Saturday, August 3, 2013

State of the Navy

CNO Greenert delivered a State of the Navy briefing to reporters at the Pentagon on 19-Jul-2013 (1).  Here are some highlights.

  • A year ago we had 3 CSGs and 3 ARGs surge ready to support the deployed fleet in the event of emergencies.  Today, and moving forward, we have only 1 CSG and 1 ARG.

  • The Navy’s portion of the sequestration and budget cuts is $14B.  You’ll note that that’s equal to an entire year’s shipbuilding budget.  Each account (shipbuilding, operations, maintenance, manpower, etc.) will take a 10% cut in FY14.  If manpower accounts are  excluded, as was done in FY13, each remaining account would be cut 14%.

  • CNO made clear that he wants to maintain shipbuilding at current planned levels and is willing to allow other accounts to take a greater hit to do so.

  • Half of the 60 ship maintenance availabilities that are planned for FY14 will be indefinitely deferred.  Again, that demonstrates that CNO will maintain shipbuilding to the detriment of all else.  In fact, the cynical among us might suspect that CNO is not altogether displeased with this.  It allows him to ignore ship maintenance, thus shortening lifespans and increasing the need for new construction, while claiming to have no choice due to budget cuts.

  • We will maintain 1 deployed CSG and ARG in the Western Pacific and 1 CSG and ARG in the Arabian Gulf.

  • Air wings are undergoing reduced certification activities, which is affecting their readiness.

  • CNO wants the ability to reprogram cuts to emphasize some accounts and de-emphasize others to achieve the prioritization he feels necessary.  This is laudable except that his idea of priorities is questionable, at best.

  • CNO stated that sexual assault is the “challenge of our time”.  Indicatively, he spent 2X-3X as much time discussing this topic as any other.  Given our previous discussion of the issue and the fact that military sexual assaults are significantly less than civilian assault rates this seems to be a Tailhook-like politically motivated witch hunt that is soaking up time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.  CNO listed numerous new programs, resources, and personnel that will be devoted to this issue.  This was the only area that was cited as gaining budget!

  • Pre-deployment air wings are down to 11 hours per month flying time.

  • Q&A made it clear that CNO is focused on peacetime activities and is shorting warfighting capabilities.

  • CNO likes the trend that US-China relations are on.  Hmmm …….  He must not be reading the same reports and stories that I am!

  • Addressing capabilities, “Our benchmark, in all of those, remains the Western Pacific.   It was clear from the context (I think) that the warfighting needs are being measured against the Chinese A2/AD scenario.  That said, it’s hard to reconcile the statement with our actual procurement plans which do little to address the needs of total war in an A2/AD environment.

  • CNO stated we need a fleet of 306 ships.  That’s a joke to anyone who has read the 30 year shipbuilding plan and studied the budget.

What comes across, crystal clear, from this CNO is an obsession with new construction and a focus on the low end, peacetime functions of the Navy.  Maintenance, manning, and all other functions will be sacrificed to achieve new construction.  Warfighting is being allowed to atrophy.  Under this CNO, the Navy is being transformed from a combat fleet to the seagoing equivalent of a nation-building police force – a glorified Coast Guard – that exists to promote civilian political agendas.  While the Navy has had some stunningly bad CNOs in its history, Greenert is rapidly working his way towards becoming the worst ever.

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