As you know, the Navy has been directed to evaluate an alternative to the current LCS. We speculated (it’s a near certainty) that the replacement for the LCS would be a new version of the LCS, probably similar to the export versions that the manufacturers have offered (see, "The Reality of the Next Frigate"). As reported by Navy Times website (1), the Navy has announced the composition of the group tasked with the analysis of the LCS replacement. The group, the Small Surface Combatant Task Force (SSCTF), is headed by a civilian, John Burrow, who is the executive director of the Marine Corps Systems Command. He currently works for the Senior Executive Service and is responsible for ground equipment and systems acquisition for the Marine Corps. Other group members consist of six captains, one commander, and another civilian. Their backgrounds and current duties were not specified. As Navy Times points out, it is noteworthy that the group does not contain a representative from the active-duty Naval Surface Force command. The group members come from offices reporting directly to CNO, or the NAVSEA. Hmm … I wonder whose ideas they’ll line up behind?
The report states,
“In order to create a baseline, the task force is directed to prepare a “side-by-side comparison” of the requirements and capabilities of Oliver Hazard Perry FFG 7-class frigates and the LCS.”
I’m sure that will be a completely objective and unbiased comparison.
So we’ve got a group tasked with ship design evaluations that is led by a civilian expert in Marine ground equipment and systems and no team member is from the active surface Navy. Further, the members currently report directly to the CNO and NAVSEA. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. What do you think are the chances that this group will produce anything other than a parroting of whatever line Navy leadership wants? All you frigate fans, say hello to LCS Flt II.