Projected Operating Environments

National Security Missions

 To prevail in the projected future national security environment, the strategic guidance for the Department of Defense directs our armed forces to invest in fulfilling the following primary missions:

  • Counter terrorism and irregular warfare
  • Deter and defeat aggression
  • Project power despite anti-access / area denial challenges
  • Counter weapons of mass destruction
  • Operate effectively in cyberspace and space
  • Maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent
  • Defend the homeland and provide support to civil authorities
  • Provide a stabilizing presence
  • Conduct stability and counterinsurgency operations
  • Conduct humanitarian, disaster relief, and other operations

 In keeping with this guidance, the Chief of Naval Operations directed the Navy to pursue the following strategic priorities:

  • Deter aggression and, if deterrence fails, win our Nation’s wars
  • Employ the global reach and persistent presence of forward-stationed and rotational forces to secure the Nation from direct attack
  • Assure joint operational access and retain global freedom of action
  • With global partners, protect the maritime freedom that is the basis for global prosperity
  • Foster and sustain cooperative relationships with an expanding set of allies and international partners to enhance global security

 The revised Maritime Strategy (March 2015), "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," emphasizes combat-credible forward presence and a commitment to allies and partners. It reaffirms the Navy's essential functions of deterrence, sea control, power projection, and maritime security and adds a new function - all domain access, to assure appropriate freedom of action in any domain - sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace, as well as the electromagnetic spectrum.


  • The legal and policy environment in which commanders operate will increase in complexity and intensity.
  • The law of armed conflict and related practice areas will be influenced increasingly by a global community of actors, including U.S. and foreign government agencies, non-governmental organizations, commercial entities, academics, and the media.
  • Military criminal law will continue to evolve, requiring robust representation for accuseds, victims, convening authorities, and the U.S., as well as increased transparency and accountability.
  • Laws and regulations applicable to government agency and personnel administration will become more numerous, resulting in an increasingly complex legal environment.
  • Environmental laws will increasingly affect operations at sea and on shore.

Legal Practice

  • Increased interdependence among U.S. government agencies, foreign nations, commercial entities, and non-governmental partners in national security affairs will make our practice more multi-dimensional.
  • Technology will create and fulfill client, customer, and practitioner demand for rapid, mobile, and tailored engagement and delivery of legal solutions.
  • The ethical practice of law will demand that practitioners maintain a baseline level of technological proficiency.
  • A decline in the number of law school graduates, especially underrepresented minorities, and an increase in private sector hiring will increase competition for officer accessions.
  • Changes in the way private firms deliver legal services will increase competition for qualified paralegals and other non-lawyer legal professionals.

Federal Government

  • The public will demand increased transparency in government operations, including operational law, military justice, and administrative law.
  • The Department of Defense will continue to operate in an evolving fiscal environment.
  • A significant percentage of the civilian workforce will attain retirement eligibility resulting in a loss of institutional experience. There will be a growing need to attract and retain new talent at all levels of government service.
  • The emerging U.S. workforce will continue to expect greater workplace flexibility, including the ability to work remotely and the opportunity to innovate on the job.
  • The Navy will remain committed to environmental stewardship, including becoming more energy-efficient and continuing to protect marine ecosystems, without compromising core mission capabilities.