Navy deployments changing as part of larger military strategy

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN 700) returns to the U.S. Navy Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., on Nov. 25, 2013, following a six-month deployment. The Navy is changing the way its ships are deployed to be more responsive to events happening around the globe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN 700) returns to the U.S. Navy Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., on Nov. 25, 2013, following a six-month deployment. The Navy is changing the way its ships are deployed to be more responsive to events happening around the globe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

The Trump administration's National Defense Strategy calls for being "strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable." For the Navy, that means changing the way its ships are deployed to be more responsive to events happening around the globe.

"Less predictable operations present challenges to our competitors, frustrate their efforts, and preclude their options. All the while, we remain strategically predictable with our allies and partners, demonstrating our commitment to deterring aggression," Capt. Scott Miller, spokesman for Fleet Forces Command, said in a recent email.

The Navy is moving away from set deployment patterns, such as a regularly scheduled seven-month deployment where a ship goes to and from a predictable location. In military-speak, the new concept is called "dynamic force employment," and the idea is to keep adversaries guessing about how the American military operates and where.

"(It allows us) to project power anywhere in the world, at the time of our choosing and at the tempo we desire in order to maintain freedom of the seas," Miller said.

Training and maintenance cycles are not expected to change. But the unpredictability will be an adjustment for families.

"Increased communication and engagement by leadership, in addition to support organizations and programs that exist, ensures that sailors are ready to go to sea and that their families have the resources they need," Miller said.

Earlier this summer, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group demonstrated how this concept could play out. Strike groups comprise various types of ships, such as Navy carriers, guided-missiles cruisers and attack submarines, and are established and disestablished as needed.

The Truman returned from a three-month deployment, as opposed to the standard six months, in July for what the Navy dubbed a "working port visit," during which maintenance and advanced training was conducted. The Truman went out to sea again Aug. 18. In September, the Truman was reported to be in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, which covers the Adriatic, Baltic, Barents, Black, Caspian, Mediterranean and North seas.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson at the Defense News Conference in September explained how the Truman "did things very differently."

"So Harry S. Truman did some new things and then she returned to Norfolk, just recently got back underway, where she'll do some more new things. And you'll see more of this throughout all of our fleets as we kind of work our way into this idea of distributed and dynamic maritime operations," he said.

j.bergman@theday.com

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