Friday, May 27, 2016

Just Stop Hitting Yourself

The Navy has long used sequestration as a crutch and blame for the abysmal condition of the fleet.  Sequestration took effect as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.  News Flash!!!!  The Navy’s maintenance problems were already well entrenched by then.  Sequestration assuredly did not help the situation but the Navy was already committed to irresponsibly reduced and deferred maintenance before then.  Sequestration is just the convenient scapegoat for a Navy that has no idea how to manage its budget or its assets.

Here’s the latest round of insanity as reported by Navy Times.

“US Navy leaders have made no secret the fleet’s maintenance accounts are underfunded. “

The Navy has an $848 million shortfall in its current operations and maintenance accounts …”

If only there were some way to shift money from highly questionable acquisition programs and into maintenance funds.  If only there were some way to ask Congress to fund one less pointless Zumwalt or a bunch less worthless LCS’s and, instead, put the money towards maintenance.  Alas, there appears to be no way for such things to happen – at least, no way the Navy can think of.  I, on the other hand, would simply pick up a phone, call the relevant Congressman, and make the request.  But, hey, I’m not a professional like CNO Richardson so what do I know?

The Navy claims an $848M maintenance shortfall and yet is unwilling to sacrifice one or two LCS which would more than cover the entire shortfall.

Ouch … It hurts.  Every time I hit myself with a hammer, it hurts.  Make it stop.


So, what’s the Navy’s solution for dealing with sequestration?

  • “Deferring overhauls on four surface ships and one submarine from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 into fiscal 2017’s first quarter;

  •  “descoping” or deferring continuous maintenance for the assault ships Makin Island and America amphibious ready groups and the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group;

  • Restricting Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) flying hours, including imposing a four-month no-fly period, and limiting other flying hour program costs; and

  • deferring “various other contracts.”

More deferred maintenance on top of the previous deferred maintenance just makes the situation worse, not better.

“The Navy itself, Forbes [Rep. Randy Forbes] said, notes that the service is at its “lowest readiness point in many years.”

Readiness is at an all time low so the Navy’s solution is to defer more maintenance and further degrade readiness??? 

Ouch … It hurts.  Every time I hit myself with a hammer, it hurts.  Make it stop.

“Non-deploying aircraft were regularly being robbed of parts to keep deployed planes flying, he [Capt. Randy Stearns, commodore of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic]  said, with the result that the fleet had little surge capacity should more aircraft be needed in action.”

We have no surge capacity so the Navy’s solution is to defer more maintenance and ground entire air wings???

Ouch … It hurts.  Every time I hit myself with a hammer, it hurts.  Make it stop.

The Navy doesn’t even know where the maintenance problem began – or, at least, they refuse to acknowledge it.

“Asked where the problems began, Stearns [Capt. Randy Stearns, commodore of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic] replied, “sequestration – we’ve never caught up.””

No sir, that’s not where the problem began.  The problem was well established before sequestration.  Get your facts straight and lay the blame where it belongs:  squarely on the Navy.

As USNI News website reports,

“The Navy has been warning Congress for years that extended deployments since 2001 have led to more severe maintenance problems … “ (2)

There, Capt. Stearns, is where the problem began – not with sequestration but with the Navy’s own ill-advised decisions about deployments and maintenance since the beginning of this century.  How can you fix a problem if you don’t even understand how it started?  Want more proof?  Here’s a statement from Adm. Phil Davidson, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, during a Congressional readiness hearing.

“I will not embark on a path that partially accomplishes all availabilities across the entire fleet. That is a dangerous practice that rapidly builds maintenance and capability backlogs that are difficult to recover. Indeed, we are digging out from that sort of policy more than a decade ago.” (2)

So, Adm. Davidson acknowledges that the problem is at least a decade old, far older than sequestration.

The article also cites maintenance impacts on personnel.  The Captain of a submarine caught in an extended drydocking and unable to put to sea has opted to retire.  The XO and Engineer of the sub, being unable to get to sea and demonstrate their fitness for promotion, have had their careers ruined.

If only there some way to move those people to sea duties on another ship;  you know, sort of like a transfer where their bodies are physically moved somewhere else.  But I guess there’s no way to move a person and even if there were, there’s probably no openings in the entire fleet so …  Ah, hold that thought.  I just got a note that yet another Commanding Officer has been relieved for loss of confidence in his ability to command.  The Navy is holding to their average of around 25-30 CO reliefs per year and an equal number of XO’s and Senior Enlisteds.  Anyway, back to this post.  Where was I?  Oh yes, I was saying that there probably wouldn’t be a single opening anywhere in the Navy where these people could transfer to even if there were some kind of transfer mechanism.  Seems like an unsolvable problem so I’ll just move on.

Ouch … It hurts.  Every time I hit myself with a hammer, it hurts.  Make it stop.

Hey, side story … A man walks into a doctor’s office and says, “Doctor, my head hurts every time I hit myself with my hammer.  What can I do?”  The doctor answers, “Stop hitting yourself.”

The Navy hurts every time it defers maintenance.  What can they do?  Stop deferring maintenance.

One or two less LCS would cover the entire maintenance shortfall and yet the Navy refuses to give up one or two LCS to improve maintenance and readiness across the entire fleet.

Stop hitting yourself.


______________________

(1)Navy Times website, “US Navy Faces $848 Million Ops & Maintenance Shortfall”, Christopher Cavas, 26-May-2016,

(2)USNI News website, “As Navy Faces $848M O&M Shortfall, Picking What Maintenance To Skip Is Full Of Risk”, Megan Eckstein, May 26, 2016,




13 comments:

  1. One side thought; and maybe its not the way things are done with chain of command...

    Since the Navy's problems started back in 2001; was the Navy frank with the President and Congress that 'We can't both do X (deploy alot) and Y ( Maintain the fleet the way it needs to be ) without Z more dollars.

    If they were, and then Congress and the President ignored them and said 'Go anyway' then shame on Congress and the President.

    If, however, they BS'd their way through so as to personally look good to Congress and the President, then this issue lays doubly on the Navy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you know the answer.

      Delete
    2. Yes. Sadly I do.

      I'l love to see that congressional question though. 'Mr. Senator, we're $848 short of fully funding our maintanance budget...' 'Wow, so if we cancel LCS 29 and 30, you'd have almost double what you need!'

      Delete
  2. What about cutting some unneeded infrastructure? Close unneeded Gitmo and leave vulnerable Sasebo, as this guy suggests.
    http://www.g2mil.com/OBCL.htm

    No Congressional approval is needed. Just starting do it! Our Navy will soon spend $65 million of a new school at Gimto ($237,000 per pupil);

    And stop dropping so many bombs on Syria. All the targets were destroyed long ago, but our pilots have fly several "combat" missions a day bombing whatever might have a bad guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are endless ways to generate the needed money.

      Delete
    2. The other lie about sequestration is how much money has the Navy/Army/Air force blown on semi developed star wars programs that never generated *anything*. Ground Combat Vehicle, Future combat vehicle, etc. If your acquisition process isn't a tire fire its amazing how effective money can be.

      Delete
  3. What about Congress recognizing that the Navy is playing chicken with them and exercise some more oversight? The Navy is just running the ships they have into the ground with no maintenance to make it impossible for Congress to not maintain, or probably increase, new ship construction budgets.

    Refer to your earlier post about Congressional Oversight. Congress and allocate funding from wherever into the O&M accounts. Then the Navy can see if they want to play the impoundment of appropriated funds game.

    Finally Congress can refuse to promote some of these miscreants that are playing Chicken with the Citizen Taxpayer's ships.

    Lastly, where is Ash Carter? He should be firing his SecNav, AFTER he fires some Senior Navy Admirals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congress, at least, is beginning, just beginning, to exercise some oversight and look at the pushback it's getting from the Navy!

      There's plenty of blame to go around but the bulk of it falls on the professional warriors which is the Navy.

      Delete
  4. CVN-78 has been congressionally capped at$12.9B. Reportedly the navy is "stashing" money to pay for construction costs that exceed $12.9B and post delivery shipbuilding work. Where is this "stash" of money coming from? Probably from the OMN account.

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  5. I wonder if there is a correlation between the ships that get early retired and the ships that have been poorly maintained.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, here's one piece of the problem:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/wp/2016/05/27/fat-leonard/

    ReplyDelete
  7. I wonder
    If at the start of the Af-raq occupations, the USAF had bought a dozen of so AC130show many fast jet flying hours would have been saved, how much maintenance wouldnt have been needed, and what state the fast jet fleets would be in.
    Instead, harvest hawk.

    ReplyDelete
  8. more news: http://breakingdefense.com/2016/05/hasc-hammers-navy-readiness-in-push-for-18b-defense-boost/

    ReplyDelete