Advantage at Sea: A U.S. Military Tri-Service Combat Strategy?

Advantage at Sea: A U.S. Military Tri-Service Combat Strategy?

Citing the fast-growing Russian and Chinese threat, the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard document outlines could clearly be referred to as a “war attack” plan. 


Volleys of networked munitions, drone attacks, undersea maneuvers, long-range missile fires, hypersonic weapons and 5th-Generation fighter aircraft, supported by aircraft carrier strike groups will bring new dimensions to offensive maritime warfare, according to a recently released tri-service sea combat strategy called “Advantage at Sea.” 

Citing the fast-growing Russian and Chinese threat, the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard document outlines could clearly be referred to as a “war attack” plan. 


“Within the most contested battle spaces, we will destroy adversary forces by projecting power from attack submarines, fifth-generation aircraft, naval expeditionary forces, unmanned vehicles, and maritime raids,” the strategy writes. 

Also of significance, the attack strategy explained in the document is by no means limited to kinetic effects and explosive weapons attacks but also cites jamming, maneuver and other defensive systems likely to include cyber resilience and deceptive tactics. 

“Our seaborne forces will deliver devastating offensive strikes, surviving adversary counterattacks using coordinated jamming, maneuver, and defensive systems. Low-footprint and low-signature Marine Corps elements operating from the sea to the shore will use maneuver, cover, and concealment to employ lethal long-range precision fires,” the strategy writes. 

The strategy is also clear to point out that multi-domain attacks from different locations, angles and “axes” of attack will be employed to overwhelm, confuse and ultimately destroy an enemy. While there are of course key references to precision targeting, sensing and networking, the strategy does seem to incorporate multiple references to the use of high-volume, coordinated, multi-muntion attacks coming at one time. 

“Combined volleys of networked munitions, coming from multiple axes of attack, will overpower adversary defenses….our long-range systems and hypersonic weapons will provide global strike capabilities against targets ashore,” the strategy states. 

Along with its emphasis upon major weapons systems, the strategy also includes references to how major war platforms and air-sea-land units such as Marine Corps expeditionary strike groups will figure into coordinated, multi-domain attacks. 

“Maneuverable strike forces—composed of multiple carrier strike groups, surface action groups, and expeditionary strike groups, and augmented by unmanned platforms— will launch overpowering air and missile attacks from unexpected directions,” the strategy says. 

As is the case with many vital attack strategies, and particularly those focused upon a high-volume of massive firepower in rapid succession, any major warfare campaign has to survive and sustain itself based upon logistics. 

“Logistics and auxiliary ships will surge to establish refueling, rearming, resupply, revive, and repair points. The Coast Guard will ensure the safe, secure, and efficient marine transportation system essential to sustaining forces in war,” states the strategy. 

Finally, as part of its multi-faceted, multi-domain attack plan, the strategy naturally calls upon major involvement from U.S. allies. 

“Allies provide all-domain fires to help establish sea control and project power. They interdict adversary war materials and commerce; provide access, basing, and overflight; and deliver additional critical capabilities, such as intelligence and logistics support,” the strategy says. 

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks.