Sunday, January 17, 2016

CNO's Design

The old CNO, Adm. Greenert, has left and the new CNO, Adm. John Richardson, has taken over.  Regular readers know that ComNavOps has been highly critical of Greenert, considering him to be one of the worst CNOs ever.  Will Adm. Richardson be an improvement?  Time will tell.  Let’s take a look at his first formal effort, his vision for the Navy as laid out in his “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” document (1).

The document begins by identifying three global forces that he claims are impacting the environment in which the Navy must operate.  They are,

  • Maritime traffic
  • The global information system
  • Technology

There’s nothing wrong with that list and certainly they do impact the global security environment but the list omits a couple of key forces that have a greater impact.

Competition for Resources – the competition for resources is increasing and since the world’s land masses are essentially 100% claimed, new resources can only be obtained by taking them from someone else.  China, for example, is seizing the South and East China Seas and working to subjugate surrounding countries in large measure to obtain more resources.  Russia is working to secure more resources from surrounding countries and the Middle East.

Evil – Evil is a palpable human force and is on the rise as evidenced by ISIS, Russia, China, Iran, and NKorea.  Evil does not behave as we do, does not honor agreements, does not respect boundaries, and does not hesitate to engage in barbaric acts.  Left unchecked, evil expands – always.  To paraphrase, all that is needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

So, the document stumbles right out of the gate by failing to recognize a couple of the major forces at play which are shaping the global environment and should be shaping our response.

Moving on, the document then proceeds to explicitly name our potential enemies:  Russia, China, Iran, and NKorea.  Interestingly, Islamic Jihadism is not named.  Well, this is a vast improvement over CNO Greenert who refused to name China as even a competitor let alone an enemy and refused to discuss incidents out of fear of escalating tensions.  At least now we’ve mustered the courage to speak our enemy’s names (excepting Islamic Jihad). 

Next, CNO discusses “Lines of Effort” through which the Navy will meet its requirements.

  • Strengthen naval power
  • High velocity learning
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Partnerships

Strengthening naval power comes close to the mark but the discussion gets bogged down in information warfare rather than recognizing that, ultimately, it’s about explosive power and numbers.  Warfare has not fundamentally changed throughout history and failing to recognize that cannot lead anywhere good.

The other three “Lines” are just buzzword bingo.  High velocity learning - seriously?  All in all, a very poor effort at “Lines of Effort”.

In summary, this is a better effort than his predecessor’s but still weak.  CNO Richardson is not off to a strong start.  We’ll keep watching and hope for better.

1 comment:

  1. You know why Islamic jihad isnt mentioned of course, they main funders and supporters are considered 'allies'
    This was the 'nuclear tech guy', so Im curious why he got the job- did no one else want it?
    Isnt it highly unusual for two CNOs in a row to come from submarine branch ( and both were CO of USS honululu at some stage)


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