Monday, March 10, 2014

FY15 Battle Force Changes

From the FY 2015 DON Budget Highlights book, we note that in FY 2015, 8 battle force ships will be delivered:

(1) Nuclear Attack Submarine (SSN)
(4) Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
(2) Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV)
(1) Mobile Landing Platform (MLP)

We also note that 13 battle force ships will be retired:

(10) Frigate (FFG)
(1) Nuclear Attack Submarine (SSN)
(1) Amphibious Warfare Assault Ship (LHA)
(1) Combat Logistics Ship (T-AOE).

In addition, the Navy will stand down half the Aegis cruiser force and I don’t think anyone realistically believes these will ever go to sea again:

(11) Aegis Cruiser (CG)

The totals:

Added = 8
Deleted = 24

This is the Navy’s assured growth towards a 300 ship fleet??!  But wait, it gets worse.

Here's a small note attached to a battle force count table.

“*Note: Starting in FY 2015 ship count includes eight OCONUS Mine Warfare (MCMs) ships, and twelve Non-Battle Force ships--two Hospital Ships (T-AHs) and ten Forward Deployed Patrol Crafts (PCs)—based on new ship counting rules.”

Do you see that?  We're now going to start counting hospital ships, Avenger class MCMs, and Cyclone class patrol vessels as battle force assets.  If you can't maintain actual combat ship numbers, just count non-combat ships.  Could this be a more blatant and transparent scam to make us think the Administration and Navy are maintaining the fleet size?

It’s important to recognize what’s happening here.  ComNavOps has been pointing out repeatedly that the Navy’s 30 year shipbuilding plan was a work of pure fiction based on wishful thinking and budgetary miracles that don’t have a snowball’s chance of happening.  The trend, as documented above is painfully clear.  The fleet is heading towards a 220 ship force with much of that force being non-combat or marginally (LCS) so.  The reason is spiraling construction costs resulting in ever fewer ships which means ever larger costs which means even more expensive ships which means …  a death spiral.  This is why ComNavOps has repeatedly called for simpler, single function ships.  The alternative, meaning the status quo, is destroying the Navy.

Well, at least that’s the worst of it, right?  Ahh …

For FY 2015, 20% of required depot level ship maintenance is unfunded and will be indefinitely deferred.  So, not only is the fleet shrinking and becoming less combat effective but the fleet is also degrading due to deferred maintenance and this is on top of previously backlogged and deferred maintenance.  As we all know, it is much harder and more costly to attempt to make up deferred maintenance somewhere down the road.  The problems just get that much worse.  This is what a hollow fleet is.

C’mon, now, there’s no way it can get any worse.  Well …

The abysmally small Reserve fleet which consisted of only 8 ships in 2013 is being reduced to 0 (zero, none, no reserve fleet) in 2015.  There is now no reserve to call on if we get into a scrap, suffer attrition, and need immediate replacements. 

I’m not going to lay this on the President and Congress.  Instead, the blame lies with Navy leadership.  They’re the ones who are hollowing the fleet to maintain new construction funding.  They’re the ones who have chosen new toys over training, spare parts, and maintenance.  They’re the ones who continually present only more and more expensive ship proposals to Congress instead of solid, basic designs.  They’re the ones who are early retiring Aegis cruisers and amphibious ships.  They’re the ones who allowed our mine countermeasures ships and capability to nearly vanish.  They’re the ones who allowed our ASW to atrophy and our Aegis systems to degrade fleetwide.  They’re the ones …  Well, you know the litany as well as I do.  This is purely the Navy’s fault. 

24 comments:

  1. The 11 cruisers will eventually be modernised and returned back to service. Not sure if this would actually happen...

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  2. Spot on at the end with who owns this.

    Can't the Navy have the students at NPGS, or the ones going to Havard for MBAs, or MIT, or ANY higher education location do a study on WHY ship costs keep going up? And more importantly HOW to bring them down?

    Litton got to KEEP $600M (they saved the Government more than $1.5B) in cost underruns from the first AEGIS Cruiser contracts. That was because they implemented the (then) new idea of building them upside down and in pieces. Are you telling me no one can come up with new ideas like those?

    For God's sake the Navy are the folks that figured out how to:

    Put coal fired steam plants on WOODEN ships

    Put a nuclear reactor on a boat designed to sink

    Throw a 70,000 lb aircraft off a postage stamp sized airfield, and THEN catch it at 160 KTS!

    Throw a missile up from under water, have it ignite (not blow up), orient itself and hit the target half way around the world

    Now the Navy has figured out how to reduce the fleet size while spending ever more money on fewer new ships (that have engine problems - LPD, LCS) AND get cushy jobs for the Admirals that ran those programs. Wait a minute, now I get it, the Navy has been sending folks to the same schools as the Wall St entrepreneurs go. How's that working for the taxpayers?

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    1. "Put coal fired steam plants on WOODEN ships

      Put a nuclear reactor on a boat designed to sink

      Throw a 70,000 lb aircraft off a postage stamp sized airfield, and THEN catch it at 160 KTS!

      "
      Well two out of three of those were the Royal Navy. But I’m very much up for some cooperation.
      Nice article.
      I am torn. But on the whole I think you are right on the themes you have covered in recent blogs a mix is probably required. Ships types with a more dedicated primary mission + lower end capabilities in secondary and tertiary rolls. The USN has the funding to ensure groups of appropriate hulls should always be available. And even tertiary capabilities would be adequate in non-peer to peer situations.
      Beno

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  3. What is also interesting (disheartening) is that only one of the FY 2015 ships is a true combatant: the lone submarine.

    The rest of the ships are amphibs, or LCS.

    My sense is that the ratio ought to be:
    2-3x submarines (maybe one would be an SSK)
    2x destroyers
    1x cruiser
    1x amphib
    1x logistic ship (AO/AOE) or tender
    1x MCM

    I admit that the money to acheive this is a major issue.

    GAB

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    1. GAB,

      I think we've got plenty of DDGs -- which at 8-9,000 tons are closer to a cruiser in displacement than a traditional destroyer. The problem is that our "destroyers" are a gross overkill for 99% of presence missions.

      As an example - we're currently using a multi-billion dollar DDG (USS Pickney) to do SAR for that Malaysian airliner. A frigate or cutter could fill the role just as well.

      I think we really do need more small surface combatants. Something with endurance and a very big helo deck.

      As to the SSK - not particularly efficient unless you plan to buy lots of them. The ranges the US plans to operate at are just too long. And more pragmatically, the nukes will never allow it.

      Matt

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    2. I'd like to see a new SSN along the size of the French Barracuda. Say, half the size of a VPM'd Virginia. Sure it might not be as capable, but it'd be far more capable than any SSK. We might actually be able to afford to buy one VPM'd Virginia and one "half Virginia" per year on a constant basis, while still affording other priorities.

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    3. GAB,

      Correction to my last. We have now committed two (2) DDGs to SAR operations. USS KIDD and USS PICKNEY.

      I'm all for lending a hand in times of need. However - when we task two multi-billion dollar destroyers to do the mission a frigate or cutter could do - there is an opportunity cost.

      Matt

      PS - We apparently have only committed a single P-3C - although maritime patrol is what you need in SAR.

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    4. "As to the SSK - not particularly efficient unless you plan to buy lots of them. The ranges the US plans to operate at are just too long. And more pragmatically, the nukes will never allow it."
      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
      Matt, For clarification, I would build all the SSNs we planned (2-per year) and *add* an SSK. I get your point about the the "nuke mafia," but as a retired F.A.G. I have no tolerance for mafia groups in the the services (or amongst retirees).

      with 8,000nm ranges, SSKs can do just fine, but more importantly, everyone complains about range and forgets that we may need to do barrier defense of U.S. territorial waters.
      Are we really so arrogant to think that the Chinese (and others) are not considering operations off the coasts of Guam, Hawaii, California, and even the Gulf Coast?

      You do not need a nuke boat to deal with threats in and arround US territory, and it isn't like the SSK would not be a great platform for training; both as an agressor, and also as a first sea command for prospective nuke COs.

      GAB

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    5. GAB,

      If you're really worried about enemy submarine incursions, there are undoubtedly more efficient and effective ways to patrol a friendly coastline than with an SSK. More P-8As, SURTASS, SOSUS or even FFGs would all be better choices.

      An SSK is simply not a very effective hunter-killer. It's really more of a semi-mobile minefield. They're great if you're securing a chokepoint, but the US doesn't have too many of those. The maritime approaches you cited (Guam, West Coast, Gulf Coast) are simply enormous. You would need an awful lot of diesels patrolling at a stately 5 kts to cover the threat axes.

      And then there is the issue of tactical mobility. If you did happen to detect an enemy submarine, and it was a diesel boat it would be very hard to force an engagement. If it was a nuke boat, it would be nearly impossible to catch or set a trap. Again – think floating minefields.

      But my principal concern with SSKs is the lack of strategic mobility. It takes a really long time for an SSK to reposition in a crisis. And an SSK can't stay at sea for more than two months at a time due to fuel, freshwater and stores limitations. This has force structure implications: during WW2 it took an enormous pool of US diesel boats to maintain a relatively small number onstation.

      I just don’t think SSKs make much sense for the US Navy – although they’re very sensible for Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other allies whose fight is at their doorsteps. And if we need an “aggressor” we should just work with them or lease the Gotland like we did in the mid-2000s.

      Matt

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    6. Matt,
      For clarification, I am not solely concerned with enemy SSNs penetrating US territorial waters. Nor am I arguing that the SSK is a replacement for SSNs, I am arguing for a large fleet of both.

      A modern AIP SSK is a very lethal, and the technology that will enable them to move at high submerged speeds is on the horizon. Endurance issues are more a factor of design than SSK technology, but the costs (acquisition and operation) of SSKs compares very favorably with SSNs.

      And while you raise a very valid point about SOSUS, I think you are grossly overstating the ability of any of the other systems you mentioned to compete with the supreme ability of submarines (nuke and diesel) to optimally place their sonar arrays, control self noise, and minimize negative environmental factors (like quenching).

      The ability of aircraft to cover large areas of ocean is great, the ability of aircraft to actually establish datum on a submerged submarine without external sensor support is unrealistic. Our allies (and advisories) have demonstrated the ability to operate effectively against every naval platform *except* our submarines.

      GAB

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    7. GAB,

      I get what you are arguing for. I just don’t think it's a realistic or good choice. In today's budget climate it really does come down to buying a nuke or a diesel boat. So which is better for US Navy?

      I think you're wrong if you bet on AIP capability to operate at sustained, submerged high speeds. The following was taken from Figure 2 “Submarine Power and Propulsion - Trends and Opportunities” (Buckingham et al, 2008). It shows submerged endurance versus speed for various submarines:

      **GOTLAND AIP**
      5 kts: 350 hrs
      10 kts: 24 hrs
      15 kts: 8 hrs
      20 kts: 2 hrs

      **TYPE 214 AIP**
      5 kts: 1,000 hrs
      10 kts: 24 hrs
      15 kts: 3 hrs
      20 kts: 1 hour

      Figure 2 is a logarithmic scale, which somewhat obscures the fact that diesel subs burn through their batteries at a tremendous rate when operating at speeds above 10 kts. Bottom line: AIP appears to be buying more submerged time at SLOWER speeds – vice adding significantly to their MAXIMUM speed.

      You can of course postulate some sort of improvements in design or power are “on the horizon”. They would have to be a tremendous breakthroughs to gain even near equivalency to a nuke boat – which can go 30+ knots almost indefinitely. The Germans and Swedish sub designers are pretty smart; what exactly makes you think we will we be able to figure it out when they can’t?

      Nukes and diesels are also two different completely animals when it comes to sensor capability – which again ties back to power. Modern acoustics require very large arrays, lots of power for processors, and lots of space, food and freshwater for operators. All of which are in extremely short supply on an SSK.

      I'm also not sure where you based your opinions on the efficacy of submarines vs. air ASW platforms. I think you've been talking with too many submariners and not enough aviators! Analysis of the historical record doesn't support your assertion. Air ASW platforms - particulary long-range patrol aircraft - found and killed far more submarines during WW2 than US submarines.

      Air ASW was also very effective against USSR subs during Cold War. I recall reading that a Soviet admiral once said that the only way he could track his subs was to watch where the P-3s flew. MPA working with SOSUS-type systems would be very effective for coastal defense.

      Matt

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    8. ASW is a very multi-faceted discipline these days. No one platform dominates. Air ASW is adding multistatic and higher power active sonobuoys. Fixed sensors provide critical queueing. Surface ships are adding low frequency active towed arrays and VDSes.

      The DARPA ACTUV program aims to make a long-endurace USV to continuously track detected subs.

      One technology we had on the horizon but dumped is rapidly deployable, fixed sensors like ADS. The ability to set up a long-duration tripwire and tracking network, quickly, seems like a valuable capability.

      Air may've killed more subs in WWII, but that's when "subs" were really "submersibles" that spent most of their time on the surface. This made them easy to locate via wide area search radar sweeps.

      Now, instead of a surfaced sub, aircraft only have a snorting SSK to look for on the surface. So that advantage largely went away.

      I've wondered recently if we shouldn't re-examine the submersible. We know how to build one that can sustain 20+kts on the surface without nuclear power. That would largely solve the deployment problem, assuming we could keep enemy surveillance systems off of them while they were on the surface. I guess the big question is how much will that do to the submerged performance, signature, price, and so on.

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    9. B.Smitty,

      I wasn't making the point that any one system dominates - only that diesel subs aren't particularly useful for USN.

      Multi-static active should deliver a very effective wide-area search capability for P-3C and P-8A. We'll have to see.

      I also wouldn't dismiss the possibility of detecting an enemy submarine via exposure of its masts, scopes and snorkels. Modern diesel boats don't have nearly the same acoustic sensor capability (power, processing and experience) as say a US SSN. They may have to rely heavily on MK-1 eyeball for search and targeting

      Lastly, a submersible would only make sense if it could be developed and procured for a lot less than an SSN. Given that we already have an active Virginia class SSN production line, I'm not sure this would be the case.

      Matt

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    10. Matt, Smitty,

      You guys bring up good points, but miss mine.

      I am not arguing about substituting SSKs for SSNs, or saying other platforms are useless: my point was to buy all planned SSNs (2 per year *was* the plan) and a short run of SSKs.

      In FY 2014 dollars, a Virginia class SSN is running over $2 Billion each – a Type 214 SSK equivalent is running well under $500 Million each. The crew of an SSK is about a third of the size of the crew of an SSN.

      SSKs would not be a good way for the USN to prosecute an offensive war in the Pacific waters around Taiwan or North Korea – no argument, and hence the need for ~60 SSNs based upon Congressional testimony from some senior naval officers.

      However, SSKs would work perfectly fine in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, NAS, and in the defense of approaches to US Pacific bases and US mainland, not to mention missions to insert or extract SOF.

      We will have to agree to disagree about the merits of ASW platforms, but physics rules (the sonar equation), and the admittedly sparse real world data is that SSNs and SSKs are able to get in attack position against surface ships pretty much at will.

      And no aircraft even remotely carries enough deployable sensors to effectively conduct 1000-mile patrols of open ocean by relying solely upon them to establish the initial detection of submerged submarines. The cost of expending sonar buoys and other sensors makes them suitable for prosecution, not establishing datum on a submerged sub.

      GAB

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    11. GAB,
      I enjoy the debate but I still think you're oversimplifying. There are simply vast differences in capability between an SSK and SSN.

      First, I'd caution you on pulling “real-world” insights from exercise data and news reporting – if that’s where you’re getting them.

      Nearly all sub-vs-ship exercises are designed to force contact. And this makes perfect sense given our limited training opportunities and exercise areas. But it completely overlooks the best ASW defense available to surface ships: speed and maneuver space.

      An SSK can certainly get into firing position on surface ships - if the ships are artificially confined to very small areas. The ocean is a lot bigger than our exercise areas.

      But in the "real world", a surface group transiting at 20-25 kts should be able to end-run an SSK patrolling at 5 knots. The same surface group wouldn’t be able to do so against an SSN at 30 kts.

      There are stats from WWII which show that Allied convoys travelling above 14.5 kts were essentially invulnerable to U-Boats. The U-Boats didn’t have the speed to get within the convoy's limiting lines of approach. AIP really hasn't changed this much.

      As to your metric is to establish a 1,000 nm barrier patrol, I’d note that it would be incredibly difficult to do so with an SSK. It doesn't have the speed or sensors of an SSN. You would likely need a half dozen or more to provide the same open-ocean patrol capability of a single Virginia class SSN.

      Lastly regarding "sonar buoys". There have been developments in multi-static active coherent (MAC) that may not be aware of. MAC is very different from conventional passive sonobuoys. It's still in the test and evaluation phase, but should provide Air ASW with a fairly effective wide-area search capability.

      Matt

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    12. Matt,

      You are talking past me and are not really addressing my points.

      1) I am not arguing against SSN capability or force structure, I am arguing for a larger force of 60 SSNs (more than planned) *and* 18-24 SSKs.

      2) You are also oversimplifying wartime operations and assume that the submarine campaign is about chasing down and sinking warships (surface ships or enemy submarines); it isn’t – the fight is for sea control. Killing merchant ships, destroying oil platforms, mining harbors, launching cruise missiles, and doing everything to bring the enemy economy to its knees are a means to an end.

      3) Specifically I am pointing to the eastern Mediterranean, the PG, and the Sea of Japan. Submarine operations in these areas are not about running down warships, they are about barrier operations, inserting SOF, coastal ASW, and many other missions perfectly suited to an SSK. I do not care how fast warships or merchant ships are, they are not going to “end run” the straits of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the entrance to the PG, the straits of Malacca, and many other locations. In fact an SSK that slips into friendly waters to sow mines, or to sink ships pier side or at anchor is a problem the USN does not have a good solution to.

      4) The SSKs have a different role, employment, and mission than the SSNs – just as a SSK is not a replacement for an SSN, there are a number of situations where an SSN is not a good replacement for an SSK, and there are many situations where it does not matter whether the submarine propulsion is not a factor.

      5) Sea control is a numbers game. At less than $500Million per boat, the SSK is a good platform to add to the force mix.

      GAB

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    13. GAB, great summary of the role and uses of SSKs.

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    14. GAB,

      Much (but not all) of what you said in terms of usage for an SSK makes sense. Just not for the United States.

      An SSK simply doesn’t provide the same capability as an SSN within the context of how the US Navy operates: specifically long-range, persistent, offensively-oriented operations.

      A couple quick responses:

      1. The Navy budget is a zero sum game. You simply aren’t going to get SSKs unless you are willing to give up SSNs. My point is that an SSN provides much more utility per dollar invested.

      2. As to SSK role in wartime operations:

      - Sinking merchant ships. Can you explain to me exactly how you’re going to tell who to sink? It’s 2014 – not 1914. The majority of the world’s merchant traffic is flagged or registered to third-party nations (Bolivia, etc) who probably won’t be adversaries.

      - Oil platforms are usually static. Why do you think you need a submarine to sink them when a TLAM, airpower or even naval gunfire will do?

      - Mining harbors. I’m all in favor of mining. But there are lots of smarter, less risky ways to lay mines without sending in an SSK. Standoff encapsulated mines, air-delivered mines, etc.

      - Inserting SOF. Can apparently be done quite effectively by an SSN with a SEAL delivery vehicle. And with the ability to run at high speed if things go south - something an SSK can't do.

      - Coastal ASW. As I’ve pointed out to you multiple times a diesel submarine is NOT a particularly effective offensive ASW weapon. The enemy submarine will need to come to you, which largely confines their ASW role to harbor and coastal defense. Something we (USN) really don’t need.

      - You stated that the US doesn’t have a good solution to the problem of diesel submarine threat. I completely agree. But just because an enemy has a capability does not mean we need to match it symmetrically. Following that line of logic, the DOD should be investing heavily in IEDs!

      3. I perfectly understand the strategy of chokepoint control and actually agree that this is a potentially good application for SSK in wartime. But it’s a very niche application. And one that an SSN with UUVs should be able to do just as well and with a lot less risk.

      4. I somewhat agree. There are many coastal missions that an SSN can do – but there are a lot of open ocean mission that an SSK simply can’t do.

      5. An SSK is certainly cheaper than an SSN. On a 1:1 basis. But you completely overlook the “cost avoidance” inherent in an all SSN force. An all SSN doesn’t need vulnerable and expensive bases close to the area of operations. It doesn’t need a fleet of specialized tenders. And it doesn’t need an extensive rotational pool of submarines to keep one deployed.

      Matt

      PS - Do not overlook the fact that many of our allies (Japan, Korea, Australia, NATO) have extensive SSK fleets which are much closer to any potential crisis. Why invest in an SSK capability if our allies can and likely will provide?

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  4. I guess the question for me is... What happened? Did something change in Annapolis to create Admirals who act more like bad mid level managers at a failing auto company than leaders and warfighters? It seems even our basic sense of logistics has gone out the window.

    I remember as a kid reading of the revolt of the Admirals and 'Tomcat' Connolly standing up for what they thought was real warfighting ability for the Navy, and now I see Admirals stumping for all the issues you have described that are hollowing the force. The CNO is a former submariner. He used to be out there. They can''t all be that political?

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  5. You know, I think I’ll put on my devil’s advocate hat. I just get too angry reading about what’s going on with the Pentagon and Congress to not put some thought into the “other” side of the story.

    First, 10x FFG-7’s are being taken out of the battle force, but right now they have as much hitting power as the LCS. Just because they are designated “Frigate” doesn’t mean they have the armament that goes along with that class of vessel. They have better survivability, but in terms of weaponry? 6 torpedoes, a 76mm gun, a Phalanx and that’s it. To argue they are “Battle Force” ships misses the point. They aren’t right now. Though one only needs to look at the Aussie’s FFG-7 mod, Adelaide-class, to see what a FFG7 Battle Force ship looks like. Right now, outside of survivability, FFGs are the same as LCS.

    Second, this “Battle Force” name I think has people chasing ghosts. When was the last true navy battle the Navy fought? 1945. Blow vs. blow. Since then it’s become something more, a amalgamation between soft and hard power. We show the flag to wavering allies. Send the Comfort and Mercy to disaster areas. Counterdrug and couterpiracy missions abound. The Navy isn’t a battle force. It’s a force that must operate across a whole plethora of environments. I think they made a mistake naming it “Battle Force”… I would argue that without a peer or near peer competitor on the horizon, with countries (even adversarial ones more solely linked economically), that the Navy must be able to project power and win a slug-fest, but right now its most important missions is good will, showing the flag, etc. One only remembers a few months ago after the Philippine Typhoon… the talk wasn’t about where the nearest carrier was (It was on station), the talk was where was the USNS Mercy was.

    And in the end, a “win” wasn’t how many VLS cells you could park off the Philippines. It was won with how many large white ships with red crosses you could get there. And for that, the US: 0, China: 1. (Type 920, Peace Ark).

    Operation Devil's Advocate complete.

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    1. The US gave $20 million in relief support to the Philippines along with deploying Marines, amphibs and the GW strike group to assist in relief efforts. China initially only gave $100k, but later upped that to $1.4 million and a hospital ship.

      So it's still very much US:1, China: 0, IMHO.

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    2. Thanks Smitty,
      I was not aware that the USA had contributed that much HA.

      GAB

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  6. B Smitty - the point wasn't about US vs China on a total scale (economic, military, social, diplomatic), but focused merely to a ship vs. ship comparison. This is a naval blog after all. In that context, and within the framework of my post, its China 1, US 0 when it comes to the project of naval soft power, specifically non-combatant support ships which are now being counted as "Battle Force" ships. In this case, hospital ships.

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  7. "I would argue that without a peer or near peer competitor on the horizon, with countries (even adversarial ones more solely linked economically), that the Navy must be able to project power and win a slug-fest"

    I am worried about our Navy's continued ability to win that slugfest in the next 10 years. How many ships have we made in the past decade that are armed with modern AShM's? What is the present and future state of our AShM's? What is the present and future state of our ASW? Mine warfare? Its going to get very hard to project power with short-ish range planes, outdated missiles, limited ability to clear mines, and crippled ASW ability. If the DF21/ BRAHmos etc get sold, the only thing I can see that can do it now is our SSN's.Newer Chinese subs are already an issue for the surface navy, IMHO, as are SSK's in most places we might want to project power. Other countries appear to be putting alot of money into the ability to thwart our Navy, and we don't be doing enough to counter their threats. Again IMHO.

    "but right now its most important missions is good will, showing the flag, etc."

    I guess I don't see the huge benefits of a soft power component of the Navy. You fight with what you have in the fleet, and if we have alot of 'soft power' ships they become weak targets in a slugfest.

    I think we do things like what we did in the Philippines because its the right thing to do. I don't see it as specifically a naval mission. I don't think we tailor a war fighting arm around that mission. We can always load up an America or a Nimitz to get there quickly with food, and that doesn't take anything away from the Nimitz or the America's ability to fight. They and our money provide immediate relief. The flag doesn't have to be on a 700 million dollar LCS that provides just okay support. It could be on the containers of food and medical equipment that come off the RO/RO's we hired to give them long term aid. Or on the uniforms of the engineers the US hires to help them rebuild.

    If it has to be a ship, maybe we design something for the MSC that can bring aid to foreign countries and tie up at their ports.

    In the meantime, let the Navy concentrate on beating other Navies or projecting power in an A2/AD environment.

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