Consider these observations …
- The Navy is beginning to find and define missions that the LCS can perform well and that will play to the ship’s strengths.
- Suggestions are being floated to build armored vehicles and weapons that will fit in the MV-22 in order to better support air assaults.
- AirSea Battle is being adapted to make better use of our existing assets.
- Our new acquisition programs are producing weapons and systems that are shaping our strategy, doctrine, and tactics for decades to come.
- The Marine Corps is in the process of being resized and reshaped to fit budget constraints.
- Our nuclear deterrence doctrine has been modified to reflect the decrease in the number of SSBNs we’ll have after the replacement SSBN program is complete.
- Torpedo capability may be removed from the design of the SSBN(X) to accommodate budget constraints.
- The Marines are conducting studies to determine what size, shape, speed amphibious combat vehicle they need to fit within the budget.
- JSF was designed to fit the maximum amount of technology in the airframe while still being affordable (yes, cost has become an issue but the intent is unchanged).
I could go on with an endless list but this will suffice.
These examples all seem to demonstrate an adaptive Navy/Marine force that is recognizing budget limitations and still looking for ways to make the most of what they have. As you know, I’m highly critical of Navy leadership but these examples do show innovation and adaptability, right?
In addition, these examples all have one thing in common – they’re all backwards! Huh?! Backwards? What does that mean? It means that the action cited is divorced from, and preceeding, what should be the rationale for the action. The rationale should come first and the action should then logically follow. These examples have it backward. Let’s look a bit closer at some of them and you’ll see what I mean.
The Navy is beginning to find and define missions that the LCS can perform well and that will play to the ship’s strengths. That’s backward. The missions should have been the first thing and the LCS should have followed. Put another way, the LCS should fit the missions, not the missions being forced to fit the LCS.
Suggestions are being floated to build armored vehicles and weapons that will fit in the MV-22 in order to better support air assaults. That’s backward. The vehicles and weapons that the Marines need to carry out their missions should be defined first and the transport should be built to fit and accommodate those items. Instead, we built the transport first and now we’re looking at building new vehicles and weapons that will fit the transport.
AirSea Battle is being adapted to make better use of our existing assets. That’s backward. Strategy comes first (yes, I know ASB isn’t really a strategy but it’s what passes for one, for the time being) and procurement follows in support of the strategy. Instead, we’re procuring with little rationale and changing the strategy to fit what we buy.
Hopefully, you get the idea and I don’t need to go through the entire list.
The theme, here, is the backwards nature of the Navy (and military, in general, to be fair). The Navy has a consistent pattern of acting without a rational basis and then trying fit a rationale to the action, after the fact. Ultimately, it all stems from the lack of strategy. We have no global strategy. We have no regional strategies (how do we want to deal with
? China ? Iran Africa? Etc.?). How can we be procuring weapons and systems if we don’t know what we need them to do?
Here’s an example of the problem. In a war with China, two possible alternative strategies might be to, one, wage a roll-back campaign and eventual attack on mainland China (with or without ground troops) to secure victory or, two, to implement a long distance, stand-off strategy of blockade, eventually “starving” China of raw materials and trade to secure victory. Either strategy could be successful but they are radically different and would require radically different force structures. What kinds of weapons and systems should we be procuring? Without an established strategy to guide our procurement we’re buying whatever we can get with whatever performance characteristics, regardless of whether they’ll be useful somewhere down the line.
How will the LCS contribute to a war with
? It’s going to be a third of our battle fleet so it had better contribute! Do we need more carriers or less? Do we need massive amphibious lift capability or far less than we have now? The answer to these and a thousand similar questions is, “Who knows?”. Without a strategy we have no idea what we need. China
Look at our discussions on the hundreds of posts. Much of it revolves around the perceived qualities and usefulness of various platforms. It’s kind of pointless to argue about such things when we have no reference (strategy) to compare the item against. Remember the recent post in which we documented CNO’s comment to the effect that he can’t wait to see what industry comes up with next? That’s the ultimate in backwards! The Navy needs to tell industry what’s needed not wait to see what industry gives them.
We’ve got to break this cycle of procuring first and then trying to figure out what to do with it. The sequence is strategy (rationale) first, then procurement. C’mon Navy, get with the program.