Rowden’s hallmark after two and half years as the Navy’s “SWO Boss” — Surface Warfare Officer Boss — is distributed lethality, an effort to install more powerful weapons on ships while expanding command and control of those weapons, and reinstate a sense of war fighting in the surface Navy. He’s directed, for example, that each ship fire at least one weapon each day at sea.
He debuted a stirring video depicting the striking power of the US Navy’s surface forces and appeared on camera at the end, declaring: “We, the US Navy, are back in the sea control game, in a big way.”
Rowden noted that sea control was a major element of the US military buildup in the 1980s that eventually wore down the Soviet Union’s resources. The concept fell out of vogue after the fall of the Soviets and the decline of their seagoing forces. But the resurgent Russian Navy, he noted, required a renewal of the previous strategy.
“The world has changed and so must we,” he told the SNA audience.
“The degree that the distributed lethality concept has found its way into every day Navy conversation is gratifying,” he said. “But everything leads to sea control.”
Among his goals for the surface force, Rowden noted the need to continue to modify over-the-horizon weapons and expand the procurement of weapons.
Rowden set a tone not to expect open-ended funding and urged the surface warfare community to explain the value of warships. A buildup, he said, must be done in a cost-effective manner.
“We need a solid narrative to let the American people know what we intend to do with these ships,” Rowden said. “The ships need to deter aggression. They need to deny an aggressor the prospect of achieving their objectives. And we need to establish and maintain sea control.