sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Future of the US Navy (a rant)

Please allow me to put on my retired US Naval Officer persona for a moment and express an opinion that nobody will read - but I need to get it off my chest.

  • 80% of all commerce travels by water.
  • In America the average meal travels 1,500 miles to get from the point of production to the dinner table. Increasingly that production will travel by ship.
  • Most of the oil that we burn to make the nation viable travels by water to get from the point of production to the point of refining to the point of consumption.
  • We don't have any 'enemies' in this hemisphere, which means that they have to travel to get to us and the other way around. You can only lift so much by air. Most heavy war materials still travel by water.

The US is broke despite what you see around you. One in six Americans live below the poverty line. One in six Americans collects food stamps from the government. The hope and change was a bad joke foisted on the vulnerable and the greedy, both of whom found it hopeful to pick somebody else's pocket for their own gain. Sadly, that's not how the world works and it's not how wealth is created.

The US must build more US Naval ships and even the defense averse Obama Administration which would rather buy votes than ships, grudgingly accepts that. One of the problems with the current batch of admirals is that the litmus test for the second star and beyond is one of political correctness. Are you a Democrat? If the answer is yes, you get the star(s). If no, be content with the silver eagle or maybe one lonely star.

Who is planning for our naval future? The Obama Admirals. It doesn't mean that they're all hopelessly incompetent. It simply means that the don't want to buck the system in the slightest degree. There are no George Pattons or Bull Halseys among them.

This is the overarching plan that began with the Bush Administration (it takes a long time to build a fleet). 
  • a destroyer called the DD(X)—later redesignated DDG-1000—for the precision long-range strike and naval gunfire mission, 
  • a cruiser called the CG(X) for the AAW and Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) mission, and 
  • a smaller combatant called the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to counter submarines, small surface attack craft, and mines in heavily contested littoral (near-shore) areas.
The only one of these ships to be built is the Littoral Combat ship, which is worthless against
USS Gravely DDG 107
submarines, the package to attack small surface craft is still under development and it's mine warfare mission consists of having its two helicopters hunting for mines. Which means among many other reasons, while the ship looks impossibly cool, it's a waste of money. The Obama Administration scrapped the CG(X) program. The DDG1000 program was folded into an upgrade of the Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers (the Flight III Arleigh Burke platforms now under construction [due for completion in 2016] and envisioned for the future with a scaled down version of Air Missile Defense Radar - a follow on to the phased array Spy 1). We're not building many destroyers, but we are building some and that's a good thing. Even though President Obama characterized the Navy as an anachronism during the last campaign, all it takes is a fat little dictator in a tin pot country threatening to light off a nuclear weapon to bring the need for a blue water navy back to the table.

Because we're broke, we need to rethink how we will do business. Most black shoe (surface warfare) admirals think in terms of the past. It's the same thinking that made them believe that the battleships at Pearl Harbor were critical in 1941 when in truth, their day had come and gone before the Japanese sank them.

The US Navy must move now, while we're broke, to transition to Integrated Electric Propulsion power plants for surface combatants and break with the past. There needs to be a continuation of the Arleigh Burke production line because the Obama Administration has allowed the fleet to shrink to a size where it is no longer as effective as it needs to be to protect America's sea lanes and commerce.

The US Navy was forced to buy off on the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35 Lightning), which has turned into a vast disappointment because it was required by design to please the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and a host of foreign countries who contributed to its development. This means that the Navy will keep the F-18 production line going into the foreseeable future. There is nothing wrong with the F-18, but it's obsolete in terms of the adversarial aircraft being built in China and elsewhere. It's time to build an aircraft that the Navy genuinely wants rather than one that is forced down their throat.

The US Navy must move now, while we're broke, to imagine light, agile aircraft carriers designed to carry drone aircraft capable of stand-off weapons delivery and BMD. I'm thinking of a CV(L) in the 20,000 ton range that could serve as a platform for a limited number of AV-8 Harriers (restart the assembly line since the F-35B doesn't seem to be a reality) as well as up to 40 drone aircraft.

Ok, my rant is over.






10 comments:

  1. That was less of a rant and more of an informed warning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every time a US administration (from Thomas Jefferson to the present) decides to cut the US Navy to save money, they live to regret it. We're not an island nation -- but at the same time we actually are when you look at the lines of heavy transportation. People can jump on an airplane but it's an order of magnitude more expensive to haul heavy equipment by air. Additionally there are limited air assets that can move very heavy things.

      Delete
  2. An old friend of mine was engaged to teach - for lack of a better term - Islamic Ideology - at the Naval War College in Newport. He told me that in the course of an instructor orientation program, he was told not to hurt the students' feelings with offensive concepts. He responded by asking if they were kidding? That it was absurd to be worried about offending the feelings of military men and women who are trained to kill if and as necessary. He had a 3 year contract. It was canceled after the first year. Read between the lines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're teaching for government employee consumption, you can't come out and say, "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength", but if you don't teach from that playbook, you simply won't be teaching for very long.

      The US Army (see the next blog post) and NORTHCOM has come out and labeled Evangelical Christians and Catholics (all Catholics apparently) as religious extremists - the same as al Qaeda. It's disturbing in the extreme, but in an Orwellian perspective, you can't help but see the ObamaNation logic underpinning it.

      Remember that this administration made NASA's principal effort in the direction of "making Muslims feel good about themselves". Even if you're a Muslim you have to admit that NASA should have other, more important things to do.

      Delete
  3. Communists as Presidents never works ... is that the gist of it LL?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Communists are usually people with a twisted and therefore unrealistic view of the world around them. Therefore, they do make horrible presidents.

      Delete
  4. They should listen to you. I hope they do.

    ReplyDelete
  5. All of those make sense... Which means NONE of it will get done (well maybe a couple more DDGs)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I don't think that we will see anything anytime soon. There are DDG's under construction at Bath Iron Works but it will take another president and another Congress.

      Delete

It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life