Monday, June 02, 2008

CDR Salamander in a nutshell ...

You need to be a subscriber to read it, but Christopher P. Cavas either owes me a hat tip or at least a beer. Hey, at least throw in a plug - or we should at least go bowling - because in his 02 JUN 08 NavalEnquirer article "The Navy Adrift" he hits on the bold faced items we discuss here on a regular basis. Just a taste;
When Navy officials tell Congress they have confidence in their shipbuilding cost projections, lawmakers don’t believe them.

When flag officers say they’ve got enough money for maintenance, fleet sailors wonder why high-tech warships aren’t combat ready.

When top admirals say they have a new maritime strategy, analysts struggle to match it with the shipbuilding plan.

When business strategies override operational needs, officers wonder whether they are war fighters or executives.

Navy leaders are suffering from a credibility gap — with Congress, with industry and, increasingly, with the fleet.

In discussions with dozens of naval professionals over several months, few questioned the Navy’s commitment to fielding an effective fighting force. But on a wide range of issues, the ability of Navy leaders to manage programs and explain service direction is being questioned, doubted and, in some cases, challenged outright.

“They need to take a hard look at themselves,” one former senior officer said.

An element of denial is apparent in many service calculations, which typically are based on perfect-world scenarios to make everything come out right.

“They’re constantly using optimistic cost and schedule assumptions,” said Bob Work, a retired Marine Corps artillery colonel who is a top naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. “This continual optimism, the continually rosy assumptions, the effort to go too fast” have so eroded the service’s credibility in Congress, Work said, that House lawmakers have difficulty even listening to the Navy.

One congressional source said he can’t, at times, rule out deliberate deception.

“It’s more a feeling rather than specific things,” the source said. “An accumulation of a lot of little things which in and of themselves are perfectly explainable, but when you add them up, it doesn’t work.”

Yep. He got shipbuilding right as well.
The 313-ship, 30-year fleet plan — which is revised each year — emerged in February 2006, designed to quiet critics who decried the practice of Clark and previous Navy Secretary Gordon England of advocating not a specific number, but a range.

The Navy admitted the plan wasn’t perfect. Among other problems, in order to make the number of surface combat ships add up, the service had to extend the ships’ planned lifespans. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, for example, are now slated to sail for 40 years rather than 35. Real-life experience, however, indicates that could be costlier and more difficult than this rosy projection allows. The 14-year-old Stout is considered by maintenance officers to be an old ship, yet it is barely one-third of the way through its 40-year career. The Chosin is 17 years old and needs to remain operational for 18 more years.

“The maintenance strategy is absolutely critical to being able to execute the 313-ship, 30-year fleet plan,” the congressional source said.

The service has little if any credibility in Congress when predicting the budget necessary to buy its future fleet. The Navy did not help its case by insisting for two years that the shipbuilding plan would cost an average of $15 billion a year, despite critics who said the real price would be at least $20 billion. This year, the service quietly revised its estimate to $20 billion per year.

“But they never discussed that in testimony, they never offered any explanation,” the congressional source declared. “That isn’t incompetence, that isn’t a mistake. That’s sort of a willful and deliberate omission. It’s not lying, but it’s leaving out an evident truth.”

The Maritime Strategy? Yep.
Ironically, the Navy completed work on its new Maritime Strategy some two years after it settled on the fleet size, reversing the logical order in which a strategy would dictate the tools needed to carry it out.

There were high hopes for the strategy when planning began in April 2006, but for the next 16 months, discussion was limited by a rigid adherence to how the strategy was being developed rather than the issues at hand, squelching open exchanges.

Finally unveiled last October, the completed strategy incorporated Mullen’s oft-stated visions of a 1,000-ship international cooperative effort, humanitarian missions and stationing of more U.S. ships in foreign lands. But it added little to the debate over the Navy’s roles and was criticized for avoiding discussion of what kind of fleet the Navy needs.

“It is not compelling, not tied to a force structure,” said a second retired senior officer, now in industry. “So what?”

Results of that "Outward Bound 2-week mini-MBA for compensating Admirals" FOD? Yep.
The continued emphasis on applying business practices to fleet problems disturbs many naval professionals.

“We’re not a business organization. We’re war fighters,” the first former senior officer said. “We’re not here to waste money, but we’re not here to make a profit.”

Clark epitomized the MBA-admiral, the former officer said, with discussions of human capital management and other business-speak.

“All the flag officers have these titles that mirror a corporate board structure. I just want to throw up,” the former senior officer said. “Where’s the warrior culture? We’re not a board of directors, it’s the Navy. It should be about standards and accomplishing the mission.”
Nice summary of where we are - BZ CPC; BZ. Galrahn and I don't feel so alone now.

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