American Sea Power and Naval Force Structure


On April 18, the Center for the National Interest hosted the third discussion in its ongoing series on American Sea Power. The first event in the series addressed the return of great power naval rivalry with China and Russia. The second event focused on challenges to U.S. naval preeminence and the state of U.S. shipbuilding and the defense industrial base. This event focused on naval force structure with a particular emphasis on fleet design and the concept of distributed lethality.

Questions covered included: What is the most effective means for the United States to ensure sea control in contested operational environments (or A2/AD bubbles) and how should the composition of the fleet reflect that? What is the proper mix of surface and subsurface combatants? Can smaller ships such as frigates and corvettes, which have traditionally not been a priority for the U.S. Navy, now play a critical role?

To discuss these challenges, the Center hosted two leading experts on naval strategy and force structure:

Jerry Hendrix is a retired U.S. Navy captain, an award-winning naval historian, and a Vice President with the Telemus Group, a national-security consultancy.

Milan Vego has been Professor of Operations at the U.S. Naval War College since 1991. Previously, he served for 12 years as a naval officer and four years as 2nd Officer (Deck) in the Merchant Marine.

The Center’s Director of China and Pacific Studies, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.) Wallace C. Gregson, Jr., moderated the discussion.

A full recording of the event can be viewed here on the National Interest’s Facebook page.

A summary of this event appeared in The National Interest, and can be read here.