Monday, December 11, 2017

What Have I Been Saying?

ComNavOps has been harping relentlessly on the theme that the Navy has lost its warfighting mentality and capability, that we no longer train effectively for warfighting 

And now, here’s proof from some former ship captains and former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work as described in a Breaking Defense article (1).

“The fleet, argues former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, is demonstrating presence at the expense of training for high-intensity warfighting.”

The Navy’s mission is warfighting, not presence and DepSecDef Work is confirming that the Navy has lost its warfighting focus, just as ComNavOps has been saying all along.

“When officers join the Naval War College’s elite Halsey Group that studies high intensity warfighting, Work said, they need remedial briefings on the full capabilities of the very systems they’ve been using at sea.”

Remedial briefings on the systems they’ve been using and are supposedly proficient with?!  That’s more proof of loss of focus.

ComNavOps has also harped on the unrealistic and nearly worthless training that the Navy provides.  Well, here’s a former ship captain’s take on that.

“Every time a ship gets prepared to do a SM-3 shot, quite literally, a team of rocket scientists comes on board and they groom the system,” Eyer [retired Capt. Kevin Eyer, former skipper of the cruisers Shiloh, Chancellorsville, and Thomas Gates] said.”

Where’s the value in having a team of experts come on board and prepare a ship for a test?  What does that tell us about the state of the weapon system or the crew’s training?  Nothing!  That team of experts is not going to be on board when war comes.

More on unrealistic training from Capt. Gerry Roncolato, who commanded the destroyer Sullivans and Destroyer Squadron 26.

“… when was the last time we had an unconstrained ASW exercise, (where) you go with an unalerted sub, an unalerted surface ship, you’re given a mission, you can fire as many torpedoes as you have, you have to win. We don’t do that.”

“Same thing goes for air defense exercise that is unconstrained and unalerted — we don’t do it,”

You’ll recall that I’ve described the fleet wide degradation of the Aegis system?  Here’s part of the reason why.

“The Navy used to have a special Aegis training command to help sailors learn how to get the most out of the complex system, recalled retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly. That command is gone now, and key training for the task has been truncated.”

ComNavOps has called for greater live fire exercises.

“Live-fire training has also been cut back, Daly said … We’ve done things in the fleet like eliminate the proficiency missile firings.”

Loss of focus on the main mission is further addressed by Work.

“Since 1991, Work said, the Department of Defense evolved into a “Department of Shaping,” more concerned with “shaping” the environment to avoid a war than preparing to fight a war.”

There’s nothing wrong with trying to prevent a war but not at the expense of being prepared to fight one because, ultimately, wars start despite our best efforts to avoid them.  Germany and Japan didn’t care about our peace efforts and Russia and China are shaping up to be the same.  We can promote peace but we’d better be prepared for war – and we’re not.

Work goes on to nicely sum up,

“All ready forces were committed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or counterterrorism and partnership exercises around the world, with no surge force in reserve and ready to react instantly to aggression.

“We could accept that in a period with no great power competition,” Work said, but not now. “In this period of time, we have to rededicate ourselves to (being) a warfighting navy.”

ComNavOps has a very low opinion of Mr. Work but, on this topic, he’s correct.  We have little or no surge capability to respond to a sudden need with.  If China were to take advantage of our situation we’d have no way to stop them.  What are we going to do, send 7th fleet ships that can’t even navigate?

We’ve given up our surge capacity to support highly questionable active deployments.  Worse, our supposed surge units have cross-decked personnel and equipment/aircraft to deploying ships just to meet immediate needs.  Our surge personnel, equipment, and aircraft are already “surged”.  There’s little left at home and none of it’s surge capable.


(1)Breaking Defense website, “US Navy Is NOT Ready For Major War: Ex-Skippers, Bob Work”, Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., 5-Dec-2017,


  1. I think at this point we need to be honest about not only what the Navy is (You've done a great job at that) but why (again, good job). At this point, I think that we have essentially a colonial military designed for anti insurgency while keeping money flowing and vendors paid.

    The reason we don't see problems resolved is that the military (with the possible exception of the Army) doesn't see any problems.

    I don't think they take China or Russia seriously at the command level.

    I think they take inclusiveness, politics, and promotions very seriously.

    And I don't see it changing any time soon, because those benefiting from the system will squash those who want to change it.

    In the 80's build up we had waste and major issues, but I think that was tempered by the real threat of the Soviet military.

    Now, putting a 14 billion dollar carrier out there with half functioning systems and a small air wing is just ducky because money was paid, it can do it's real job of 'presence' and bombing non peers, and there is no concern about it every facing a real peer.

    I think the only thing that changes this is a real war. And no one sane wants that. Especially saying I think that given this report and all we've seen it's sadly likely that our system will fold when hit hard in the nose.

  2. Completely agree with CNO and Jim!!!

    Sadly, we know that history is a harsh teacher, this only ends and gets fixed when USA military gets it's ass kicked....

  3. The public thinks our military is invincible. This is why there no real political will to fix it. It will take a disaster to change the perception.

  4. Hmmm, that article mentioned only the surface navy, wonder what the situation in the submarine force is like?

  5. Most of the problems Mr. Work cites could've been prevented (or at least identified) when he was Under Secretary.

  6. I'm posting this here, as I know you will get it, and I don't want to hijack the NSS discussion. But have you seen the new CDR Salamander post on the new naval strategic review?

    1. Yes, I've seen it and I've read the review itself. I considered posting a review of the review/report but it contained nothing that I haven't been preaching here for years. So, there would have been nothing new to add. Further, the review/report is a waste of time AS THE REVIEW/REPORT ITSELF SAYS (!!!) when it notes that these types of reports have been issued and ignored repeatedly in the past. That being the case, why do the authors think their review/report will be the one that changes the Navy? It won't. Nothing will change.

      The short of it is that it's a waste of time just like every other Navy report.

      Was there something specific about the report that you wanted to talk about?

  7. I'm curious as to your opinion on it. :-)


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