These are the questions the U.S. Navy has to ask
itself in the future.
“The term now being used is the ‘Navy After Next,’”
Sepp said. “Do we have littorals through stronger part-
nerships? Alliances with navies that already have those
capabilities? Or do we build our own? Gaming is a way
to get to those points.”
The second-day sessions included a student-faculty
workshop that focused on the LCS, and the concept of
the “LCS-Next” that someday would replace the cur-
rent iteration of ships. The group expanded upon LCS-
related discussions that took place in last year’s ses-
sion, which focused on practical matters such as cur-
rent operations, training, logistics and integration.
This year, the discussions centered upon a reevaluation of logistics, taking into consideration technological advances and how they are being integrated
today — as well as what they would look like on LCS-Next. With goals of increasing offensive capability and
mindset, as well as lethality in fleet operations, uniformed participants from a wide array of communities
offered their views.
“We had SEAL, Army dive team, MARSOC [Marine
Special Operations Command] and LCS officers … make
their presentations to RADM [Christopher J.] Paul, along
with a considerable audience. Paul said one of the best
ways to increase the lethality of the LCS is to deploy with
special operations forces onboard,” Sepp said.
Paul is deputy commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S.
Ideally, the LCS fleet would be capable of carrying
those special operations troops for extended periods —
90 to 100 days — in a forward-presence role, Sepp said.
The groups also addressed a primary area of concern
to Paul’s boss, VADM Thomas S. Rowden, commander,
Naval Surface Forces — improved recruitment and
retention of LCS officers. The new ships are different,
and require a unique type of officer to manage them,
“We’re not talking about the technology of the ship,
but how the service [on the LCS] affects an officer’s
career,” Sepp said.
There is an emerging school of thought that the LCS
mission someday would evolve into its own communi-
ty — closely related, but distinctly different from,
other surface-warfare jobs.
“That’s the argument,” Sepp said. “What they’re pre-
senting is closed-loop assignments. You would fall into
a SWO [surface warfare officer] LCS track. You may or
may not cross over to other vessels, maybe to the Gator
Two LCS officers who recently returned from
deployment — CAPT Randy Garner and CDR Roger
“Dale” Heinken — also made presentations on the way
future wargames can be tweaked to be more effective.
“These workshops are the way to begin,” Sepp said.
With real walking-the-deck experience, Sepp said, Gar-
ner and Heinken have become “believers” in their ship.
“They’ve reached the point where they believe this
is their fleet. They will be in charge one day and they
want to help shape it to make it better when they are
in command,” Sepp said.
Paul thought enough of the career-path discussion
that he asked on the spot for another such three-hour
session — to be conducted before VADM Rowden’s
next visit to the center.
“At the beginning of this century, the Navy planned a
new approach to surface warfare supported by a family of
new ships: missile defense cruiser, land attack destroyer
and littoral combat ship,” Paul said, in remarks at the
onset of the workshops. “This discussion is timely, as the
U.S. Navy surface fleet is at a crossroads.” ■
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 12 SEAPOWER / JUNE 2015
The guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin and USS Wayne E. Meyer, with the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, center, test maritime obscurants south of Guam to assess their tactical effectiveness for anti-ship missile defense June 25,
2014. As littoral operations bring ships closer to shore, anti-ship missiles pose a greater potential threat.