Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CNO's Focus on Peace

CNO Greenert is a prolific writer and speaker.  Unfortunately, he is also a prolific purveyor of pacifistic policies (a little alliteration, there).

Greenert has authored another of his frequent Proceedings articles (1).  This one espouses the global networked navy, a variation of the 1000-ship Navy idea.  He describes a loose network of navies that form a global force for good (couldn’t resist that one) and whose individual members come and go as their individual national interests presumably come and go relative to specific issues.

Aside from the obvious problem of trying to count on network members who may or may not participate depending on what the issue of the moment is, the main problem is that this concept is dependent on a group of navies that are, frankly, not very capable.  While this may be fine for dealing with pirates or providing humanitarian assistance on a small scale, it fails utterly when it comes to actual combat against  even a moderately capable enemy. 

This focus by CNO Greenert illustrates his main failing.  He is a peacetime, peaceful activity oriented leader.  We've previously discussed his failure to follow his own tenets (see, "CNO's Tenets - Walking or Just Talking?").  His focus is on the very low end of the naval mission spectrum.  He wants the LCS because it’s a smaller ship that won’t intimidate the navies of other countries and can better engage with them and their small vessels (he has actually stated that).  The Pacific Pivot seems to consist of sending LCS’s to Singapore.  He wants generic platforms that can accept any payload (we’ve already debunked that idea - see, "Payloads Over Platforms?") which is an accounting approach to combat rather than a warfighting approach.  He’s sacrificing ship maintenance, flight hours, and readiness in favor of humanitarian assistance.  He’s focused on building JHSVs, MLPs, AFSBs, etc. – and counting them as warships! – rather than MCMs, combat capable frigates, strike cruisers, and whatnot.  If push comes to shove, he’s already indicated that he’ll retire a carrier rather than halt LCS production (or the LCS follow on).  I can go on but you get the idea and you know the litany as well as I do.

The Navy Uncaged?

While peacetime activities make up 98% of the Navy’s tasking, it’s the CNO’s job to feed and care for the gorilla that only gets let out of its cage 2% of the time.  Do that and the 98% will take care of itself.  Fail to do that and the 2% will not take care of itself.  Instead, the Navy will find itself lacking and in desperate trouble when we need the gorilla and find we have only a tiny, but cute and cuddly monkey.

The Navy desperately needs a warrior as CNO.

(1) US Naval Institute Proceedings, “Forging a Global Network of Navies”, Adm. Johathan Greenert, USN and RAdm. James Foggo III, USN, May 2014, p.22


  1. CNO Greenert is a hack and a first class bootlicker who was put into the position of CNO by Obummer and Ray Mabus because he could be counted on to toe the line. He goes along with policies he knows are wrong, like the fraudulent ship counting rules mentioned in this post and several others, because he is a yes man and a careerist. Back during the Vietnam War, they used to call that the “Lifer Syndrome”, officers who put their personal career prospects and getting their tickets punched ahead of doing the right thing. Then again, that’s become the norm in the civilian world as well, which is one of the reasons why America is so messed up these days.

    Greenert reminds me of Admiral Husband Kimmel, who replaced Admiral James Richardson a few months before Pearl Harbor. Richardson had protested repeatedly that moving the fleet to Pearl Harbor at a time of escalating tensions with Japan was a bad idea, since it left the fleet exposed to a Taranto-style air raid, which is exactly what happened on December 7, 1941. Previously, the fleet had been based in southern California, which made it a far more difficult target for a first strike from across the Pacific. So Richardson got the axe and was replaced by a yes man who could be counted on to not rock the boat. These days, with the possible exception of VADM Copeman, we have no one in the senior ranks who has the strength of character that Richardson, Ernie King or Chester Nimitz had. We are going to pay a heavy price in blood and lost ships one of these days because the repeated failures of leadership by both the civilian and military leadership. We desperately need warriors leading our military, but instead we get a bunch of politically correct pencil pushers, chair warmers and boot lickers who are good at getting promoted by toadying up to the powers that be, but little else. The fish rots from the head down.

    1. OK, you sound unsure. I'll list you as undecided!

      Seriously, you raise an excellent point. Your historical example of the movement of the fleet to Pearl Harbor is analogous to the Pacific Pivot we're engaged in now. Are we setting our fleet up for another Pearl Harbor by forward deploying to Singapore, Japan, and other Pacific locales?

      Interesting comment. Thanks!

  2. I'm from Singapore, am terribly disappointing with the recent capability of the US. Now the entire region has to kowtow to China, since the US wont act and ASEAN has too many conflict of interest.

    And with Singapore leaders, they will never take a stand on any Nation's side. No prize for guessing why the South East Asia dislike us.

    1. Abao, thanks for stopping by. It's always good to hear from someone outside the US. If you're willing, maybe you could offer a bit more insight on the area and it's challenges from your perspective. Specifically,

      What actions would you suggest the US take towards China?

      What support, if any, would you like to see Singapore provide to the US or other Pacific countries?

      What action(s) is China taking that you are most unhappy about?

    2. Also Singaporean.

      Actions - step up escorts of Chinese flotillas with sufficient muscle to not get brushed off. Pursue the issue of China's recent aggression in the Spratlys in the UN. Keep up surveillance of Chinese forces in the region (the Vietnam and Philippines naval clashes might not have happened if China knew there were observers on hand). Obama did a flying tour of the region lately to drum up anti-China support, but personally I think it's unlikely to translate to material changes.

      Support - Singapore is a nominal ally and already bases some US ships and crew, regularly hosts MEUs and has facilities for Nimitz. (I'm always amused when I see groups of crewcut Americans board the last train from downtown to Changi on a weekend night, usually a sheet or two to the wind and talking loudly about how awesome 'Murica is.) It would be interesting to see if the USN can put a base in the Philippines.

      China's actions - Pushing out to assert control over the region's shallows, blatantly encroaching on Vietnamese, Philippines and Malaysian waters with a view of exploiting oceanic resources and projecting influence.

      If we're playing fantasy navies I wish the USN would base Ticos, Burkes and P8s here, putting more muscle into the region. Also wish there was a statesman who could forge a true SEATO. But, well, the fact is that all we see are amphibs and LCS and the region is a collection of developing countries with too much bilateral disputes to hang together, and so we shall surely hang apart while China picks us off one by one.

    3. Spore2's comments are mostly spot on. Though a more reasonable approach from a cost basis will be to have frigates based on the JSDF's Akizukis on permanent patrol at the South China Sea.


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