Monday, February 19, 2018

Force Multipliers

There is a growing consensus (heck, it’s an acknowledged fact!) that the U.S. military is overworked, poorly maintained, undertrained, and unready for combat – in other words, a hollow force.  People will debate the degree of that hollowness but rarely the reality of it.

The solution espoused by military leaders is, predictably, increased funding.  Lack of funding, they say, is at the root of maintenance issues and precludes modernization.  Of course, this flies in the face of all data and evidence.  Defense spending is at an all time high while readiness is at historic lows.  Thus, funding does not seem to be either the problem or the solution!

Civilian military leaders espouse networking as the solution.  In the broadest sense, this is the Third Offset Strategy which postulates battlefield superiority thanks to networking, data links, surveillance, and unmanned vehicles of all types.  Of course, the very foundation of this Strategy is suspect in the face of enemy electronic and cyber warfare activities as demonstrated in Ukraine and the pages of this blog.

Casual observers espouse bigger, longer range missiles as the solution.  Some see a large buy of frigates as the answer, at least for the Navy.

And so it goes.  The list of combat readiness solutions is long but they almost all share one common attribute: they’re all “things” that must be purchased which, again, leads back to funding as the solution.  However, as we just stated, funding is neither the problem nor the solution.

Okay, so if funding is not the solution, what is?

What can restore our combat readiness without requiring massive funding? 

The answer is simple:  fundamentals.  Fundamentals are not just a readiness solution, they’re actually force multipliers.

The Navy and, more generally, the military, talks about force multipliers such as the Third Offset Strategy which theorizes that vast networks of shared data will greatly enhance our military effectiveness over and above the mere capabilities of the individual ships, aircraft, and weapons.  You know what?  It would.  The Third Offset Strategy would be a force multiplier, and a potent one at that, IF it worked perfectly. 

Therein lies the rub.  It won’t work perfectly.  In fact, it will barely work at all.  It will fail for two broad reasons:

  1. Inherent weaknesses
  2. It can be taken away from us

The kind of vast networking that the Third Offset depends on is inherently unstable and unworkable.  We see this today in our day to day lives and we see this in the Navy’s day to day workings.  In our daily lives we see the inherent fragility of even simple networks.  We all experience network failures at home and at work.  Networks fail “spontaneously” on a regular basis.  In addition, they’re inherently too complex to maintain.  They require highly trained people to operate, maintain, and troubleshoot them.  These people are rare.  In war, networks will fail and we won’t have sufficient numbers of trained personnel to restore and maintain them.

Consider a microcosm example of the kind of network the Third Offset envisions, the ALIS software that is supposed to run the entire F-35 maintenance and operations.  You know that ALIS is supposed to monitor the aircraft, predict failures, and reduce maintenance but did you know that it is also supposed to manage the logistics for the entire F-35 fleet, manage spare parts inventory, and conduct mission planning, among other responsibilities?  How is that working out?  That’s right, it’s an abysmal failure and that’s just for one aircraft.  The Third Offset envisions scaling this up to the entire military.  How is that going to work if we can’t even get it to work for one aircraft?  The answer is obvious, it won’t work.

I can list example after example of current military mini-networks that are failing.  This simply proves that the kind of vast, all-encompassing network that the Third Offset Strategy depends on is inherently not viable.

Worse, the Third Offset Strategy can be taken away from us.  It can be taken away by the enemy and it can be taken away by ourselves.

The enemy can take away the Third Offset’s foundation – networks - via electronic countermeasures, jamming, signal disruption, cyber attacks, hacking, false signal generation, etc.  The Russians in Ukraine are giving us a field lesson in the power and impact of basic electronic warfare and it’s a lesson we should heed.  The susceptibility of a network to attack and disruption is fairly obvious and I won’t belabor it any further. 

The Third Offset can also be taken away from us by ourselves through our own incompetencies.  We see this every day.  We’ve lost our basic seamanship skills to the point that warships are colliding with other ships, basic anchoring evolutions are beyond us, and ships are running aground.  It does no good to have a Third Offset Strategy that produces an opportunity for military success if we don’t have the individual ship and personnel skills to execute the required actions.  Again, this is fairly obvious and I won’t belabor it.

More generally, it is folly to depend on a strategy that can be taken away from us.  What we need are capabilities and, even better, force multipliers that can’t be taken away no matter what the enemy does.

So, again, what are these magic force multipliers that enhance our capabilities and are immune to enemy actions?  Well, they’re easy, simple, and obvious.  They’re the fundamentals that a military and a Navy should have but that we have lost.  Here they are,

Training – We don’t’ know how to effectively use the equipment we already have and yet we think the solution is to acquire more advanced equipment.  It’s been reported that the officers entering the Navy’s new surface warfare “Top Gun” school are having to undergo remedial training on the basic capabilities of the very equipment they work with every day.  They are inadequately trained.  Our officers don’t even know how to get the maximum out of what we have.  We’ve lost the ability to even conduct basic seamanship exercises such as sailing, anchoring and determining our position. 

Aegis has become degraded fleet wide.  We no longer know how to maintain and operate Aegis to get the maximum out of it.

With sufficient training, we could instantly “double” our capabilities just by understanding the capabilities of what we have and fully utilizing them. 

The training issue goes back to focus (see below).  Our potential training time is being spent on non-warfighting activities. 

Tactics – Good tactics can make up for a lot of substandard equipment.  The F4F Wildcat of early WWII may be the classic example.  On paper, the Wildcat was badly outclassed by the Japanese Zero but the pilots developed tactics that allowed the Wildcat to succeed.  Similarly, we currently have ships, aircraft, sensors, and weapon systems that we don’t know how to use to their maximum effectiveness.  In large measure, this is because of our set-piece, scripted exercises that don’t allow the participants to exercise any creativity.  How can we find the best ways to use what we have if we can’t “play” with them?

We need to begin with an intensive historical study of tactics then move on to intensive study of our enemy’s equipment and tactics and, finally, create realistic, free form exercises to explore our current tactics.  Failure in exercises should be encouraged!  Failure defines the boundaries.  Does this sound a lot like the original Top Gun program?  It should!  They had the right idea. 

Hand in hand with this is the need to create standing opposing force training units (OpFor) whose only job is to study enemy technology and tactics and pass that information on to the fleet using the Top Gun model.  Further, we need a different OpFor for each potential opponent.  The Russians won’t fight like the Chinese so why would we have a single unit try to emulate both?  The cost of an OpFor is miniscule compared to the overall Navy budgt.  We can afford as many as we need.

The Top Gun Model Had The Right Idea


Effective tactics can enable us to get far more performance out of our equipment than is currently possible.

Focus – A world class athlete focuses 100% on his sport.  We need to focus on warfighting to the exclusion of all else.  We need to stop focusing on gender equality, sensitivity training, green energy, transgender assimilation, new uniforms every other year, zero-defect witchhunts, etc.  Every hour of the day must be spent on some aspect of warfighting.  To this end, we also need to stop treating the military as just another branch of the government, subject to the same social demands and laws/rights.  The military must be recognized as exempt from the usual social and legal requirements.  If women in combat is not efficient then women must be excluded from combat and the military must be excluded from gender equity laws and norms.  The military must be exempt from social and legal requirements.  A military governed by social requirements is a military that is sub-optimal.

Focus also includes running every decision Navy leadership makes through the filter of “will it enhance our combat effectiveness?”.  If it won’t, then we shouldn’t do it.  It really is that simple.

Pure, simple, warfighting focus can hugely increase our current effectiveness.

There you have it.  Training, tactics, and focus are the fundamentals that can act as huge force multipliers and at no cost, on a relative basis.  We need to return to these fundamentals.

62 comments:

  1. back to my Sherman Ship idea....

    "Good tactics can make up for a lot of substandard equipment. The F4F Wildcat of early WWII may be the classic example. On paper, the Wildcat was badly outclassed by the Japanese Zero but the pilots developed tactics that allowed the Wildcat to succeed. "

    The wildcats, and later the hellcats, were known also for being durable, repairable aircraft. wildcats come back with large holes in them. Zeroes had no self sealing tanks. Wildcats can be used on Guadalcanal in utterly wretched conditions because a relatively primitive airbase can make them work just well enough.

    I've read accounts of the Germans where they would see an obviously badly damaged but repaired Sherman tank bank in the field disheartening.

    Simplicity and durability are force multipliers as well. Of course, that might go under 'focus' as to what we want to do. Our focus right now is on Buck Rogers and Google plug in solutions, not durability and logistics.

    JFW

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    1. "Simplicity and durability are force multipliers as well."

      You're quite right. I excluded construction related factors because they cost money. I wanted to focus on force multipliers that were, essentially, free.

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    2. Ah. Gotcha. I missed that in my reading. Mea Culpa.

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  2. I've been hearing this for years, but have never been able to wrap by head around it.

    How does the Aegis system 'degrade' over time? Is it the inability to properly diagnose and repair physical portions of the system?

    Or is it software issues causing lowering performance over time?

    Both?

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    1. No one outside the Navy and the manufacturer know the details, obviously. Proceedings had an article some time ago by an Aegis ship's Captain in which he described how he believed that his ship/Aegis was running perfectly until a manufacturer's technical team assessed his system and found it to be significantly degraded. Eventually, the degradation was determined to be fleet-wide and the Navy formed one of its famous Admiral-chaired panels to correct the problem. The scary part of the issue is that Aegis is so complex that no one in the Navy was even able to see that the system was degraded.

      I've never seen any follow up report about whether the Navy was able to correct the problem. I suspect not since the Navy lacks the degree of technical expertise to cope with a system like Aegis.

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    2. The Functional Indeterminacy Theorem (F.I.T.):

      In complex systems, malfunction and even total non-function may not be detectable for long periods, if ever.

      -cf John Gall

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    3. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on AESA radars:

      "AESAs are also much more reliable than either a PESA or older designs. Since each module operates independently of the others, single failures have little effect on the operation of the system as a whole."

      I would imagine that those "single failures" are hard to detect and hard to find and that they will slowly pile up over months/years. Looking around, it looks like each SPY 1 array consists of 128 transmitting modules and 140 receiving modules. Each module has 32 receiving or transmitting elements in it. All told each array has over 4000 transmitters and 4000 receivers. I am not sure if any of that is correct since everything I can find says different things while using similar numbers (those numbers might be for a pair of arrays, etc), but you get the picture. In order to troubleshoot something like that you are gonna need an electrical engineering degree, tons of training, and a lot of time

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    4. "the Navy lacks the degree of technical expertise to cope with a system like Aegis."

      To comment on my own comment, Aegis was developed by PhD scientists and while it is designed to be operated by less capable people, it cannot be analyzed and maintained by less capable people. Unfortunately, it is not possible to take incoming sailors out of boot camp and turn them into functional equivalents of PhD scientists with a few month training school. The Navy simply cannot develop the degree of expertise to support Aegis. This has profound implications for the equipment we select and the degree of complexity we design into our equipment.

      Is it better to have an Aegis system that is chronically degraded and can't be maintained or a mechanical, rotating radar that is less advanced by operates perfectly and can be maintained and repaired?

      Would you rather have a bow and arrow that is utterly reliable or a gun that jams every other round?

      This is a question that we need to give careful consideration to as we continue our headlong, blind, obsessive pursuit of technology, often for its own sake.

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    5. The Navy seems perfectly capable of training Nukes. There is no reason they couldnt set up a similar program for radar (well other than that would cut into contractor payments significantly).

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    6. And that's potentially a great model for training Aegis personnel. However, it's a radically different model than what is used now and, so far, the Navy shows no interest in adopting it.

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    7. As I think about it, nuke training seems like it might be a good bit simpler than Aegis training. Not simple - just simpler. Nuclear engineering is relatively straightforward, in my mind, compared to the intricacies of electronics at that level. In addition, so much of the radar functionality is at the software level and that's a science and art all its own. Making technicians who are the equivalent of PhD electronics techs, materials engineers, electromagnetic wave experts, AND world class software coders seems awfully difficult, bordering on impossible. Heck, the manufacturer employs PhD's who work at this stuff for their entire career. The Navy just can't match that kind of expertise and if that's the level needed to support the system, then we have a systemic problem.

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    8. Design and troubleshooting are two different things. Designing these systems probably requires a PhD, but troubleshooting doesnt. These people arent demi-gods either, they shouldnt be mythologized or put on some sort of unattainable pedestal. Thousands and thousands and thousands of non-phds are designing electronics all over the world. And all bachelors engineering students have a modest amount of exposure to coding. You could also have parallel Aegis teams where one side is hardware engineers and other is software engineers.

      And even beyond that, why cant the Navy employ EE PhDs or any myriad of other engineers for the entirety of their careers? The world is changing, as are our weapons systems, the Navy needs to change with it.

      You are right about nuclear engineering being more straightforward though. There is a hierarchy of engineering disciplines and EE is right at the top. EE basically means that you practice magic for a living.

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    9. "These people arent demi-gods either, they shouldnt be mythologized or put on some sort of unattainable pedestal."

      Well, EE kind of is a mythological half science, half art, half magic (hmm, I may need to check my basic arithmetic ... but, I digress) so, yes, the good ones ARE sort of like unicorns.

      Regardless of how you want to trivialize Aegis maintenance (okay, I'll be fair ... you didn't say trivial), the fact is that the Navy was unable to maintain Aegis with whatever degree of in-house expertise they had. They failed. So, the degree of expertise and the level of Navy training is inadequate.

      You ask a good question about why the Navy can't employ EE PhDs. For starters, the Navy just isn't set up that way for officers. It's up or out which is the opposite of what you're suggesting (at least, I think that's what you're suggesting). Having an officer be an Aegis tech their whole career would require a profound restructuring of the officer corps. Plus, what PhD is going to want to join the Navy when they can make many times more money in the private sector?

      Now, having poo-poo'ed your suggestion, I'll now turn around and fairly note that the military is doing a form of exactly what you're proposing in the area of cyber warfare. They are looking at taking in non-combat "officers" (computer geeks) who would strictly work cyber warfare and nothing else. No promotions, no general officer flag rank, just every day hacking and counter-hacking. I like that! There's no reason that the Navy couldn't do that with high level Aegis EE's. Of course, they'd have to pay them well to make it worth their while.

      EE is a lot like the theory of relativity. I can regurgitate some of it and I acknowledge that it appears to be real but, deep down inside, I have no actual grasp of it and, what's more, I know it's not real. Time doesn't slow down as you speed up. That's nonsense!

      Steerable electronic beams? Phasing? Side lobes? Those are just made up words!

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    10. Nuke training could have been a whole lot simpler if it weren't for the politics of it. Most navy bases are in large coastal cities. Young inexperienced operators are starting up and shutting down nuclear reactors. Any accident such as a meltdown would have tremendous political consequences. Therefore the training we went through was most academically in depth of any enlisted job. The math, science, and engineering classes we took were not actually used on a regular basis on the job other than to serve as a foundational understanding. We operated and maintained the plant and performed basic repairs. Reactor design, construction, installation, and re-fueling was done by contractors. The navy probably should have a training program for aegis technicians and officers modeled after the nuclear training program, but you wouldn't need teams of EE Phd's on board, just as we didn't have nuclear engineering Phd's on board.

      MM-13B

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    11. But where do we find all these top asvab scoring people when the navy has a hard time recruiting, training, and retaining such people as nuclear operators? My answer: stop building nuclear powered surface ships. Nuke power for submarines only. Maintain and man the existing CVN's as planned, but all new carriers should be conventional which over time will free up manpower.

      MM-13B

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    12. Yeah, it definitely couldnt be structured like the Nuke program, as far as I understand that you eat shit for a few years with the knowledge that you will have a sweet gig at a powerplant when you get out.

      I would suggest something sort of like Test Pilot School or a mash up of TPS and DARPA. Its not like there would ever be a shortage of new and weird electronics coming into the military. Your career could be plenty stimulating. You wouldnt have to restructure the officer corps, you would just kinda have to let these guys exist outside of it, if that makes any sense.

      I have also long advocated that the military in general needs to pay everyone more, especially at the higher end. We have a professional military now, they should be paid like professionals. In the grand scheme of things military salaries are not such a huge expenditure.

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    13. "you wouldn't need teams of EE Phd's on board"

      You say that and yet Aegis failed across the fleet so, obviously, what we had on board wasn't sufficient and we need greater expertise than we had on board. What exact level of expertise is required, I don't know.

      Here's the data points:

      -When Aegis was introduced, we did have teams of PhDs on board in the form of manufacturer's tech reps. Aegis worked well.

      -When the tech reps were withdrawn, Aegis failed. The Navy's highly trained techs were inadeuate.

      Draw the logical conclusion.

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    14. There is more than one logical conclusion. Picture this: back in 1960 my ship (CVAN-65) was undergoing pre-commission testing. Being the first ever nuclear powered aircraft carrier, I'm certain many nuclear physicists and engineers were on board. Did those PhD guys stay on the ship? No, but they left behind a detailed set of procedures and requirements; think of it as a really big owners manual. Other than a few approved changes and revisions, we were still operating under that same "owners manual" 40 years later when I was on CVN-65. By the time the ship was removed from service and its reactor cores removed, most of those original physicists and engineers had passed on from this life, but the knowledge they left behind lived on for 50-some years.

      Did the Aegis EE PhD's leave a system for future crew's? I never had exposure to Aegis systems, so I don't know. Could be that the tech reps were more concerned with job security than legacy of the system.

      MM-13B

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    15. MrTexas: I operated under the idea that I had to eat the shit for six years, while I nearly chocked on it several times, and the sweet gig would come after it. That sweet gig didn't happen. Instead I spent the next twelve working below what I was trained to do; majority of it in dirty coal burning power plants. This has been becoming more common with ex nukes who don't have a degree. Three Mile Island made a huge dent in civilian nuke plants, but the navy kept producing more and more nuke operators. Now I'm working on my MET degree and plan on working in non-nuke ship construction or repair. If I had to do it all over, NO WAY I'd be a nuke again.

      MM-13B

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    16. Hi,

      About drawing the logical conclusion.... While you are right in the original post that all three issues need to be improved int he US Navy, they are not the (main) cause of the current problems. They are results from yet another, underlying, and much bigger problem which is only going to get worse.

      You are making the assumption that navy personnel can be trained up to the required level, that they can develop and/or use advanced tactics. With regard to ficus, most people are not capable to focus to the degree that successful athletes can.

      The problem the Navy faces is a societal problem. Average everyday life and everyday actions are getting more and more complicated. It's hard to see because it goes so gradually. But compare the requirements to be a competent car mechanic today and 40 years ago. Forty years ago it required a fairly simple and basic set of mechanical skills. Today you also need to know about computers, hardware and software and network links. In addition, the mechanical elements have gotten more varied and complicated.
      The issue is with what this means. This means that in order to deliver the same result (figure out what's wrong with the car and fix it) you need far more skills, knowledge and cognitive competencies in general. That in turn can be expressed in the IQ needed to master these skills and be able to use them.
      To be a competent car mechanic today you need a significantly higher IQ than you needed to have 40 years ago.

      Society as a whole, due to the increased complexity of even 'simple' everyday activities, is rapidly running out of meaningful jobs for people with below average IQ's. And even the non-meaningful jobs (like burger flipping in a fast-food restaurant) are getting fewer and fewer.
      The number one occupancy in the US for men with an IQ in the 85-90 range is driver. Once self-driving cars become a reality, most of these jobs will disappear. New jobs will appear too but these will mostly require more cognitive capabilities (higher IQ's) to perform. This is a very serious societal issue which is going to explode the coming decades.

      to be continued

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    17. Now let's apply this to the Navy. Given the high number of high tech systems and the greatly increased complexity of naval operations it can be safely stated that the average (!) required cognitive capabilities of navy personnel today is considerably higher than it was 60 years ago. I think we can also state that the standard environment in which most navy personnel operate is more complicated than in civilian life (again we're talking about averages here). In case of actual combat operations, it'll be a lot more complicated.
      This too can be expressed in a required average IQ needed, JUST TO UNDERSTAND what you are doing.
      The main problem of the Navy is that it is full of people (from the very bottom all the way to the very top) that do not have the cognitive skills to perform the jobs asked of them (and this very explicitly includes the officers).
      Training is NOT the solution. It's like training an average joe to win the 100m sprint at the olympics and when he fails to win the race expect better results next time by training more and harder. It won't work. People have natural limits for performing beyond which you can't train them.

      Today's Navy needs very different sort of people than the navy did 60 years ago. Nowadays you need the nerds, the smart guys, the ones with IQ's over 100. For officers, the requirement is even higher. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that someone smart will automatically be right for the Navy. What I am saying is that someone who is not smart (as in high enough IQ) is wrong for the Navy (at least for 90% or so of the jobs in the Navy).

      And let's be honest here, the armed forces are not getting the best and brightest of society. This says nothing of dedication, desire, patriotism, courage etc of many (most?) of the people who do join up. But where the navy needs people with mostly average and above average IQ's. They mostly get people with below average IQ's. And there just aren't enough jobs in the Navy these people can do competently.

      I have my masters degree in Organizational Theory and one of the more fascinating concepts is that of the Peter Principle. According to this principle, in every hierarchical organization, people advance up the hierarchy until they reach their level of INcompetence. And that's the level they'll stay at for the rest of their career. In other words, every hierarchical organization is chock full of people working at a level for which they are incompetent.
      Due to societal changes, nowadays this level can be reached very quickly.

      RL

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    18. RL,

      WOW! That was a mouthful, so to speak. You presented a lot of statements as facts which are actually opinions (nothing wrong with opinions as long as they are identified as such). Your opinons ranged from correct to incorrect to debatable. That's fine, makes for good discussion. I have to make the point, here and now, that this blog is based on fact and logic. So, let's see what we've got.

      "issues ... are not the (main) cause of the current problems."

      This is one of my pet peeves. You are disagreeing with something I didn't actually say! I did not say that the three factors were the cause of today's problems. I said that the three factors were force multipliers that could greatly improve our current state at little cost. The root cause of today's problems is leadership, which you address in a roundabout manner as the Peter Principle. Feel free to disagree but please stick to something I actually said!

      "most people are not capable to focus to the degree that successful athletes can."

      Absolutely they are. They just need to have a subject that they are interested in. The Navy all too often mismatches interests and jobs.

      "Forty years ago it required a fairly simple and basic set of mechanical skills."

      True, to some extent. On the other hand, what you fail to note is the concomitant increase in education that has occurred over that same time period. For example, algebra used to be a college course. Now, it is taught as a low level high school course and is making its way into middle school. Today's worker has far more education (or at least the opportunity for it!).

      "To be a competent car mechanic today you need a significantly higher IQ than you needed to have 40 years ago."

      One can make a valid and persuasive argument that you need less IQ today because the computer does all the high level analysis for you. The mechanic simply needs to connect the car to the computer and then wait for the computer to diagnose the problem.

      "running out of meaningful jobs for people with below average IQ's."

      Now that's a fascinating proposition and worth contemplation. On the other hand, I would suggest that society has stigmatized "lower IQ" jobs so that they are not even considered. You seem to have fallen prey to this, yourself! I consider all the trades to be non-college degree-requiring jobs (what you refer to as lower IQ) that are vital, honorable, and require skill, dedication, and years of training/experience. I'm talking about carpenter, electrician, plumber, machinist, construction, and so many, many more. There is no shortage of these jobs - in fact, there is a shortage or people filling these jobs (try to find a carpenter!). What has changed is that society has pushed the meme that everyone must go to college or be deemed a failure. We need to reinvest in our high school vocational education and apprentice programs. There are plenty of jobs for non-college people.

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    19. continued ...

      "The number one occupancy in the US for men with an IQ in the 85-90 range is driver."

      Is that a fact or an opinion? Do you have a reference for that?

      "standard environment in which most navy personnel operate is more complicated than in civilian life"

      Good grief, no. The average sailor is not a PhD electrical engineer working on Aegis. The average sailor runs some aspect of the day to day life of a ship (engine, HVAC, food & water, electrical, pipefitting, transportation, communications, etc. These are all straightforward, easily trainable jobs no different from their civilian counterparts in complexity or difficulty. Yes, there are a few high level people engaged in circuit board analysis and repair just as there are in civilian life. There are a few high level people engaged in wargaming or tactics development much as a CEO would do. However, the average sailor is removed from this level just as the average citizen is removed from the CEO.

      "Training is NOT the solution."

      Again, you're making an argument about something I never said. You're looking at training as the solution to all the Navy's problems and I never proposed that. I proposed training as a force multiplier and that is absolutely true. Better training enables better use of the assets we have. Training is not the solution for all the Navy's ills but I never claimed it was.

      "Nowadays you need the nerds, the smart guys, the ones with IQ's over 100."

      You seriously need to scan through the list of Navy jobs (ratings). The vast majority don't require any particularly superior IQ. Sure, there are some jobs that require a degree of above average intelligence, as there always have been, but the most do not. You also seem to be making a hard correlation between IQ and performance. I've seen many highly intelligent people who were functional idiots and many average intelligent people who functioned at a very high level through common sense, determination, and other non-intelligence related factors.

      "And let's be honest here, the armed forces are not getting the best and brightest of society."

      Is this a fact based on IQ studies of the civilian population versus the military inductees or is this an unsubstantiated opinion? Give me reference.

      The Peter Principle is alive and well in any organization. I prefer Bill Gates version of it: A's hire A's, B's hire C's.

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    20. Please reread your own replies. You're putting quite a few words in my mouth I didn't say.

      For example, I didn't say you stated that these three issues are the main problem. If you feel I implied so than be assured I did not mean to. By pointing out that they are not the main problem I wanted to show that there's only so much worth you can get from trying to improve these three factors. How much I can't tell. I can only tell you there's a limit. How far below that limit the Navy is requires deep knowledge about the Navy I don't have.

      "most people are not capable to focus to the degree that successful athletes can."

      Absolutely they are. They just need to have a subject that they are interested in. The Navy all too often mismatches interests and jobs."

      No they can't. Successful athletes are a rare breed because they combine different rare qualities, one of them is the ability to focus over prolonged time to s degree most people can't.
      You are mistaken the ability of people to better focus on some things than on other things with the exceptional focal abilities of successful athletes. Note that these are not the only people with these rare skill, there are also non-athletes with this skill such as great musicians, artist, scientists, coders, etc. Not all of them though, just some of them. Expecting this kind of focus from average people, especially over longer periods, is setting yourself up for failure.

      "True, to some extent. On the other hand, what you fail to note is the concomitant increase in education that has occurred over that same time period. For example, algebra used to be a college course. Now, it is taught as a low level high school course and is making its way into middle school. Today's worker has far more education (or at least the opportunity for it!)."

      You are completely missing the point here. Your reply actually proves my point instead of refuting it. High school requirements go up which means you need higher cognitive capabilities to pass. People who don't have those will more likely fail. It's the mechanic example all over except this time it's in high school. You seem to confuse education with IQ.

      " "To be a competent car mechanic today you need a significantly higher IQ than you needed to have 40 years ago."

      One can make a valid and persuasive argument that you need less IQ today because the computer does all the high level analysis for you. The mechanic simply needs to connect the car to the computer and then wait for the computer to diagnose the problem."

      No you can't. You simply substituted the competent car mechanic with an incompetent car mechanic who can only do what the computer tells him to do. What if the corrective action proposed by the computer does NOT solve the problem. Where's you car mechanic then?


      RL

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    21. " "running out of meaningful jobs for people with below average IQ's."

      Now that's a fascinating proposition and worth contemplation. On the other hand, I would suggest that society has stigmatized "lower IQ" jobs so that they are not even considered. You seem to have fallen prey to this, yourself! I consider all the trades to be non-college degree-requiring jobs (what you refer to as lower IQ) that are vital, honorable, and require skill, dedication, and years of training/experience. I'm talking about carpenter, electrician, plumber, machinist, construction, and so many, many more. There is no shortage of these jobs - in fact, there is a shortage or people filling these jobs (try to find a carpenter!). What has changed is that society has pushed the meme that everyone must go to college or be deemed a failure. We need to reinvest in our high school vocational education and apprentice programs. There are plenty of jobs for non-college people."

      No I have not fallen prey to 'this', a 'this' which btw is an opinion and not a fact.
      You are the one talking about college and non-college degree's. Not me. I'm talking about overall cognitive abilities (usually expressed as an IQ rating). I know all to well that you do not need a high IQ to get a college degree. And the reverse is true too, lot's of very smart people do not have a college degree.
      But while you are right in stating that there should be more room for vocational education you are mostly wrong when you state that there are "plenty" of jobs for people with vocational training. There area fair number but certainly not plenty (in the sense that most people would be able to find such a job). Most are supplanted by machines or outsourced to cheaper countries. What's left is mostly service or cleaning related jobs with little connection to the vocational training.

      You also seem to be forgetting about the car mechanic. Now that's a job that requires vocational training. And it still requires considerable cognitive skills nowadays to be FULLY competent as a car mechanic. The demands of vocational training have also gone up considerably over the last few decades.

      To be clear, I'm not american, I'm dutch, but these issues are the same across western countries. It's just in different degrees.

      As you said yourself, high school curriculums have gotten harder over the years. This had led to the problem that people at the lower end of the IQ were having a harder time to graduate. In many countries this has led to lowering the bar for graduation.


      "The number one occupancy in the US for men with an IQ in the 85-90 range is driver."

      Is that a fact or an opinion? Do you have a reference for that?"

      I'll see if I can get you a link to that.

      RL

      Delete
    22. This is not a sociology or cognitive psychology blog so I'm not going to pursue this any further. Suffice it to say that your ideas are interesting albeit outside any mainstream thinking. Feel free to have a final say, if you wish.

      Also, feel free to back up any of the statements I requested references for. For example, the statement about military inductees being substandard as regards IQ would be a fascinating piece of data and well worth further discussion, if true.

      Delete
    23. " "standard environment in which most navy personnel operate is more complicated than in civilian life"

      Good grief, no. The average sailor is not a PhD electrical engineer working on Aegis."

      Again, focus on what I actually state, not by what you think I mean. Or are you implying that in everyday life most people are PhD's? Off course not.
      What I said is that the standard environment for navy personal is more complicated than for everyday civilian life. What is the standard environment for a sailor? The obvious answer is the ship on which they serve. No matter what the exact job they do is, they are doing it on a ship which in most case includes highly complicated machinery and highly complicated processes of a level few civilians ever get close too. And it all ties together. A small pipe-fitting error may lead to increased condensation which may affect the operation of X which leads to, etc. Aboard a Navy ship even these "simple" jobs require an understanding of how they affect the whole if the ship is to perform optimally.

      I think that I haven't made clear enough where the increased complexity comes from. It's only partially from the depth of required knowledge. In many cases this has even remained fairly steady. What has mostly increased is the width of knowledge and skills needed. And with that the required cognitive skills to be able to select which skills and knowledge needs to be applied when and where. Or even to realize it is beyond your scope and refer it to someone else.

      I'll use a non-technological example to illustrate the increased complexity. Nowadays sailors need to be aware of far more social conventions and to a greater depth than previous. Just the inclusion of women on ships has drastically changed the social environment and the requirements. Add to that all the other SJW sensibility stuff and it all adds up to plenty of distractions (and I agree that nonsense has to stop).

      The main part is still knowledge. You need more knowledge in more area's to function in society today than in the past. You need to be better able to know which to use when and you need to be able to process information faster.
      Most of those "simple" sailor jobs you mentioned for example use computers at some (or many) points of their job. In other words they need computer skills in addition to the actual job skills. If they want to do their job well they also need to be able to tell when the computer is wrong which requires even more skills, etc. etc. These are skills a sailor did not need 60 years ago.
      It all adds up over the years. In most cases the MINIMUM IQ needed to do a job well has gone up, in civilian life and the armed forces alike.

      Civilian life is a fairly forgiving environment. Shipboard life isn't and even less at times of war. That's mostly because it's a more complicated environment (again, this does not just refer to technology).


      ""Training is NOT the solution."

      Again, you're making an argument about something I never said."

      No I'm not, and didn't intend to. This was merely to reinforce the difference between ones maximum performance abilities and training/education which can not exceed those limits. So training will help given the current state but I'm not sure how much. If too many people are already operating beyond their competence extra training may yield disappointingly low improvement to overall ship performance.
      The only way to know will be to do and it certainly won't make things worse.


      RL

      Delete
    24. Last bit of reply

      "You seriously need to scan through the list of Navy jobs (ratings). The vast majority don't require any particularly superior IQ. Sure, there are some jobs that require a degree of above average intelligence, as there always have been, but the most do not. You also seem to be making a hard correlation between IQ and performance. I've seen many highly intelligent people who were functional idiots and many average intelligent people who functioned at a very high level through common sense, determination, and other non-intelligence related factors."

      I've reread what I posted and in this case I did not make myself quite clear. I did not mean to state the Navy, at the moment, needed almost exclusively very smart people. What I do mean to say is that there is an ever decreasing use/need for sailors with below average IQ's.
      That may look the same but it isn't. The difference is in the average group. Most of the navy jobs can be done well with an average IQ but not with an IQ well below that (let's say 90 or less). This mimics societal developments but just a notch higher.

      Intelligence, measured as IQ, has shown to be an excellent predictor of success. We can all come up with the exceptions like the professor with the head in the clouds who can't make a decent cup of coffee. Those are the exceptions. It's also why I prefer to talk about cognitive competencies rather than purely IQ (mostly because talking about IQ differences still invokes taboo feelings in many people).

      As to the best and brightest going into the army or not. Are you claiming they are?

      This off course a difficult subject to discuss as it involves individual competencies and especially in the US it's not done to be critical of the men and women in uniform as individuals.

      I don't intend to be critical to individuals but I think it is a very valid question to ask if the armed forces in general and the Navy in particular are getting, and trying to get, the level of overall competency (including IQ) they need?
      You yourself have repeatedly pointed to the apparent level of incompetency among the higher cadre of the Navy. And rightfully so.
      But isn't it fair to put the same question to the Navy as a whole. sailors and officers alike?

      It's clear that there are requirements, including cognitive skills, to perform a given job in the Navy well. Is the navy getting the people who have those skills or are they trying to do the best with what they have? I strongly suspect the latter. Which is an opinion off course.

      My perception throughout the last 30+ years has been that usually the smarter kids do not go to the military for a career and that the percentage of 'very smart' people is lower in the military than in civilian life. And that a higher portion of people with a below average IQ see the military as a profession of choice. If anyone has data that shows this to be wrong I'll gladly change my opinion. But this has been a persistent observation across the decades and across nations.


      RL

      Delete
    25. Final statement

      I get that my statements fall outside the norm of how the armed forces are usually discussed. This is because there has up to now always been an assumption behind the way we view the military that we have taken for granted. We could because it appeared to be correct.

      That assumption is the idea that when we select a large group of recruits who more or less represent the average public that we can then train this group to perform the military tasks required, using specific qualities within the group to fill different roles.

      What has possibly changed (in my opinion it already has changed for some services at least) is that an average cross section of the public no longer meets the needed cognitive requirements of the armed forces. I'm talking about averages and groups here, not individuals.

      To put some numbers on it, if for example up to now we could make due with a group whose average IQ was 100 and the minimum was 80, we would now need a group whose average is 105 and for which the minimum is 85.

      Get less than that and you won't get the performance you need.

      With the ever increasing complexity not just of the technology but also of the implications for strategy, tactics and operations, isn't a fair question to ask if at some point we will outpace our own skills and competencies to properly employ these? And if so, to question whether we may already have reached that point?

      I'll see if I can get some links or references for you.

      RL

      Delete
    26. "To be clear, I'm not american, I'm dutch"

      I would suggest that your view of America, its people, and the job market is nowhere near accurate. America is in desperate need of skilled trades and because of our ill-advised push to make everyone go to college we are woefully short of people for those trade jobs.

      Knowing your background, your views make more sense but they do not reflect the reality of the job market here.

      Delete
    27. "If anyone has data that shows this to be wrong I'll gladly change my opinion."

      I have no data on this. My observational experience is that the military attracts people who, in the aggregate, are a bit above society in general. The service academies are very difficult to get into and only the very best and brightest get in. Enlisted ranks are composed of some of the most motivated, dedicated, and brightest of our young people. Yes, there is a spectrum of people but the average seems a bit above. I'd find a study on recruit IQ's to be fascinating. I'm not aware that such a study has ever been done but I'll keep an eye out.

      Again, your perception may be distorted by not being in America and seeing the issues first hand.

      Delete
    28. Hi,

      getting clear info on IQ scores (or their equivalent) is going to be hard. The test used by the US armed forces (the AFQT test) is basically an IQ test but does not express the outcome in an IQ score but as a percentile:

      "AFQT scores are not raw scores, but rather percentile scores indicating how each examinee performed compared with all other examinees. Thus, someone who receives an AFQT of 55 scored better than 55 percent of all other examinees. Maximum possible score is 99 as a person can do better than 99 percent of those who took the test, but he cannot do better than himself, so the high percentile is 99."

      One of the requirements to be allowed to enlist is that you score high enough on this test. But it is measured against the average of other examinees, and not measured against the average of the population as a whole. So if all the examinees of a group have below average IQ's the highest scoring (99th percentile) would still have a below average IQ but appear to score high.

      I've seen at least one report now (from Brookings Institute) which uses these percentile scores as if they were measured against the whole US population and not against the scores of the other examinees.
      So getting good data on IQ scores for the armed forces seems unlikely.

      The report from Brookings does list historical IQ scores for USMC officer candidates. The average is a bit higher than I would have expected but the minimum is a lot lower (91):

      https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2015/07/24/understanding-the-steady-and-troubling-decline-in-the-average-intelligence-of-marine-corps-officers/

      On the other hand, the US does seem to be on a similar page as I am:

      "Moreover, we have a whole bunch of our fellow American citizens who aren`t of the cognitive quality currently necessary to fight for their country (NB about a third). Shouldn`t we be worrying more about what kind of living they`ll be able to earn before we care about solving Mexico`s problems?"

      http://www.vdare.com/posts/almost-100-million-people-arent-smart-enough-to-enlist-in-the-military

      Delete
    29. "That assumption is the idea that when we select a large group of recruits who more or less represent the average public"

      This is not a true assumption for American military recruiting. Given the multitude of options available to young adults in America, almost by definition those who choose the military do so out of a higher than normal sense of purpose, dedication, patriotism, and desire for a personal challenge. The US military has never claimed to represent or reflect society as a whole and, instead, has always emphasized that a military calling requires greater than average individual qualities. Again, your perspective does not match the reality here.

      The problems the U.S. military has stem not from the individual abilities or lack thereof but from a set of imposed and, sadly, embraced politics and careerism that cause otherwise intelligent leaders to make poor decisions. This is what I've been documenting in this blog.

      Delete
    30. This discussion has brought back memories from my earlier years. America went through a phase where IQ was considered to be a predictor of both academic and life success. It was measured in school and the results were used to "guide" students into career choices.

      Unfortunately, it was found to be a complete failure. It wound up forcing "smart" people into jobs they didn't want and "dumb" people away from jobs they wanted and could succeed at. I, myself, was among the last classes measured for IQ. The whole IQ based prediction theory was abandoned.

      Today, we recognize other characteristics as far more indicative of success: self-motivation, determination, dedication, self-discipline, and the like. Unfortunately, those are extremely difficult to quantify.

      Delete
    31. You'd be surprised as to how up to date i am on US politics and the state of the US economy. But yes there is some distance between what I see as opposed to people living there. However, that distance can also be an advantage as I'm not inclined to take my personal experiences to measure society as a whole by.

      I've been reading this blog for a year or 2 now I think. This is the first time I felt i had something to contribute which is up my alley so to speak as I lack direct experience with the US Navy.

      Link for Driver as main occupation; it's mentioned near the end. Seems though the average IQ for drivers is a bit higher than I said (90 or so) but still on the chopping block:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjs2gPa5sD0

      RL

      Delete
    32. "This discussion has brought back memories from my earlier years. America went through a phase where IQ was considered to be a predictor of both academic and life success. It was measured in school and the results were used to "guide" students into career choices.

      Unfortunately, it was found to be a complete failure. It wound up forcing "smart" people into jobs they didn't want and "dumb" people away from jobs they wanted and could succeed at. I, myself, was among the last classes measured for IQ. The whole IQ based prediction theory was abandoned.

      Today, we recognize other characteristics as far more indicative of success: self-motivation, determination, dedication, self-discipline, and the like. Unfortunately, those are extremely difficult to quantify."

      I'm sorry to say you are completely wrong. IQ tests are the best predictors for future success. They are widely used including by the US armed forces! Where do you get that these were a complete failure? They have been hugely successful in predicting later success.

      I'm not sure what period you are referring to but you have to keep two things in mind. The first is that there has been (and still is) a consistent drive to discredit IQ scores from the left of the political spectrum based on ideological motives and not on scientific fact.

      You'll still hear to this day claims that IQ tests are culturally biased for example. Which is not true. There are many types of IQ tests including those developed by and from different cultures. Over the last few decades the range of sorts of IQ test available has grown so that cultural and other external factors can be reliably excluded from the test results. That is the second thing, IQ testing has matured over the years to get more reliable results.

      While all the things you mention are important, your general cognitive skills (expressed as an IQ or not) are even more important.

      RL

      Delete
    33. "This is not a true assumption for American military recruiting. Given the multitude of options available to young adults in America, almost by definition those who choose the military do so out of a higher than normal sense of purpose, dedication, patriotism, and desire for a personal challenge. The US military has never claimed to represent or reflect society as a whole and, instead, has always emphasized that a military calling requires greater than average individual qualities. Again, your perspective does not match the reality here."

      That's not what I meant. Apparently I wasn't clear. I mean average cross section in general cognitive abilities.

      And why would "a higher than normal sense of purpose, dedication, patriotism, and desire for a personal challenge" translate into greater cognitive abilities?
      I understand why you see them as superior in a moral sense because of this but that does not equate to actual superior cognitive abilities.

      If you really believe that most people in the US have " a multitude" of options to choose from we sure have a different view of the situation.
      As to why people join the army, do you some reference that breaks down how many join for patriotic reasons as opposed to other reasons like getting citizenship, using the armed forces for a college education, people who see it as just another job, peer pressure (from family for example), etc?

      RL

      Delete
    34. "If you really believe that most people in the US have " a multitude" of options to choose from we sure have a different view of the situation."

      I'm going to go with my opinion on this as I actually lived it with thousands of others in my immediate locality. Our options were unlimited - this is the essence of America - and we went in hundreds (thousands?) of different directions!

      I also had the opportunity to observe and talk with everyone my age who opted to join the military and who opted not to. I had a very good sense of the range of reasons for their choices and I observed the characteristics of those who did versus those who did not. I also correspond with many people in and out of the military through this blog and those interactions confirm my views.

      Just as would be extremely hesitant to draw conclusions about your country, people, and motivations, so too, I would hope that you acknowledge the risk in trying to conclusively describe a society you have not lived in all your life! To be fair, you seemed to somewhat acknowledge that.

      Regarding IQ and testing. No reasonable person believes the testing is culturally biased. And, no, the other characteristics that I cited do not enhance innate IQ. What they do is overwhelm it! People with those characteristics can overcome any "shortage" of innate intelligence and those without it have a hard time succeeding regardless of how innately intelligent they are. This is the lesson that our own dabbling in IQ taught us - you make your success or failure - it isn't bestowed on you by IQ.

      You're welcome to your opinion but it's well outside the mainstream of American thought!

      Delete
    35. RL,

      Glad to have you aboard regardless of your opinions! If you've been following this blog for a couple of years then you clearly have an interest in naval affairs. Perhaps you'd care to tell us about your Navy? A view from someone in-country would be very informative and help fill in some of my lack of knowledge.

      What does the Navy see as its primary mission?

      Who does the Navy view as a potential threat?

      How does the Navy view cooperation with the U.S., if at all?

      What is the view of the Navy among the people in general?

      And so on.

      Delete
  3. I also think that adding fuel to the fire of all this is that we have mostly made our military equipment too rare and expensive to train with. Even in the Army where you are shooting 5.56 and throwing grenades, they cut training to the bone.

    The military needs to be F-20ified. NG proved back in the 80s that it was possible to make a fearsome weapons system despite starting with ease-of-use, low operating cost, low maintenance cost, and low production cost as the primary design objectives.

    We need to ask defense contractors to build systems around those metrics, let the end capabilities fall where they fall. For ships ask them what they could build for 250 million or 500 million. Ask them to build something that only requires 100 sailors. Something that costs half as much as a Burke to run. Hell even ask them to build a Burke as stripped out as possible. What would a $1 billion Burke look like? Who cares if we spend a couple billion buying these potential 1-offs? We spend billions on basically every else.

    The defense industry exists in its current form because that is the way its incentivized to exist by the DOD. The DOD wants fancy silver bullets that are networked to Mars and back. The defense industry has adapted itself to provide just that.

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    1. "We need to ask defense contractors to build systems around those metrics, let the end capabilities fall where they fall."

      Absolutely not! We did exactly this with the LCS and its been an abysmal failure. We gave industry a price target of $200M - yes, that was the original price target! - and a vague set of other "desires" and let them go about it any way they wanted. We see the result. There were many compromises made in the design in an effort to meet the main goal of cost. For example, the ships were built too weak, the flight decks have inadequate structural support (haven't you wondered why such big flight decks are only rated for 1-2 hels?), cathodic corrosion protection was eliminated, survivability was reduced to save cost, shock hardening was eliminated, EMP shielding was eliminated, and so on. In short, because we gave only limited requirements and focused on cost, the "chips" fell horribly astray.

      Quite the contrary, we need to provide industry with very specific, ironclad, combat requirements. This is what we did throughout our history until the Spruance class when the Navy began abdicating its design role and surrendered that responsibility to industry.

      Why would we expect industry to know what an effective combat vessel needs? They're not professional warriors - the Navy is. Only the Navy can provide the design requirements that will be needed. Yes, you'd like to think that shipyards and naval architect firms would have some idea of what's needed but their goals are profits and business, not combat. The people who have to sail and fight the vessels must be the ones setting the requirements. Any other way will give us Zumwalts, LCSs, Fords, San Antonios, etc.

      Delete
    2. The difference with the LCS was that it was never just intended to be a prototype (and all the other concurrency issues). I wouldnt want the military to make any commitments to buy any of these platforms. They should be considered 100% test beds. Proof of concept that are rigorously tested to, you know, actually prove the concept in real-world conditions.

      And about those professional warriors in the Navy, they dont have the best recent track record of making effective combat vessels. And they seem terrified to even test that effectiveness.

      Zumwalts, LCS, Fords (whats the problem with San Antonios?) were all projects laid out by the Navy.

      I wish the Navy would bring design largely back in house. If they did that and nailed the revolving door shut they might stand a chance of not becoming 100% moribund. I used the example of the F-20, but Naval shipbuilding is different than aircraft building. The design and engineering brain trust should be primarily maintained by the Navy. Unfortunately, without a robust domestic commercial shipbuilding industry that model is tough to maintain.

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    3. Time to bring back the "General Board". But that assignment should require a "conflict of interest agreement". After retiring, NO working for the defense industry.

      MM-13B

      Delete
    4. "Time to bring back the "General Board". But that assignment should require a "conflict of interest agreement". After retiring, NO working for the defense industry."

      The General Board had no official line duties or authority. Thus, even if the entire Board wanted to use a particular company or product, they had no authority to implement that desire. Further, they did not specify products - they simply generated conceptual designs for warships (among other responsibilities) that the Navy would select from and then pass on to design bureaus and industry. Thus, there was no involvement by the Board in selection of any particular manufacturer's equipment. The Board simply didn't deal with specifics - they resided in the conceptual realm.

      Delete
    5. I am well aware that the General Board had no official line duties or authority, but they did have a lot of influence on the bureaus and congress. Certain ship types are heavily dependent on particular shipyards and equipment manufactures. Even without expressly specifying products, they could be giving a nod toward specific products. I'm all for ending the "revolving door" and open to ideas on how to end it. My thought is to bring back the General Board and the Bureau of Ships.

      MM-13B

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    6. We did a post on the General Board and BuShips that you might be interested in, here

      Delete
  4. Somebody has to tell the Navy, that 100 deployed ships is not possible, 70 ships can be deployed. Right now the Navy is pretending to be a 400? ship Navy, scale back deployments to ships that actually work and have trained crews. No cross decking hardware.

    Bring back press gangs, we need a Navy that reflects the country as a whole. (almost not kidding)

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    Replies
    1. "we need a Navy that reflects the country as a whole."

      Gotta disagree with you on this. The military is not a social experiment and, almost by definition, does not and should not reflect the sociological and demographic makeup of the country. What???!!!! Why that's racist, sexist, elitist, and any other derogatory tag I can think of. The military is, arguably, our nation's highest calling. It MUST reflect the sociology and demographics of the country. How else can it represent all of America?

      Did I pretty well get that outrage right?

      Okay, now let's look at the reality. Let's start with an analogy. Does the NBA reflect the sociological and demographic makeup of the country? Of course not! Not even close. Why not? Simple - because only a select few people have the skills necessary to do the job. Where's the outcry against the oppression of the NBA? Where's the demand for small, white, asthmatic men to make up a part of the NBA? Or women? Or fat, slow people of all colors? There's no outcry because we all recognize that only a select few can do the job and we think that's eminently reasonable.

      How about the military? What do you need to succeed in the military? You need characteristics like, strength, speed, endurance, intelligence, aggressive tendencies, killer instincts, self-discipline, self-motivation, a refusal to quit, and a sense of patriotism. Does every person in America possess those qualities? Of course not! Let's face it, most people DON'T have what it takes. Only a select few have the attributes to be a superior soldier and on the battlefield if you're not superior, you're dead. Well, since only a select few have the attributes, why would we expect or want the military to reflect the sociology and demographics of the country at large? We wouldn't! That would be naive, uninformed, and unrealistic on our part.

      Would you institute a draft among the general population to fill NBA teams? No! So why would you want a general draft (or press gang) to fill the military? That's how you get a substandard military.

      Delete
    2. "strength, speed, endurance, intelligence, aggressive tendencies, killer instincts, self-discipline, self-motivation, a refusal to quit, and a sense of patriotism"

      When I was in the Navy, I found several of those attributes not to be promoted.

      Before that, when I went through Army artillery training, the aggressive tendencies and killer instincts were on full view.

      Just an observation.
      MM-13B

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    3. MM13-B

      People are currently shooting at the Army,
      not so much at the afloat Navy.

      "When a man knows he is to be hanged...it concentrates his mind wonderfully."
      Dr. Johnson.

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  5. When it comes down to it, I think you could probably sum the problem up like so - the US military has many force multipliers, but increasing fewer *forces* to multiply. Everything is so focused on being able to help a dozen other things do stuff better that it neglects to actually do anything itself. It's like an MMORPG where your whole team is Support.

    Everybody forgets that 100000 x 0 is still 0.

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    Replies
    1. You appear to be making the quantity argument. There's nothing wrong with that with the caveat that the quantity must be useful. For example, it doesn't matter how many LCS we build because they have no useful combat capability. So, yes, let's increase quantity but we need to make sure it's useful quantity!

      Delete
  6. CNO, you and I have a different idea of "country as a whole" Think Sgt. Yorks platoon, rich man, poor man, high school, land grant college, ivy league.
    The idea is to have a military more attached to society,
    so that society should think long and hard about where and what the military should be doing. US military should not be a Foreign Legion to thrown about at the whims of a civilian leadership.

    SG

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    1. No, we have the same idea of what the "country as a whole" means. We apparently don't have the same idea of why the military exists. As I stated, it does not exist to reflect the country's sociological and demographical range. It exists to defend the nation and only a select few are qualified to do that. Any who possess the requisite qualities are welcome but it's exceedingly unlikely that the resulting participation will be demographically equal to the nation as a whole - nor should it, necessarily.

      When we go to war, as we inevitably will, with China, we are going to quickly relearn that a military that is based on some kind of ill-conceived demographically based makeup will be lost on a battlefield that rewards only the hardest, toughest, most skilled fighters.

      Further, the military is absolutely a tool of the civilian leadership. It can be no other way, for better or worse. It is our job, as civilian voters, to make sure that our civilian leadership is worthy of the task of commanding the military.

      You need to give some serious thought to why the military exists and how it is controlled. The subject is one of the historical foundations of our country.

      The civilian control of the military is one of the bedrocks of the Founding Fathers based, as it was, on their mistrust of a military that was not controlled by civilian leadership and which they experienced first hand.

      Delete
  7. "We need to ask defense contractors to build systems around those metrics, let the end capabilities fall where they fall"

    I agree. But we're to the point now, I think, that you will get push back from the contractors themselves.

    Why build an F-20 modern day equivalent when LM can get a trillion dollars in not only sales but in support costs over the life of the product. Make something easily fixable? That doesn't require LM contractors on site? P'shaw.....

    JFW

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  8. Ok, what are real weapons systems - force multipliers regardless of the type

    In Aviation
    F-111
    F-14
    F-117
    F-22
    In Navy
    Polaris/Trident
    Aegis/Standard
    Los Angeles class
    Sea Wolf class

    All those systems at the time of they're introduction and a long time after that had no real comparisons, thats a real force multiplier to me.

    Oh, And for Army the most revolutionary aspect to the ground fighter in the last decades is the evolution of UV/IR sights and small encrypted tactical comms, also some advances in Armour.

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    1. First, the subject of the post was force multipliers that cost essentially nothing so weapon systems were not considered.

      Second, those are not really force multipliers. A multiplier is something that makes other things better. Aegis, for example, was an unmatched capability but didn't really make anything else better than it was. Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), on the other hand, was a multi-plier in that it made all the AAW systems better than they were before.

      Some of your examples might be consider multipliers but most are not.

      Delete
    2. Well, with a F-117 you could hit a point target with generally would require a squadron in a contested environment.
      The F-14 had engagement capabilities unseen before, non to speak of F-22 so thats what I meant

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    3. Yes, those are great capabilities but they didn't make other assets better than they were.

      Another example, laser guidance packages for conventional bombs instantly made all dumb bombs hugely more effective- a true force multiplier!

      The F-14 was a big step forward but it didn't make other assets better than they were before.

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    4. "laser guidance packages for conventional bombs"
      yes of course together with the modern EO targeting pods.
      For example a F-16 armed with eight SDB's and a Sniper pod can hit eight moving vechicles, for example.

      In the past you would need at least a flight of four each armed with cluster bombs.

      So smart bombs and targeting pods fall in the category of force multipliers .

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  9. So
    I have always considered fleet oilers to be force multipliers. Presently all of the oilers in the US fleet are operated as non-commissioned ships, with a primarily civilian crew. I wonder about the survivability of these ships in a high threat area, would we even attempt to operate them in these areas in a time of war?
    I wonder then, by your definition, if they are actually force multipliers?
    Some smaller navies operate their supply ships as commissioned ships. The Karel Doorman for the Netherlands, the Berlin Class for the Germans for example (though they rely on MANPADs). Wondering if the US should consider something similar, from a survivability standpoint, and from a non-civilian crew standpoint?

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    Replies
    1. An oiler is not a force multiplier as it does not make other units better. It is a force enabler, though.

      Commissioned or not doesn't change the inherent survivability. We need to provide suitable protection for these vessels just as we did in WWII.

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