The building blocks of forward-deployed Navy and Marine Corps forces that contribute to peacetime presence, crisis response, and regional conflicts are the air carrier battle groups and the amphibious ready groups, which are highly flexible formations. The naval services will focus on a new direction to "project power from the sea in the critical littoral regions of the world," and have committed to structuring their expeditionary forces so that they are inherently prepared for joint operations.
The Navy's future vision of warfare, delineated in From the Sea and Forward...From the Sea, and further developed in the Navy Operational Concept, identifies five fundamental roles for the Navy: sea control and maritime supremacy, power projection from sea to land, strategic deterrence, strategic sealift, and forward naval presence. However, in the future the Navy will fulfill these roles with enhanced capabilities. The Navy has embraced a concept called network-centric warfare: the ability of widely dispersed but robustly networked sensors, command centers, and forces to have significantly enhanced massed effects. Combining forward presence with network-centric combat power, the Navy intends to close time lines, decisively alter initial conditions, and seek to head off undesired events before they start. The naval contribution to dominant maneuver will use the sea to gain advantage over the enemy, while naval precision engagements will use sensors, information systems, precisely targeted weapons, and agile, lethal forces to attack key targets. Naval full-dimensional protection will address the full spectrum of threats, providing information superiority, air and maritime superiority, theater air and missile defense, and delivery of naval firepower. Finally, naval forces will be increasingly called upon to provide sea-based focused logistics for joint operations in the littorals.
The At-Sea Fleet Battle Experiments, to be overseen by the Maritime Battle Center, are designed to explore new concepts and emerging systems like the Maritime Fire Support Demonstrator, Cooperative Engagement Capability, and theater ballistic missile defense to evaluate their effects on fleet capabilities and determine future requirements. These experiments are limited in number to maintain their quality and are combined with other fleet exercises to maximize participation. The first of these experiments, Fleet Battle Experiment Alpha (conducted off southern California in March 1997), evaluated C4ISR capabilities, requirements for a sea-based combined joint task force, and other emerging concepts.
(SOURCE: Department of the Navy. 1996. Forward...From the Sea, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C.)