Quantity Has a Quality All Its Own
I don’t know who first said this but it’s been true in combat since the beginning of time. Expressed even more succinctly,
Unfortunately, and unwisely, the US Navy has implemented the exact opposite philosophy in establishing and procuring its force structure. The Navy believes wholeheartedly that quality trumps quantity; that technology makes up for numbers. Every new weapons program results in smaller numbers than those it’s replacing. When (if?) the JSF reaches squadron service, the Navy has stated that squadrons will be reduced by 2-4 planes each because the JSF will be so superior to the Hornets it will replace. The Navy’s 14 ballistic missile submarines (originally 18) will be replaced by 12 new ones. A single LCS replaces three ships (1 FFG, 1 PC, and 1 MCM). And so on …
I think we can all readily understand the fallacy in the quality over quantity philosophy. Any single platform, no matter how powerful, can only be in one place at a time. Further, under this philosophy the loss of a single platform is much more damaging due to the limited numbers. An advanced platform may enjoy a 10:1 kill ratio but if the enemy has an 11:1 advantage in numbers, they ultimately win.
Consider the LCS that is designed to replace a frigate, a patrol craft, and a minesweeper. The LCS can only be in one place at a time doing one task. The ships it replaced can be in three places at once, doing three different tasks.
|Soviet Krivak - Quantity Over Quality?|
Taken to its logical conclusion, the Navy will eventually only need one supremely technically proficient ship. Of course, if that ship happens to be in drydock when a crisis occurs …
In modern times the quantity concept has been applied by the former
Soviet Union and now . While both countries have made every effort to introduce modern technology, both also recognize(d) the value of numbers. China
The Navy understood this concept in WWII but has forgotten it. Today, lip service is paid to a numerically larger fleet (the 313 ship fleet) but every action demonstrates the opposite behavior. Our ships are getting ever more expensive and, as a result, fewer in number. Our fleet is shrinking, not growing.
The Navy needs to relearn the lesson: Numbers Matter!