Wednesday, March 19, 2014

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

As you know, the Navy has been directed to evaluate an alternative to the current LCS.  We speculated (it’s a near certainty) that the replacement for the LCS would be a new version of the LCS, probably similar to the export versions that the manufacturers have offered (see, "The Reality of the Next Frigate").  As reported by Navy Times website (1), the Navy has announced the composition of the group tasked with the analysis of the LCS replacement.  The group, the Small Surface Combatant Task Force (SSCTF), is headed by a civilian, John Burrow, who is the executive director of the Marine Corps Systems Command.  He currently works for the Senior Executive Service and is responsible for ground equipment and systems acquisition for the Marine Corps.  Other group members consist of six captains, one commander, and another civilian.  Their backgrounds and current duties were not specified.  As Navy Times points out, it is noteworthy that the group does not contain a representative from the active-duty Naval Surface Force command.  The group members come from offices reporting directly to CNO, or the NAVSEA.  Hmm …  I wonder whose ideas they’ll line up behind?

The report states,

“In order to create a baseline, the task force is directed to prepare a “side-by-side comparison” of the requirements and capabilities of Oliver Hazard Perry FFG 7-class frigates and the LCS.”

I’m sure that will be a completely objective and unbiased comparison.

So we’ve got a group tasked with ship design evaluations that is led by a civilian expert in Marine ground equipment and systems and no team member is from the active surface Navy.  Further, the members currently report directly to the CNO and NAVSEA.  Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.  What do you think are the chances that this group will produce anything other than a parroting of whatever line Navy leadership wants?  All you frigate fans, say hello to LCS Flt II.


  1. “””””He currently works for the Senior Executive Service and is responsible for ground equipment and systems acquisition for the Marine Corps. “””””

    The Marine Corps ground equipment acquisition has had big problems for years, does this guy have time to work on the LCS?

    Or has the F-35 sucked so much money out of the Marine Corps budget that the Marines are not going to get any money for ground equipment anytime soon so this guy will have plenty of spare time on his hands. From what I have heard the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and Marine Personnel Carrier along with an upgraded AAV7 among others keep on being pushed later and later in the budget

  2. It was SWO admirals who came up with LCS to begin with. And it is the surface navy who have bungled its requirements, design and program management for the last decade plus.

    I'd say bringing in an outside party with no "baggage" nor vested interest actually makes a lot of sense.

    1. If you're a regular follower, you know my opinion of Navy admirals. The absence of them from the group is a positive. My point was that it would have made a lot of sense to have actively serving surface navy personnel helping to define the next "frigate".

      The surface navy, whoever they may be, did not bungle the LCS - Navy leadership did. The surface navy has largely resisted the LCS.

  3. Didn't you bother to read about Burrow beyond that article in Navy Times? Burrow is a heavy hitter in the system design community, including heading the DD 21 system design team, and several other critical engineering position. If the other on the committee are half as qualified as he is, we have little to worry about when it comes to technical competents.

    1. Did you? If you did, you noted that for the last 10 years he's been involved exclusively in ground systems acquisition for the Marines. Prior to that he held several software and systems engineering jobs. He's a certified acquisitions person, whatever that means. He's the equivalent of hiring the guy who designed the ashtray in a car to design the next brand new car.

      With all the professional, degreed naval architects/engineers in the world who design ships for a living every day of their lives, this is the guy you're happy with?? If the other half of the committee are half as qualified as he is, we'll wind up looking fondly back at the LCS!

      Opting to go the other direction from a naval architect/engineer, they could have gotten an actively serving surface force person who intimately knows ships, ship performance, ship requirements, and naval tactical and strategic needs. Instead, they get a guy who's been doing Marine ground equipment for the last 10 years? How's that been working out for the Marines, by the way? Where's that EFV/AAV replacement that they've been working on for years and still haven't even come up with a set of requirements? This is the guy we want running the Navy's frigate design group???!

    2. I can't wait to see what the guy that managed the overpriced DD-21/DDG 1000 can do to the LCS/Frigate. 10 more pieces of unproven technology to add in? Didin't we do this already with the mission modules (none have been OT'd yet). I would buy HII, GD, and LM stock based on this guy heading the group.

  4. There is more to system design than what you think, most often they are responsible for integrating the all the system and hardware of projects. They are more qualified to handle program leadership than hull designers and other hardware only people. And as being working with the marines for ten years, I could not think of a position that require a more rounded engineer to lead.

  5. I'm more and more vexed by the 'experts' that seem out of touch:
    Take this from defense industry daily about the LCS:

    "As the saga of the USA’s cost-effective but short-lived FFG-7 frigates proved, “future-proofing” and upgradeability for key systems, electronics, and weapons will be critical if these small surface combatants are to remain useful throughout their mechanical lives."

    Short lived? IIRC the first one came off the slipways in '79 or '80?!? They didn't get defanged until the early 2000's, and still have as much firepower as the LCS in most configurations. And they are built to a more robust design.

    Like the FFG's or not, they have provided yoeman service to the Navy for a long time, as far as I can tell.


    I don't know anyone on that panel. But given the recent past I'm really worried about the current 'expert' opinion in naval matters and the current nature of Navy leadership giving us another ship that fits the mosquito fleet.

    Again, I'm befuddled as to how this happened. The US Navy has a ton of experience and a ton of institutional knowledge. We are really putting the LCS out there as a viable warship? To find a use for it after 'we see what the captains use it for'


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