We’re all aware that the Navy is conducting a highly suspect process for selecting the next version of the LCS. The main flaw in the process is that instead of tying the ship requirements to operational needs, the Navy has jumped right to the specification of the ship. This is exactly what was done with the original LCS and, in large measure, why it failed so badly.
Note: The definition of insanity is to repeat a set of actions and expect a different result.
That aside, the Navy has kept the results of their LCS replacement study under wraps. In fact, as reported in many sources, the Navy just cancelled a planned classified briefing of the House Armed Services Committee on the subject. The kicker, here, is that the Navy is going to insert the results of the LCS replacement study into the 2016 budget. That budget is due in early 2015 – less than a year away. That leaves very little time for due consideration by Congress or anyone else.
While most of us learned lessons from the LCS debacle like avoid concurrency, or have a concept of operations before you design, or avoid overreach on technology, or some such, it appears that the lesson the Navy learned was to restrict information so that critics can’t get in your way.
The Navy has burned a lot of good will with Congress over the last several years and this secrecy is only going to make the situation worse.
What the Navy should be doing is openly discussing alternatives, inviting Congressional input and buy-in, and engaging the public from whom good will and tax dollars flow. The best way to minimize the number of critics is to involve them in the process.
Think about it. The Navy is already laying the groundwork for the next round of criticism. The Navy’s (presumed) choice of a slightly larger version of the LCS isn’t going to sit well with many critics who are desperately hoping for a true frigate and the lack of analysis of alternatives, lack of a concept of operations, and over the top secrecy is just begging for criticism. Five years from now when the Navy is once again blaming critics for the failure of the LCS replacement program (just as they did for the original LCS) rather than the ship itself, the process by which it was selected, and the Navy's own flawed management of the program, we can look back to this moment and see the roots of the problem.
Navy, you have a golden opportunity, right now, to positively shape opinion on this program and foster buy-in. Seize the moment!
Of course, I know you won’t and, in fact, you’re already moving in the opposite direction but, hey, I tried.