many
experts have a sometimes-more-narrow understanding
of their role in the littoral.”
For example, Sepp said, the Army has a large water-
craft fleet that gives it the capability to maneuver in lit-
“Do they consider all … factors in their operations
and strategic planning that emerge from both the
threat of local environments and technologies like the
new mines that are being developed? It illuminates
how vastly complex the littorals are, especially compared to blue water,” Sepp said.
He also alluded to the Navy’s traditional missions,
with “vessels that are very efficient and effective when
there’s 600 feet [of water] under the keel. Move them to
shallow waters and they have to operate very differently.”
Sepp cited the nuclear-submarine fleet as an example of a “fabulous deterrent force” while in blue water
that would be forced to operate completely differently
in the shallows.
Sweden — one of the international participants —
made the case for its Navy’s unique submarine designs,
intended to allow them to maneuver in its icy coastal
waters and parry with the powerhouse Russian Navy.
The littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Fort Worth conducts patrols in international
waters of the South China Sea May 11 near the Spratly Islands as the People’s
Liberation Army Navy guided-missile frigate Yancheng transits in the background.
A recent workshop at the Littoral Operations Center at the Naval Postgraduate
School included sessions that focused on the LCS and the concept of the “
LCS-Next” that someday would replace the current iteration of ships.