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Thread: The USN's future?

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    The USN's future?

    Interview: U.S. Navy Undersecretary Robert Work

    By christopher p. cavas

    Published: 4 Feb 2010 21:39

    Bob Work was one of the foremost naval analysts in Washington when he was tapped in late 2008 to serve on President Obama's Pentagon transition team, where he was in charge of the Navy issue team. A former Marine artillery colonel, he has a wide knowledge of Navy and Marine Corps programs - past and present - and is a deeply experienced military strategist and wargamer. He took office as the Navy's second-highest-ranking civilian in May.



    Undersecretary of the Navy Bob Works speaks during a Feb. 2 interview in Washington. (SHEILA VEMMER / STAFF) On Feb. 2, Work sat down for his first interview since the 2011 budget proposal was submitted.

    Q. What is the theme to this budget submission?

    A. At the broadest level, the two basic things are rebalancing the force and reforming the way we do business. Those two themes are well reflected inside our budget. There were four strategic objectives.

    SecDef told us to improve your ability to defend the U.S. and civil authorities at home. Do better at counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations, build the capacity of partner states, deter and defeat aggression in anti-access environments, prevent proliferation and counter weapons of mass destruction, and operate effectively in cyberspace.

    Importantly, he said you had to be able to do that and maintain a strong nuclear deterrent and do not give up on your conventional warfighting dominance. Pretty expansive mission list in a time of tight resources.

    The theme for the Navy is balancing all of these different missions. We think we were able to come up with a pretty good plan in aviation and shipbuilding, which reflected these budget priorities. You'll see, for example, improvements at the low end because we've stabilized the LCS program and increased the Joint High Speed Vessel program quite significantly, to 23 vessels.

    There was a big debate within the department on patrol craft, PCs. People said these are very good for irregular warfare. But when we looked at it we said we wanted to have self-deployable platforms that have a lot of payload space that you can take to the fight whatever you need - SEALs, Marines, [a] Riverine squadron. So we decided to increase the Joint High Speed Vessel program, at the same time SLEPing [service life extension program] the 13 PCs we have, so they're going to be with us well into the 2020s. But the Joint High Speed Vessels will take over for them, because we like their self-deployability aspects - they can be a sea base, they can be an Africa Partnership Station, they're extremely flexible.

    So when you combine LCS and the Joint High Speed Vessel together, that's going to be 78 small craft with a lot of payload space that can be configured for a lot of these irregular warfare missions.

    At the high end, one of the clearer signals out of the Quadrennial Defense Review was a demand for more ballistic missile defense ships and ships that are able to operate in the open ocean in an anti-access environment. So we now have a very good and stable plan for large surface combatants, for example. We've made a choice - a good one in my view - that the DDG 51 is the hull of choice, upgraded with the Air and Missile Defense Radar [AMDR] and the SPY-3 active X-band, and together with those two that's going to be able to handle the integrated air and missile defense mission.

    There are a lot of other things that went on but we were able to do exactly what the SecDef asked us to do. Kind of squeeze down the capability portfolio that was focused on conventional warfare and improve at both ends of the conflict spectrum. The whole idea of rebalancing is reflected in our plan and I think we're reforming the way we do business.

    Q. The AMDR is supposed to start with the DDG 51 hull in 2016?

    A. That's the plan. The AMDR study made a choice between an improved volume search radar and the AMDR, and because of the growth potential of the AMDR and its better capabilities we chose the AMDR.

    We hope that the AMDR will be ready for the FY '16 ship. And the SPY-3, we're quite confident that that will be ready. It will be more of an integration challenge on the hull, making sure that the combat system is set - that we have the right crewing.

    So our hope is that the FY '16 DDG will be the first Flight III.

    Q. The AMDR effort had been envisioned as a dual-path development - a smaller radar for DDGs and a larger one for the big CG(X) cruiser. With cancellation of the cruiser, is this now a single-path development?

    A. It's a single path. The size of the aperture was always the big thing - the larger the aperture, the better the performance. We've settled on a 14-foot aperture, and that's the single aperture we're focused on. … We're confident that will fit on the DDG 51 hull.

    Q. Is the Navy seeking money to build the SSBN(X) outside normal ship procurement funds?

    A. When the 2009 shipbuilding plan was published, the SSBN(X) - the first to be purchased in 2019 - our plan did not have the cost for that platform in its core budget. The Navy took a lot of heat for that. The Department of Defense said, "You will put that cost in core." We looked at the level of resources and this is the way we kind of handled this. We want to debate over this platform, it's an important debate to have. …

    With the 30-year plan, we've essentially broken it into three segments: from FY '11 through FY '20, from FY '21 through '30, then '31 to '40. In each of these different segments, you're going to have different challenges, and unquestionably the biggest challenge in that second segment is the fact that we will be purchasing the SSBN(X), we assume, in core.

    Because of the level of resources we think it is prudent to plan for, the SSBN(X) will take a large percentage of that yearly shipbuilding budget, which will constrain our choices for the other ships we might want to build. As a result, in the far planning period you see the size of the fleet decline, slightly.

    The impact of the SSBN(X) is real; it's something we have to look at. We have it in core and we welcome working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and with Congress to try and figure out the best way to handle this planning period in which this important national asset's going to be.

    Q. Are you prepared to fund the research and development portion for the next few years?

    A. Oh, absolutely. That's in our base budget, it's fully funded. We have, I think, $6 billion between now and FY '15, the first year we have advanced procurement for the first boat. So it is a robust R&D program. The analysis of alternatives for the platform has just been briefed, and we have money in the budget transferred to the Department of Energy for the reactor. We've already signed an agreement with the British on a common missile compartment. So work is proceeding apace on the SSBN(X). FY '19 seems like a long way out, but it's not really, not when you're spending $6 to $7 billion on R&D.

    Q. So it's really the procurement part of that program the Navy would like some relief on?

    A. In the 2020s, we will be constrained in buying non-SSBN(X) ships. In many of those years, we might only be able to buy one attack submarine or one major surface combatant, or some combination thereof. So the debate we have to have is: Is that what we want? But there's going to be another QDR in 2013, another in 2017, so those types of issues will be debated many times between now and then.

    Q. What's a base price for that replacement SSBN(X)?

    A. We're extremely conservative in pricing. I think we have the average price at about $6 billion.

    Q. Conservative?

    A. We don't want it to cost $6 billion; we want to be cheaper than that. But it is a very important platform, it is going to have to be very survivable - it's the most survivable leg of our nuclear deterrent. We've been conservative and over time we hope it will be cheaper than what we think right now. But we want to be sure we don't underestimate that ship.

    Q. With the upcoming Littoral Combat Ship downselect, Navy officials seem to be wary of repeating the protest problems the U.S. Air Force has had with its tanker program. What can the Navy do to stave off that situation?

    A. We can't control whether a protest occurs, but we can make sure the RfP [request for proposal] is extremely solid, and cannot be attacked from the angle that the RfP unfairly biases the selection toward one of the two hulls. The key thing people have to know is the Navy is happy with both designs - either fits the requirements. Both teams have been very good. We haven't tested it out, but all the data we have right now says both designs will meet the key performance parameters [KPPs] as desired.

    Total ownership cost has been designed right into that ship - small crew, open architecture combat systems, reliance on offboard systems. One of the key things is going to be procurement cost. There will be some jostling back and forth where people will say this platform is better than the other platform, but the key thing the Navy has said is we're happy with both of the platforms. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but they all meet the KPPs.

    Q. If the final determination really comes to price, will it be absolute? Is, say, $20 million enough to sway the decision?

    A. That I can't answer. I don't know how that would break out. The acquisition officials will look at the two designs and say, are these credible bids? Can they deliver on performance? I can't get into what the final deciding factor will be because we haven't seen the bids.

    Q. But the total package is a factor in making the decision, rather than just on price?

    A. Oh yeah, there are several other things. One of the key parameters is production cost, but there are other parameters in the RfP.

    Q. Is this really a 55-ship LCS fleet? I saw one plan where the two ships from the losing bidder would be disposed of. Is it 53?

    A. We actually get to 55, a little slower than what we had expected, but we bid up faster with JHSVs than expected.

    Q. You'll keep the two ships from the losing design?

    A. That's a good question. I don't know what the final determination on that would be. Obviously, we have some very unique design ships, like we leased the HSV. But I don't know what the thinking is on that.

    Q. The previous LCS plan had the Navy buying five and six ships per year - plenty for two shipyards. But now you've dropped down to fours and threes, moving to mostly twos and ones. Is that enough to keep two shipyards in the program?

    A. One of the big differences between this 30-year plan and previous plans is that before, we planned to build to a 55-ship run and then have a decade or more where you're not building any. With this shipbuilding plan, we'll be building LCSs consistently year-to-year throughout the 30-year period. That gives us a lot of flexibility - if we decide we want to have 65 ships we'll have the capacity. … But right now we think 55 is the right number. We have set it up so that we can hold a competition between two yards throughout the 30-year period. Sometimes you'll have more ships in a given year to compete, but the whole thing will be set up to the yards can compete and we can keep the costs down.

    Q. More problems have surfaced with the LPS 17-class amphibious ships, and Northrop Grumman has come in for a new round of criticism for weld issues and quality. What still troubles you about the work the company is putting out? Can they do more to fix the situation?

    A. Between 2001 and now, we've really started to bring on a whole lot of new classes of ships. The T-AKE. Two different LCSs. The Virginia-class submarines. The LPD 17 program. Each has had its challenges, the LPD 17 program has more challenges than we had hoped. The basic design of the ship, we're very happy with, and the quality of the ship is getting better, although there have been these nagging problems, and NAVSEA is working with Northrop Grumman to resolve them.

    Our confidence in the ship is reflected in the fact that we have the 11th LPD 17 in our plan, so the basic ship we're very comfortable with, and we're working with Northrop Grumman and all of our shipbuilders to make sure that performance is good and that we get ships that have few problems, covered by warranty, and we get them to the fleet as fast as we can. But the LPD 17 has been a challenge, no question.

    In the main, I'm not worried [about Northrop Grumman's ability]. I think [shipbuilding president] Mike Petters and the shipbuilding team at Northrop Grumman understand the problems and are trying to work at them piece by piece. They've had a lot of challenges in doing so - stemming from the Katrina issue, their work forces and quality control. So, no, overall I think Northrop Grumman knows what needs to be done and I'm pretty confident they're going to be able to do it.

    Q. What's the current Marine Corps lift requirement? Two Marine expeditionary brigades?

    A. The Marines have to be very happy with the way the QDR came out. We had a target for 33 amphibious ships: 11 big decks, 11 LPD 17s, 11 LSDs. We already have 12 LSDs bought and paid for in the fleet. The 30-year shipbuilding plan has the 11th LPD 17 in the plan and funded. We have eight LHDs and LHA 6. LHA 7 is an FY '11 ship that will get us to 10. So we'll have the 33 ships, but we'll have one fewer big deck and one extra LSD. That gets to the requirement for 33, the minimum needed to do a two-MEB assault.

    The MEBs will be specially tailored for the assault if we had to do it, but in this QDR the key thing is the amphibs will look very much as part of a fleet design in which you have a series of capability containers. The small ones are the LCSs and JHSVs. Medium capability is the SSNs and our cruisers and destroyers. Our large capability containers are the LSDs and LPDs. Our extra-large containers are the big-deck amphibs, and the extra-extra-large containers are our carriers.

    They all have flexible payload space - LPD 17 is just like a giant LCS. So OK, you've got to go to Haiti? Why not take your extra-extra-large box and put helicopters on it? So we argued that the amphibs were critical to the overall design of our battle force. And we didn't focus so much on the two-MEB assault as we did on the flexibility these ships provide to every combatant commander who's screaming for them. I want them for Africa Partnership Station. I want them as a sea base.

    One of the highest-demand signals coming out of the QDR besides ballistic missile defense ships is for independent amphib steamers that can go be an Africa Partnership Station or a mobile sea base.

    So 33 amphibious ships is the requirement we've set in the plan, and we've hit that number pretty close throughout the 30-year period, but in the far planning period we fall down a little because of the SSBN(X) problem.

    Not only that, we took the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) [MPFF] squadron, which was really designed for high-end, forcible entry, assault follow-on echelon stuff, and we now want three MPF squadrons with enhanced sea-basing capabilities. We'll have three squadrons with an LMSR, a T-AKE cargo ship, and a mobile landing platform [MLP], plus our 23 JHSVs. The Marines have to be saying "holy moly." Between the 33 amphibs, the three MPF squadrons with enhanced sea basing capabilities, and the 23 JHSVs, the Marines have got to be happy their lift requirements are going to be met in almost [every] case you can imagine.

    Q. The Naval Operations Concept was to have had a lot to say on this, but it's been held in abeyance. Is that still coming out?

    A. That's a good question. The last time we did a force structure assessment for the Department of the Navy was in 2005-06, and that's what set the 313-ship fleet requirement. There have been a lot of decisions made since then, primarily by the SecDef and the PB10 budget decision, as well as this QDR. So we're going to do a new Force Structure Assessment [FSA]. The Naval Operating Concept has been pretty much fully written and has been subscribed to by the Navy and the Marines. … But we have to do a new FSA.

    When you look at the new 30-year shipbuilding plan, we just say we start at 313 because that's the most recent FSA. … So if you ask me today what's the number for the fleet? I would say it's about 300 ships, and I just don't know if it's going to be 313, 320. 313 is the baseline off which we say, here are the decisions that have been made that will change the 313 baseline.

    Q. What were some of the conclusions of the hull-radar study for a new surface combat ship that would include the Air and Missile Defense Radar?

    A. It's a very impressive study, extremely well done. Conducted by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. A red team by Paul Schneider from DASN [Department of the Navy Research, Development & Acquisition] ships. Extremely well done.

    We knew we wanted a dual-band system, an S-band search radar and an X-band. Essentially, the two choices we have are volume search radar or AMDR, SPQ-9B or SPY-3? And the best solution out of that study was a 14-foot aperture on the AMDR and the SPY-3. Put those two together and you have a pretty capable air and missile defense ship. I am very satisfied the study will withstand scrutiny from anyone. They might not agree with the decision, but they're not going to say this was some type of cooked book.

    Q. So you're going to release an unclassified version of the study to the public?

    A. That is a good question. I don't know the answer. I'll try to find out.

    Q. Is there another hull planned for surface combatants over the 30-year plan, or is it DDG 51s forever?

    A. The plan shows we're going to build 71 DDG 51s Flight I through IIA, so we're going to buy nine more IIAs through 2015. Then we ship to the integrated air and missile defense version of the DDG 51. We're still doing the work to say exactly [what] that ship will look like, but we believe the basic DDG 51 hull will be the platform for that. How many do we buy? There's a number in the plan through about 2030, then you have a DDG(X).

    The Flight III is the integrated air and missile defense version of the DDG 51. What the DDG(X) will be remains to be seen. Will it be a variation of the DDG 51 hull? Don't know, might be another hull. But it's so far out it's hard for us to know.

    But we'll be building the 51 hull - the first was authorized in 1986 - for about 40 years.

    Q. Are you satisfied with your new 30-year aviation plan?

    A. We did very well. One of the key things was to improve our rotary-wing lift. So the H-1 program was fully funded in a good, sustainable production stream. That platform has proved to be extremely good, both the Z and the Y - the Y in particular because of the tremendous command-and-control package. So good news on the H-1.

    Good-news story on the H-53K. There was a snag in that program, we brought the IOC [in-service date] back, but the program is well-funded. V-22, well-funded - not at the level per year that if we had all the money in the world we would want, but at a good, sustainable rate. And with the H-60 program, all in really good shape.

    The P-8s, again in good shape. That program is proceeding in place and will replace all the P-3s.

    We were just given $4 billion to replace the EA-6B Prowler expeditionary attack squadrons, with EA-18G Growlers, and we're going to get those planes in the fight a lot sooner than we expected. … We will actually keep the Prowlers on the decks of the carriers longer than [we] expected to. We can get the first Growlers in the fight as quickly as we can.

    Q. Were those plus-up airframes or reprogrammed F-18Fs?

    A. No, those are plus-ups. DoD gave us the money to buy 26 additional aircraft on top of the numbers we were planning for the carrier decks. As a consequence, we keep the E/F production line open another year, to 2013.

    The Joint Strike Fighter program also has been restructured, but we think it's a sustainable run and reflects what we can actually execute. So the JSF, E/F/G, our P-8 programs, and BAMS is funded. At the very end game DoD gave us $2 billion to add to the N-UCAS program, which will allow us to better reflect what we want out of that program.

    So from an aviation perspective the Department of the Navy couldn't be happier right now. There are still challenges, obviously, but overall, when you look at our shipbuilding and aviation accounts we're sitting okay.

    Q. What was the thinking behind the cancellation of the EP(X) program? Shifting the mission to other areas or dropping the mission?

    A. Different platforms. There are a lot of different ways to look at this. We're not certain if it's an unmanned system, a system of systems. We haven't come to a definitive conclusion yet.

    Q. There is a story line that elements in the Navy are urging the service to withdraw from the JSF program, buy more Super Hornets, and focus on developing a sixth-generation strike fighter that would be manned or unmanned. Are you aware of this debate?

    A. There are always pockets within the Navy and the Air Force that have different opinions. If you search for them you can think there's some type of big debate. But at the top level - the secretary and me, the CNO and the commandant - there is absolutely no wavering on JSF, in either the B or C form. We are committed to that platform. That is going to be the fifth-generation platform that we have.

    Now, there is a lively debate over whether or not the N-UCAS demonstrator should result in a penetrating, ISR strike bird, or be more of an F /A-XX strike fighter. That debate has not quite been resolved. Having this extra $2 billion added to the budget is going to help us resolve that debate. So we will end the E and F program line at some point and commit fully to the JSF as soon as that program is on solid ground and we finish out the buys of the Es and Fs and Gs we have right now.

    Then the next thing we'll focus on like a laser beam is that N-UCAS. What is that going to be? An A-12-like platform that's extremely low-observable, more of a bomber ISR penetrator, or more like a strike fighter? That's going to be an issue we're going to resolve by the next QDR, because the timing will be such that we're going to have the demonstration program done, we will have proven whether we can operate these unmanned systems on board the big deck, we will have more technology maturation, we'll have a lot better understanding on the requirements for the system. I'm very bullish on N-UCAS. I just don't know exactly what it's going to look like, but I think we're going to resolve that over the next three or four years.

    Q. Is there still a strike fighter gap?

    A. There was a lot of debate and angst over strike fighter shortfalls on the Hill last year. We have a requirement for 10 carrier air wings. Do we have enough airplanes - is there exactly 44 in every single one? No, but we don't need it. The way the Navy does it is a tiered readiness rotational cycle, where [wings] that go out on deployment are fully up and ready, and the ones that are ready to surge are fully up ready, and the ninth and 10th wings are training up.

    We did a lot of management mitigation, things that resolved the, we considered pretty much eliminated, any perceived strike fighter shortfall. … That was before the JSF restructuring occurred. So now, in POM12, we'll be looking at it again, what other management levers will we have to do, and we're actually right now having a debate within the department, and we're going to take it over to Congress and tell them exactly what we found out.

    But we felt very comfortable that we had a good, solid plan prior to the JSF restructuring. And the JSF restructuring will cause us to look at it one more time.

    Q. So is the phrase "strike fighter shortage" still operable?

    A. There are management levers we still have to pull. For example, in our first plan, we only thought we were going to do a certain number of SLEPs of F/A-18 Es and Fs, and As and Cs. Well, we might have to do some more now. But we think we have the problem well identified, and we have the management tools to help us address whatever that shortfall is going to be.

    We lost a certain number of tails in the JSF restructuring which we now will have to take into account. But we were able to come to a good solution as a department. The Navy and Marines agreed on the management moves we have to take to ameliorate the shortfall. We're in a good position overall but there's still more work to do.

    Q. Air-Sea Battle is a new construct between the Air Force and the Navy. Descriptions of this have varied. What is it?

    A. It's focused on one thing and one thing only. Joint operations in an anti-access environment against a high-end competitor who has achieved parity or near-parity in guided weapons warfare and battle networks. So it's very much how would the Air Force and the Navy operate in such an environment to prevail and gain dominance over the opposing battle network.

    It could be a regional power who has gotten all sorts of high-end systems from another power. It could be any type of power that really says I want to be able to compete in this particular regime.

    Air-Sea Battle really is focused on that high end, and it's part of that rebalancing that the secretary asked us to do: operating in an anti-access environment. Air-Sea Battle was secretary-directed to the Air Force and the Navy to say, think about it, how would you go about this problem? And don't come up with separate service solutions, I want you two services to work together like the Army and Air Force did in the 1980s on air-land battle.

    Q. Do you see an overlap of platforms carrying out non-standard roles? A B-52 bomber, for example, performing maritime reconnaissance?

    A. Absolutely. We've seen this movie before. In the Maritime Strategy, B-52s were armed with Harpoon [anti-surface] missiles so they could make long-range anti-ship strikes. What you would see in Air-Sea Battle, I would think, is a Navy submarine force, with the Air Force saying, "If the submarine force could do this mission for me, that's going to help in the overall construct." So you might see submarine doing different missions, [or] Air Force F-22s doing long-range offensive counter-air to help a carrier battle group get in close. All sorts of different joint tactics and ideas on how to protect bases, where Air Force tankers and ISR and Navy P-8s are going to be operating out of.

    I expect all of those things to happen. The first time we'll hear about it is a Navy-Air Force warfighter conference due this May, where there will be ideas about some of the things the services need to do to tackle this problem. I don't have anything definite to talk about, but I think by May we'll be able to talk specifics.

    Q. There are no replacement SSGN submarines in the new 30-year plan. Does the SSGN concept have a future?

    A. Covert under-sea strike is an advantage for us in a wide variety of scenarios. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has asked the Navy to say how do you handle covert underwater strike in the future? How do you keep the strike capacity of the submarine force at a level we need to have? That might be having more Virginia payload tubes in a future flight of Virginia [attack submarines] where you would have a combination SSN/SSGN platform. It might say you need to have an SSGN.

    The capability we want is capacity in our submarine force to be able to do this strike mission. The question is how much we need and what is the best way to handle it. That study may say you're going to need a couple more SSGNs. It might say add a couple Virginia payload tubes to a couple Flight 4 subs and you're going to be covered.

    We've committed to doing the midlife engineering and refueling overhaul on the 13th and 14th Ohio-class submarines, so they're in service for 42 years. The 30-year plan says we will replace those 14 Ohios with 12 boats because we're assuming we'll have a life-of-the-hull reactor core [that doesn't need refueling]. We don't do the 13th and 14th Ohio until late in this decade. If it turns out we don't need the 14 Ohios through the transition, you could potentially make those SSGNs. So we have a lot of on and off ramps right now.

    But first we have to do the study and say what is the requirement for undersea strike and undersea strike capacity and how might you go about doing it in the cheapest way possible.

    SSGNs may or may not have a future, but right now we do not have them recapitalized.

    - By Christopher P. Cavas in Washington.

  2. #2



    Marines want to go back to traditional amphibs

    By Philip Ewing - Staff writer

    Posted : Sunday Mar 21, 2010 8:42:25 EDT

    More than two years before the amphibious assault ship America enters the fleet, Marine officials have already drawn up early plans for a version of the ship that includes a major component America is missing — a well deck.

    The “LHA 8 concept,” as it was called in a presentation Monday by Marine Corps Combat Development Command, would combine new aviation features the Marines want in the America class with a traditional big-deck capacity for landing craft and green gear.

    Although the Navy’s most recent shipbuilding program includes no plans for such a ship, the notional drawings for a hybrid LHA 8 — America is LHA 6 — show that elements within the Corps are eager to get back to traditional amphibs as soon as possible. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has said it would be prohibitively expensive to alter the designs for America or the follow-on LHA 7, so they’ll be built as planned.

    America and the unnamed LHA 7 were designed without well decks to create a “Marine Corps aircraft carrier” built around the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter variant and big rotary-wing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey and the future CH-53K Super Stallion.

    The future of the ships formerly known as LHA(R) was never stable; advocates pushed for them to be warships, Military Sealift Command auxiliaries or a combination of both. As it happened, Navy officials decided the first two Americas would have gray hulls, but planners inside the Marine Corps came to quietly regret that the next big-deck amphibs won’t be able to send gear and troops ashore in traditional landing craft.

  3. #3

    Navy Changes Or US Power Fades

    By Greg Grant Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 3:28 pm

    The Navy faces an operational “tipping point” where the demand for overseas presence will far exceed the number of ships, according to the influential Center for Naval Analyses.

    CNA’s new report, “The Navy at a Tipping Point: Maritime Dominance at Stake?”, which was provided to DOD Buzz, is being used by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to evaluate future force plans. It says that despite a 20 percent decrease in the size of the total battle fleet over the past 10 years, the number of ships deployed, around 100 at any given time, has remained constant.

    The Navy has been able to pull this off with a smaller fleet by lengthening deployments and more frequent cruises. What has suffered is training, as the number of available training ships has declined. Now, however, the Navy faces a dilemma, that of maintaining forward presence and meeting maritime security requirements in the face of a shrinking battle fleet and declining resources, CNA says.

    The military’s future unfolds in a world of constrained federal budgets and Navy budgets will not experience growth rates above inflation; “getting well” in future budgets is a myth, CNA says. Rising shipbuilding costs, ever increasing personnel and health care costs, and the need to fund ongoing operations will all exert serious downward pressure on ship numbers. If the Navy continues on the current shipbuilding course of about six or seven ships per year, the battle fleet will face a steady decline over the next two decades that will see it go from 286 ships today to around 230–240 ships from 2025 and out.

    What to do? The Navy must change its strategy. CNA offers five strategic options for the future Navy: Two Hubs; One Plus Hub; Shaping; Surge; and Status Quo Shrinks. Each option involves either a significantly reduced force structure or a significant change in strategy.

    Two hubs

    For the past 60 years, the Navy has maintained significant combat capability in two “hubs”: in the Western Pacific and the Mediterranean during the Cold War and the Western Pacific and North Arabian Sea/Arabian Gulf today. To maintain a two hub strategy with a strong presence in the Pacific to counter Chinese naval expansion and in the Gulf to counter Iran, along with Aegis ships for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) missions and to support ongoing operations will demand cuts elsewhere.

    The biggest losers in this scenario are the Marines, as amphibious ship numbers would be significantly reduced, as well as other “low end” ships, such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), in favor of high end combatants. Overseas engagement missions would be drastically reduced. Surge capacity would be negatively impacted in favor of visible presence in the two hubs, deployments would be lengthened and training would also suffer.

    The Navy would also risk losing relevance in low end operations and the ability to respond quickly to humanitarian disasters along Haiti lines. Counter-piracy operations and partnering with smaller foreign navies would be cut way back.

    One Plus

    A one hub Navy would be centered on the Western Pacific (WESTPAC). It would reduce carrier strike groups (CSG) and CSG presence in the Gulf as Iraq winds down and would provide limited support in Afghanistan with a low end “routine,” not constant, presence in CENTCOM area with amphibs and LCS. Fleet surge capacity would be reduced in favor of major combatant presence in WESTPAC. BMD missions would be prioritized as WESTPAC, CENTCOM and EUCOM, in that order.

    This approach risks producing an unbalanced fleet, CNA says. Carriers and surface strike ships would be stacked in the Pacific while Norfolk would become home for low end engagement ships and missions. It would have the advantage of increasing ships for engagement and partnering with smaller foreign navies, counter piracy and other littoral missions while maintaining the Navy as far and away the dominant maritime force in the Pacific.

    “It also assumes that the internal Navy culture can be overcome and that the Navy can create two separate fleets with different emphases and objectives and training and manning and equipping for their missions,” CNA says.

    Shaping

    This option sees the Navy moving to an “engagement” model. It would sacrifice high end ships, such as carriers and Aegis, for building the largest fleet possible with cheaper and smaller ships, such as the LCS, JHSV and corvettes. “It could concentrate its efforts on maximizing engagement and interoperability with other maritime forces, creating a fleet that is busy with many maritime security operations and low-end contingencies for a chaotic, messy world.”

    Large deck amphibs would be emphasized, used as afloat staging bases, naval special warfare would be big winners and littoral forces would be used to patrol ungoverned spaces and support counterterrorism and counterinsurgency “from the sea.” A reduced forward deployment would result in WESTPAC; it would assume that China’s naval force is developing more slowly. This strategy would also lean heavily on the Air Force and regional allies, particularly in the Pacific, where “routine” CSG cruises would be the norm.

    Some high end and big war escalation capability would be lost. BMD missions would be maintained or grow. “It would risk escalation dominance and control in favor of trying to achieve regional stability and security through engagement and de-escalation.”

    Surge

    This approach is based on a powerful “home fleet” able to surge forward with powerful strike groups to overwhelm any aggressor. It would get by with fewer carriers and other high end surface combatants because it would give up presence missions. BMD missions would be maintained with minimal presence. “It would be created by the knowledge among allies and potential adversaries that the United States could mobilize its fleet and be able to exercise maritime dominance at any place on the globe.”

    The “future fight” would be emphasized over the “current fight.” This option would require a more stable world with less low end presence requirements. “Most important, this option assumes that the foreign policy of the United States becomes less activist, and more like that of an “off-shore balancer,” with greater attention to domestic issues and reliance on deterrence… A navy that stays at home and prepares for the future is a navy that America last saw in the isolationist days between the world wars. ”

    Status Quo Shrinks

    This is the most dangerous option, CNA says. This navy would be based on proportional cuts across all platforms to maintain a “balanced fleet.” The Navy struggles to maintain all current missions, but slowly loses that ability as the battle force shrinks. Readiness would suffer as maintenance and training is sacrificed for shipbuilding. Still, the reduction to a 230 ship navy is inevitable. There is a steady erosion of combat capability and forward presence.

    “The inevitable conclusion of this process is that the shrinking status quo Navy will do all things, but none of them very well (“managing” at 2/3 speed and hoping there are no shocks to the system). The steady slide down the slope could easily erode combat credibility (“hollowing out of the fleet”) and lead to less reassurance of allies in WESTPAC and other places around the world, over time,” the paper says.

    CNA’s Conclusions

    The Navy must choose. In the projected budget environment it has no choice. CNA says there is no magic number where the fleet ceases to be a global navy. “When you are no longer present in one or two areas of vital national interest with dominant maritime forces, you are at the ‘tipping point.’”

    “The Navy can remain the global maritime power with either the 2 hub or 1+ hub–WESTPAC option. Both preserve a global presence for the Navy and allow it to be a force for reassuring allies, deterring the major maritime challenger, and working within joint and combined environments to address the security threats in the two top priority areas of global politics for the foreseeable future. The Shaping and Surge options sacrifice either presence or combat credibility to an extent that threatens the Navy’s ability to maintain its status.

    They could be chosen only within the context of major changes in U.S. foreign policies; an acceptance of a much diminished role for the United States as a leader willing to act only in concert with other nations in protecting the global system from low-end threats, or a neo-isolationist America willing to go it alone on high-end threats and letting other issues resolve themselves at the local and regional levels. If the Navy refuses to choose an option, it faces the prospect of a long, slow glide into the Shrinking Status Quo.”

  4. #4

    From USNI.............

    Issue: April 2010 Vol. 136/4/1,286

    More Henderson, Less Bonds

    By Commander Henry J. Hendrix, U.S. Navy

    Each Influence Squadron should have one riverine detachment housed on or below decks of the mother ship, which could be a dry cargo and ammunition ship like the USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5), pictured above in February 2010. The rest of the squadron (clockwise from center) would consist of three 90-meter multi-role vessels (an 80-meter variant is pictured here); one joint high-speed vessel like the Swift (HSV-2), anchored here in Mobassa, Kenya, in January 2010; and four 150-foot coastal patrol craft.

    Not only do Influence Squadrons save money by deploying lower-priced ships, their sheer numbers also allow for more presence, a U.S. Navy version of the on-base percentage in Major League Baseball.

    For generations, avid baseball fans have been able to recite the batting and earned-run averages of their favorite players and have known instinctively that the higher the former and the lower the latter would pave the way to victories. These statistics, like gravity, ruled their lives-that is, until financial writer Michael Lewis and his 2003 bestseller, Moneyball, challenged conventional wisdom by revealing a cadre of Major League Baseball insurgents within the Oakland Athletics' front office.

    Led by General Manager Billy Beane, they held such heretical thoughts as "on-base percentage is more important than either batting average or slugging percentage" and "pitchers can only be effectively measured independent of the defense around them." This out-of-the-box thinking allowed Beane's Oakland club to win more regular-season games than any team except the Atlanta Braves, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the American League. Beane looked at things differently and learned to do more with less money. Moneyball unintentionally suggested a new way to look at another American institution-the U.S. Navy.

    Our Navy, larger than the next 13 international navies combined, can be compared to the highest-paid team in baseball. With its Barry Bonds super carriers, Mark McGwire cruisers, and Sammy Sosa destroyers, today's Navy consists of all power hitters, with huge slugging percentages and salaries to match. But what if there were another way to build the team? Oakland's ten-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion Ricky Henderson epitomized the ability to get on and get home by setting a career record for runs scored (2,295)-despite a .279 lifetime batting average-because he also held the career records for walks and stolen bases as well as a lifetime on-base percentage of .401. What if presence, the naval version of the oft-neglected on-base percentage, was actually the most critical naval mission?

    A Look Back

    In April 2009, a Proceedings article, titled "Buy Ford, Not Ferrari," generated considerable debate. The article proposed a decrease in the number of carrier strike groups by one or two to free up manpower and funding to solidify commitments to mid-range expeditionary strike groups. It also recommended an increase in spending on more numerous, less technologically sophisticated, and cheaper surface craft that would form Influence Squadrons and increase U.S. presence in critical theaters.

    From the start, visceral objections erupted against cutting the number of carrier strike groups, an option now approaching inevitability because of fiscal constraints and the carriers' vulnerability-perceived or real. But much of the debate suggested that the squadron itself had been largely accepted in function with only its form remaining a source of contention. Criticisms of the various platforms seemed to focus on the questionable utility of the Influence ships in a high-end conflict. One persuasive criticism argued that the Navy can't afford to buy vessels that could make no contribution should the nation find itself in a naval war with a peer competitor.

    The international strategic environment that defines the backdrop for naval operations continues to evolve, with fewer support missions in the Persian Gulf but rising challenges in the waters of the Philippines and Indonesia, increasing agitation in the Caribbean and Central and South America, as well as growing threats along the shores of Africa. The rise of China as a Pacific naval power is defining the future test for the Navy.

    Accompanying these challenges is an austere fiscal environment, partly the result of the United States remaining mired in a broad recession. Thus, defense spending has decreased, and the naval shipbuilding budget has remained stagnant at or around $13 billion a year. That these tribulations should manifest themselves just as the Navy approaches the mass retirement of the Reagan administration's "600-ship Navy" platforms (if you buy them all at once, you stand to lose them all at once) only compounds the problems facing naval force managers.

    One can only shove so many ships into a $13 billion procurement bag. The price tage for Littoral Combat Ships is $600 million. Ballistic-missile-defense Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers/San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships/Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines come in at $2 billion. Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine replacements cost $6 billion. And Gerald Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers set us back $10 billion. This continues to suggest a need for a new, cheaper, yet larger force structure.

    The Nature of Influence

    The goal of one nation's diplomacy is for other nations to align their interests with one's own, or at least not set themselves in direct conflict. Countries pursue diplomacy through a variety of means, one of which is the forward deployment of naval power to areas of national interest. Some nations interpret the presence of American naval units as stabilizing elements that ensure the security and cohesion of the local political-economic environment. Others take umbrage, viewing U.S. ships as elements of coercion and restrictions against the expansion of their own influence. No nation ignores gray-hulled warships flying the Stars and Stripes.

    For nearly 20 years none has challenged the supremacy of the United States in the open-ocean, blue-water environment. Increasingly, the contest of ideas is being waged in niche arenas, in the littorals, the near-shore green-water areas, and up and down contested riverine estuaries that provide concealment and cover for terrorists, pirates, and warlords. It is in these areas that the slow erosion of law and order is an accepted fact of life, and it is in these areas that the U.S. Navy must go if it is sincere in its strategic premise that preventing wars is at least as important as winning them. This is the environment of the Influence Squadron.

    It is a naval force tailored to missions both new and old. Harking back to the founding of the republic, Influence Squadrons will be numerous enough to combat piracy-the only naval mission actually enshrined within the U.S. Constitution-and strong enough to take on terrorists who smuggle weapons across the seas as well as interdict the drug lords whose products kill more Americans per month than al Qaeda has in its history. Larger numbers of platforms will also enable Influence Squadrons to both provide local medical assistance in the form of vaccinations and respond swiftly to natural disasters and thus prevent epidemics of such diseases as dysentery and cholera.

    In addition, the simplified characteristics of the Influence Squadron's platforms will help the Navy to build partnership capacity and perform security force assistance missions without over-awing local coalition partners with Aegis-level technology. These missions will extend and solidify the continuing U.S. role of defining and administering the global political-economic system. To perform these missions, Influence Squadron commodores will need a strong and varied complement of platforms to cover low-end missions. Function, in this case, will follow form.

    Getting Specific

    To embed a credible capability to operate in the porous inshore waterways where criminal and terrorist networks abound in the South American, African, and Pacific island areas of operation, each Influence Squadron should have one riverine detachment assigned. These would be composed of one 49-foot riverine command boat to provide mobile liaison, communications, and command-and-control capabilities; three 38-foot patrol boats to conduct inland waterway patrol and interdiction to preserve rivers for friendly use as lines of communications and to deny the enemy their use; and two 33-foot assault boats to deny the use of rivers and waterways to waterborne and immediate shore-sited hostile forces by barrier and interdiction operations.

    This detachment would cost approximately $40 million and represents the current standard riverine detachment force. Its composition and equipment have been proven under wartime conditions on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and it should be maintained. There has been some thought, given that the Navy has proposed standing up a fourth riverine squadron, to transitioning the riverine force to up-armored 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats. But this option, although cheaper in the short run, would be more expensive in decreased mission capability in hostile environments and lives lost.

    To extend influence into the coastal realm, several low-cost candidates for coastal patrol craft are available from small U.S. commercial shipyards heavily invested in new construction techniques that allow them to build sturdy composite hulls in the 100- to 200-foot range for relative low cost. Some of these shipyards have already sold their designs to foreign navies.

    For example, Maritime Security Strategies Inc., based in Tampa, Florida, has employed yacht-construction techniques to create coastal patrol craft with a 6-foot draft; 150-foot length; a gun; a scalable C4I (command, control, communication, computer, and intelligence) capability; and room to take vertical replenishment, launch and recover unmanned aerial vehicles, or host a shipping-container-size mission module aft-all priced to go at $20 to $40 million a copy. These capabilities combined with low costs make this particular platform attractive not only for the U.S. Navy, but also for our regional coalition partners who would like to have ships similar to our own to foster better security cooperation. Each Influence Squadron commodore should have four of these vessels commanded by lieutenants to cover the close-in, shallow, green-water environment.

    In what is commonly referred to as the littoral, the Navy needs a ship capable of dealing with local security issues, yet inexpensive enough to be purchased in large numbers by the United States and its coalition partners. Austal's 90-meter multi-role vessel (MRV), with its 40-mm naval gun, 500-square-meter logistics deck, helo deck, and hangar, seems to meet all the mission requirements. In addition, its 28-day endurance and the fact that it can be built in a U.S. shipyard only adds to its attraction. While many critics might point to its aluminum hull technology, the same used to construct the joint high-speed vessel (JHSV), this ship seems perfect for littoral sea-control operations. The United States should trade Tiffany-priced capabilities for sheer numbers to increase American presence. Under these conditions, three such vessels, at a cost of $150 million each and commanded by lieutenant commanders, will be included in each squadron.

    The MRVs will be supported by one JHSV assigned to each Influence Squadron. The Swift (HSV-2), the prototype of these fast (50-plus knots) aluminum-hulled, wave-piercing catamarans, has already proved its utility in the influence/engagement arena where it has served in a variety of roles ranging from forward staging platforms for Marines and special forces, providing intra-theater combat cargo lift of up to 600 tons of men and materiel, and carrying supplies during humanitarian-relief operations.

    HSVs have already served as global fleet station hub ships off the shores of Africa and South America, passing thousands of pounds of medical and food supplies to local populations and civil organizations. JHSVs will have a certified flight deck for landing manned helicopters and a state-of-the-art C4I suite. With an endurance of up to 4,000 nautical miles, the JHSV will be the critical logistics link that will tie together the riverine, green-water, and littoral elements of the Influence Squadron. Led by a commander, these ships are conservatively priced at $170 million dollars a copy.

    The All-Important Mother Ship

    The final element of the standard Influence Squadron is the mother ship. This is the platform that will serve as the central dispersal point for food stores, spare parts, medicine, construction materials, and fuel supplies for all the other components of the squadron, transferring these supplies by way of vertical or connected replenishment techniques. Mother ships will serve as the home of the squadron commodore, staff, the training cadre, a two-helicopter detachment, and a small, flexible Marine security force. They will carry the riverine detachment boats either on deck or in their holds, deploying them with cranes and assisting the coastal patrol craft during long transits.

    Mission modules configured within Conex storage containers for the PCs, MRV-90s, and the JHSVs can also be carried on or below the mother ships' decks, providing additional tactical flexibility. Mother ships should also have the capability to launch, land, and maintain helicopters as well as having ample storage capacity below decks and elevators and cranes to move materials from the ships' holds to topside staging areas. As a home base for a Marine security force, the mother ship will allow the squadron commodore, in consultation with his Marine force officer in charge, to embark a scalable Marine contingent on one or multiple ships within the squadron for security operations at sea or ashore.

    As a command vessel, the mother ship should also have a sound command-and-control capability. Fortunately, the U.S. Navy already has this type of ship in production, the Lewis and Clark-class T-AKEs. At $400 million dollars each, the price is more than right, given the capabilities these ships bring to bear.

    The last element of the Influence Squadron, the string that binds all the other elements together, are the numerous and relatively inexpensive unmanned platforms to provide air, surface, and undersea surveillance as well as communications relay nodes. Exemplar platforms such as Thales' Spartan Scout unmanned surface vehicle, Insitu's Integrator unmanned aerial vehicle, or Bluefin's autonomous underwater vehicle, maintained and deployed from all squadron ships, will exponentially expand the commodore's as well as the theater commander's awareness.

    On an annual basis the deployed Influence Squadrons should be joined by the hospital ships Mercy (T-AH-19) and Comfort (T-AH-20) to become Medical Service Groups. Alternatively, the PCs and JHSVs can be configured to provide medical support at the pier in austere ports. One need look no farther than relief operations in Indonesia (2005), the Philippines (2009), or Haiti (2010) to understand that this form of medical diplomacy has been an overwhelming success in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Acting in conjunction with humanitarian nongovernmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and receiving funding and other logistical support from interagency institutions such as USAID, these ships have brought both standard and sophisticated medical capabilities to regions that would otherwise go without.

    It is difficult to overstate the positive public impact these missions have had in the past and could have in the future. Terrorism and unrest against the United States will not occur in villages where the elders are grateful in the knowledge that an entire generation will reach maturity because Americans came with compassion, concern, and professionalism in gray and white ships to give vaccinations and perform surgeries to correct birth defects and other abnormalities. This is a truly positive "influence" in people's lives.

    What Happens in a High-End Conflict?

    As stated previously, the most often heard critique of Influence Squadrons is that with rising peer competitors in the world, the U.S. Navy does not have the resources to waste on assets, such as the lightly armed PCs and MRVs, as well as JHSVs that would have no utility in a high-end conflict. But in the face of an increasingly anti-access/area-denial strategic environment, the Navy will likely find itself imposing an economic blockade of the enemy, slowly depriving the opposition of critical resources before methodically rolling back the perimeter. In such an environment the Navy will need coastal patrol vessels and MRVs, and lots of them, to patrol a boundary defined by hundreds of archipelagic islands as well as vast areas of open-ocean to interdict blockade runners. To keep these vessels on station and our conventional high-end forces supplied, we will need the JHSVs and T-AKEs normally assigned to each Influence Squadron during peacetime to carry the freight.

    So, there it is. An updated Influence Squadron arrayed against the entire scope of steady-state engagement missions, ready to help prevent wars and able to contribute to winning them. Some might ask why the Littoral Combat Ship is not included within the Influence Squadron, and the answer would be is that it is, at more than $600 million a copy, too expensive for the capabilities it brings to the environment. Taken as a whole, each squadron will cost the nation $1.35 billion, less than the cost of one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (or two LCSs), but having the ability to provide ten ships' worth of naval presence, credibility, and compassion forward in the areas deemed most likely to serve as the seedbed of problems in the future. A wise man once said that there is no such thing as notional presence and one cannot surge credibility. He may have been more right than he knew, and historically, now is a good time to conclude by re-examining a basic precept of naval strategy.

    What is the base nature of naval power? What is the critical component of national power that the Navy brings to the day-to-day friction that is the geo-strategic reality? Since World War II, the Navy's force structure has been aligned to its power-projection mission, the ability to take the hurt to the nation's enemies over the horizon, to go deep downtown to the enemy's capital and critical infrastructure.

    For good or ill, the United States has largely defined the global political-economic system that exists today. Global trade through the free, unencumbered use of the international commons is a major component of this system, and the U.S. Navy has been its guarantor for more than 60 years. However, the declining number of surface combatants has compromised the Navy's ability to administer the system. Regions to which we no longer have enough ships to deploy, or for that matter no longer visit, find themselves adrift and either sink into instability or seek another power to maintain order.

    In our absence, we may find that someone else has taken it upon themselves to redefine the rules of the neighborhood, stating, for instance, that an exclusive economic zone has more sovereign characteristics than the United States is prepared to acknowledge. The U.S. Navy could respond by conducting a freedom-of-navigation exercise, but soon we will go away for a prolonged time, and the new rules will begin to reassert themselves again. But this time they have a bit more legitimacy, because the U.S. Navy is, once again, not there. To define your environment, you have to be present.

    In Moneyball, a baseball general manager advanced the theory that what really mattered was getting on base to create the opportunity to score. The discussion here suggests that naval presence is a strategic end in itself; as long as you are present, you establish and maintain the rules in the area where you operate. In ten years, through an alternative shipbuilding scheme that converts one high-end platform's worth of investment per year into ten less complex ships, the U.S. Navy would gain 100 ships' worth of war-preventive naval presence.

    Remember, the high-end portion of the Navy does not just go away. Ninety percent of the shipbuilding budget would still go toward these platforms. And, as stated in 2009's "Buy Ford, Not Ferrari" article, they would still be sailing to hotspots or being held in high readiness in home waters in case someone attempts to intimidate an Influence Squadron. It is a truism that only a fool plays with a grizzly bear cub in the woods, because the mother bear may be just over the hill. Our high-end force will remain over the hill, ready to respond. The Navy can finally do what A Cooperative Strategy for 21st-Century Seapower calls for: preventing wars by increasing its presence through investing in cheaper and more numerous Influence Squadrons.

    Commander Hendrix is a strategist assigned to the Pentagon. A former U.S. Naval Institute General Prize winner, he has a Ph.D. from King's College, London, and wrote the 2009 Naval Institute Press book, Theodore Roosevelt's Naval Diplomacy.

  5. #5

    Dissecting the Influence Squadron Pt 2

    April 6, 2010

    tags: motherships, small warships, USNby Mike Burleson
    .
    Navy Riverine Forces would receive integral support within the Influence Squadron.

    A New Navy for a New Century is the goal, as we continue to peek inside the Influence Squadron devised by Commander Henry J. “Jerry” Hendrix, U.S. Navy. Here in the April 2010 Proceedings, we learn more about the concept for restoring numbers and maintaining sea control by the US Navy with “More Henderson, Less Bonds“.

    Yesterday we discussed the imperative need for such a concept, with a fleet shrinking under the weight of outdated concepts involving massive firepower of supercarriers, Aegis destroyers, giant amphibious ships, and nuclear attack subs from the Cold War. Instead we think a lighter footprint is called for, not only to increase drastically fallen ship numbers in an age of sterile shipbuilding budgets, but also for ships more relevant to the concerns of littoral warfare, where the Navy needs to be in this new environment. As a starter, Jerry would see the Influence Squadron something like this:

    The Influence Squadron-Riverine Detachment

    one 49-foot riverine command boat
    three 38-foot patrol boats
    two 33-foot assault boats
    Cost-About $40 million

    According to Jerry, these craft would extend the reach of the Squadron, which would itself extend the reach of the Blue Water element of carriers, destroyers, and subs. The latter we recognize as immensely effective and powerful, but aren’t right for modern sea control, which would more effectively and less costly be performed by these “new cruisers”. Neither are they adequate for operating with allied navies, which often consist of corvettes, frigates, and patrol boats, to guard their coastlines from pirates and smugglers.

    I also appreciate the plan to deploy coastal warships of 100-200 ft, that price in the tens of millions, from “$20 to $40 million a copy”. This is a huge leap in thinking when present day warships usually start at half-billion dollars each, and end up at the $10 billion. But this is how you restore ship numbers, and such craft are sufficient for most problems of modern seapower such as anti-piracy and anti-narcotics smuggling. Today we are using $2 billion Aegis destroyers and $700 million LCS for this type of extreme low tech work!

    The Influence Squadron-Coastal Element

    Austal Multi-Role Vessel at $150 million each
    Joint High Speed Vessel at $170 million each
    Motherships-Lewis and Clark-class T-AKEs at $400 million

    Now we are spreading out further from shore, but in layers, giving future foes no leeway. In the ongoing anti-piracy mission off Somali, we see the new insurgents at sea slipping through the net of the very powerful but very few Western frigates, no matter how individually capable they are. This is how the guerrilla is intimidating Western armies on land. Despite the lack of capability, they can still do power and presence thanks to their dispersed numbers and agility.

    Other essential support (including medical help from large Hospital Ships) would come from unmanned vehicles which are transforming war on land, sea, and air, such as:

    Thales’ Spartan Scout unmanned surface vehicle
    Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aerial vehicle
    Bluefin’s autonomous underwater vehicle
    Finally for some cost comparisons:

    One Influence Squadron-$1.35 billion (10 ships)
    Two Littoral Combat Ships-$1.4 billion
    1 Arleigh Burke Destroyer-$1.8 billion
    Only a small portion of the Blue Water budget would need be diverted to the new ships, about 10% according to the author. The contrast in purchases would be dramatic, as we pointed out: up to 10-1.

    So, for all the current Navy woes, from inadequate presence, declining force structures, over-complicated ship programs constantly delayed and suffering enormous cost-overruns, the answer seems simple. The Influence Squadron provides more ships, which are affordable and easy to build, which would also provide work for long-suffering shipyards, while at the same time are more relevant for where the Navy wants to be, dominating the littorals as it already does with the Blue Water.

    *****

  6. #6

    LPD-17 Funding Shapes Future Capabilities

    Apr 30, 2010



    By Michael Fabey

    Congressional decisions on LPD-17 funding could shape the future capabilities for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as mold the shipbuilding industrial base, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

    Although the Navy’s planned 313-ship fleet plan, first presented to Congress in February 2006, calls for a 31-ship amphibious force that includes 10 LPD-17s, Navy and Marine Corps officials agree that a 33-ship amphibious force that includes 11 LPD-17s would be needed to minimally meet the Marine Corps’ goal of having an amphibious ship force with enough combined capacity to lift the assault echelons (AEs) of two Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEBs). A 33-ship force would include 15 amphibious ships for each MEB, plus three additional ships.

    The Navy’s Fiscal 2011-15 shipbuilding plan calls for procuring an 11th and final San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship in Fiscal 2012. The Navy estimates the procurement cost of this ship at $2 billion. The ship received $184 million in Fiscal 2010 advance procurement funding, and the Navy plans to request the remaining $1.87 billion of the ship’s procurement cost in the Fiscal 2012 budget. The Navy’s Fiscal 2011 budget does not request any additional advance procurement funding for the ship.

    But the Pentagon may need the LPD design beyond the ship’s procurement time frame.

    “Some observers have suggested using the LPD-17 design as the basis for the LSD(X), a new class of amphibious ships that the Navy plans to start procuring in FY 2017 as replacements for the Navy’s 12 aging Whidbey Island/Harpers Ferry (LSD-41/49) class amphibious ships,” CRS says in its report.

    “Procuring a 12th LPD-17 in FY 2014 or FY 2015 might be consistent with a strategy of using the LPD-17 design as the basis for the LSD(X) because it would keep the LPD-17 production line open until the start of LSD(X) procurement,” CRS notes. “Navy officials have mentioned the option of modifying the LPD-17 design as one possible approach for developing the LSD(X) design, but the Navy is also studying other possible approaches, including developing an all-new design. Navy plans do not call for procuring any LPD-17s beyond the 11th ship planned for FY 2012.”

    Fiscal 2011 issues for Congress include whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s proposed funding profile for procuring the 11th LPD-17, and whether to provide the Navy with any direction concerning the design of the LSD(X) or procurement of LPD-17s beyond the 11th ship, CRS reports.

    Photo: US Navy

  7. #7

    Danger Room - What’s Next in National Security

    Gates Takes Aim at Navy, Questions Carrier Fleet


    By Nathan Hodge May 3, 2010 | 3:57 pm



    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has already taken aim at the Air Force’s favorite project, the F-22 Raptor Stealth fighter, and he schwacked the Army’s beloved Future Combat Systems. Now he’s letting the Navy know that their sacred cow — the carrier strike group — is next. (If I was a sailor, I’d call it a rhetorical warning shot across the bow.)

    In a speech today at the Navy League symposium, Gates said the service needed to take another look at plans to keep 11 carrier strike groups for the next three decades. “In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship,” Gates noted.

    “To be sure, the need to project power across the oceans will never go away,” he said. “But, consider the massive over-match the U.S. already enjoys. Consider, too, the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries. Do we really need eleven carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one? Any future plans must address these realities.”

    It’s a message the Navy has thus far been resistant to. The service has taken some steps to buy smaller, faster shore-hugging ships, and has also embraced riverine operations for the first time since Vietnam. But Gates suggested that the service was still wedded to multi-billion-dollar ships that may in the future be increasingly vulnerable. The aircraft carrier may be the ultimate symbol of American military power. But with the right missile aimed at it, a carrier can go from fearsome to fearful sitting duck in a hurry.

    “The virtual monopoly the U.S. has enjoyed with precision guided weapons is eroding – especially with long-range, accurate anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that can potentially strike from over the horizon,” he said.

    That point should be familiar to Danger Room readers: As we’ve noted here before, China has been testing anti-ship ballistic missiles designed specifically to target aircraft carriers. And as ships rise in price — like the next-generation, Ford-class carrier under construction here — cost itself becomes a vulnerability. A Ford-class carrier with a full complement of aircraft, Gates noted, “would represent potentially $15 to $20 billion worth of hardware at risk.”

    And that’s overkill when it comes to many kinds of maritime threats the Navy now faces. “In particular, the Navy will need numbers, speed, and the ability to operate in shallow water, especially as the nature of war in the 21st century pushes us toward smaller, more diffuse weapons and units that increasingly rely on a series of networks to wage war,” he said. “As we learned last year, you don’t necessarily need a billion-dollar guided missile destroyer to chase down and deal with a bunch of teenage pirates wielding AK-47s and RPGs.”

    [Photo: DoD]

    Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...#ixzz0muoyyRwg

  8. #8

    GATES speech............

    Gates: Sea Services Must Question Embedded Thinking

    By Jim Garamone

    American Forces Press Service

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., May 3, 2010 – The Navy and Marine Corps are going to have to question some embedded thinking, such as whether the Navy needs 11 carrier battle groups or whether the Marines ever will launch another amphibious landing, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today.

    Gates spoke at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Convention at the Gaylord National Convention Center.

    The world is changing, and the sea services must be on the leading edges of those changes, Gates said to an auditorium full of Navy and Marine Corps officers and defense contractors that was just a bit smaller than an aircraft carrier’s hangar deck.

    Gates made a case for examining the bedrocks of naval strategy, noting that carrier battle groups have been the Navy’s main fleet formation since 1942.

    “Our current plan is to have eleven carrier strike groups through 2040,” Gates said. But a look at the facts is warranted, he added. The United States now has 11 large, nuclear-powered carriers, and there is nothing comparable anywhere else in the world.

    “The U.S. Navy has 10 large-deck amphibious ships that can operate as sea bases for helicopters and vertical-takeoff jets,” he said. “No other navy has more than three, and all of those navies belong to allies or friends.”

    The U.S. Navy can carry twice as many aircraft at sea as the rest of the world combined, Gates said. Under the sea, he told the group, the United States has 57 nuclear-powered attack and cruise-missile submarines – more than the rest of the world combined, and 79 Aegis-equipped surface ships that carry about 8,000 vertical-launch missile cells.

    “In terms of total-missile firepower, the U.S. arguably outmatches the next 20 largest navies,” Gates said. “All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet – a proxy for overall fleet capabilities – exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners.”

    The United States must be able to project power overseas, Gates said. “But, consider the massive overmatch the U.S. already enjoys,” he added. “Consider, too, the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries. Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?”

    The Marine Corps is now 202,000 strong. It is the largest force of its type in the world, and exceeds in size most nations’ armies. Between the world wars, the Marine Corps developed amphibious warfare doctrine and used it to great effect against the Japanese during World War II. Whether that capability still is needed, however, is worthy of thought, the secretary said.

    “We have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again – especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore,” Gates said. “On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?”

    The sea services must be designed to meet new challenges, new technologies and new missions, Gates said.

    Nations and terror groups are not going to challenge the conventional might of the United States, he noted. Rather, they are working on asymmetric ways to thwart the reach and striking power of the U.S. battle fleet.

    “At the low end, Hezbollah, a non-state actor, used anti-ship missiles against the Israeli navy in 2006,” Gates said. “And Iran is combining ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, mines, and swarming speedboats in order to challenge our naval power in that region.”

    A bit farther up the scale, the virtual monopoly the United States has had with precision-guided weapons is eroding, the secretary said, especially with long-range, accurate anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that can potentially strike from over the horizon.

    “This is a particular concern with aircraft carriers and other large, multi-billion-dollar blue-water surface combatants, where, for example, a Ford-class carrier plus its full complement of the latest aircraft would represent potentially $15 billion to $20 billion worth of hardware at risk,” Gates said. “The U.S. will also face increasingly sophisticated underwater combat systems – including numbers of stealthy subs – all of which could end the operational sanctuary our Navy has enjoyed in the Western Pacific for the better part of six decades.”

    The sea services already are addressing many of the challenges of the 21st century, the secretary said. The Navy, for example, is building partnership capacity through the Africa Partnership Station in the Gulf of Guinea. Sailors are training with friends and allies to secure vital shipping lanes in Southeast Asia. Seabees and other sailors are digging wells and building schools in Djibouti. Naval officers lead the multinational efforts to counter the piracy around the Horn of Africa. Naval doctors, nurses and corpsmen that treated those injured in the Haitian earthquake and sailors also are helping with crises like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gates said.

    “Then, there are the wars,” he said. “With roughly 25 ships – and more than 20,000 sailors – in the [U.S. Central Command] area of operations, there is no doubt that this is a Navy at war.”

    Tens of thousands of sailors also have served on the ground alongside soldiers and Marines. The sailors serve on provincial reconstruction teams, as finance clerks, on riverine crews, as Seabees, as SEALs and as medical corpsmen. “These men and women are vital to the mission and helping to ease the strain on our ground forces – and doing so without fail and without complaint,” Gates said.

    The secretary said the Marines have been “game-changers” in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan. “In March, I had a chance to meet with Marines at the tip of the spear in a town called Now Zad – a place that had been, for nearly four years, a ghost town under the jackboot of the Taliban,” Gates said. “Then came a battalion of Marines, who, after months of hard work and sacrifice, have slowly brought the town back to life – creating a model for operations elsewhere.”

    The military needs more innovative strategies and joint approaches, the secretary said. He called the agreement by the Navy and Air Force to develop an Air-Sea Battle Concept encouraging. It has “the potential to do for America’s military deterrent power at the beginning of the 21st century what Air-Land Battle did near the end of the 20th,” he said.

    But the military also must shift investments toward systems that provide the ability to see and strike deep along the full spectrum of conflict, Gates said.

    “This means, among other things, extending the range at which U.S. naval forces can fight, refuel, and strike, with more resources devoted to long-range unmanned aircraft and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities,” he explained.

    It also means new sea-based missile defenses and a submarine force with expanded roles that is prepared to conduct more missions deep inside an enemy’s battle network. “We will also have to increase submarine strike capability and look at smaller and unmanned underwater platforms,” Gates said.

    The secretary acknowledged talk that his push to rebalance the force to provide more resources to fight today’s wars has gone too far.

    “In reality,” he said, “in this fiscal year, the Department of Defense requested nearly $190 billion for total procurement, research, and development – an almost 90 percent increase over the last decade. At most, 10 percent of that $190 billion is dedicated exclusively to equipment optimized for counterinsurgency, security assistance, humanitarian operations or other so-called low-end capabilities.

    “In these last two budget cycles,” Gates continued, “I have directed a needed and noticeable shift – but hardly a dramatic one, especially in light of the significant naval overmatch.”

    Resource discussions always foster debates about gaps in military capabilities, Gates said, and the solution usually offered is “either more of what we already have or modernized versions of pre-existing capabilities.”

    “This approach ignores the fact that we face diverse adversaries with finite resources that consequently force them to come at the U.S. in unconventional and innovative ways,” he continued. “The more relevant gap we risk creating is one between the capabilities we are pursuing and those that are actually needed in the real world of tomorrow.”

    Gates said the sea services must remember that as the wars draw down, money will be required to reset the Army and Marine Corps – the services that have borne the brunt of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “And there will continue to be long-term – and inviolable – costs associated with taking care of our troops and their families,” he said. “In other words, I do not foresee any significant top-line increases in the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 [billion] to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers.”

  9. #9

    What is he trying to say?

    SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT M. GATES
    NAVY LEAGUE SEA-AIR-SPACE EXPO
    GAYLORD CONVENTION CENTER
    NATIONAL HARBOR, MD

    MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010
    Thank you for that introduction. And my thanks to the Navy League, which has been, for more than a century, a firm and at times fierce advocate for sea power and American engagement abroad.
    It is a real pleasure to be here this afternoon. While I have spoken to the military service organizations for the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, this is my first opportunity to attend your annual gathering. To start on the right foot, I should note that, for the first time in history, the Pentagon has now had officers from the sea services in back-to-back terms in the top two positions in America’s military – a Marine chairman of the joint chiefs and Navy vice chairman, followed by a Navy chairman and Marine vice chairman. I suspect many of you think we finally got the line-up right.
    The topic of this year’s exposition is: “Responding Globally: Engaged at Sea and Ashore.” Considering our military’s unprecedented level of global engagement – especially the sea services – I cannot think of a better subject.
    The pattern of engagement is reflected in a range of activities around the world that would no doubt leave Alfred Thayer Mahan spinning in his grave: building partnership capacity through the Africa Partnership Station in the Gulf of Guinea; training with friends and allies to secure vital shipping lanes in Southeast Asia; digging wells and building schools in Djibouti; leading multinational efforts to counter the scourge of piracy around the Horn of Africa; dispatching hospital ships to treat the poor and destitute; helping with crises like the oil spill along the Gulf Coast; and responding to natural disasters, most recently in Haiti – efforts that demonstrate our servicemembers’ incredible compassion and decency.
    Then there are the wars. With roughly 25 ships – and more than 20,000 sailors – in the CENTCOM area of operations, there is no doubt that this is a Navy at war. Every time I visit Iraq or Afghanistan, I am struck by the number of sailors on the ground – one of the great unappreciated stories of the last few years. Tens of thousands of sailors have been to theater – including officers commanding provincial reconstruction teams, finance clerks, riverine crews, engineers, the SEALs and the Corpsmen, and our “devil docs.” These men and women are vital to the mission and helping to ease the strain on our ground forces – and doing so without fail and without complaint.
    And then, of course, there is the role of the Marine Corps, whose impact has been a game-changer: first in Anbar province, key to the turnaround in Iraq, and now in southern Afghanistan, the center of gravity in that war. In March, I had a chance to meet with Marines at the tip of the spear in a town called Now Zad – a place that had been, for nearly four years, a ghost-town under the jackboot of the Taliban. Then came a battalion of Marines, who, after months of hard work and sacrifice, have slowly brought the town back to life – creating a model for operations elsewhere.
    For years now, the Corps has been acting as essentially a second land army. As General Conway has noted, there are young, battle-hardened Marines with multiple combat tours who have spent little time inside of a ship, much less practicing hitting a beach. Their critical work well inland will be necessary for the foreseeable future.
    Many of the tasks and roles I’ve just mentioned would have been unthinkable as recently as a decade ago, and are with our sea services to stay. But we must always be mindful of why America built and maintained a Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in the first place. Indeed, it was an Army general, Ulysses S. Grant, who said that “[m]oney expended in a fine navy, not only adds to our security and tends to prevent war in the future, but is very material aid to our commerce with foreign nations in the meantime.” In fact, this country learned early on, after years of being bullied and blackmailed on the high seas, that it must be able to protect trade routes, project power, deter potential adversaries, and, if necessary, strike them on the oceans, in their ports, or on their shores. We cannot allow these core capabilities and skill sets to atrophy through distraction or neglect.
    This is even more important considering that, with America’s ground forces dedicated to the campaigns in the Middle East and Central Asia, the weight of America’s deterrent and strategic military strength has shifted to our air and naval forces. So in the next few minutes I’d like to offer some perspective on the challenges facing America’s sea services as they strive to field and fund the capabilities our nation will need for the decades ahead – focusing on three central questions:
    • What kind of qualities should the maritime services encourage in a new generation of leaders?
    • What new capabilities will our Navy-Marine Corps team need, and which ones will potentially be made obsolete?
    • How can we be sure that our procurement plans are cost-effective, efficient, and realistic?

    As a starting point, given the complex security challenges
    America faces around the globe, the future of our maritime services will ultimately depend less on the quality of their hardware than on the quality of their leaders. I addressed this question to the midshipmen at the NavalAcademy a month ago by citing some of the towering figures from our sea services. Leaders like:
    • Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, the visionary behind the Higgins boat who later contributed greatly to our understanding of counterinsurgency in Vietnam;
    • Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as a young officer helped develop the circular formation for carrier escorts, used to great effect in World War II and for decades afterwards;
    • Admiral Hyman Rickover, whose genius and persistence overcame the conventional wisdom that nuclear reactors were too bulky and dangerous to put on submarines; and
    • Finally, Roy Boehm, who after World War II designed and led a special new commando unit that became the Navy SEALs. Boehm’s legacy is at work every night, tracking down our country’s most lethal enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.
    The reason I wanted to talk to midshipmen about these leaders – and why I am citing them today – is not that they were always right. Nor that they should be emulated in every way – to put it mildly. What is compelling about each of these leaders is that they had the vision and insight to see that the world and technology were changing, they understood the implications of these shifts, and then they pressed ahead in the face of often fierce institutional resistance.
    The qualities these legends embody have been important and decisive throughout the history of warfare. But I would contend that they are more necessary than ever in the first decades of this century, given the pace of technological changes, and the agile and adaptive nature of our most likely and lethal adversaries – from modern militaries using asymmetric tactics to terrorist groups with advanced weapons. Our officers will lead an American military that must have the maximum flexibility to deal with the widest possible range of scenarios and adversaries.
    Second, in order to be successful, the sea services must have the right make-up and capabilities. Surveying our current force, it is useful to start with some perspective – especially since the Navy, of all the services, has been the most consistently concerned about its size as measured by the total number of ships in the fleet.

    It is important to remember that, as much as the U.S. battle fleet has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, the rest of the world’s navies have shrunk even more. So, in relative terms, the U.S. Navy is as strong as it has ever been.

    In assessing risks and requirements even in light of an expanding array of global missions and responsibilities – everything from shows of presence to humanitarian relief – some context is useful:
    • The U.S. operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered. In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.
    • The U.S. Navy has 10 large-deck amphibious ships that can operate as sea bases for helicopters and vertical-takeoff jets. No other navy has more than three, and all of those navies belong to allies or friends. Our Navy can carry twice as many aircraft at sea as the rest of the world combined.
    • The U.S. has 57 nuclear-powered attack and cruise missile submarines – again, more than the rest of the world combined.
    • Seventy-nine Aegis-equipped combatants carry roughly 8,000 vertical-launch missile cells. In terms of total missile firepower, the U.S. arguably outmatches the next 20 largest navies.
    • All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet – a proxy for overall fleet capabilities – exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners.
    • And, at 202,000 strong, the U.S. Marine Corps is the largest military force of its kind – exceeding the size of most world armies.
    Still, even as the United States stands unsurpassed on, above, and below the high seas, we have to prepare for the future. As in previous eras, new centers of power – with new wealth, military strength, and ambitions on the world stage – are altering the strategic landscape. If history shows anything, it’s that we cannot predict or guarantee the course of a nation decades from now – the time it takes to develop and build the next generation of ships, a process that has been likened to building a medieval cathedral: brick by brick, window by window – over decades.
    Our Navy has to be designed for new challenges, new technologies, and new missions – because another one of history’s hard lessons is that, when it comes to military capabilities, those who fail to adapt often fail to survive. In World War II, both the American and British navies were surprised by the speed with which naval airpower made battleships obsolete. Because of two decades of testing and operations, however, both were well prepared to shift to carrier operations. We have to consider whether a similar revolution at sea is underway today.
    Potential adversaries are well-aware of our overwhelming conventional advantage – which is why, despite significant naval modernization programs underway in some countries, no one intends to bankrupt themselves by challenging the U.S. to a shipbuilding competition akin to the Dreadnought race prior to World War I.
    Instead, potential adversaries are investing in weapons designed to neutralize U.S. advantages – to deny our military freedom of action while potentially threatening America’s primary means of projecting power: our bases, sea and air assets, and the networks that support them.
    We know other nations are working on asymmetric ways to thwart the reach and striking power of the U.S. battle fleet. At the low end, Hezbollah, a non-state actor, used anti-ship missiles against Israel’s navy in 2006. And Iran is combining ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, mines, and swarming speedboats in order to challenge our naval power in that region.
    At the higher end of the access-denial spectrum, the virtual monopoly the U.S. has enjoyed with precision guided weapons is eroding – especially with long-range, accurate anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that can potentially strike from over the horizon. This is a particular concern with aircraft carriers and other large, multi-billion-dollar blue-water surface combatants, where, for example, a Ford-class carrier plus its full complement of the latest aircraft would represent potentially $15 to $20 billion worth of hardware at risk. The U.S. will also face increasingly sophisticated underwater combat systems – including numbers of stealthy subs – all of which could end the operational sanctuary our Navy has enjoyed in the Western Pacific for the better part of six decades.

    One part of the way ahead is through more innovative strategies and joint approaches. The agreement by the Navy and Air Force to work together on an Air-Sea Battle concept is an encouraging development, which has the potential to do for America’s military deterrent power at the beginning of the 21st century what Air-Land Battle did near the end of the 20th.
    But we must also rethink what and how we buy – to shift investments towards systems that provide the ability to see and strike deep along the full spectrum of conflict. This means, among other things:
    • Extending the range at which U.S. naval forces can fight, refuel, and strike, with more resources devoted to long-range unmanned aircraft and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
    • New sea-based missile defenses;
    • A submarine force with expanded roles that is prepared to conduct more missions deep inside an enemy’s battle network. We will also have to increase submarine strike capability and look at smaller and unmanned underwater platforms.
    These changes are occurring even as the Navy is called on to do more missions that fall on the low end of the conflict spectrum – a requirement that will not go away, as the new naval operational concept reflects. Whether the mission is counterinsurgency, piracy, or security assistance, among others, new missions have required new ways of thinking about the portfolio of weapons we buy. In particular, the Navy will need numbers, speed, and the ability to operate in shallow water, especially as the nature of war in the 21st century pushes us toward smaller, more diffuse weapons and units that increasingly rely on a series of networks to wage war. As we learned last year, you don’t necessarily need a billion-dollar guided missile destroyer to chase down and deal with a bunch of teenage pirates wielding AK-47s and RPGs.
    The Navy has responded with investments in more special warfare capabilities, small patrol coastal vessels, a riverine squadron, and joint high-speed vessels. Last year’s budget accelerated the buy of the Littoral Combat Ship, which, despite its development problems, is a versatile ship that can be produced in quantity and go places that are either too shallow or too dangerous for the Navy’s big, blue-water surface combatants. The new approach to LCS procurement and competition should provide an affordable, scalable, and sustainable path to producing the quantity of ships we need.

    There has been some talk that the rebalancing effort of the last couple of years – where resources and institutional support have shifted towards what is needed in the current conflicts and other irregular scenarios – has skewed priorities too far away from high-tech conventional capabilities. In reality, in this fiscal year the Department requested nearly $190 billion for total procurement, research, and development – an almost 90 percent increase over the last decade. At most, 10 percent of that $190 billion is dedicated exclusively to equipment optimized for counterinsurgency, security assistance, humanitarian operations, or other so-called low-end capabilities. In these last two budget cycles, I have directed a needed and noticeable shift – but hardly a dramatic one, especially in light of the significant naval overmatch that I described earlier.
    These issues invariably bring up debates over so-called “gaps” between stated requirements and current platforms – be they ships, aircraft, or anything else. More often than not, the solution offered is either more of what we already have or modernized versions of preexisting capabilities. This approach ignores the fact that we face diverse adversaries with finite resources that consequently force them to come at the U.S. in unconventional and innovative ways. The more relevant gap we risk creating is one between the capabilities we are pursuing and those that are actually needed in the real world of tomorrow.

    Considering that, the Department must continually adjust its future plans as the strategic environment evolves. Two major examples come to mind.
    First, what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire – in other words, the capability provided by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No doubt, it was a real strategic asset during the first Gulf War to have a flotilla of Marines waiting off KuwaitCity – forcing Saddam’s army to keep one eye on the Saudi border, and one eye on the coast. But we have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again – especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore. On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?

    Second – aircraft carriers. Our current plan is to have eleven carrier strike groups through 2040. To be sure, the need to project power across the oceans will never go away. But, consider the massive over-match the U.S. already enjoys. Consider, too, the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries. Do we really need eleven carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one? Any future plans must address these realities.
    And that bring me to the third issue: the budget. I have in the past warned about our nation’s tendency to disarm in the wake of major wars. That remains a concern. But, as has always been the case, defense budget expectations over time, not to mention any country’s strategic strength, are intrinsically linked to the overall financial and fiscal health of the nation.
    And in that respect, we have to accept some hard fiscal realities. American taxpayers and the Congress are rightfully worried about the deficit. At the same time, the Department of Defense’s track record as a steward of taxpayer dollars leaves much to be desired.

    Now, I know that part of the problem lies outside the Defense Department – and it has been this way for a long time. One of my favorite stories is about Henry Knox, the first secretary of war. He was charged with building the first American fleet. To get the necessary support from the Congress, Knox eventually ended up with six frigates being built in six different shipyards in six different states.
    In this year’s budget submission, the Department has asked to end funding for an extra engine for the Joint Strike Fighter as well as to cease production of the C-17 cargo aircraft – two decisions supported by the services and reams of analysis. As we speak, a fight is on to keep the Congress from putting the extra engine and more C-17s back in the budget – at an unnecessary potential cost to the taxpayers of billions of dollars over the next few years. The issues surrounding political will and the Defense budget are ones I will discuss in more detail at the Eisenhower Library on Saturday.
    None of that, however, absolves the Pentagon and the services from responsibility with regards to procurement. These issues are especially acute when it comes to big-ticket items whose costs skyrocket far beyond initial estimates. Current submarines and amphibious ships are three times as expensive as their equivalents during the 1980s – this in the context of an overall shipbuilding and conversion budget that is 20 percent less. Just a few years ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected that meeting the Navy’s shipbuilding plan would cost more than $20 billion per year – double the shipbuilding budget of recent years, and a projection that was underfunded by some 30 percent. It is reasonable to wonder whether the nation is getting a commensurate increase in capability in exchange for these spiraling costs.

    The Navy’s DDG-1000 is a case in point. By the time the Navy leadership curtailed the program, the price of each ship had more than doubled and the projected fleet had dwindled from 32 to seven. The programmed buy is now three.
    Or consider plans for a new ballistic missile submarine, the SSBN(X). Right now, the Department proposes spending $6 billion in research and development over the next few years – for a projected buy of twelve subs at $7 billion apiece. Current requirements call for a submarine with the size and payload of a boomer – and the stealth of an attack sub. In a congressional hearing earlier this year, I pointed out that in the later part of this decade the new ballistic missile submarine alone would begin to eat up the lion’s share of the Navy’s shipbuilding resources.
    To be sure, the most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan is a step in the right direction. Secretary Mabus and Admiral Roughead have worked hard to create reasonable budgets and reset the service “in stride” to reduce operational disruptions. At the same time, the Navy’s innovative energy security and independence initiative not only helps the environment, but also will save money in the long term.
    Even so, it is important to remember that, as the wars recede, money will be required to reset the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflicts. And there will continue to be long-term – and inviolable – costs associated with taking care of our troops and their families. In other words, I do not foresee any significant top-line increases in the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 to 6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers.

    Though I have addressed a number of topics today, I should add that I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But, mark my words, the Navy and Marine Corps must be willing to reexamine and question basic assumptions in light of evolving technologies, new threats, and budget realities. We simply cannot afford to perpetuate a status quo that heaps more and more expensive technologies onto fewer and fewer platforms – thereby risking a situation where some of our greatest capital expenditures go toward weapons and ships that could potentially become wasting assets.
    A concluding thought. The number and kind of ships we have – and how we use them – will be ever changing, as they have for the last 200-plus years. What must be unchanging, what must be enduring, is the quality of the sailors and Marines onboard these ships and serving ashore. They must have moral as well as physical courage; they must have integrity; they must think creatively and boldly. They must have the vision and insight to see that the world and technology are constantly changing and that the Navy and Marine Corps must therefore change with the times – ever flexible and ever adaptable. They must be willing to speak hard truths, including to superiors – as did their legendary predecessors.
    Over the past three and a half years, in the fury of two wars, I have seen the future of the Navy and Marine Corps onboard ships, on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, at Navy bases and Marine camps, and at the Academy. These young men and women fill me with confidence that the future of our sea services is incredibly bright and that our nation will be secure in their hands.
    Thank you.
    Cheers,
    Riđđu, arctic storm

  10. #10

    U.S. Navy Secretary Demands End to 'Nutty' Contracts

    By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

    Published: 5 May 2010 16:27

    In a sometimes passionate and even strident address, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on May 5 kept up the clarion call for a rigorous scrub of all service acquisition programs. He added energy efficiency to the imperatives to eliminate cost growth and reduce the price of production in programs.


    U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaks May 5 to an audience at Sea-Air-Space 2010. (MC2 KEVIN S. O'BRIEN / U.S. NAVY)

    "We have to re-examine everything we do. Nothing can be taken for granted," he told a luncheon audience at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space symposium in Washington.

    "We have to continually make sure we have the right platforms to do the missions we have been given," Mabus said. "And we have to have the capability to explain, defend and tell the American people why we need what we are asking them to pay for."

    Mabus laid out five key principles of his acquisition reform effort:

    ■ Clearly identify requirements.

    ■ Raise the bar on contract performance.

    ■ Rebuild the acquisition work force.

    ■ Support the industrial base.

    ■ "Make every single dollar count."

    Unlike a May 3 speech before a similar audience by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Mabus did not single out specific programs where he expected improvement. Instead, he pointed to three - the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the SSN 774 Virginia-class submarine and the T-AKE 1 Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships - as examples of programs that are "meeting in spades" benchmarks such as getting increasing benefits from learning curves and successively reducing unit costs.

    Mabus moved the mark on one traditional benchmark.

    "On time and on budget is a baseline, not a target," he declared. And if programs can't meet the new goals, he said, "I'm not going to hesitate to cancel programs."

    In line with Navy efforts to increase competition at any opportune level, prime contractors will be expected to do the same with their subcontractors, Mabus said. He said that energy efficiency, both in the manufacturing process and in the final product, would increasingly be a factor in judging program performance as well as in contract awards.

    Navy acquisition professionals will be "going through every contract, line by line, to make sure the terms of those contracts make sense for what they are meant to do, and are fair to the contractor and the government," he said.

    "Some of the contracts I've looked at have just been downright unfair to the customer: us," he said, his voice rising. "When things go wrong, it shouldn't be just up to the government to make things right."

    Without giving any specifics, Mabus cited a "really egregious" example in which a Navy supplier agreed to work around a contractual requirement that additional item orders were to be done only by traditional mail. Both the Navy and the contractor agreed, Mabus said, to handle additional orders by e-mail as a more efficient communications method.

    "There was never a problem until the program started coming to a close," Mabus almost shouted, "and at the very last order, the company said, 'We're not going to honor the terms of the contract' because we hadn't sent the orders by mail … and that we owed them tens of millions of dollars!" Clearly fuming, Mabus continued.

    "That's not fair. That's nutty. It's not fair to the taxpayers, and it's not fair to our sailors and Marines. If we pay for that, it's going to come out of something our sailors or Marines need to do the job."

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