U.S. naval forces also possess extraordinary strategic reach, and the daily operations of America's Sailors and Marines have the potential to affect the majority of the world's inhabitants. Seventy-five percent of the earth's population and a similar proportion of national capitals and major economic centers lie in the littorals. This means particularly that Naval Aviation's expeditionary operations from the sea provide the United States with an enduring and decisive capability to shape and influence events on land.
In the 1992 strategic concept paper, ...From the Sea, the Navy and Marine Corps confirmed the primacy of littoral operations and the need to influence and control events on the shore. In 1994, Forward...From the Sea refined even more the naval strategic vision and highlighted the vital role of forward-deployed forces in underwriting regional stability. One of the most critical advantages of naval forces is that they provide on-scene deterrence, sea control, and power projection capabilities, and do so without infringing upon any nation's sovereignty. This advantage exists because naval forces operate in international waters and enjoy freedom of movement throughout the high seas.
This forward-deployed posture contributes significantly to regional deterrence and our ability to project military power when and where it is needed. Regional political and military elites - our friends and adversaries - must always be mindful of the military capabilities residing in an aircraft carrier battle group (CVBG) or amphibious ready group (ARG) that remains just offshore, waiting for the President's direction. These routine and sometimes not-so-routine deployments to forward areas also provide the basis for projecting and sustaining military power in regional conflicts, for ensuring full-spectrum dominance of the littoral battlespace, and for securing lodgments to enable entry of land-based forces.
Thus, forward-deployed naval forces and Naval Aviation are a superb
means of signaling U.S. capabilities and resolve to friends and foes alike.
Not constrained by host-nation political restrictions, the deployment of
naval forces is not subject to a foreign veto. In times of tension or conflict,
tactically mobile naval forces do not present an adversary with large,
vulnerable, fixed targets. Operating from sea bases, Naval Aviation can
reach littoral trouble-spots quickly,
provide self-sustained, long-range operations for extended periods of time, and move at a moment's notice to respond to newly emergent requirements. By its very nature, sea-based aviation allows the nation's leaders to react to events in a measured but militarily significant manner, increasing or decreasing the weight of their presence as events ashore dictate.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff explained his vision of America's future military in Joint Vision 2010. Four fundamental operational concepts ‹ dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protection - serve as the foci for the development of all joint warfighting capabilities. Importantly, these four operational concepts are already embodied to a large degree in America's expeditionary naval air power. But we cannot stand still.
Innovation and change have been the watchwords of Naval Aviation since
its earliest days. The ability to adapt to new technologies, systems, platforms,
and operational needs is nowhere better exemplified than in the design
and 50-year operational history of the USS Midway (CV 41).
Designed during World War II, in 1945 this "flattop" initially operated
piston-driven propeller aircraft, yet returned from her last deployment
in 1991 with the Navy's most modern, multipurpose strike-fighters. Her
original axial-deck design was modified to an angled-deck layout, her original
hydraulic catapults were replaced with more powerful steam catapults, and
the most basic electronics replaced by advanced sensors and communications
equipment. Indeed, every time a carrier deploys it carries leading-edge
systems that - when combined with effective tactics and well-trained people
- ensure it can meet almost any warfighting requirement.
future will build upon this heritage of innovation and tactical and operational
excellence. From the next-generation aircraft carrier, to advanced multi-mission
aircraft such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the Common Support Aircraft,
to tilt-rotor aircraft, Naval Aviation's Vision is one of adaptation, evolution,