Monday, March 31, 2008

David, VADM Morgan has your jock

...he may give it back if you promise to support the new Navy BDU TFU created though....

Background: Still pouting that I missed it, I read over the transcript from Blogger's Roundtable where SJS, Galrahn, Eagle1, David (from War is Boring), and some dude named Greg had a chance to talk to VADM Morgan on The Maritime Strategy.

All did a good job - but none more than VADM Morgan (callsign Heisman). He proved why he is a 3-star and I might be fit to get his coffee in the morning. It also proved that he listened in class when they brief him on how to answer questions and handle questioners. I want him on my team.

Buddha bless him - David came close to throwing Salamander's pitches
but got schooled with the non-answer. It's funny to read, mostly because, having been there, asking questions over the phone when you don't do it every day is like trying to run up a greased ramp.

David gets a 5.0 for the good follow-up, but read the below and see if you don't both giggle, respect VADM Morgan's verbal jujitsu, and get a little frustrated David didn't get an answer all at the same time. Anyway, a fun read.
Q Hi. This is David Axe from War is Boring.

Hey, I think the maritime strategy is great and it's -- encouraging to see the Navy thinking about these things and coming up with a pretty reasonable answer to the Navy's place in the world today.

But what I think we haven't seen is a connection between the strategy and acquisitions. In other words, okay, you've got a great strategy, but what kind of ships do you need to make it happen? And in light of the sort of turmoil in Navy shipbuilding, it looks like the Navy hasn't quite answered that question.

Can you tell me is there somewhere a coherent plan to pull off this strategy with shipbuilding, or to use shipbuilding to help execute this strategy that we're just not seeing?

ADM. MORGAN: Is it David, is that correct?

Q David, yeah.

ADM. MORGAN: Yeah, David, great point. There are some things that you're not seeing that I'll be happy to discuss. And one of the central notions that motivated us to write this strategy in the first place was this: We said simply every budget is a strategy, and if you agree with that notion, then we argued that if that's true, then you ought to give some strategic thinking to your budget. And what that has led us to is a new process in the Navy, and the process is this, and it's part of what you're not seeing.

We wanted to make sure that we could articulate strategically where we think the Navy should be, along with the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps in the future. So we wanted to have that coherent, strategic story first.

Then the question that you're really getting at, David, is well, how does the strategy inform our budget? And there's a document that you're not seeing, and that document is a classified document. I can't tell you the content of it, but I can tell you what it tries to address, and that document is called the Navy Strategic Plan.

And what the Navy Strategic Plan does, it takes the strategic imperatives from the maritime strategy and translates it into risk guidance that's issued to the folks who build our budget and program our budget on the front end of the cycle. And then we're going to gear that and synchronize that with the general DOD budget so every two years I don' think you're going to see a new maritime strategy issued every two years, but what you will see is a Navy Strategic Plan that is issued every two years in synchronization with the development of the Department of Defense budget.

So that's how we intend to make it coherent. David, the phrase that I use is all right, we started that every budget is a strategy. We want the strategy to inform the budget. Our challenge to the coherency issue that you raised is we now have to make the poem rhyme.

And we're beginning to see that already. We're beginning to see where we say this strategic imperative is important; we write the risk guidance -- it's based upon war gaming, intelligence assessments, considerations of what other services are doing, and say we can accept more risk here or less risk there, and then that document then is really translated into our budget.

So that's the process that we have in the works. We're seeing some evidence it's already working. We're seeing where we've issued risk guidance and yes, we can match that to where the Army and the Air Force are investing their dollars. And so we think this will be more synchronized, more integrated and more synergistic approach to the budget responsibilities that you talked about.

Q Can I follow up real quick?

: Sure, go ahead.

Q Let's approach the strategy starting from the shipbuilding plan then. Shipbuilding's a mess. I mean, LCS has effectively fallen apart, right? And depending on who you ask, the DDG-1000 is costing up to 5 billion (dollars) apiece. And so light of the shambles that is shipbuilding, can you pull off this maritime strategy in 15, 20 years?

ADM. MORGAN: Well, David, time will tell. I'm not the best guy to talk to about the acquisition stuff. It is a complex field. Perhaps I have the easier job, and that is to think about strategically where we think we need to be.

But then that's a debate I think we have to have in front of the American people. Let's talk about that. Let's see what we have to do. And the bigger role that I think is at the core of your concern, and it's a rightful concern, is what role is sea power going to play in America's future? I mean, it's been at the heart of our rich history and it's gotten us where we are, along with a lot of other things today in our position in the world. But what role is sea power going to play in a global system that is so dependent upon commerce that flows across the sea?

Ninety percent of that commerce comes -- flows across the sea, 80 percent of the world's population lives within 200 miles of the coast and 70 percent of the Earth's surface is ocean.

But the core that you keep coming back to is how are you going to build the types of ships and the systems and the people that you need in order to implement the strategy? I think the jury is out. I think time will tell and we'd better roll up our sleeves.
Dave, I think he was toying with you - especially with the use of the "random answer generator" in reply to your follow-up. I feel your pain.
BTW, I am not being snarky with VADM Morgan - I think we should all buy the guy a beer for doing this and you can't fault the guy for doing his job real well and opening up about as much as he can - I hope he will do it again in the future. The Blogger's Roundtable folks should get a thanks as well - though it would be nice to get more Navy topics ... but I know this is an Army and USMC war.

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