Thursday, August 29, 2019

Burkes - The Anchor Around The Navy's Neck

My favorite baseball team went out and traded for a star and gave him a record setting, long term contract.  Now, just a few years later, he’s constantly hurt and contributes little.  Unfortunately, his enormous contract makes him untradeable and we’re saddled with him for another ten years.  In the meantime, we lack the budget to pay for other good players, have had to let promising players go because we couldn’t afford to give them new contracts, and he’s blocking the development and rise of young players in the minor leagues at his position.  Despite having once been a star, he and his contract are an anchor around the team’s neck.

Similarly, the Burke class destroyers are an anchor around the Navy’s neck.  Huh?!  You can’t be serious.  The Burkes are the most (only?) successful surface ship design we have.  Why, the Burke is the star of the Navy team (oh, oh … I don’t like where this is heading!).  How can they be anything but a benefit?

Well, let’s look at the situation.

When the Navy wanted to replace the Ticonderogas, did they look to design a new, optimized cruiser to take full advantage of the desired AMDR radar?  No, they stuck with the Burke because they were afraid of a new design after the recent string of disastrous new designs.  So, we’re now saddled with a Ticonderoga replacement, the Burke Flt III, with a half-AMDR instead of what we really want.

When the Navy wanted to build a better LCS (the new frigate program) did they look to design a new, dedicated ASW vessel, which is what they really needed?  No, they opted for a mini-Burke because it was what they were comfortable with.  The ‘new’ frigate is actually a manifestation of the illusion of the Burke’s ‘safety’ by insisting that the ‘new’ design be an existing design which, by definition, makes it an old design.

When combat comes and the Navy wants to conduct ASW, does anyone really believe that the Navy will risk $2B+ Burkes playing tag with submarines?  Of course not!  That means that for practical purposes we have no ASW capability!  Our star ship is now quite limited in realistic capability by its price.  On a related note, does it make sense to risk the proposed new frigates which will cost around $1.5B (I’m laughing at the Navy’s cost estimate of $800M)?  Of course not, again!  Our desire for mini-Burkes is preventing us from building the ASW corvette we really need and the Burkes are too expensive to risk doing the ASW job which is, supposedly, one of their core capabilities.

USS Burke

Let’s be clear.  The Burkes, at one time, served a very valuable role as the world’s most advanced AAW system.  Now, however, the Burke is at the low end of ship stealth and Aegis and Aegis-clones are everywhere and it’s even debatable whether Aegis is still the world’s premier AAW system.  There’s a plethora of radar manufacturers who claim their radars are superior and for a fraction of the cost.  So, what do the Burkes represent now?  Well, they’re a good AAW system but that’s about as far as we can go with our praise.  Even the Navy recognizes the shortcomings of Aegis and are replacing it with AMDR which they claim is vastly superior.  The Navy is saddled with a vast fleet of decent AAW Burkes and no hope to break out of the mold and produce something better. 

Because they represent something ‘safe’, albeit no longer state of the art, the Burkes are stifling innovation and new designs by the Navy.  Unwilling to risk another Zumwalt or LCS, the safety of the Burke now drags the Navy down and prevents the adoption of new designs.

The Burkes are an anchor on the Navy’s development.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Navy Cloud

Breaking Defense website has an article announcing the Navy’s push to convert from multiple networks to a single Amazon Web Services cloud based data storage/sharing system. (1)

While the benefits are obvious and loudly trumpeted by the Navy, the dangers are waved away and not discussed. 

To illustrate, in my personal life I’ve moved to a 100% local data storage system, meaning, all my files are on jump drives in my possession.  I have no data files on my PC, whatsoever, and none on any cloud service.  Why?  Because there is no such thing as a secure Internet/cloud system.  Every system has been and will repeatedly be compromised.  It’s not through lack of effort by the system owners.  It’s simply impossible to protect data that can be accessed and, indeed, is designed to be accessed. 

My jump drives, on the other hand, cannot be accessed.  They are completely secure.  When I access them, I do so on an isolated computer that acts as a connectivity gap.  The modified files are then loaded on a dedicated transfer jump drive for subsequent uploading to the Internet on a dedicated and protected PC.

Think about the last few years.  Every company swears to us that if we’ll give them our data as we conduct transactions with them, the data will be protected and secured on their impenetrable networks and, yet, we hear week after week about another major company whose data has been compromised.  How many times have you been warned that your personal data, being held by xxxx Corporation, may have been compromised and that you should change your passwords (at that point, they’ve already got your information – changing your password is pointless but if you want to secure the barn door after the horses have left, go ahead)?

So, I pose the question, why do we believe that Amazon Web Services will be somehow immune to the now routine hacking that every other company is subject to, and victim of?  The answer, if we’re being honest and realistic, is that the Navy’s Amazon cloud will be just as vulnerable as every other system.  I know, people are going to write comments about the latest ten thousand bit encryption protection system or whatever.  You know … the same kinds of protection that every other hacked system has had.

Another drawback to consolidating all of the Navy’s information is that if when an enemy does successfully hack the system, they’ll get EVERYTHING.  The current situation, where data resides on many different systems may be inefficient but at least it has the unintended benefit of limiting the amount of data that any one successful hack can acquire.

Okay, so there are dangers associated with this cloud data storage that the Navy has not bothered to share with us but is that the end of the story?  Not quite.  What have we constantly said about military programs?  We’ve said that everything should run through the filter of, “will this improve our combat capability”?  If the answer is no, we shouldn’t be doing it (oops, there goes our gender sensitivity training!).  If the answer is yes, then we’re okay.  So, does moving to cloud storage, with its attendant dangers, improve our combat capability?  Let’s see what the Navy has to say.

One of the biggest benefits to the Navy, Geurts [Navy acquisition chief James Geurts] said, is that sailors and civilians on the pier or on the flight line will be able to reach into the cloud to keep an eye on parts bouncing through the pipeline …

Okay, tracking spare parts is certainly a peacetime convenience.  Whether ‘keeping an eye’ on parts will actually produce the requisite number of parts or simply allow people to verify that the parts are unavailable, is not clear.  Currently we suffer from a lack of necessary parts.  Being able to track that isn’t going to produce the non-existent parts, it will just verify what we already know.  Now, if we have plenty of parts but we’re having problems shipping the parts to the needed locations then this might help.  Of course, we already have multiple systems that are intended to do that so why this system will work and the others haven’t, has yet to be explained by the Navy.  Well, I’ll explain it to you.

The problem with current systems is not that they can’t track a part – that’s computing child’s play - , it’s that the data inputs are garbage and you know the ancient computer axiom:  GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).  Heck, it’s scratched on cave walls!  We’re not taking the time to accurately input parts inventories.  Well guess what?  If we don’t accurately input parts inventories to the cloud, it will be just as inaccurate as what we have now.  ‘The Cloud’ is not magic.  It’s only as good as our data inputs which, apparently, are horrendous.  That’s not going to change.

Moving on …

Simply put, “it will increase the visibility of the data,” Navy Comptroller Thomas Harker added. “Right now, in order to run audits the Navy has to pull data from nine different systems, not all of which are configured the same, and then slice it and dice it and put it all together.” Working that way is time consuming, and “creates challenges in financial reporting.

So, this will allow for easier, more accurate(?) audits.  That’s nice but that does nothing for our combat capability so why are we doing this?

Any other benefits?

If the Pentagon fails to build a common system to share data rapidly among units in different services and different globally-dispersed theaters, it’ll fail to implement the kinds of high-speed, AI-assisted Multi-Domain Operations that military leaders say are imperative in potential future conflicts against advanced adversaries.

So, this cloud will somehow, in some unexplained manner, provide ‘high-speed, AI-assisted Multi-Domain’ operations.  Buzzword bingo, anyone?  Sure, the enemy will be raining old-fashioned artillery shells down on us but we’ll crush them with ‘high-speed, AI-assisted Multi-Domain’ operations.  The poor bastards will never know what hit them. 

When you don’t have any good justification, just string together a bunch of buzzword phrases.  This looks to be a perfect example of that.

This cloud effort sounds like an exercise in convenience rather than combat capability.  It also sounds like a venture that has a lot of potential for profound, unintended, negative consequences.  Hey, China, would you like one-stop shopping for all of our data?  Come hack the cloud!


Side Note:  F-35 ALIS Case Study in the Making

The Air Force, frustrated with the abject failure of the F-35 ALIS logistics and combat planning software, has instituted a ‘Mad Hatter’ program to transfer the ALIS functionality (the theoretical functionality because, you know, there is no actual functionality!) to cloud servers and a bunch of apps.  In addition to being non-functional, ALIS is also, apparently, quite vulnerable to cyber attack.

… with the current setup, ALIS may be so vulnerable that Robert Behler, the OTE [Director, Operational Test and Evaluation – DOT&E] director, thinks the program should be able to operate for a month without hooking up to it at all. Now that’s a bad sign. (2)

So, as with the Navy’s plan to migrate to cloud storage, no one is explaining how ‘the cloud’ magically eliminates cyber threats whereas the previous, highly encrypted, well protected computing system could not. 


(1)Breaking Defense website, “Navy Takes First Big Step To Cloud, Pushing Logistics To Amazon’s Service ”, Paul McLeary, 23-Aug-2019,

(2)Defense News website, “Air Force Tries To Fix F-35’s ALIS — From A Big, Broken Box To the Cloud ”, Colin Clark, 6-Mar-2019,

Friday, August 23, 2019

Base Hardening

We’ve discussed the vulnerabilities of our forward bases (see, "Base Defense") and, among other actions, noted that we should be pursuing hardening of our bases.

National Interest website makes the point that hardening includes far more than merely protecting the aircraft on the ground.

“However, protecting the aircraft is just a first step. Combat aircraft sortie generation can be thought of as an industrial process with the airfield as a “sortie factory.” The factory needs working aircraft, but the aircraft must be able to taxi to a runway that is long enough for them to operate from safely and when they return they must be able to be repaired, refueled and rearmed, and their crews must be able to receive orders and plan missions. This means other parts of the factory must be protected if the base is to function under attack. This means hardening maintenance, fuel storage and distribution and operations facilities.” (1)

This is an interesting, and correct, take on the issue that recognizes what an airbase actually is and, therefore, the scope of what must be protected.  This leads to the concept of a “sortie chain”, similar to a kill chain, in which a series of steps are required to generate a sortie.  Breaking the chain at any point will terminate the sortie.  For example, there is no need to destroy the aircraft if you can destroy the fueling facilities or the maintenance facilities or any other step in the chain - hence, the need to harden the entire chain and its associated facilities.

Dr. Carlo Kopp notes that China is actively pursuing airbase hardening and presents data on the extent of that effort.

“The only nation in the region actively investing in airbase hardening over the past decade is China, which has incrementally expanded its inventory of underground hangars (UGH), while investing in HAS [Hardened Aircraft Shelter] at multiple airfields.

China’s tally as of 12 months ago ( was 7 x UGH sized for Badger bombers, capable of accommodating 138 – 145 aircraft (or many more fighters), 14 x UGH sized for Beagle bombers, capable of accommodating up to 668 Flankers, 17 x UGH sized for MiGs, capable of accommodating up to 723 J-10 fighters, for a total of 38 sites, with several further sites unused or abandoned. In addition, all other PLA fighter airfields are equipped with revetted dispersals, and a good number have been upgraded with HAS.” (2)

Dr. Kopp also makes the point that China’s huge advantage in hardened sites creates a strategic imbalance in their favor.  The side that is better prepared to absorb attacks and continue to fight has a significant advantage – no great surprise but a concept seemingly lost on Western military professionals.

Air Force Magazine website notes some of China’s HAS efforts.

“Distributed over 15 air bases throughout Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions in the east and southeast of China, the number of hardened shelters has grown from 92 to 312 in the past 12 years …” (3)

Hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) are not a magic solution to attack and do not grant immunity to damage.  Precision guided, penetrating bombs will destroy HAS structures as the US demonstrated during Desert Storm and, just recently, in the Tomahawk attack on the Syrian airbase associated with chemical weapons.  What HAS (and any form of hardening) does is to eliminate the cheap kills and drive up the cost of achieving the desired degree of destruction.  “Dumb” bombs are plentiful - precision guided, deep penetrating bombs are not.  

Kopp illustrates the point using the Desert Storm war.

“When Coalition air forces flew into Iraq in early 1991, they confronted the most extensively hardened airbase system ever built. Saddam’s hardened airbases proved ineffective, and Coalition tactical fighters destroyed 375 of 594 during the six week air campaign. With complete control of the air won within the first day, Coalition fighters were able to repeatedly attack HAS installations until they were cracked open. The pivotal weapon used was the American 2,000 lb BLU-109/B I-2000 Have Void concrete piercing bomb, fitted with either the GBU-10, GBU-24 or GBU-27 laser guidance kit. Typically two weapons were used per target, the intent being for the second round to punch into the hole made by the first round. While many HAS were punctured in an initial attack, many others required repeat attacks until fatal damage was inflicted. This absorbed a significant proportion of available Coalition sorties, as the limited number of F-111, Tornado, and Buccaneer aircraft equipped to laser illuminate targets set hard limits on daily sortie rates.” (2)

Hardening did not defeat the overall attack but it greatly increased the time and effort required for the Coalition to achieve its goal.  The key lesson is that many hardened targets required multiple re-attacks.  In Desert Storm, with total control of the air, we were able to re-attack as often as needed.  Against a peer adversary and lacking control of the sky, the ability to knock out hardened bases becomes a much more difficult and questionable task and re-attacks will likely be prohibitively expensive, in terms of attacking aircraft attrition or simply not possible given sortie availability and defense changes.

A related point is that the type of laser guided, precision, penetrating bombs used by the US require that the launching aircraft (and lasing aircraft, if they are not the same) overfly or very closely approach the target.  Again, against a peer with a credible SAM system, this may be costly or impossible.

Kopp also discusses underground hangars.

“The alternative to HAS, underground hangars, if built with proper entrance designs, deflection grids and blockers, can resist repeat attacks with tactical fighter compatible concrete piercing bombs. Such targets require genuine ‘earthquake bombs’, such as the new 30,000 lb GBU-57/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP)…” (2)

Air Force Magazine notes possible vulnerabilities of underground hangars.

“… the perceived vulnerability of UGHs to precision weapons. Most of the shelters have only a few entrances, which if struck could pin aircraft inside for an extended period. …

Precision strikes against the taxiways leading to the entrances could also hinder operations. Although aircraft inside may survive, it could prove difficult to extract them from their underground lair and launch. In addition, it might be possible for the first precision guided munition to penetrate the doors with a follow-on weapon to detonate inside the UGH.”

Just as there is a crowd of people who believe that since armor can’t stop every weapon that exists, there is no point having any armor, so too there is a crowd, likely the same crowd, who believes that since no amount of hardening can stop every bomb or missile, there is no point hardening bases.  Clearly, this is misguided, idiotic thinking.  Hardening (or armor, as the case may be) drastically drives up the cost and effort for the attacker.  In a peer war, where you may only get one chance at an attack, hardening ensures that at least some of your assets survive and forces the attacker to expend many more assets than would otherwise be required.  China recognizes this and is preparing their bases accordingly.

On the U.S. side,

“Currently, the US military has 207 HAS dispersed among four bases in the Western Pacific, with a significant majority in South Korea.” (3)

On the other hand, some key U.S. bases have little in the way of hardening.

“Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, located just 460 miles from the Taiwan Strait, houses F-15s and occasionally F-22s—and large numbers of other USAF aircraft—but possesses only 15 shelters.

Andersen Air Force Base on Guam hosts a range of strategic assets, such as B-2 stealth bombers and RQ-4 surveillance aircraft, but has no hardened shelters.” [emphasis added] (3)

The US needs to devote serious efforts towards hardening its few forward bases.  This is a key point since the US has so few forward bases in the Pacific – Guam being the notable example.  We need to do all we can to ensure that Guam can withstand attack and continue to function.  

Can we afford more hardening efforts?  From Air Force Magazine,

“… it should be noted that roughly 20 new hardened shelters can be purchased for the cost of a single fourth generation fighter.” (3)

On the opposite side of the coin, we need to devote more effort to figuring out how to more efficiently and safely destroy hardened facilities.


(1)National Interest website, “Base Hardening: Can America and Its Allies "Play Fort" against China?”, Harry J. Kazianis, October 27, 2014,

(2)“Airbase Hardening in the Western Pacific”, Dr. Carlo Kopp

(3)Air Force Magazine website, “The Dragon Pours Concrete”, David Lewton, Dec 2014,

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Naval Bombardment Philosophy Recap

Well, our discussion wandered off into a land artillery discussion which is, admittedly, more than a bit related to naval bombardment.  The upshot of the discussion seemed to be that there are good reasons for the semi-standardization of land artillery on 155 mm guns.  The reasons include logistics, cost of the gun, ease of movement of the guns/munitions, munitions inventory, and general applicability/effectiveness of the 155 mm caliber.

I would note that most of those reasons don’t apply to naval guns in any significant way.  The cost of the naval gun is small compared to the overall cost of the ship, movement is effortless since the ship moves anyway, logistics are no more of a burden/challenge than for any other aspect of the ship’s logistical needs, and ships have relatively large magazines and sufficient inventory of munitions for their mission needs.

Beyond that, naval guns have a few advantages over land.  Modern naval gun loading is largely or totally automated which allows the rate of fire to be maintained indefinitely as opposed to hand loaded land artillery.  This allows the extended operation of larger caliber guns, if desired.  Being on ships, naval guns are inherently more survivable due to ‘stealth’, continual movement, and armor (well, guns used to be in armored mounts and ought to be today).

The conclusion seems to be that land artillery has settled on a reasonable compromise in the 155 mm gun but that naval guns are not bound by the same limitations.  Therefore, there is no reason not to have larger caliber naval guns.  Larger caliber guns produce bigger ‘booms’ and that is generally good.  For those cases where bigger is not better, ships, both individually and as a fleet, traditionally have a range of gun sizes and can choose the appropriate size. 

As with most things, a range of naval guns offers the best overall performance and value.  Too many people want to argue for one-or-the-other options when a mix is almost always best.  I don’t think anyone would argue that there are times when having a 16” gun available is highly desirable but that doesn’t mean the entire fleet should be armed with them.  A fleet mix of 5”, 8”, and 16” would seem reasonable. 

Some commenters have made the case for naval 155 mm guns and that’s a fair discussion.  Whether the benefits of moving to that size would be worth the disruption of the current 5” logistics, training, and support train is debatable.

In short, nothing about land artillery experience precludes larger caliber naval guns and I see no reason why they should not be part of the fleet gun mix.

Logistics Supply Chain

A USNI website article about logistics triggered some thoughts about the logistics chain.  You’ve heard of the ‘kill chain’, right?  It’s the sequence of events that have to occur to achieve a kill on a target.  Disrupt any link in the chain and you prevent the kill.  The same applies to a logistics ‘supply chain’.  There’s a sequence of events that have to occur in order to supply a forward operating ship with the fuel and supplies it needs.  Yes, some of those needs are met by returning to port but many, fuel especially, are intended to be supplied at sea, at least during the course of a single operation. 

So, how robust is our logistics (let’s focus on fuel for the rest of this post) supply chain?  Can we sustain a forward operating ship or group?  Does the chain have weak links that are particularly susceptible to disruption so that an entire operation and supporting supply chain could be neutralized by disruption of a single link?

From the USNI article,

The Navy is struggling to find support to buy new logistics ships, even as a new study finds the Navy’s current plans to recapitalize that logistics fleet are insufficient to support distributed operations in a high-end fight against China or Russia. (1)

A new study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments finds that the Navy needs to spend $47.8 billion over the next 30 years beyond what it has currently laid into its plans in order to build a logistics fleet that could refuel and resupply the Navy and Marine Corps in a fight. (1)

That’s $1.6B per year beyond what the Navy has budgeted.  Yikes!  Where’s that going to come from, especially since logistics ships aren’t shiny and sexy? 

The secretary [Richard Spencer, Secretary of the Navy] said the Navy has not properly funded its fleet logistics and sealift ships in the past because they fall lower on the list of priorities, but he said the Navy needs to do better now and that he hoped the CSBA study would have a forcing function to make the Navy and lawmakers figure out a good path forward. [emphasis added] (1)

So, the Secretary of the Navy hopes that a CSBA report will ‘force’ the Navy to do what’s needed?  Hey, Mr. Secretary, it’s your Navy.  Why don’t you order the Navy to do what’s needed?  You should probably also be firing the current Navy flag rank for not having already done what professional naval warriors should have.  I can only conclude that you, sir, are as incompetent as the rest of the Navy leadership.

The study’s main conclusion is,

The service should invest in large consolidated logistics tankers (T-AOTs) that could act as forward gas stations for the fleet oilers, allowing them to stay in theater instead of retreating to a port to fill back up. The study recommends accelerating the acquisition profile of the John Lewis-class fleet oilers (T-AO-205), moving to a two-a-year procurement instead of the current one-a-year plan, which would not only speed up the timeline of growing the Navy’s refueling capacity but also reduce cost from about $550 million per hull to about $500 million per hull, Walton said. The study recommends investing in light oilers (T-AOLs), akin to an offshore support vessel, that would be smaller than the fleet oilers and ideally suited to refuel a small surface action group or medium and large unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). These smaller oilers could be pushed further into contested waters because of their lower cost … (1)

What should our supply chain look like?  In simplest terms, something like this:

  • US (main supply) to
  • Pearl Harbor, Guam (fixed storage/dispersal) to
  • T-AOT (sea-based dispersal hub) to
  • T-AO fleet oiler (forward dispersal) to
  • T-AOL light oiler (forward high risk dispersal)

Unfortunately, two of those links, the T-AOT large tanker and T-AOL light oiler do not exist, at all, and the T-AO fleet oiler is too small in number.

Want a laugh?  Try this,

CSBA recommends having 143 logistics-related ships by 2048 instead of the Navy’s planned 50.

Our professional naval warriors fall 93 logistic vessels short of what the CSBA study calls for.   One of the two organizations is way off base.  I’m pretty sure it’s our professional naval warriors.

To paraphrase a well known truism of warfare, ‘amateurs build carriers, professionals build logistic ships’.  What are we building?

Let’s dig a bit deeper and look at the vulnerability of the individual links in the chain.

US (main supply) – Our main supply is reasonably secure and robust

Pearl Harbor, Guam (fixed storage/dispersal) – These main holding sites are vulnerable to attack, especially early in a war, as the Japanese demonstrated in WWII (though, inexplicably, they did not hit the main fuel tanks in the attack on Pearl Harbor).  The fact that we only have two major sites in the Pacific theatre further emphasizes their vulnerability.  In a war with China, we have to assume Guam will be eliminated as a functioning base on the first day.

T-AOT (sea-based dispersal hub) – We have no large tankers so this link doesn’t even exist.  If we had tankers in sufficient numbers, the numbers alone would reduce the risk to this link.

T-AO fleet oiler (forward dispersal) – We have insufficient numbers but, again, numbers alone decrease the vulnerability of this link.  There is a bit more risk here due to the concept of operating these ships in the combat zone.  We need to consider proper protection for these high value units.

T-AOL light oiler (forward high risk dispersal) – Again, we have no small, light oilers and, given the CSBA concept for operating them far into the combat zone, they would be extremely vulnerable on an individual basis.  Sufficient numbers would be what makes this link robust.

It’s clear from the above preceding considerations of the individual links that the weak point is the land based storage/dispersal sites at Pearl Harbor and Guam.  They represent single points of failure.  Neither base is well defended against the kind of attack assets China would apply.  If Guam is eliminated at the outset we almost completely lose our forward supply chain and would have to depend entirely on oilers that would have to return to Pearl Harbor to refill (assuming Pearl Harbor, protected by distance, survives).

The key to operating in the combat zone is logistics (fuel, in this case) and we are paying scant attention to it.  We lack the links in the chain, the requisite numbers to provide robustness and survivability, and the defenses to protect the land links/bases.  If we’re serious about operating in the combat zone (and if we aren’t, why do we bother with a Navy?) then we need to get serious about building up and hardening the supply chain.  Guam, in particular, needs to be greatly hardened, in the generic sense, against attack to ensure that our forward fuel supply remains intact.


(1)USNI News website, “Study Says Navy Logistics Fleet Would Fall Short in High-End Fight”, Megan Eckstein, 17-May-2019,

Monday, August 19, 2019

Naval Bombardment Philosophy

Current US Navy gun support for amphibious landings has a capability gap – we have none!  The question is, is that due to a belief that naval bombardment as a vital element of an amphibious assault is not needed or is it due to mere neglect and stupidity?  In other words, is our utter lack of gun support due to philosophy or neglect?  One would be tempted to say that it must be due to neglect because the value of naval bombardment is so incontestable as to be self-evident.  However, historically, this has not always been the case.  Naval bombardment has not always been seen as necessary for the success of an amphibious assault.

The largest amphibious assault in history, Normandy, employed only brief and perfunctory pre-assault bombardment that was intended only to suppress the defenses, not destroy them. (2)  Contrast that to the Pacific assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa where the Navy conducted non-stop bombardments for weeks prior to the actual assault.  There you have the two extremes – nearly none and almost unlimited.  Which philosophy is right?  They can’t both be right, can they?  Let’s look a bit closer at the historical basis for the two different philosophies and, with that understanding, try to assess our current naval bombardment needs, if any.

As noted by historian and former naval amphibious planner, Christopher Yung, in his book “Gators of Neptune (1), which documented the naval amphibious planning for Normandy,

Another point of departure with Pacific amphibious doctrine was the Mediterranean view of the purpose, effectiveness, and duration of a naval bombardment of coastal defenses just before an amphibious assault.  Admiral Cunningham [Command in Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, First Sea Lord] … stated that, “the Americans in the Pacific placed a high value on naval bombardment in support of amphibious assaults, particularly by battleships, much higher than I thought was really justifiable.” (1, p.38)

However, Yung further notes that Admiral Cunningham changed his mind.

Following the war, Cunningham felt he should have given greater credence to the value of naval gunfire support for an amphibious landing … (1, p.38)

Based on their experience with various Mediterranean assaults, the US Army believed that pre-assault bombardment served only to alert the enemy and ruin the element of surprise. (1, p.38)  The Royal Navy’s RAdm. L.E.H. Maund seconded this philosophy but ascribed it to the British military’s deficient resources. (1, p.39)  We see in this thinking the belief, potentially correct, that if the attackers have less than overwhelming force that the element of surprise may be more important than pre-assault destruction.  Of course, one could ask why anyone would attempt an amphibious assault with less than overwhelming force but that’s a separate issue.

Supporting this minimal bombardment belief was British data on artillery effectiveness against hardened defenses which led the British to conclude that naval gunfire could, at best, provide suppressing fire which might temporarily neutralize the defenses but would be ineffective at destroying them. (1, p.39) It should be noted, however, that there is a world of difference between artillery fire and very larger caliber battleship and heavy cruiser fire with up to 16” guns.  The British did not appear to take that difference into consideration.

Yung notes, however, that this ‘Mediterranean’ minimal bombardment philosophy was not unanimous.  VAdm. Hewitt (commander US naval forces, Mediterranean) noted that pre-assault bombardment was an essential precursor for a successful assault. (1, p.39)

It is also noteworthy that the Mediterranean philosophy was derived from early war experience with less accurate and less lethal artillery and naval guns.  As the war went on, naval gunfire accuracy and lethality improved immensely

Eisenhower, himself, weighed in on the value of naval bombardment, stating that,

Pre-assault and support naval gunfire on beach defenses and pre-arranged targets was so devastating in its effectiveness as to dispose finally of any doubts that naval guns are suitable for shore bombardment. (1, p.39)

His thoughts did not, however, wind up dictating the extent of the Normandy pre-assault bombardment which was, by Pacific standards, minimal, at best.

RAdm. Hall (Commander, 11th PHIBFOR, Force Omaha), expressed his dissatisfaction with the pre-assault bombardment after the Normandy operation was over.

It is believed that the time available for pre-landing bombardment was not sufficient.  German defensive positions were well camouflaged and strong.  It is considered that these positions should be destroyed by slow aimed fire from close range prior to the landing.  Something more than temporary neutralization is required when troops face beach mines, wire, anti-tank ditches and similar obstacles after landing. (1, p.208)

Note Hall’s call for close range naval fire (enhanced accuracy) as opposed to standoff fire (reduced accuracy).  As it happened, there were instances of individual destroyer Captains, on their own initiative and in violation of planning, moving their ships very close in to provide effective and critical point-blank gunfire.  This illustrates the element of risk in effective naval bombardment and the acceptance of that risk in order to achieve objectives.  Contrast this with today’s exceedingly risk averse Navy culture!

In contrast to Hall’s deprecating view of the bombardment effort, Adm. Ramsay (Allied Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force) thought the minimal pre-bombardment was adequate and justified.

That naval gunfire neutralizes rather than destroys is still considered to be true … the policy of beach drenching [ed. short term suppressive fire] has been fully justified. (1, p.208)

Ramsay, then, believed it preferable to momentarily neutralize (suppress) enemy defenses rather than put any great effort into destroying them.

In the actual event, post-assault observation and analysis indicated that relatively few fortifications, gun housings, and casemates were outright destroyed.  This should come as no surprise given the inaccuracy of fire control at that time and the minimal amount of time the bombardments were conducted.  Pacific experience differed greatly.

The use of high velocity guns at [Kwajalein] showed, at least according to the US Navy, that this weaponry could be effective at smashing concrete pillboxes. (1, p.77)

As the Army noted, pre-assault bombardment does, indeed, notify the enemy of the coming assault.  At that point, it becomes a race between the attackers getting sufficient force ashore to achieve their objectives and the defenders getting sufficient reinforcements to the area to ward off the assault.  For Normandy, where the potential pool of reinforcement was vast, it was feared that a prolonged pre-assault bombardment might have allowed the Germans time to reinforce beyond the point that the assault force could overcome.  In contrast, in the Pacific, the Japanese forces on a given island had no source of reinforcement.  Hence, losing the element of surprise was irrelevant – the defenders couldn’t reinforce and couldn’t leave.  They were fixed and isolated and every additional hour of bombardment meant fewer and less effective defenders and defenses.

Naval Bombardment

While the concept of minimizing pre-assault bombardment in order to minimize the enemy’s time for reaction and reinforcement has some surface appeal and, indeed, logic behind it, the larger driving force of overwhelming force ought to negate the concept.  If one has overwhelming force (and if you don’t, why are you attempting the assault?) then the enemy’s reinforcement efforts can be interdicted with air power, airborne infantry, and long range battleship gunfire.  This presents the best of all worlds: extensive pre-assault bombardment reduces the immediate enemy defenses and the overwhelming force interdicts the reinforcement effort.  Thus, both the immediate defenses and the reinforcements are attrited before the actual landing occurs.  To a large extent, interdiction of reinforcements actually occurred at Normandy, thanks to overwhelming force, although the interdiction was divorced from an extensive pre-assault bombardment.

The British view that the element of surprise was necessary to make up for a lack of resources – meaning, a less than overwhelming assault force – was not an issue for the Americans in the Pacific as every US assault did involve overwhelming force.  Thus, surprise was, again, irrelevant.

In contrast to the Mediterranean view that bombardment was ineffective at destroying defenses, Pacific bombardments did achieve the objective of forcing the Japanese to concede the actual landing and retreat to inland prepared defenses in the form of caves, tunnels, and other fortifications that could be hidden from easy observation and protected from heavy bombardment.  Shore defenses were, in fact, found to be susceptible to prolonged bombardment, hence, the relocation of the defending assets to inland locations.

From the preceding discussion we see, then, the tension between the two conflicting philosophies:
  • The desire to maintain the element of surprise
  • The desire to inflict as much pre-assault destruction on the enemy as possible

While both philosophies offer seemingly valid arguments and rationales, it appears that the Mediterranean philosophy of minimal bombardment is largely based on assault force shortcomings and failings such as the lack of overwhelming force, limited resources, and doctrinally ineffective application of naval gunfire.  Thus, for a properly resourced amphibious assault the Pacific practice of prolonged pre-bombardment would appear to be the correct choice.

Having examined the issue of pre-assault bombardment, it is important to note that the discussion has nothing to do with bombardment support during and immediately after the assault landing.  Regardless of whether the assault used minimal or maximum pre-assault bombardment there is an undisputed need for naval gun support during the actual landing and immediately after, until the landing force can get their own artillery ashore and operating.

How does all this impact our views on naval gunfire today?  As you might expect, the exact same considerations and conclusions about pre-assault bombardment still apply.  However, technology has introduced some modifications into the methodology:

Range – Today’s defenders can use cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges of hundreds or thousands of miles.  Even modern artillery and rocket launchers have ranges of many dozens of miles.  Thus, bombardment must not be limited to the immediate landing area but must take into account defending ‘batteries’ located hundreds of miles away.  These remote targets may need to be serviced by air power rather than naval guns but, regardless, they must be accounted for.

Interestingly, the potential remote range of defenses might, in some cases, mean that there are relatively fewer defenses/defenders at the actual landing site as compared to the WWII scenarios of highly concentrated, localized defenses and defenders.  If this is the case, the need for local bombardment may be reduced. 

The effect of range, then, results in a modification of the definition of bombardment to include not just naval guns but also missiles and aircraft/bombs.

Interdiction – The ability to defend from hundreds or thousands of miles away means that the concept of interdiction has to be greatly expanded.  Interdiction may have to occur hundreds or thousands of miles away.  This also leads to the possibility that there may be no interdiction in the strictest sense of the word since the enemy may have no need to physically move reinforcements to the landing site.  Still, there will almost certainly be some movement of enemy defenses toward the assault site and that movement, however far away, must be interdicted.

Precision Guidance – Many observers mistakenly believe that massive bombardments are no longer necessary thanks to precision guidance.  However, the reality is that precision guidance is a very limited capability in a peer defended assault scenario. 

For example, laser guided rounds are useless in bombardment because there will be no assets available to laser designate.  In a peer defended assault scenario, aircraft laser designators will be unable to loiter over the battlefield providing target designation and ground forces won’t even be available until well after the initial landing and will be too busy surviving to calmly and casually laser spot targets.  Further, the ground forces will be too localized and ‘compacted’ to designate targets more than a hundred feet in front of them even if they were willing to lift their heads above cover long enough to do so. 

Ships can, if so equipped, provide their own laser designation but that would be valid only for visible, line of sight targets and a smart enemy is not going to provide many of those.

GPS guided rounds would be effective but only against known, fixed, visible targets.  The reality is that a smart enemy will not provide many fixed, visible targets.

The reality is that unguided area bombardment is the only generally effective method.

  • For a properly resourced amphibious assault, prolonged and heavy pre-assault bombardment is clearly the preferred action and is essential to ensure a successful landing.
  • Post-assault gun support is always required.
  • In order for bombardment to be effective and worth the effort, naval gunfire must employ large caliber, heavy guns of 8” or greater size.  As demonstrated by WWII experience, 5” guns simply don’t have the power to effectively destroy hardened fortifications. 
  • The area of bombardment on today’s battlefield will likely have to be greatly expanded although the bombardment may take the form of aircraft or missiles in order to achieve the required range.
  • Precision guidance is only marginally useful in an amphibious assault.  Old fashioned area bombardment is still required.

Today’s US Navy utterly lacks the capability to provide amphibious pre-assault bombardment or supporting fires during the landing.  If we continue to insist that we want and have this capability, we need to procure bombardment capability.  The Marines long ago gave up their battleship gun support in exchange for a handful of magic beans and promises by the Navy that never came to fruition and they are now left with no naval gun support, whatsoever. 


(1)“Gators of Neptune”, Christopher Yung, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2006, ISBN 1-59114-997-5

(2)Ibid. p.80-81,
From the Overlord Outline Plan: “As preliminary bombardment compromises surprise, it should be confined to the shortest possible duration consistent with the achievement of the required degree of neutralization.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Not A Clue

USNI News website has an article citing comments from RAdm. Bill Galinas (1), program executive officer for ships, who was speaking at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium.  His comments are an attempt to show how the Navy ‘gets it’ when it comes to new ships but, instead, it reveals just how clueless the Navy really is.  Let’s look at some of his comments.

The Navy is striving to field “revolutionary combat capability” in new ships and through mid-life modernizations, but it can do so while keeping risk low by focusing on new weapons and systems rather than radical new hull designs, the program executive officer for ships said.

Noting previous challenges with revolutionary ship designs such as the Zumwalt-class destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship, Rear Adm. Bill Galinis spoke in praise of the “evolutionary” approach that adds new capabilities while still leveraging mature and therefore less risky ship hull designs. (2)

Hmm …   Well, there’s the basis for a rational approach to shipbuilding there but, already, he’s failing to recognize lessons.  ‘Evolutionary’ development is what should occur in shipbuilding.  ‘Revolutionary’ should stay in the R&D lab until it’s ready.  Consider the “revolutionary combat capability” that the Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System (AGS) was supposed to offer.  Unfortunately, we designed and built an entire ship around the gun only to find out that the AGS failed to deliver the desired performance and suffered out of control costs that were headed for $1M per round.  Thus, Galinas’ belief that we can keep “risk low by focusing on new weapons and systems rather than radical new hull designs” was completely false.  Zumwalt’s AGS was a colossal failure and we now have three $8B white elephants.  How is that “keeping risk low”?  The Admiral utterly fails to grasp the lesson and yet he sees it.

On Zumwalt, for example, “we had a new hull form, we had a new propulsion plant, a new combat system, a new ship control system, new signature shaping on the hull form, arrays. A tremendous amount of new technology that went in there. And frankly, that probably didn’t work out quite the way we intended when we started it.” (2)

So, he acknowledges that the revolutionary approach didn’t work but wants to keep adding “revolutionary combat capability”.  That’s excellent, Admiral.  Keep repeating the mistakes and hope they produce a better outcome.  That’s also the definition of insanity.

Galinas goes on to cite examples of evolutionary improvements in combat capability for ships:

… he cited the Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base ships, which began as a commercial tanker built here in San Diego by NASSCO, and was then adapted to serve as an Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) to support the movement of goods from large resupply ships to shore, and then was again adapted to support special operations and mine countermeasures operations as the ESB. (2)

Flying [unmanned aerial vehicles] off of those ships. (2)

… 3D air search radar on USNS Woody Williams (T-ESB-4) right now, which is a capability the fleet has long asked for to get that on there to support the flying of UAVs on there. (2)

… upgrades to the berthing compartments … (2)

… additional crew berthing and messing and habitation facilities … (2)

Tripoli and Wasp … the propulsor has evolved from steam to a gas turbine, … electrical system moved to a zonal system … command and control system on the new LHA will be the first to include full F-35B compatibility upon ship delivery … (2)

Even on the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, … Galinis said the hull is the same but the underlying information technology infrastructure will be greatly improved. Compared to the Ship Wide Area Network (SWAN) on USS San Antonio (LPD-17) that delivered to the Navy in 2005, “the CANES network that’s going on today brings orders of magnitude more capability … (2)

So, the good Admiral’s idea of evolutionary combat improvements are flying UAVs, more and better berthing and messing, electrical changes, shipboard networks, and the ability to talk to F-35s?  Are those really improvements to combat capability?  Do you note what’s utterly missing?  That’s right, there’s nothing about ‘boom’!  There’s nothing about firepower and things that will actually destroy enemy ships and planes.  Where’s the bigger and better guns?  Where’s the more powerful missiles?  Where’s the improved armor?  Where’s the better stealth?  Where’s the combat capability?

Galinas wants to keep hulls the same because they’re proven and low risk.  That’s fine, but only if the hulls are good to begin with!

He cites the Burke as an example of keeping the hull and just adding capabilities.  However, consider that the Burke hull is not stealthy, it is structurally very weak (the Navy had to add strengthening strakes just to deal with the stresses of normal sailing), it has very poor range, it’s at or past its weight allowances and growth margins, has little deck space for defensive weapons (only one CIWS!) and is suffering from stability issues with the new AMDR installations.  That’s not a hull you want to keep using!

Admiral Galinas utterly fails to grasp the lessons from the Navy’s recent string of ship design and construction failures.  Well, Admiral, I’ll lay it out for you since you seem incapable of learning these lessons on your own.

  • Design ships for a 15-20 year service life and then you don’t have to future-proof the design.  You can add in new technology at regular intervals since you’ll be building new ships on a regular basis.
  • Leave ‘revolutionary’ in the lab
  • Don’t continue building flawed hulls.
  • Focus on firepower, not amenities.
  • There’s no such thing as ‘revolutionary’.  ‘Revolutionary’ inevitably fails and degenerates into evolutionary development, anyway.
  • Unless you try building unstable hulls like the Zumwalt, conventional hulls are the least risky part of a new ship design.  It’s the weapons, sensors, and equipment that are the high risk items – just the opposite of what you’re claiming!

In short, Admiral, whatever you think is good practice, do the opposite and you’ll be okay.


(1)Currently, Galinis is serving as program executive officer, ships, where he is responsible for Navy shipbuilding for surface combatants, amphibious ships, logistics support ships, support craft and related foreign military sales.

(2)USNI News website, “Navy Prefers Fielding ‘Revolutionary’ Combat Capability Through New Weapons Rather than New Hull Designs”, Megan Eckstein, 13-Aug-2019,

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ukrainian Nuclear Weapons Agreement

After Ukraine voted for independence in 1991 and the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine retained a very large complement of nuclear weapons.  The country agreed to give up those weapons in exchange for security assurances.  The 1994 Trilateral Statement and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances involving Russia, the US, the UK, and Ukraine finalized the removal of nuclear weapons from Ukraine in exchange for assurances that Russia would respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. (1,2)  Of course, in 2014 Russia invaded Crimea and officially announced their annexation of the territory.  This was quickly followed by a thinly veiled proxy invasion of the rest of Ukraine.

So, how did that security agreement work out for you, there, Ukraine?

The only real point to this post is that international agreements with our ‘enemies’ are often of little value or lasting applicability.  In particular, Russia, Iran, and China have been shown that they will adhere to agreements only as long as it suits their purposes and will abandon/violate those agreements without a second thought when doing so is to their advantage.

In our zeal to secure ‘peace’ we need to be exceedingly careful about agreements with enemies and recognize that those agreements are nearly worthless.

One might note that Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons and wound up being invaded.  ‘Might makes right’ is still a viable geopolitical factor in the world despite the desire of the US to view the world as a loving and caring place where everyone can be trusted.


(1)NPR website, “The Role Of 1994 Nuclear Agreement In Ukraine's Current State”, 9-Mar-2014,

Monday, August 12, 2019

Roles - Cruiser

Continuing our ‘roles’ theme (see, Roles – Frigate), let’s now examine cruisers.  What’s a cruiser?  Well, one classic and pretty good definition is that it’s a ship that’s strong enough to defeat anything it can’t outrun and fast enough to outrun anything it can’t defeat.  This concept can be traced back to the frigates in the age of sail.  Despite their name, sailing frigates did not give rise to modern frigates.  Instead, they filled the role that eventually became the modern cruiser.

Sailing frigates acted as scouts for the main fleet or acted independently by providing a cheap, plentiful, and reasonably powerful presence intended to keep/enforce the peace, secure trade routes, provide security from pirates and opportunistic foreign ships, provide a means of communication (if not particularly rapid communications), escort convoys, and generally patrol an area while upholding and reinforcing the parent country’s territorial claims and interests.

The English Navy’s famed frigates and captains, such as HMS Indefatigable and Edward Pellew, set the standard that would, ultimately, lead to modern cruisers.

HMS Indefatigable

Similarly, the United States’ sailing ship USS Constitution might be considered a prototype cruiser.  It was well armed and strong enough to defeat all existing frigates and even some larger ships and fast enough to run from any ship of the line that it couldn’t defeat.

When the age of sail gave way to steam and steel, the vastness of oceans and empires gave rise to the first modern cruisers such as the USS Olympia, Commodore Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War.  In keeping with the sailing frigates, cruisers were seen as ocean-ranging commerce raiders, scouts, and, often, the backbone of small surface groups.  Cruisers often were designed with great speed to enable them to operate with destroyers and to cover large areas quickly in the scouting role.  For example, the American Chester class ‘scout cruiser’, built beginning in 1905, was designed with high speed but light armor and armament.  Thus, cruisers of this era were used as ubiquitous global ‘presence’ ships while the battle line generally stayed in home waters.

USS Olympia

The advent of aircraft further emphasized the cruiser’s role as a scout as the cruisers now had the means to greatly extend their ‘sensor’ range.  The Brooklyn class light cruiser of the mid-1930’s, for example, carried 4 floatplanes and 2 catapults.

USS Brooklyn CL-40

In more modern times, the definition of a cruiser was a ship that was bigger than a destroyer and smaller than a battleship.  This was more a description than a definition, however.  Still, prior to the advent of WWII, the scouting role was still emphasized and cruisers were often used as scouts for the battle line. 

WWII saw the development of a wide range of cruisers from light anti-aircraft cruisers such as the Atlanta class which was armed with 5” guns to the near-battleship Alaska class cruisers with a main battery of nine 12” guns and heavy armor.  The range of designs reflected the range of missions that cruisers were used for.  The missions included,
  • Scouting (early war)
  •  Anti-air escort
  •  Land bombardment
  •  Independent surface group core

Thus, the WWII cruiser was, in a sense, a ship type that didn’t have a clearly defined role.  As an overall group of ships, cruisers could be considered multi-function ships in an era of single function design.  However, on closer examination, the multiple functions were filled not by one design type but by several designs, each specialized and optimized for the intended role.  Thus, the Atlanta class anti-air cruiser had numerous 5” anti-air guns while the Alaska class heavy gun cruiser was optimized for anti-surface and land attack.  So, while the overall classification of cruiser performed many roles, the roles were actually filled by purpose designed, single function classes.

Atlanta Class Anti-Aircraft Cruiser

The last true US cruisers were the California and Virginia classes – ‘true’ in the sense that they had a nice balance of speed, firepower, size, flag facilities, and some armor.  Their replacement, the Ticonderoga class, which the Navy labeled a cruiser, was just a modification of the Spruance class destroyer intended to fill the anti-air role and had none of the physical or operational characteristics of a cruiser.

This brings us to consider the question, what is a modern cruiser and what is its role?

The modern cruiser is represented by the American Ticonderoga class, the Chinese Type 055, and the SKorean Sejong the Great.  The common attribute among these is that all are focused on anti-air warfare.  Thus, they are defensive escorts rather than the scouts or independent sailors of earlier times.

Sejong the Great Class

Further, the distinction between cruiser and destroyer has been so badly blurred that the designations are now meaningless.  The designation ‘cruiser’ is now bestowed, or not, on a ship class for reasons of prestige, public relations, Congressional oversight, etc. rather than because the ships meet any particular historical or functional definition of a cruiser.

We might almost go so far as to say that modern cruisers no longer exist in the sense that there are no ships that fill the traditional roles of a cruiser.  Aviation has taken over the scouting role, AAW-focused ‘destroyers’ have taken over the escort role, and there are no ships performing the independent operations role.

The Soviet Union Kirov class cruiser is an interesting case.  It came very close to the traditional attributes of fairly heavy firepower, moderate armor, decent speed, and high endurance.  In terms of roles, it was used for strike operations, scouting, in a sense (hunting US carriers), and independent surface operations as the core of a surface group.  On the other hand, by modern standards, the Kirovs were so far beyond other countries’ ‘cruisers’ that they could easily be classed as modern battleships, lacking only heavy armor.  It is also interesting that no country has attempted to build a vessel equivalent to the Kirov.

Kirov Class

As stated, from a functional aspect, cruisers no longer exist and current discussions about ‘cruisers’ are merely semantic debates.  Interestingly, though, this blog has called for true cruisers to fill the traditional roles and lend some much needed firepower and presence in an alternative form to carrier groups (see, “Independent Cruiser”).

Thus, the cruiser is no more.  Naval strategists have dropped all the traditional cruiser roles or distributed them out among other platforms.  This seems unwise as the need for an ocean-ranging presence (meaning with firepower) has never changed and, when we find that our vaunted UAVs are nowhere near the omniscient and invulnerable assets that we assume them to be, we may well regret the disappearance of a far ranging scout capable of defending itself.

The trans-oceanic presence role of a cruiser is worthy of some additional consideration.  Once upon a time, cruisers were invested with significant authority and power by their parent countries to enforce national intent.  It was expected that they would, occasionally, exert their influence (again, firepower) for the betterment of their country.  Ship Captains wielded great autonomy and power.  Today, we have removed all such authority and power from ship Captains and have adopted a policy of appeasement instead of enforcement and might.  That being the case, there is no need for a cruiser – some might say there is no need for a navy if appeasement is the policy.  However, history strongly suggests that these changes have led to a worsening of international behavior, not an improvement.  For example, we now have third rate countries dictating policy in the Middle East, seizing ships of all nations, threatening international shipping lanes, etc.  Once upon a time, such Barbary Pirate behavior was terminated by the actions of Decatur and Bainbridge and the young American Navy.  There is still a need for forceful presence around the world.  Of course, that requires a modicum of courage and resolve by our civilian leaders and a willingness to invest ship Captains with autonomy and authority.

Stephen Decatur

In short, while the world navies have abandoned cruisers, the traditional roles of the cruiser have not vanished which makes the abandonment all the more curious.  We could use a couple dozen modern cruisers far more than a couple dozen frigates.