An anonymous reader made a great comment and posed a question in the Naval Guns post that warrants a post of its own to answer. The relevant portion of the comment was,
“Given that there will be very limited quantities of 155mm LRLAP ammunition actually procured, you have to wonder what advantage the full size AGS has over AGS Lite, other than a higher ROF [ed.: rate of fire].”
The comment correctly points out that the AGS has only a single, very limited use ammunition (for shore fire) and that the AGS Lite (AGS-L) is just a marketing proposal, at this point. Nevertheless, the question as to what the advantage is of the AGS over the AGS-L has an illuminating answer. It has nothing to do with ROF or tactical employment. The answer is that the AGS has the overwhelming advantage, from the Navy’s perspective, of being fully automated from the strike down of ammo to operation of the mount. The AGS-L would require a good deal more manning.
Reduced manning is the new Holy Grail of the Navy. Why? Because the Navy is no longer in the business of warfighting. The Navy is now in the business of being a business that builds ships as its product and reason for existence. The obsessive desire to build ships even to the detriment of warfighting capability, as we've previously discussed, means that construction budgets must be constantly increased and Navy leadership has identified manning, specifically reductions in manning, as one of the more obvious and easy sources of freeing up additional funds for construction.
|AGS - Good Weapon or Good Business?|
Over the last few decades we’ve seen a host of business-based initiatives and programs spew forth from the minds of Navy leadership. These programs have been about efficiency, synergy, re-organization, cost effectiveness, six-sigma, diversity, etc. You all know the litany. The Navy bought into the flawed idea that a warfighting organization can be run like a commercial business.
I’m not going to further delve into the pitfalls of running a combat organization like a business because, frankly, I think the problems are obvious to everyone except Navy leadership.
The key point to take away from this post is that the Navy’s procurement, weapons programs, and planning is being driven by business concepts instead of warfighting considerations. Which is better: the AGS or the AGS-L? I don’t know but I do know that the decision should not be based on accounting. Select one or the other because of combat effectiveness.
Before we turn this into strictly an AGS discussion, remember that this type of flawed business-based decision making is being applied to all aspects of the Navy. The Navy exists to fight not to make a profit. Warfighting decisions will often be incompatible with business practices. So be it. We’ve got close to 400 Admirals. You’d think a few of them would realize this.