The current issue of Proceedings has one of those articles that both disgusts me and encourages me at the same time (1). The author describes a revolutionary, “new” approach to ASW. As he puts it,
“[Navy leadership and personnel]… just didn’t understand that the world of submarine warfare had changed significantly since the 1980s.”
We’ll come back to the “new” part of that in a bit.
Moving on, the author presents a 10-step approach to ASW which recognizes the series of vulnerabilities or engagement opportunities that a submarine passes through from the start of its deployment to the end of its mission. Recognizing these steps allows the establishment of a kill-chain of sorts to be operated against the submarine. The sub can be engaged and killed not just at sea in a pitched ASW confrontation but anywhere along the way. The ten steps, or locations, for engagement are,
- Prevent the strategic decision to use submarines.
- In port.
- Sever command and control.
- Near port.
- Transiting choke points.
- Open ocean.
- Lure subs into kill boxes.
- Mask targets.
- Close contact.
- Defeat the torpedo.
I won’t go into detail on these points. You can read the article if you’re interested. Besides, most are fairly obvious.
The disgusting part of this article is that the author seems to think he’s come up with something new. Apparently not a student of history, he seems unaware of the Allies efforts to attack U-Boats in their pens and destroy the factories that made the subs and their component parts. He seems unaware of the WWII code breaking efforts that denied enemy command and control effectiveness. He seems unaware of the Cold War GIUK and SOSUS choke point awareness. I could go on but the point is that none of the steps are new and most have been recognized and understood for almost as long as there have been submarines.
That these steps would seem to the author to be a “new” response to the “changing” world of submarine warfare is nothing less than the admission of total ignorance of the history of SW and ASW. That Navy leadership would embrace it as “new” is equally troubling.
|U-Boat Pens - Always A Target|
I’m not going to attack the author any further – that’s not the point. The only reason I criticize the author at all is to point out the sad state of affairs regarding tactical and strategic competence among our professional warriors. I’ll leave it at that.
On the plus side, if the Navy will wake up and embrace this “new” form of ASW then I’m all for it. Any awareness and grasp of strategy and tactics by the Navy is something to be celebrated, praised, and encouraged. In that light, this is a most welcome article.
I hope the Navy leaders responsible for ASW go back and thoroughly read up on the history of ASW. Who knows how many other “new” tactics they may find?
(1) US Naval Institute Proceedings, “The Hunt for Full-Spectrum ASW”, Capt. William Toti, USN(Ret.), Jun 2014, p.38