Friday, June 3, 2016

From Bad To Worse

How do programs go from recognizably bad to worse?  It happens when bad decisions are compounded by more bad decisions in the face of all evidence, common sense, and logic.  This is what’s happening right now with the Ford carrier program.

As reported by USNI News website, the man who ran the LCS program is now taking over the Navy’s troubled carrier program.  RAdm. Brian Antonio who has served as PEO for the LCS program since 2013 is taking over as PEO for carriers.

According to the Navy, Antonio,

“… previously served as program manager for Future Aircraft Carriers from 2007 to 2011.  Antonio also held various ship maintenance, modernization and acquisition roles throughout the Navy in his 33 years in the service. 

After having overseen the start of production of the future carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) as program manager, Antonio will now guide the ship through delivery, commissioning and fleet introduction as PEO. “

Is that an impressive resume of poor performance, or what?!

The man was responsible, in large measure, for getting the Ford off to a disastrous start.

He held various maintenance, modernization, and acquisition roles.  How’s the Navy’s maintenance?  How’s the Navy’s modernization programs?  How’s the Navy’s acquisition programs?  Could one man have a poorer resume?

The LCS is, arguably, the biggest shipbuilding disaster in Navy history and the man responsible for a large chunk of that is now going to be put in charge of carriers – for which he is already partially responsible for the Fords problems.

I’m not going to bother reciting a litany of the LCS’ problems.  They’re well documented.  Likewise, the Ford’s problems are also well documented.  This man had a major hand in both.     

  … And now he’s in charge of the Navy’s carriers.

This is how a program goes from bad to worse.


(1)USNI News website, “Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, Former PEO LCS, Takes Over As PEO Aircraft Carriers”, Megan Eckstein, June 1, 2016,


  1. I agree with you, but I don't have a solution. The Navy has a core of true believers who think the LCS is the cats meow. They admit it started out badly, but think that since then the 'Seaframe' costs have come down and its doing quite well. Further, they often blame the rough start on DOT&E and its '80's methodology' and Congress. They'd love this guy.

    I don't know if there are any solutions. It seems that the culture inculcated by the field grade officers and the secretaries is one that puts political correctness and looking good at the head of the line. Mabus is a disaster. And it seems like its been that way for awhile; so I don't know if there is a cadre of younger officers who are suffering through this who are willing to risk their careers to help change the environment. There seems to be the real risk that those who will get promoted will be those that have their unit meet all its political goals and paper readiness goals instead of its real readiness.

    We have the military working on lean in circles, diversity days, and equity. None of that is bad by itself (the concept of fairness, not the programs themselves); if you have a daughter who wants to honorably serve you'd like her to have a fair shot at doing the jobs she is capable of. But all that's fixed by being a meritocracy, not silly programs. We seem to have lost that. While we are working on all the PC programs we have all the Navy issues you highlight.

    We seem to have lost the mindset that the military is first to last a warfighting machine. Not a tool for social/environmental/social justice change.

    The rot seems wide spread.

    The airforce is bleeding pilots; many of whom cite bureaucracy and lack of flying time as a reason for leaving: They're just now trying to get the discipline and accountability back into their share of the nuclear triad (!)

    The Army has had zero luck creating a follow on to the Abrams/Bradley/Blackhawk fighting system conceived in the 70's and executed in the 80's. And now it seems their readiness and capability in armor (!) is starting to suffer.

    The Marines (and I love the Marines. I had family in the Corps) seem just lost. Kudo's to them for running a real study on woman in the infantry, but they got slapped down for it. And they seem to be drawing down armor and artillery in favor of the Osprey and the F-35b.

    I'm only hoping that the Coast Guard is avoiding this by being overlooked.

    The long wars haven't helped. Sequestration has had an impact, but this (as you pointed out) has been going on long before sequestration.

    With the state of our training and equipment I'm honestly afraid that if we ever got into a real convent war, we'd have some very, very nasty surprises and the best we could hope for is that it would last long enough for us to get our stuff together.

    Instead, I could see China or Russia manuevering us into short, sharp proxy engagements that embarrass us, bleed us of blood and treasure, and make us lose power and faith in the world community, but don't challenge us enough to change.

    The political future doesn't look bright.

    Would that I could re-incarnate TR.

  2. In defence of the army, we cancelled the Combat Ground Vehicle due the fact it was a marginal improvement of the M2A3 bradley for a huge increase to price. Currently there are upgrade programs to both the Abrams and Bradleys that increase their capabilities. Those two platforms continue to perform their roles admirably. "If it ain't broke..."

    1. The Army has had armor programs since 2003 and have failed to produce any of them so far. I don’t know how much they have spend but I would bet it was upward of 20 billion or so

      ***Added, according to global security link below the FCS alone has cost 18 billion prior to cancellation.

      2003 to 2009 was the Future Combat System which covered a very wide range of tracked armored vehicles and built nothing

      2009 to 2015 was the Ground Combat Vehicle which covered an replacement for the Bradley and built nothing

      2014 to now is the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle which is to replace the M113 vehicles. It seems that the chosen replacement will be a Bradley with its turret removed and platted over roof with hatches.

      Seems like a lot of years and a lot of dollars to come up with the idea of replacing the M113 with a Bradley with its turret removed, especially since that idea was first proposed back when the Bradley was being introduced

  3. Andrew, I'm totally cool with that. It would seem that there is alot of growth margin on the Abrams in particular. The Armor scheme still seems valid, and if they worked on the turret a bit maybe they could put in the new 120mm the Leopard A6's are sporting. If need be, they might put a Diesel in there.

    The Bradley catches alot of flack, but I don't think its a bad vehicle. Its not perfect, but it is workable, dependable, and deployable. However, with its engine I think that it's growth margin's are more sharply limited.

    All that said... my gripe isn't with keeping the stuff we have. Its with the fact that we've had two attempts to upgrade (GCV, FCV) that have simply and utterly failed. And millions were spent on both. WE've got to get this under control. Or just make the decision to keep the Abrams around and keep A-X upgrading it.

    1. Read up on the Korean K2 and the other things going on with tanks these days. The Abrams is pretty far behind the current curve.

      The armor and main gun are still valid, sensors and countermeasures are obsolete when compared to tanks like the K2 and Merkava III.

    2. I saw a K2 in Korea. Soooooo cool.

      But the sensors and countermeasures are upgradeable. And the Army is already working on it.

  4. The problem is people are judged not on their ability to achieve results, but on their ability to follow a process.

  5. "The problem is people are judged not on their ability to achieve results, but on their ability to follow a process."

    Something tells me Rickover or Sim's wouldn't have a place in the modern Navy.

  6. On the LCS story I would love to hear from Admiral (ret) Charlie Hamilton, the only Admiral to be fired for LCS.

    1. I'd rather read a story about how the LCS program is being scrapped and replaced with a frigate comparable to the other modern ships in that tonnage around the world.

  7. it seems like its been that way for awhile; so I don't know if there is a cadre of younger officers who are suffering through this who are willing to risk their careers to help change the environment. I liked your blog, Take the time to visit the me and say that the change in design and meniu?


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