Lieutenant Commander Kido was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and earned his master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. His operational assignments include: USS GRAPPLE (ARS 53); Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) THREE Detachment FIVE; EODMU FIVE Platoon 501; Operations Officer, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit ONE; and Resources, Requirements, and Plans Task Force 52/Mine Countermeasures Squadron FIVE (N5N8) in Bahrain. During these assignments he has deployed to the Arabian Gulf, Iraq, Korea, the Western Pacific, and Bahrain.
LCDR Kido’s designations and qualifications include Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warfare Officer, Mine Countermeasures Planner, Basic Diving and Salvage Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, and Naval Parachutist. His personal awards include the Bronze Star (with Com-bat V), Navy Commendation Medal (Gold Star in lieu of fifth award), Navy Achievement Medal (Gold Star in lieu of second award), and various service and unit awards
LCDR Kido assumed his present duties as Executive Officer, Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal in October 2014.
Over the past two decades, China has modernized its mine warfare capabilities to include moored, bottom, drifting, rocket-propelled, and intelligent mines. No satisfactory solution has been found to counter these intelligent mines efficiently. Today, mixed minefields with intelligent mobile mines capable of delayed arming, persistent presence, deep water and stealth deployment, and sophisticated fuzing could act as unsinkable attack submarines wherever employed. Water depths throughout the Taiwan Strait, and within what China considers the First Island Chain and many of its associated choke points are shallow enough for many types of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) mines. The PLAN has also expanded its domestic research and development program for underwater weapons that increases the operational security (OPSEC) of its mining program. While the U.S. Navy has traditionally neglected mine warfare (MIW), these developments challenge U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) ability to attain sea control, which has been a precursor to victory in armed conflict and is necessary for the success of all naval missions. This challenge puts surface and subsurface control at risk. Naval mines represent anti-access area denial (A2AD) threats, which “are the only naval weapons capable of altering geographical conditions, by making certain sea areas impassable to the enemy’s ships.” The PLAN considers its mine warfare program an “assassin’s mace.” In short, naval mining could challenge, and even prevent, the United States from gaining and exploiting sea control.
China’s growing mine warfare program represents an emerging A2AD threat that challenges USPACOM’s ability to gain surface and underwater superiority in a future naval confrontation. This challenge necessitates a U.S. clandestine mine counter measures (MCM) force that would offer the ability to gain sea control in a contested environment against mine threats employed in the waters around Taiwan, the First Island Chain, or other disputed areas in the East and South China Seas.
A Clandestine MCM Force
A clandestine MCM force would fundamentally require the ability to operate in a secret or concealed manner, which can be facilitated by special operations force (SOF)-capable Ohio or Virginia-class submarines. Ohio-class submarines are ideally suited to accommodate: up to 66 integrated SEAL and Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) mission forces; unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV); and specialized equipment to sustain forward-deployed operations in support of combatant commander tasking.10 Two permanent lock-out chambers, which can accommodate Dry Deck Shelters (DDS), allow clandestine insertion and retrieval of substantial numbers of these personnel.11Newer Virginia-class submarines are similarly suitable for large numbers of SOF personnel and equipment supported by large lock-in/lock-out chambers.12 These lock-in/lock-out chambers give a clandestine force and its associated equipment the ability to exit and reenter a submerged submarine.
UUVs provide excellent reconnaissance and mine hunting capabilities. Currently available technologies have demonstrated 315-mile and 109-hour mission endurance profiles which could provide substantial mine location and avoidance capabilities.13SEALs and Navy EOD personnel could provide mine reacquisition and neutralization capabilities as deep as 300 feet, adequate to create pockets of subsurface superiority in certain areas. Besides clandestine diving operations, remotely operated vehicles from a submarine launched combat rubber raiding craft could be employed where the hazards of diving operations exceed the risk of surface detection.
These integrated submarine, UUV, SEAL delivery vehicles (SDV), SEAL, and EOD forces would comprise clandestine MCM units capable of full spectrum mine countermeasures ready to operate far forward of conventional forces in support of the combatant commander’s objectives to gain sea control.
Attack Layered and Integrated Enemy A2AD in Depth
The ability to exploit sea control in order to project influence and power ashore is a fundamental component of credible combat power.14 Attaining sea control requires surface, subsurface, airspace—and today space and cyberspace—control. This requires a multi-disciplined and synchronized approach to obtaining sea control across these domains. A clandestine MCM force would enhance the synchronization and sequencing of mine warfare efforts with this joint force to neutralize the challenge posed by mines to achieve sea control.
Today, U.S. and allied MCM forces are not built to operate where sea and air control are contested.16 U.S. Avenger-class MCM ships are expected to operate in the “least severe environment, away from… the general war-at-sea region.”17 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), the next generation MCM platform, are also meant to withdraw if one takes substantive damage rather than to continue operations.18 Pragmatically, these constraints delay operational-level active MCM efforts until sufficient air and surface sea control are attained, and geographically limits sustained MCM efforts to these areas where local air and surface superiority have been secured. This operational luxury may not be feasible in the East Asian maritime threat environment.
A clandestine MCM force, able to deploy within waters challenged by Chinese missile and surface threats, would enable MCM efforts in the subsurface domain to be conducted concurrently with a contest to control the air and surface domains. In keeping with operational access precepts from the Joint Operational Access Concept 2010 (JOAC), this low-signature force would leverage the undersea environment to project force with limited exposure to enemy fires.
These integrated capabilities would expand on the submarine and large diameter UUV (LDUUV) integration advocated by Vice Admiral Michael Connor, Commander U.S. Submarine Forces (USSUBFOR) and former director of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Warfare Division.20 Clandestine mine surveillance, reconnaissance and detection capabilities, once identified as the U.S. Navy’s top mine warfare priority, could be augmented by EOD identification, neutralization, and technical intelligence gathering capabilities.21This would enable the joint force to counter undersea A2AD defenses in depth, forward of the front line, as advocated by the JOAC, rather than simply detecting them and rolling back those defenses from the perimeter.
An alternate position is that defensive MCM operations are not required in initial combat phases, but better suited for maintaining lines of communication to rear areas. Efforts to reduce the threat of mines should predominately focus on offensive MCM, which inhibit an adversary’s capacity to employ naval mines.23 Defensive MCM to remove mines that are present, conducted by the MCM Triad (MCM ships, MH-53E helicopters, and EOD divers), must progress from the outer perimeter inward due to its vulnerability while offensive MCM, though more escalatory, preemptively attacks an adversary’s mining capabilities on land and at sea. Air superiority is necessary to execute both offensive and defensive MCM. Once mines are in the water, the time required to neutralize them is significant and irreducible. Limited risk can be assumed with low-density MCM Triad forces. Therefore, offensive MCM should be the focus of effort. Offensive MCM should sufficiently limit the number of mines an adversary deploys, thus the risk from mine strikes to other surface combatants will be acceptable.
This line of reasoning, however, is based on a politically risky over reliance on offensive MCM and overconfidence in its totality. Dr. Scott Truver, Director of National Security Programs at Gryphon Technologies and a collaborator in the interagency task force which drafted the President’s National Strategy for Maritime Security (2005), provides three reasons that reliance on offensive MCM is not sufficient: diplomatic restraint fearful of escalating crisis; adequate time for mining to occur before strike assets could arrive on the scene; and challenges to identifying whether a vessel was carrying mines or not.
While the U.S. might enjoy superior strike capabilities, it cannot assure operational access or sea control alone. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) mine laying operations at Wonsan during the Korean War exemplify shortcomings of offensive MCM. Despite intelligence and evidence of DPRK mining, offensive MCM could not prevent the enemy’s deployment of 3,000 mines, denying the U.S. led United Nations Command (UNC) sea control and the ability to project power ashore. Rear Admiral Allan E. Smith, Commander, Amphibious Task Force reported: “We have lost control of the seas to a nation without a navy, using pre-World War I weapons, laid by vessels that were utilized at the time of the birth of Christ.”
Similarly, forty years later, “[T]he U.S. Navy lost command of the northern Arabian Gulf to more than 1,300 mines that had been sown by Iraqi forces virtually under the ‘noses’ of multinational coalition naval forces constrained by their rules of engagement.”26Although the chain of command knew that Iraq was laying mines, it restrained U.S. Naval Forces from tracking and attacking minelayers “for fear of starting the war early.”27 DPRK and Iraqi minelaying, despite U.S. air superiority supported by adequate intelligence, demonstrated that “for all its value, air superiority cannot replace one’s control of the surface and subsurface,”28 and that offensive MCM cannot replace defensive MCM. Similarly, prematurely accepting risk to surface combatants by assuming low mine presence due to an overconfidence based on offensive MCM ignores the fact that even limited mining has damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships (post-WWII) than all other means of attack at sea.
Attacking enemy A2AD defenses in depth is a fundamental precept of operational access.30 Taking this approach against naval mine warfare networks is imperative, but should not rely too heavily on offensive MCM to prevent effective adversarial minelaying. MCM forces must be able to attack the mine threat throughout the battlespace, not just from the perimeter. To do so, a less vulnerable MCM force is needed. Leveraging stealth capabilities would increase the survivability of allied MCM effort through a less vulnerable capability and platform.
The surface MCM force is currently operating at historically low capacity, making the survivability of MCM capabilities as critical as ever. On December 7, 1941 the U.S. Navy’s 135 mine warfare ships represented 17 percent of its total fleet at the outset of WWII.31 The mine warfare force peaked at 614 ships by the end of WWII, and steadily remained at 8-10 percent of the fleet until 1970.32 Between 1970 and 1974 the surface MCM force declined from 64 to 9 ships in response to: Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Zumwalt’s policy decision to increase the size of the airborne MCM force; Department of Defense (DoD) cancellation of future shipbuilding programs; routine ship decommissions and transfers to the reserves; and MCM ship sales to allied navies.
Accordingly, the current surface MCM force remains comparatively and insufficiently small. In 2011, Dr. Truver argued that, due to limited capacity of its aging platforms, the effectiveness of U.S. MCM responses to PLAN mining inside the First Island Chain or the Taiwan region is unclear and precarious.34 This would remain true even after the anticipated fielding of LCS-based MCM capabilities to the fleet, which would adequately support MCM operations on the order of another Operation DESERT STORM, but likely be under strength against more formidable PLAN mining capabilities.35 Similarly, the current airborne MCM force, which had offset the surface MCM force structure of the 1970s, would be of limited effectiveness in the contemporary environment until air superiority could be gained in an East Asian scenario. Loss of a single MCM ship in a conflict would represent a much greater loss of warfighting capacity today than in past conflicts and would create a damaging effect in today’s 24/7 global information environment (images of burning or sinking U.S. warship repeatedly broadcast around the world) and casualty-averse U.S. public.
Integrating submarine, SEAL, and EOD forces with UUVs into a clandestine MCM force would greatly mitigate the susceptibility of the operational level MCM effort to combat losses, as “submarines represent the only highly survivable maritime asset of the United States and its maritime partners.”36 A submarine-based clandestine MCM force would fundamentally complicate enemy targeting of U.S. MCM capabilities by utilizing stealth and ambiguity. Besides creating a less susceptible MCM force, a clandestine MCM force would also increase the tempo, speed, and survivability of active surface MCM units.
A clandestine MCM forces would be able to gain early intelligence on underwater threats. Pinpointed location, mine type, and fuze settings would increase dedicated-MCM operational tempo.
Instead of going through the time consuming task of locating, classifying, and identifying mines, the surface MCM force could proceed more directly to mine relocation, prosecution, and neutralization or more rapid exploitation. In the case that mine sweeping (efforts to incite a safe detonation when precisely locating mines is unreliable) is a more desirable tactic, confirmed types and fuzing could more specifically inform mine sweeping planners. This would increase the effectiveness and efficiency of sweeping efforts. The intelligence that a clandestine MCM force could collect might also provide known safe areas and routes, increasing the freedom of maneuver for friendly forces less constrained by self-protective measures such as reduced speeds.
On the other hand, one might argue that current MCM and future LCS platforms meet the necessary survivability requirements for their anticipated operations and projected operating environment.37 This counter position invokes renowned naval theorist Sir Julian Corbett who “focused on the importance of sea lines of communication rather than battle,”38 protecting power ashore through support to the Army, and views MCM forces’ primary role as maintaining lines of communications where surface and air threats have been neutralized. Therefore, this argument continues, extensive MCM is not required during combat operations. Supposing that MCM could be conducted in benign environments where sea and air control have been attained, this position discounts the threat to MCM forces. It likewise discounts the threat to surface combatants from mines that should be detected and avoided. This thinking would perpetuate avoidance tactics and acceptance of residual risk; such thinking led to Admiral David Farragut’s famous orders at Mobile Bay in 1864: “Damn the torpedoes!”39 This position may have suited its 1864 context, but carries too much risk today. With MCM efforts sequenced after combat operations, MCM capacity could be apportioned to counter threats to lines of communications, not threats to combat forces. The U.S. airborne MCM forces and allied MCM forces could be leveraged to mitigate reduced surface MCM force capacity if confronted by an extensive mining campaign.
This seductive but flawed logic, however, is predicated on the assumption that submarines are the only undersea threat that can deny sea control. It remains blind to naval mines’ ability to deny sea control. It dismissed mine warfare’s asymmetric impact due to limited scope. It ignores the requirement of MCM capabilities in combat environments as demonstrated in Korea where MCM forces, accounting for 2 percent of all naval forces, suffered 20 percent of all naval casualties.40 It also ignores lessons from Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), where Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mike Tillotson, then Commander Task Force 56 (U.S. Fifth Fleet) and later Commander Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), reported that MCM “was undertaken in a… [less than] ‘benign’ environment.”41 This approach also assumes contributions from airborne MCM forces that may not be feasible without air superiority. Assuming allied MCM support from regional actors such as Taiwan, Japan, and the Republic of Korea is fraught with risk. These regional allies’ MCM capacity will likely be dedicated to their own ports and territorial waters out of necessity or political preference to remain on the defensive.42 They will also likely be out of range and sensitive to the political risk of supporting U.S. MCM efforts in the wider First Island Chain or South China Sea. Finally, it relies on avoidance tactics as a substitute for operational warfare that would include MCM along essential lines of operations.
Understating adversarial mine laying capacity, scope, and effect through the historical lens may also be misleading. Analysis of PLAN mine warfare techniques, conducted by the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, demonstrates that “Chinese MIW is robust and would not resemble either Iraqi or North Korean efforts in its scope or breadth.”43 Additionally, projected LCS numbers will likely be insufficient to combat a formidable PLAN mining campaign.44 It fails to acknowledge that China’s aggressive domestic research and development in mine warfare programs might complicate mine sweeping operations. Finally, overstating the ability to avoid mines would ignore the fact that 11 of the 15 U.S. ships sunk or damaged by mines since WWII did not know they were operating in minefields.45 Greater efforts should be made to protect friendly forces conducting combat operations within potentially mined areas. Clandestine MCM forces could improve that protection.
Protect Friendly Advantages
Protection of friendly forces is a critical operational function and is even more crucial to protecting friendly comparative advantages. The U.S. Submarine Force is a comparative advantage that Chinese strategists would likely target.46 Antisubmarine mines such as the C-1, C-3, EM-57, M-3, M-4, PMK-1, and PMK-2 can be deployed at various water depths ranging from 6 to 1000 meters.47 Employed within the First Island Chain and China’s near seas, a combination of these and other mines could challenge U.S. Submarine Forces’ freedom of maneuver aiming to prevent entry and exit from China’s near seas.48 This could complicate a joint force commander’s efforts to mass forces at a desired point and time, disperse forces in the operating area, maintain the initiative, and sustain speed and operational tempo.
In the summer of 1918, while fighting WWI, the United States and United Kingdom laid nearly 73,000 mines with 10 mine layers to blockade the 250-mile channel during the North Sea Barrage.49The North Sea Barrage was effective in reducing German U-Boat freedom of maneuver and sank at least six submarines during the war.50 A clandestine MCM force could improve friendly submarine freedom of maneuver against similar mining efforts, by either clearing mine threats or locating and marking them so that they could be avoided. This would create reduced-threat ingress and egress routes, allowing forces to mass where and when desired in order to maintain the initiative.
Chinese strategists believe that “submarines are acutely vulnerable to mines, because passive sonar is not likely to be effective in locating mines, and because submarines have very limited organic MCM capabilities.”51 Chinese planners highlight rocket mines as an ideal and highly effective means for targeting U.S. submarines.52 A clandestine MCM force could help protect submarines against these threats, and enhance joint force surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Large diameter and long duration UUVs could locate mine-like objects at great distances. SDVs could transport EOD and SEALs over long ranges to identify and neutralize mines, while submarines reluctant to employ active sonar avoid the affected area. Locating, identifying, and neutralizing adversary antisubmarine mines would provide a direct means of protecting the submarine force while preparing the battlespace for follow-on forces.
Neutralizing naval mines with a clandestine MCM force could also leverage surprise. Creating and exploiting access to areas otherwise considered denied or protected by the adversary would inject ambiguity and uncertainty into an adversary’s campaign, frustrating or complicating adversarial planning and decision making. This could draw an opponent’s focus away from other offensive actions, deny momentum, and force a shift back to defensive actions.
Some might argue that even during conflict China would not utilize naval mines to an extent that would endanger U.S. submarine freedom of maneuver or safety. The Hague Convention of 1907 and other international laws would prohibit mining in international waters in peacetime unless international shipping is warned of their location. Such warning would provide U.S. planners ample intelligence to the location of mines that could be avoided. Intelligence and surveillance assets could also provide strategic and operational warning, allowing U.S. forces time to limit adversarial mining sufficiently. Under this logic, they would presume that mining would only occur after the outbreak of hostilities with sufficient indications and warnings (I&W) to allow U.S. naval forces to take advantageous positions and seize the initiative. U.S. forces could penetrate the First Island Chain before mines were placed. This combination of international laws to compel PRC self-restraint, and U.S. military forces’ ability to take positions that would threaten minelaying operations based on adequate I&W provides an underlying deterrent to extensive PRC mining.
However, the assumption that China would restrain itself from extensive mining, exhibits a time-tested fallacy of joint planning; planning that is based on adversary intentions and not capabilities.
This also ignores other crucial factors: the 50,000-100,000 mines in China’s inventory; arming-delay devices that allow placement of bottom mines up to 250 days before activation; and Chinese submarines that could carry and lay mines well before hostilities started.53 Furthermore, it ignores the potential for China to seize the initiative early in a conflict with hundreds of bombers and fighter-bombers, and thousands of mechanized fishing trawlers and vessels that could overtly lay mines under the umbrella of early air defenses.54 During WWII, the United States and United Kingdom laid approximately 100,000 naval mines intended for offensive purposes that sank or severely damaged 2,665 Axis ships.55 Reliance on Chinese reluctance or adherence to legal restrictions ignores the potential for a Chinese mine warfare campaign to resemble Allied WWII efforts more than Iraqi or Korean War mining efforts. It also adheres to deterrence theory when the initiation of hostilities may have already signaled its breakdown.
Additionally, assuming the time to take advantageous positions and seize the initiative through offensive strikes assumes the absence of political restraints encountered during OIF and implied in the Air-Sea-Battle concept (U.S. forces might withstand an initial attack).56 And, presumably taking these advantageous positions assumes a high risk to maritime forces. U.S. submarines would risk transit through potential antisubmarine minefields to an even higher mine-threat density East China Sea, while facing PLAN submarines with full knowledge of the types and location of PLAN mines. It also assumes an optimistic degree of surface combatants’ self-protective capabilities, in light of the fact that of the U.S. Navy damaged or sunk by mines ships since WWII 73 percent of those ships did not know they were operating in minefields.
Advancements in naval mine technologies and mobility have increased mine warfare’s prominence in sea control. Adversarial mining campaigns in future conflicts have the capability and capacity to resemble WWI and WWII mining efforts in scope and breadth while utilizing twenty-first century technology that has dramatically increased their effectiveness, intelligence, and lethality.
PRC aggression against disputed territories, contentious air defense zones, an increasingly capable military, and development of even more sophisticated naval mines and missiles have demonstrated an increased proclivity to exert aggressive territorial claims and growing A2AD capabilities. Anti-access/area-denial methods challenge U.S. power projection, in an attempt to checkmate U.S. decision makers’ options through sea-denial. With planned reductions in U.S. ground forces, the United States will increasingly rely on its maritime components to provide the operational access, forward presence, and power projection vital to U.S. national interests, especially in the inherently maritime East Asian region. This requires credible U.S. combat power to enable access despite underwater A2AD threats in order to maintain stability and effectively deter conflict.
The surface MCM force of today is comparatively small and relies on AMCM assets which require air superiority to a greater degree than in pre-Vietnam era conflicts. This air superiority is challenged by Chinese A2AD air defenses that necessitate a modification to U.S. MCM methods of employment. Combat losses of MCM forces during Korea and continued employment of MCM forces during OIF in uncontrolled areas have demonstrated the requirement for survivable MCM forces to be able to operate in contested environments.
While air superiority remains an important element of sea control, it cannot replace control of the surface and subsurface environments. A clandestine MCM force can be assembled with existing submarine, EOD, and SDV forces and large diameter UUVs to provide a method of employment that does not rely on air superiority. These forces can conduct operations to support gaining sea control while air control remains contested.
Lines of effort that include legacy MCM forces, future LCS developments, offensive MCM actions, and international law are all required to combat the threat of adversary mining. But these efforts must be augmented with the development of clandestine MCM forces. These MCM forces could disrupt adversary planning and decision making, and operate in depth to favorably change the balance of space, time, and force through stealth and surprise. They would accelerate and enhance the synchronization of MCM efforts, increase protection to friendly submarines and ships, and further empower operational commanders to mass forces effectively at desired points and times. These advantages would enable a Joint Force Commander to achieve the sea control necessary for power projection more effectively and efficiently.
Assembling a clandestine MCM force from existing units could be done adequately in phases to accelerate integration training and proficiency. But it must start now. The following list of recommendations is offered for consideration to enable this rapid integration:
1. USSUBFOR: Integrate Large Diameter UUVs with Submarine Forces
First, UUV-enabled intelligence, surveillance, and recon-naissance capabilities should be integrated with the submarine force. Specific training could be conducted for MCM operations such as identifying and training a portion of submarine crews as MCM planners at the Mine Warfare Training Center. Additional UUV employment and post-mission analysis skills could be trained through classroom and practical exercises. Contractor and military personnel experienced in UUVs operations from COMFIFTHFLT, and UUV operators from the Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center (NOMWC), could provide further baseline training. UUV and submarine integration exercises could proceed as designed by U.S. Navy’s Submarine Warfare Division.
2. Naval Special Warfare Command, NECC: Integrate EOD MCM and SDV
Specific training could be conducted to integrate EOD and SDV team tactics such as swimmer lock-out and lock-in procedures, safe transit speeds, safe standoff distances, underwater navigation, mine identification, and mine neutralization procedures for single and multiple ordnance items. Integration should continue with SSGN crews proficient in SOF support operations.
3. SEVENTH Fleet, THIRD Fleet: Conduct Fleet Exercises
Once adequate training has been completed, integrated full mission exercises could be conducted to leverage a full MCM locate-to-neutralize cycle to include the use of clandestine MCM capabilities. Clandestine MCM force training and exercises should be conducted in operating environments similar to those expected within the First Island Chain and Taiwan Strait.
4. USPACOM: Integrate Clandestine MCM Capabilities into Existing Operational Planning (OPLANs, CONPLANs, and Crisis Action Planning)
Clandestine MCM capabilities should be integrated into existing plans in order to ensure planners are able to leverage its unique capabilities. Plans should focus on the ability to modify the operational factor of space in combat environments, identification of decisive points for clandestine MCM employment, protection of submarine forces operating far forward of surface forces, and surveillance capabilities to accelerate follow-on MCM force operations.
5. Joint Force (as assigned): Maintain High Priority in Targeting Adversarial MIW Networks Early to Reduce Minelaying Capacity
Clandestine MCM will not replace legacy or future MCM development programs. Active (defensive) MCM efforts by the MCM Triad cannot replace offensive MCM. A high priority must be maintained in strengthening both capabilities, as well as targeting adversarial mine warfare networks including: mine inventories; transportation networks; assembly areas; loading sites; and minelaying platforms on land and at sea. Offensive MCM will remain vital to reducing and minimizing adversarial mining where possible. Defensive MCM will remain vital to gaining and maintaining sea control.
6. NAVSEA 00C, Navy Experimental Diving Unit: Conduct Diving Physiology and Equipment Testing/Development to Increase Operational Capabilities
Adversarial mining depth capabilities have increased over time and, today, include mine threats with depths in excess of 1400 feet.58 Current MCM diving is restricted by equipment limitations to depths of 300 feet while Navy divers have been able to dive as deep as 2000 feet.59 Additional equipment research and development could increase the depth capabilities of MCM diving required by the MCM operating areas expected throughout choke points in the First Island Chain and Near China Seas. Diving physiology research with dive profiles modified to meet this projected operating environment could extend operational capabilities.