Five times congressional supporters grooved their questions to the CNO.All that "Transformation," "War After Next," "Network Centric Everything," gobbledegook folded in with a Programmatic engineering focus is coming home to roost. The great leap forward is working for the USN about as well as it did for China.
Five times the CNO had little to say.
"Would you explain where the DDG 1000 fits into the future of the surface Navy, and do you believe that this is the right ship?" asked Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, March 5.
"What the DDG 1000 brings to our Navy," Roughead replied, "is an introduction of new technologies that will be very important to how we go forward."
He didn't discuss how the ship fit into the Navy's maritime strategy nor why today's fleet or tomorrow's naval battles demand its special capabilities.
Instead, he touched briefly on its 10 major technical advances, emphasizing that the most important is its small crew.
"That is absolutely a critical step forward for us in the DDG 1000."
Such limp performances didn't matter in the Senate, which voted to fund another DDG 1000 in the spring. But it failed to sway House lawmakers, who chose not to include a ship in their funding bill. Analysts now predict that the Zumwalts, at $3 billion per ship - $5 billion by some estimates - will be just a two-ship class.
Even to lawmakers eager to fulfill its wishes, Navy leaders can't seem to express a clear vision for what ships they need and why they need them.
The Navy's insistence on calling these huge, expensive vessels "destroyers" also rankles critics, including likely Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The former naval aviator has noted that the Zumwalts, intended to fight in coastal waters and pound ground targets with 155mm guns, have very different roles than existing destroyers - and certainly have un-destroyer-like price tags.Thank you. And yes Sen. McCain, it isn't a destroyer. It is a Light Cruiser the size of a Pocket Battleship. Welcome to the party, doors been open since 2005.
"I've never heard of a $3 billion destroyer," McCain has said on several occasions.
The current plan to build seven ships also works against the service, which originally wanted 32 new destroyers.
"Seven of anything is nothing, not after you wanted 32," said House Seapower subcommittee chairman Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., following a hearing in March. "Seven tells me they don't want it."
My P-3 spies are all a-twitter about this.
The Navy's No. 1 unfunded priority is "critical maritime patrol improvements" for aging P-3 patrol planes. A skeptic might ask: if something is truly critical, what is it doing on an unfunded requirements list?...and then there is the cancer on the leadership body that is causing much of what we see; Happy Talk.
The issue isn't that Navy leaders set out to deliberately deceive the public or the Congress. Rather, it is that with good intentions, they have failed to anticipate the results of their actions.Yep.
"People weren't doing this out of malice and deception," van Tol said. "I cannot conceive of senior naval officers consciously acting deceptively. Certainly they can put spin on things or interpret things in a favorable light, but deliberate deception goes against the naval ethos. The vast majority of people behave honorably."
But being honorable has nothing to do with being honest with oneself, he said. The trouble is, leaders have insisted all along they could manage their way out of the impending trouble.
"The Navy needs to level with itself," van Tol said. "They've got problems. Once you've done that you can begin to deal with it."