Eric Labs, Congressional Budget Office, while discussing the LCS's roles and concerns about its ability to function as a warship offered this observation.
"However, over the past two years the Navy's justification for the LCS has evolved more to peacetime missions that the navy spends almost all of its time doing anyway."He then went on to list several peactime missions: maritime security, engagement with allies, port visits, exercises, and sanctions enforcement.
His point was that in the face of criticisms of the LCS's warfighting limitations even the Navy has started to emphasize that the LCS is going to be more useful and justifiable as a peacetime vessel. He then went on to suggest that if peacetime operations are the justification it might be worthwhile to look at cheaper alternatives that can conduct the same peacetime missions. In particular, he suggested that an up-armed version of the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) at $180M per copy might be a better alternative. Combine Mr. Labs observation with the Navy's own recognition that the LCS is not combat capable as evidenced by CNO Greenert's comment that LCS would not be taking part in combat in high threat environments and you've got to really give some serious thought to the up-armed JHSV concept. I'm not familiar with the JHSV costs but they're anywhere near the $180M level that Mr. Labs stated, this alternative is well worth considering.
"We're building Coast Guard cutters for other people's coasts"His point was that the presence of U.S. naval forces may be tempting other countries to refrain from building their own naval forces, knowing that they can always count on the U.S. to protect them. He cited the current Chinese-Philippines conflict as an example. This is a very thought-provoking comment. If we weren't there, would the Philippines or any number of other smaller countries be more likely to build up their own coastal forces? I don't know whether that's true but, regardless, we should be putting as much pressure as possible on other countries to step up in their own defence, to the maximum extent possible.
Robert Work, Undersecretary of the Navy, spent the entire time defending the LCS in a rather strident manner. He flat out stated that if someone doesn't recognize the overwhelming value and capabilities of the LCS, it's because they just don't get it. In essence, if you don't agree with him, you're just too stupid. He pretty much explicitly said that, repeatedly.
After listening to this man, I've got to tell you that he is delusional, seriously misguided about the strategic threats in the world, myopic about the LCS, and comes across as a zealot. Here's an example of one of his delusional mini-rants.
"Cost ... There is nothing out there that can match the cost of this ship. Period. End of story. If you can find a ship that can do what this ship [does] for a smaller price, we'd be buying it right now."
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