Naval Strategy Returns to Lead the POM

CIMSEC – Newly appointed U.S. Navy Secretary John F. Lehman Jr. gave a signature speech at the Naval War College in Newport, RI in 1981. In his remarks Lehman hailed, “the return of naval strategy” to the forefront of the Navy’s planning.1 Such a message was again issued last week by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. While the CNO’s 18 October naval message (R 182128Z OCT 16) did not have Secretary Lehman’s dramatic turn of phrases, it is no less important and in fact is the most significant change in the role of U.S. naval strategic thinking since late 1991. The CNO’s message implements a major change in the planning and execution of the annual Navy budget statement known as the Program Objective Memorandum (POM.) For the first time since July 1991, the Navy Staff (OPNAV) Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5) office will have the first input to the Navy POM building process. While this may not seem significant at first glance, it is a major course correction in Navy thinking. It could signal a return to the halcyon days of the 1980s when the Navy’s Maritime Strategy served as the service’s global blueprint for operational naval war against the Soviet Union, informing Navy programs, budgets, exercises, war games, education, training, and real world operations.