The International Working Mannequin’s Contact and Blunt Layers: Cornerstones for U.S Naval Technique, Pt. 2

Learn Half One right here.

By Paul Lyons and Jon Solomon

In Half 1, we summarized the ideas and capabilities underpinning the 2018 Nationwide Protection Technique’s (NDS) International Working Mannequin (GOM). We outlined the elements that motivated GOM improvement, and confirmed how the GOM’s historic lineage informs its up to date utility. In at this time’s second and ultimate installment on this collection, we are going to define the strategic significance of ahead “competitors operations” to deterrence. We are going to then determine the required attributes for naval forces working within the Contact and Blunt layers, in addition to elements that strategists ought to contemplate when eager about such operations. We are going to conclude with some ideas relating to the GOM’s overarching implications for future naval technique and power employment.

The Strategic Significance of “Competitors Operations” to Deterrence

Contact layer help to deterrence goes past provision of help to the Blunt layer. To grasp the connections between day-to-day competitors operations within the Contact layer and deterrence in opposition to extra acute aggression, one should first perceive how the Chinese language and Russians take into consideration deterrence.

The (since outdated) 2013 version of the Folks’s Liberation Military Academy of Navy Science’s authoritative textbook Science of Navy Technique notes that deterrence power derives partly from the “international strategic stability,” which itself is knowledgeable by assessments of “complete nationwide energy” (CNP). CNP, which “takes economic system and science and know-how because the core” and contains political, navy, and diplomatic energy, considerably shapes Chinese language perceptions of alternatives, threats, and dangers. The Science of Navy Technique’s writers assert that each one the weather of nationwide energy mix to “create optimum situations for attaining the deterrence purpose,” with the non-military parts serving as implies that help the navy factor.1

Russian navy theorists equally outline strategic deterrence as:

“…a bundle of coordinated political, diplomatic, financial, ideological, ethical, non secular, informational, scientific, technological, navy, and different actions taken by a rustic to reveal the decisiveness of the political management to faucet all devices of state energy consecutively or concurrently—to stabilize the navy, political, and strategic atmosphere, to anticipate aggression, and to deescalate navy battle.”2

Russian strategic deterrence assessments are possible knowledgeable by estimates of the “military-political state of affairs” on the international, regional, and native ranges in addition to estimates of how political, navy, financial, and maybe additionally technological energy holistically mix into “state energy.”3

We see, then, that each China and Russia hyperlink theater deterrence with strategic deterrence, and understand strategic deterrence as encompassing greater than solely navy elements. It follows that Contact layer operations that have an effect on Chinese language and Russian perceptions of American political, diplomatic, informational, and financial affect inside the Indo-Pacific and Europe subsequently possible have deterrent results past mere correlations of forces. The identical is probably going true for Contact layer operations that help the perceived bolstering of American financial power by supporting relations and favorable market entry to buying and selling companions, diplomatic and informational power by reinforcing relations with longstanding allies and companions whereas cultivating new ones, and technological power by demonstrating spectacular new capabilities or fielding them rapidly. And naturally, Contact layer operations that form perceptions of American political power by demonstrating U.S. leaders’ resolve possible have a disproportionate impact on deterring Chinese language and Russian leaders from partaking in aggression they deem to hold uncomfortable threat, and correspondingly for assuring allies and companions.

None of that is completely different from how U.S. forces, and particularly naval forces, have been employed ahead in day-to-day operations through the Chilly Struggle in help of strategic competitors—and in flip deterrence.4 Naval forces are distinctive inside the Joint Pressure in that they don’t seem to be garrison forces: they usually deploy from homeports and bases into prioritized areas, and spend most of their deployed time of their meant working environments at sea or ashore. Their operational tempo throughout day-to-day strategic competitors should be fastidiously balanced in opposition to the time and sources wanted to revive and protect parts of their fight and materials readiness. Nonetheless, simply as extreme operational tempos negatively have an effect on naval power readiness, naval forces additionally lose parts of their competitiveness, deterrent, and fight effectiveness when they’re decreased to a “fleet in being” saved pierside or in residence waters.

Certainly, failures to confront adversary efforts to erode norms or make use of calibrated sub-conventional aggression at ahead friction factors, particularly inside prioritized theaters, dangers sending adversary leaders harmful indicators. As now we have famous, authoritative Chinese language and Russian literature strongly indicate that navy balances are simply one of many metrics their leaders take note of inside their choice calculus. U.S. efforts at sustaining deterrence stability profit from convincing Chinese language and Russian leaders that holistic strategic and theater traits stay unfavorable for them to likelihood main aggression.

This isn’t simply an East Asia or Jap Europe consideration given how Chinese language and Russian estimates of U.S. strategic energy are measured regionally in addition to worldwide. The 2018 NDS prioritized the Indo-Pacific and Europe for day-to-day allocation of essentially the most combat-capable and campaign-critical forces. That doesn’t imply that U.S. forces shouldn’t be used economically to help strategic competitors with China and Russia at fastidiously chosen friction factors elsewhere. Certainly, Contact layer operations at friction factors in secondary theaters can generally supply low-cost alternatives for shaping Chinese language and Russian international energy estimates and complicating their talents to attain grand strategic beneficial properties they worth extremely, which in flip might not directly reinforce deterrence in opposition to aggression within the precedence theaters. Naval forces present scalable, tailorable, and extremely cellular choices for performing these sorts of operations, together with from inside worldwide waters with no dependence on a bunch nation. The 2018 NDS’ Dynamic Pressure Employment (DFE) idea, which emphasizes proactive and operationally unpredictable power actions and actions, gives an extra framework for tailoring Contact layer naval operations at choose friction factors in help of deterrence and strategic competitors.

Deterrence stability additionally advantages from not urgent adversaries in locations and ways in which excessively exacerbate their fears primarily based on their perceptions of extant circumstances, no matter whether or not the U.S. instrument of competitors is navy, non-military, or each in tandem. Typical deterrence works greatest if adversary leaders are primarily motivated by opportunism; it doesn’t work as nicely if adversary leaders are primarily motivated by desperation and worry.5 An method that fastidiously balances deterrence and competitors with reassurance and restraint is critical. It’s important that authoritative intelligence estimates of adversary mindsets, calculus, and targets below extant circumstances dynamically inform Contact layer operations and Blunt layer configuration and posture.

In the end, selections relating to which friction factors U.S. naval forces ought to contest and by which theaters, and the timing and means for doing so, are reserved for U.S. political management. The naval providers’ accountability is to own the requisite ideas, capabilities, and readiness to offer U.S. political leaders a spread of versatile choices for Contact layer actions, and a spread of credible and efficient choices for Blunt layer design.

Attributes of and Concerns for Naval Forces within the Contact and Blunt Layers

A power’s required attributes—the useful traits it wants with a view to help strategic targets—might be derived from technique to tell power design and improvement. The Contact and Blunt layers create calls for for particular attributes from naval forces.

Responsive. Naval forces must be positioned and postured such that they’ll reply on timelines essential to generate circumstantial aggressive or deterrent results at ahead friction factors. This usually means Contact and Blunt layer naval forces should be ahead deployed, whether or not completely, rotationally, or situationally (e.g. DFE)—and whether or not on the entrance in a theater or additional afield.

Credible. Adversary leaders should understand ahead naval forces’ capabilities, portions, positioning, and posture as ample to make aggression unattractively expensive and dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether or not U.S. leaders understand ahead naval forces as ample or not; adversary perceptions are what matter for deterrent and aggressive impact.

Persistent. Ahead naval forces may have to stay in a given space throughout day-to-day or disaster operations for lengthy intervals. They require the power to maintain themselves by way of economical consumption of gasoline and materiel and by leveraging theater logistics networks.

Tailorable. Ahead naval forces could also be required to generate all kinds of deterrent or aggressive results primarily based on U.S. targets and extant circumstances. This primarily interprets into necessities for flexibility, selective visibility, and scalability:

  • Versatile. Ahead naval forces possessing multi-mission capabilities and coaching, adjustable payloads (whether or not tools, munitions, or personnel), and design options that allow operations in all kinds of climates present U.S. leaders with a spread of tailorable choices for deterrence and competitors. By advantage of being ahead, naval forces may also present flexibility by way of their talents to swing between Contact and Blunt layer duties.
  • Selective Visibility. Clearly seen naval forces present signaling choices in help of deterrence and allied/associate assurance. Naval forces which are much less seen if not just about undetectable additionally help deterrence since they’re tough for an adversary to preemptively neutralize and may pose substantial latent threats to an adversary’s plans. Many naval forces can tailor their relative visibility by altering their working postures. For instance, usually extremely seen floor combatants and Marine forces can scale back their emitted signatures to complicate adversaries’ talents to detect, localize, and classify them. Conversely, usually undetectable submarines can conduct actions akin to port calls to point their ahead presence. A tailor-made stability throughout the spectrum of naval visibility, primarily based on circumstances and adversary mindsets, can amplify deterrence credibility whereas producing aggressive results.
  • Scalable. Some deterrent or aggressive results profit from the employment of a Service Strike Group or Marine Expeditionary Unit. Many others, nevertheless, solely require a single ship (not even essentially a significant combatant) or a Marine rifle firm. The power to make use of aggregation or disaggregation to scale the naval forces allotted to a selected Contact or Blunt layer activity primarily based on mission wants and circumstances additional expands U.S. leaders’ tailorable choices. Moreover, the power to be extremely economical in scaling naval power allocations for Contact layer duties gives alternatives to generate aggressive results with out detracting from the naval forces wanted for Blunt layer credibility and responsiveness in precedence theaters.

Nonetheless, strategists should concentrate on issues that certain naval forces’ efficient use in help of the Contact and Blunt layers.

Sustainability. As a Western Hemisphere nation with Jap Hemisphere very important pursuits, U.S. naval power employment should stability between the ahead presence required for Contact and Blunt layer duties and the preservation of Surge layer materials readiness. Continued elevated use of Service Strike Teams for Blunt layer duties within the Center East lately has sophisticated the fleet’s skill to take care of a steady stability between deployments and shipyard upkeep.6 This imbalance detracts from the time the fleet wants to revive readiness and availability for rotational deployments from the USA to the prioritized Indo-Pacific and European theaters—and for emergent Surge layer duties. It additionally consumes ships’ operational service lives on a tempo quicker than was anticipated of their designs.7 Within the absence of the bigger fleet the nation wants, strategists are left with two choices: marginal will increase within the numbers of naval forces ahead deployed in precedence theaters (whether or not completely at current bases, or on prolonged deployments working from transient “locations” whereas utilizing “multi-crewing” ideas), or marginal restraint relating to the place, how usually, and what number of naval forces are rotationally deployed. The Division of the Navy can solely present suggestions relating to these choices; selections are reserved for the Secretary of Protection or the President, and successive Presidential administrations have been unwilling to considerably scale back naval presence in or chorus from responsively surging naval forces to the Center East.8

Survivability. Blunt layer design specifically must stability naval forces’ visibility with preservation of their survivability. Adversaries must understand {that a} war-opening first salvo assault would fail to forestall ahead U.S. naval forces from promptly reconstituting the vital mass wanted to bathroom down the adversary’s thrusts in opposition to allied/associate forces or territories and bleed the adversary’s spearhead forces.9 A tailor-made mixture of naval forces and postures, starting from extremely seen to just about invisible, creates a mutually reinforcing maritime deterrent system. The mixing of this maritime system inside a broader Joint and Coalition theater deterrent additional balances between the visibility and survivability attributes.

PEARL HARBOR (July 28, 2021) Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721), together with civilian contractors with BAE Techniques, load a UGM-84 anti-ship harpoon missile onto the submarine in preparation of Massive-Scale Train (LSE) 2021. (U.S. Navy picture by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro)

Predictability. Some operational predictability can erode deterrence, as an adversary can notice and probably exploit the exact timing and timelines for when naval forces usually rotate into and out of a theater. Likewise, if the versatile deterrent choice chosen to push again on an adversary’s provocations tends to be the identical each time, that choice’s effectiveness might decline. Nonetheless, operational unpredictability may also erode deterrence, as an adversary can pay attention to and exploit transient naval presence close to a friction level if it believes it will probably rating a desired acquire earlier than the U.S. can dynamically reposition naval forces for Contact or Blunting functions. Operational unpredictability might be particularly destabilizing if adversary leaders misperceive U.S. intent behind a maritime DFE operation, leading to inadvertent provocation. Authoritative, intelligence-informed operational planning is crucial for mitigating dangers stemming from a contemplated operation’s predictability or unpredictability.

Naval Forces and the New Period of Enduring Strategic Competitors

The post-Chilly Struggle period was born with the Soviet collapse. It arguably ended with the rise of Chinese language and Russian revisionist ambitions, and their improvement of serious navy capabilities aimed toward supporting these ambitions. We subsequently discover ourselves on the daybreak of a brand new period—a “return to historical past.” The circumstances of the Chilly Struggle and the current are hardly equivalent, however they’re comparable sufficient to make it worthwhile for us to look again into our strategic previous to grasp what outdated ideas would possibly supply worth as tailored to current and future challenges.

The U.S. navy’s skill to carry the road throughout what’s going to possible be a multi-decade strategic competitors with China and Russia, and particularly the prevention of ruinous main conflict, requires the clever and balanced use of forces in prioritized areas and globally. The GOM represents a 21st century replace of America’s Chilly Struggle-era strategic method for doing so. Simply as was the case throughout that twilight battle, naval forces present distinctive attributes for supporting deterrence and strategic competitors at ahead friction factors. Disciplined implementation of the GOM allows use of naval forces for strategic competitors with out undermining deterrence, and vice versa.

There isn’t a analytic proof the USA wants a essentially completely different naval power structure (which incorporates however just isn’t essentially restricted to fleet composition, group, command and management philosophy, and working ideas) to help strategic competitors from the one it must help deterrence. From the beginning of our democratic republic onward, we designed the majority of our naval forces for utility in armed battle, which gave them the flexibility they wanted for regular state competitors operations and the fight credibility they wanted for deterrence. Rigorous quantitative evaluation might discover naval power structure ought to change on the margins with a view to present higher balances between the wants of deterrence and strategic competitors, however as now we have proven the 2 don’t distinctly commerce in opposition to one another when intelligently utilized inside a strategic design just like the GOM.

The US does want a bigger Navy-Marine Corps workforce with a view to enhance its sustainable skill to help the deterrence and geopolitical competitors necessities flowing from nationwide technique, or relatively to scale back pressure on and dangers to naval power materials readiness. To do that, the naval providers might want to clarify to the American folks in additional concrete phrases how investments in bigger naval forces will increase our nation’s skill to guard our safety, prosperity, and affect. The GOM gives the muse—and the American historic continuity—for explaining the naval providers’ strategic contributions.

Even with bigger naval forces, nevertheless, strategists will nonetheless must prioritize the place, when, and the way naval forces are allotted to Contact and Blunt layer duties. Chinese language navy capabilities and capability are more likely to develop on a scale that threatens U.S. very important pursuits in methods not seen for the reason that Chilly Struggle, if ever. Russian navy capabilities and capability possible is not going to develop on something near an analogous scale, however will retain the power to pose threats to U.S. very important pursuits. The Navy-Marine Corps workforce won’t be able to make use of power progress alone to unravel their naval strategic challenges. Built-in options with the opposite providers, the interagency, and allies and companions might be needed for deterrence and strategic aggressive effectiveness. The Contact and Blunt layers present the useful logic alongside which all these gamers can mix their respective efforts with naval forces to best impact.

Particularly, the USA ought to look to allies and companions to shoulder vital roles inside the Contact and Blunt layers. Allies and companions ought to particularly carry solitary accountability for direct protection of their maritime territories and industrial pursuits from sub-conventional “salami slicing” aggression, if solely as a result of this usually constitutes enforcement of their nationwide legal guidelines and sovereignty. U.S. naval forces can and may function in ways in which counter Chinese language and Russian threats of utilizing typical escalation to undermine allied and associate constabulary operations. U.S. naval forces may also present allied and associate constabularies with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance help. U.S. naval forces shouldn’t, nevertheless, really carry out home maritime policing actions for allies and companions. Nor ought to U.S. naval forces spend scarce sources growing duplicative Blunt layer capabilities by which allies or companions arguably possess aggressive benefit, akin to flotillas of quick coastal missile boats.

Absent the GOM, U.S. leaders would face decreased strategic affect in vital areas, with related decrements to the American folks’s safety and prosperity, because the non-military types of U.S. nationwide energy would lose the ahead navy energy bulwark they relaxation upon. U.S. leaders would correspondingly additionally lose choices for proactive, credible typical deterrence by denial in opposition to aggression. Nearly all of choices would possible grow to be reactive, and actually compel near-total reliance on typical deterrence by punishment with all its shortcomings, if not nuclear deterrence and its credibility points relative to deterrence of sub-conventional or restricted typical aggression.10 The sensible consequence would possible be the USA retreating to its pre-1945 de facto strategic emphasis on compellence by rollback, which lacks credibility in opposition to nuclear-armed nice powers.

Present U.S. leaders present zero indicators of desirous to dwell in such a world.11 And so the GOM will possible survive within the 2022 NDS to the advantage of U.S. naval forces, maybe not in identify, however nearly actually in capabilities.

Paul Lyons is a Principal Coverage Analyst at Techniques Planning and Evaluation (SPA), Inc. and a former Floor Warfare Officer with 4 command-at-sea excursions within the Pacific. He beforehand served as Department Head for International Coverage and Posture inside the Workplace of the Chief of Naval Operations and because the Navy’s lead maritime strategist inside the Workplace of the Secretary of Protection’s 2018 NDS Core Crew.

Jon Solomon is a Principal Coverage Analyst at SPA, Inc. and a former Floor Warfare Officer.

The views expressed herein are solely these of the authors and are offered in a private capability. These views don’t replicate the official positions of SPA, Inc., and don’t essentially replicate the insurance policies or positions of the U.S. Division of Protection, any U.S. armed service, or every other U.S. Authorities company.


1. “Science of Navy Technique (2013).” Translated by Air College China Aerospace Research Institute, 2021; Pg.84, 86, 94, 102, 104, 130, 136, 139, 152, 168-169, 178, 188-189, 306.

2. “Russia Navy Energy.” U.S. Protection Intelligence Company, 2017; Pg23.

3. “Russian Assessments and Functions of the Correlation of Forces and Means;” Pg22-25, 104, 112, 127-128.

4. The Eighties Navy’s Maritime Technique described these capabilities intimately. See John D. Hattendorf and Peter Swartz, eds. “U.S. Naval Technique within the Eighties: Chosen Paperwork. Newport, RI: Naval Struggle Faculty Press, 2008; Pg48-52, 154-162, 213-214, 282-287, 306-308.

5. See Janice Gross Stein, “Deterrence and Reassurance,” in Habits, Society, and Nuclear Struggle, Vol. 2, eds. Philip E. Tetlock et al. (New York: Oxford College Press, 1991), Pg16; and Robert Jervis, The That means of the Nuclear Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell College Press, 1989), Pg137, 139–40.

6. Megan Eckstein. “No Margin Left: Overworked Service Pressure Struggles to Keep Deployments After A long time of Overuse.” U.S. Naval Institute Information, 12 November 2020,

7. CDR Isaac Harris, USN. “Change the Floor Navy’s Upkeep Philosophy.” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 147 No.8 (August 2021),

8. Bryan McGrath. “The Issues of Politics and Posture are Baked into the System.” Struggle on the Rocks, 05 January 2022,

9. Jon Solomon. “Parrying the Twenty first Century First Salvo.” Middle for Worldwide Maritime Safety, 07 July 2016, first-century-first-salvo/26444

10. Jonathan F. Solomon. “Demystifying Typical Deterrence.” Strategic Research Quarterly, Vol. 07 No. 4 (Winter 2013), Pg120, 135.

11. The Biden Administration’s March 2021 Interim Nationwide Safety Strategic Steerage states that “At its root, guaranteeing our nationwide safety requires us to… Promote a positive distribution of energy to discourage and stop adversaries from instantly threatening the USA and our allies, inhibiting entry to the worldwide commons, or dominating key areas…” (Pg9). It additionally states that “Elsewhere, as we place ourselves to discourage our adversaries and defend our pursuits, working alongside our companions, our presence might be most strong within the Indo-Pacific and Europe.” (Pg15). Had the Workplace of the Secretary of Protection’s 2021 International Posture Overview opted in favor of decreased power allocations to the Indo-Pacific and Europe, in favor of elevated reliance on attaining deterrence by way of DFE or responsive power surges ahead, it could have recommended a 2022 NDS shift away from deterrence by denial and in direction of deterrence—or compellence—by punishment, presumably paired with rollback campaigns.

Featured Picture: SOUTH CHINA SEA (Oct. 30, 2021) U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), U.S. Navy Nimitz-class plane provider USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), Japan Maritime Self-Protection Pressure (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Murasame (DD 101), and JMSDF Izumo-class helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184) transit collectively within the South China Sea. (U.S. Navy picture by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Haydn N. Smith)

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