Regular readers know that ComNavOps is highly critical of the Navy’s training efforts. I won’t bother rehashing all the problems but they can be summed up as “worthlessly unrealistic”. I’ve been quite harsh in my criticism of Navy leadership on this subject and rightfully so. However, ComNavOps is nothing if not fair and now it’s time for a little deserved praise.
The Navy is slowly bringing back the time-honored “battle problem” fleet exercises. An example is cited in a USNI News website article that describes a fleet problem exercise that the
Roosevelt strike group was given during their
transit from to San Diego (1). Hawaii
“The Fleet Problem, which asked the TR CSG to get from
to San Diego while either avoiding or taking out red force submarines, surface ships
and other threats, was completely open-ended.” Hawaii
Understandably, details were scarce but here’s a few comments that offer a glimpse.
“…with real adversaries out there, (opposition forces) being played by Pacific Fleet assets, not only Navy but full spectrum other assets that might be applied by a potential adversary.”
One hopes that “full spectrum other assets” refers to realistic ECM being applied against the carrier group as well as all out submarine warfare.
“…the unpredictability, the fog of war required us to work closely together to adapt to the threat and make decisions. We did some long-range strikes out there – at one point we had a wall of 14 fighters, each with two Harpoons apiece, going way beyond the horizon and striking against potential surface adversaries. That, I don’t think that’s been done in recent history… “
That such exercises haven’t been done in recent history is a scathing condemnation of Navy leadership but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
“In summary, Sardiello [Theodore Roosevelt Commanding Officer Capt. Carlos Sardiello] described the event as “(emissions control) operating environment, blue water ops, a large number of strike fighters going to the limit of their range, all that – it doesn’t get any more real than that in a Pacific Fleet fight,” he said.
These things we were doing were on the edge, the limitation of our capabilities and our tactics.”
No, they weren’t on the edge. They only seemed that way to someone who hasn’t trained for this type of combat. The Navy is still a long way from actually operating at the edge of their capabilities and it’s sad that they think this is the edge.
What would have been much better is an open-ended Red Force enemy with significant resources at its disposal and presented with the other side of the fleet problem which would have been to use any and all measures to find, fix, and destroy the
Roosevelt carrier group. That would have provided some realistic and
useful training – though not against relevant Chinese tactics but, still, it
would have been far better than what was done.
As I said, it’s only fair to recognize this as a positive development, however meager. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, even if only a baby step.
(1)USNI News website, “Fight to
: How the U.S. Navy is Training
Carrier Strike Groups for Future War”, Megan Eckstein, Hawaii 22-Mar-2018,