Five Possible Futures for the US Navy

The future of American naval power is in flux, perhaps more so than at any time since the simultaneous invention of submarines and aircraft about a century ago. An accelerating development of advanced technology resulting in the proliferation of ever “smarter” machines may soon alter operational doctrines across all physical domains. A critical mass of intelligent machines may create a type of warfare increasingly depopulated of humans and repopulated by unmanned systems. If cyberspace becomes a dominant domain of warfare, sea power may change even more radically.

The creation and sustainment of naval power can be framed as a four-factor problem-solving exercise. A simple memory device for the four factors, which was used with good effect in the education of several classes of midshipmen trainees, is the TIME model of naval warfare: naval power is generated at an ever-evolving nexus of Technology, Ideas (tactics, doctrine, strategy), Men and women, and Environment factors (in five domains). Expanded slightly: technology must be appropriate to the environment, guided by ideas whose creativity derives from men and women with imagination, integrity, and stamina.

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