Monday, January 11, 2010

Reforming the Confederate Navy

What characterized the Confederate Navy? Though many things - she was scrappy, inventive, and had some outstanding leaders - in line with many things in the Confederacy though, she suffered a fatal flaw that doomed her. In her case, the Confederate Navy placed her bet on a few grand ships to make the "transformational" break.

When we think of the Confederate Navy, we think of the CSS VIRGINIA, CSS HUNLEY, and at least I think of the CSS SHENANDOAH. Wonderful platforms, but in the end did little but absorb people and resources.

The Confederate Navy adapted where she could, but when faced with having to build a fleet from scratch - she threw her lot in with transformationalism. VIRGINIA and HUNLEY were wonderful ground breaking designs and concepts - built against tremendous odds - but in the end they were like the nation they served - beautiful losers destroyed by their own fatal conceits.

What was their conceit? They thought that a few high technological breakthroughs thrown into a few hulls and applied with a bit of tactical verve could triumph over the many primarily pushing sound fundamentals.

I think alternative history is a goofy subject when real history is so much more interesting, but if Sherman never made it through the Atlanta defensive lines and the Democrats won the '64 election - someone would have had the opportunity to look at the wartime record of the Confederate Navy and set about building a better, more balanced fleet based upon what worked.

Funny the things that will tangentially come into one's mind. When I got through looking over the
PPT and PDF from the exceptionally poorly titled The New Navy Fighting Machine, what came to mind was the conceptual challenge of a post-war Confederate Navy.

Goofy, no? Well, work with me a bit; tell me if you see it.
NPS Professor and retired CAPT Wayne P. Hughes, Jr. and his crew deserve congrats for a very good and thought provoking work - one that if not related, then at least that folds in well with the conversation CDR Henry J. Hendrix, Jr. brought forward in Buy Ford not Ferrari.

You could spend a few thousand words discussing in detail their work - which we don't have time for right now - but let me take some time to point out the good, bad and others.

The good;
First of all, the PDF shows a great focus on China, and the China challenge influences a lot of their ideas. That intellectual honesty and clear headed view of the future makes the discussion in and from the document of much greater use than the 2/3 of our
latest Maritime Strategy that I find so useless. As that touchstone, the China challenge is an important reference when looking at what they offer.
... we anticipate formidable Chinese sea-denial capabilities that will threaten to reduce American influence in East Asia.
Already taking place. I have called it the Porcupine Strategy. They don't have to be the biggest or most dangerous - they just need to make it look too painful to mess with.
Submarines in greater numbers are central to the maritime strategy, but within a constrained budget the larger force cannot be exclusively nuclear powered. We find that diesel submarines with air-independent propulsion not only allow twice as many submarines, but they also nicely complement the SSNs in the critical scenario.
That is for the USA - and I don't think you can buy and maintain twice as many SS as SSN - but perhaps close to 3 to 2. Still a sound concept. If an early 20th Century designed Type VII, then a 21st Century SS can handle a little transit time.
Perhaps most important of all, we emphasize maritime power as the foundation of present American influence and international prosperity. Sea power’s value is well appreciated by our friends around the world, but is taken too much for granted by the American public. The United States is a maritime nation and the United States Navy is its great manifestation.
That last sentence should be put on a bumper sticker and some JOPA DC DET types should put it on cars in all the nice parking spots at the Pentagon.
Concurrent with broad agreement on the new fighting machine’s characteristics, it is necessary to calculate whether its personnel costs will be more or less than the cost of manning, training, and supporting the 313-ship Navy. Our impression is that:
- In numbers, manning 650 mostly smaller ships will be about the same.
- In terms of individual, shipboard team and fleet tactical training, the cost will be somewhat less.
- The cost to support recruiting, assignment, and education will be determined by the outcome of the manning and training calculations.
Here and there we highlight the easier training to competencies for the smaller and more focused warships of the new fighting machine. But, in a different way, the training must be just as sophisticated. Examples are (1) the need to prepare junior commanding officers of patrol craft in the art of theater security and nation building; and (2) the return to professionalism in warships devoted to mine warfare, antisubmarine warfare, and countering swarms of small missile boats—as compared to the well-developed capability to deliver accurate strikes ashore. There is time to change the training as the new fleet is produced, but only if both the different tactics and new training are developed simultaneously with the new operational emphasis.
Manpower. That is the key - sell with sound work manpower considerations.
American nation needs a fleet that is more distributed for flexible presence, adjustable intensities, short and long durations, survival against surprise attack, and which is capable of fighting in tight corners and taking affordable losses. The new fighting machine incorporates many simpler and more single-purposed vessels so that the Fleet can respond more quickly in an unforeseeable direction to a particularly severe threat or rewarding opportunity—what has been called “a Black Swan.” We are arguing against a Navy with warships so hard-wired that an unforeseen surprise will be fatal, because our present fleet is an organization of long lived big warships, some programmed to last 40 years in order to amortize their construction costs.
We are not as hard-wired as we used to be. I think we are already moving in this direction - though we can do better.
Preserving the industrial base for an abrupt expansion is a DoD (Department of Defense) obligation. The industrial base does not appear explicitly in designing the new fighting machine, but an awareness of the need for competition and greater cost controls is implicit everywhere.
Of course, anyone who uses my favorite example of doing it right will always get a gold-star-happy-face. Seriously - this is a story that every officer should know by heart.
Here is an illustration of design experimentation with a happy ending. It is the story of the Treaty Cruisers built under terms of the 1921 Washington Naval Disarmament Treaty. During the 1920s and 1930s, heavy cruiser standard displacement of 10,000 tons was the limiting design factor instead of construction costs. Four classes were designed and built under the treaty, in 1925, 1927, 1929, and 1931-34, each successive class being obviously superior to the previous one. How much superior was a hotly debated question answered in World War II. The first two, supposedly much inferior, ships of the Pensacola class saw as much action as any cruisers, were repaired after battle damage, and survived the war. Looking at the 15 supposedly much improved later cruisers built under treaty limitations, seven—almost half—were sunk. Our impression is that the effectiveness of USS Pensacola and Salt Lake City was about 90% that of the culminating seven-ship USS Astoria class, three of which were destroyed in the Battle of Savo Island in about 15 minutes. Equally important, when the treaty terms were lifted in 1936, we were ready with the design for 17 more heavy cruisers of the magnificent USS Baltimore and Oregon City classes. All were ordered by July 1940 and commissioned before the end of the war. None were sunk.
The following suggestion/compromise about LCS needs to be acted on before we have a few dozen "test beds." As a face-saving move, it iss a good compromise as a chance to move forward with alternatives .... but there isn't much time left to act.
...LCS must not be regarded as a design failure, but as a technological, tactical, and training test bed. The fact that it is suited well neither as a blue water or green water combatant can be useful. On one hand, it can help to design a better armed, less costly blue water frigate. On the other, LCS shows what not to do to develop affordable green water designs to perform inshore patrol missions, clear mines, defeat small missile boats, and screen against coastal submarines.
In a discussion of Green Water, they discuss "Coastal Combatants" ... can we just be clear and call them Corvettes though?
The coastal combatant is not a patrol vessel for theater security operations. It is a small fighting vessel intended to “clear out the clutter” of enemy or neutral vessels in littoral waters. The afloat clutter may be swarms of enemy small craft, fast attack craft carrying surface-to-surface missiles such as the Chinese 220-ton Houbei class, and fishing boats and coastal traders that might serve as reconnaissance posts in a targeting system. Coastal combatants are heavily armed, but small enough to accept affordable losses. They should operate in tactical formations of two, four, eight, or twelve vessels. They carry no surveillance aircraft, so depend on CVLs or shore-based reconnaissance.
Well described, and there are designs already out there (Visby) that fit the bill (BZ to them from bringing up the losing but superior option for LCS). However, as an institution, everyone should stop references the b@st@rd stepchild of Bu11sh1t B1ngo that is Streetfighter and Sealance et al. That buzzword PPT spawn are part of the reason we are where we are in 2010. Use proper naval terms that sound like they are coming form a professional and less like some video game designer. It insults an officer's intelligence and drops everyone's IQ by half a standard deviation every time it goes in the ear.

After the bait and swich snake oil salesmanship of the last decade + that got us where we are today, I am not the only one who is immediately suspicious every time someone starts using too-clever-by-half, cheesy marketing words for what are simply new designs to meet established naval warship niches that have a pedigree which dates back over a century. We should stop trying to be cute - and focus on being professional. Most of the NNFM is good professional work - but the unsightly smear of snake oil degrades its brand a bit ... just a bit.

Off rant and back to the document.

The CVN/CVL discussion is worth almost a specific post in itself. Read the details - but I find this pull quote the best in outlining the argument. Especially if ASBM technology works out in the next decade to the right side of spectrum where we think in will be - having your air assets on more platforms is a progressive risk mitigation strategy that needs much more support.
A calculation of the smaller, but roughly comparable, life-cycle cost of what we argue to be a suitable mix of six CVNs and ten CVLs. The mix carries 620 aircraft, or 12% fewer. We believe the smaller number of aircraft is more than made up for by its flexibility: the CVNs’ powerful short-term punch in a major contingency, complemented by the CVLs’ advantage of greater distributability.

The Navy has service life remaining in many existing CVNs, but a CVL needs to be debated, designed, and built at once to test its compatibility with the F-35B, to develop an early warning aircraft capability, and to explore mixes of aircraft for green water operations, including UAVs. Absent such a CVL, we believe that on affordability grounds alone, the total number of aircraft carriers will shrink to eight within the next two decades and, absent the development of a CVL, with no redress possible.
Like the CVN/CVL discussion, the SSN/SSK discussion is worth a post all its own. The work is VERY Salamanderesque - so you can assume, rightly, that I pretty much agree with 95% of it. They had me at the start when they use a story I tell every time people tell me that that they tell me, "We have plenty of ASW weapons."
The Falklands War of 1982 is a cautionary tale of two submarine fleets having major effects on the enemy in a maritime war. Early in the war, the United Kingdom’s HMS Conqueror, an SSN, sank the aged Argentine cruiser General Belgrano. Seemingly as a result, the Argentine Navy withdrew into port and took itself out of the war, thus isolating the Falklands from substantial reinforcement or resupply. On the other side, one old Argentine submarine harassed the British task force out of all proportion to its nominal combat value. Literally hundreds of ASW torpedoes were fired by the screening destroyers on contacts that proved to be false. Submarines as sea denial systems can influence enemy operations disproportionate to their numbers and cost.
If we go to war - it will be criminal what has happened to our ASW capabilities. It will make the unarmored HUMVEE look like a success. I will leave it at that.

Here is the Salamderesque nature of it squared - sure to upset the
usual suspects, which makes it all the more fun.
A total of 80 submarines, with special emphasis on China.

- Of these, there will be 40 SSNs at $2.5B each (if the price can be reduced, the number can rise) and 40 AIP submarines at $500M-$700M each (we show $700M in Table 2 and make the same comment as to the latter’s price and numbers).
- A set of 100 submarines would be better than 80 to defeat China, but in the absence of detailed operating plans and analysis, 80 seems sufficient and an acceptable risk, especially based on our premise that we must have allies in the unlikely case of a war with China.
Admiral Dönitz nods his head in agreement,
Some submarines should be equipped and trained for minelaying.
Serious, dedicated training - not spitting a few out and running.

On the amphibious side of the house, they outline well the Tiffany Green Eyeshade amphibious problem.
In history, opposed landings involved scores of ships and we expected to lose ships and assault craft as well as troops. Today, the large-capacity, efficient amphibious assault ships—LHAs, LHDs, LPDs, etc., are few in number compared to the LSTs, APAs, and AKAs that were the backbone of the opposed assaults in World War II and Korea. Now, the loss of even one amphibious ship would probably terminate the operation in failure.
The solution - well - call it a "prepare and ponder" strategy. Leesea, call your office.
For $1.0B of annual SCN, a fleet composed of between 100 and 150 ships can be maintained for amphibious lift, delivery and sustainment. Many sealift ships will be large, high-capacity RoRos, container ships, and tankers, constructed or purchased at an average cost of about $500M. Others will be small, simple “HSVs,” to quickly move ground forces to a scene of action demanding swift response. Some will be amphibious ships of 15,000 to 25,000 tons for unopposed delivery across a beach or at an undeveloped landing site. In Table 2, we show a sealift fleet of 125 ships, including propositioning ships. This capability will suffice for any likely conflict involving ground combat overseas. The current numbers are between 80 and 90 reasonably modern, large-capacity vessels, plus 31 large ships for amphibious lift. If a large regional war ensues, the U.S. merchant fleet can be requisitioned, but it is relatively small, so leasing from neutrals around the world might be necessary, as was done for Desert Shield.

We espouse a ten-year holiday in which no high-cost amphibious ships are built. Much of the existing amphibious assault force can serve for many more years in the unlikely case of the need to conduct an opposed Marine assault (e.g., in Lebanon or Syria). The amphibious ships will also serve effectively as interim Global Fleet Station ships.
Almost a punt on their part. I think this part of their plan in not as mature as the others and needs more work. I like the direction they are going in - but it isn't fully baked.

The bad;
Although our green water fleet of about 240 vessels is more attuned to the needs of the nation than anything else we have seen,..
Snerk. Of course you silly geese - it is your proposal. You almost have the confidence of a blogger ......
For example, the green water component also includes an additional 400 affordable and easy-to-operate inshore patrol craft to help build up the capabilities of some countries without navies or coast guards.
Still trying to grasp that concept, and "affordable" needs a lot of defined truth in 2010 as we have destroyed that meaning in Congress and with the taxpayer over the last decade. Also, that is a LOT of LT and LCDR Commands .. might be a good way to break the present officer career path diktat --- and get more sea and Command time -- but to make that happen would require a complete manpower restructure. Also a chance to break a lot of paradigms WRT how we man our Navy ... but that needs a lot more fleshing out and in the end, I think 400 is way too large - at least at the start.
We do not believe the present U.S. Navy organization will achieve a green water force, and so our most important recommendation is to create a new command with the authority to foster professionalism in coastal operations similar to that by which the Navy developed naval aviation in the 1920s and 1930s.
Ungh. No. Only if you kill two U.S. Navy organizations will Emperor Salamander permit you to create a new one. Too much Staff Bloat as it is.
Large, multipurpose warships are not, as is frequently argued, more flexible and adaptable than smaller, more focused warships. We repeatedly found cases in which “single purpose” warships are superior in effectiveness and for swift modernization. As an example, the green water component includes 12 gunfire support ships because we believe embedding guns in DDGs, CGs, or other missile-firing surface ships will not result in effective naval gunfire support.
Ehhhh, maybe. Hedging you bets with a High-Low is a better path, methinks.
The smaller, more distributable ships can free the inevitably fewer high-end warships for more demanding operations.
Correct. Piracy is a perfect example, as we have often discussed - but if you only have a few high-end ships, they aren't going to do much for a global Navy - remember, you can't be at sea forever.
Training and career development of Navy officer and enlisted personnel will be enhanced with more single-minded ships. For example, after 1990, ASW (Antisubmarine Warfare) skills atrophied in the surface navy because of its emphasis on offensive and defensive missile warfare. ASW proficiency will be hard to restore in missile ships. By contrast, the Israeli Navy’s training allowed them to quickly adopt new tactics for its highly focused Sa’ar boats, which defeated Egyptian and Syrian missile boats in the first significant missile war in 1973, despite their Gabriel missiles being seriously outranged by the enemy’s Soviet-built SS-N-2s.
Good point, in parts - but "single-minded" is neither the cure or for Israel the reason.

Neither good nor bad:
A broader area of disagreement I have with the authors is a focus on single purpose ships. As described, especially the Gun Support Ship - I think it is worth looking at, especially if you can give it a basic AAW capability which isn't too hard with the ESSM as described. Then it is a little more multi-purpose that makes me feel better, as when possible - you need multi-mission capability as the enemy decides how he is going to attack you, be ready. My bias is towards multi-mission, but as you get smaller, you have less of that luxury .... though even the WWII face DE's had quite the multi-mission capability .... as did PT boats .... so the "it's too small" argument may need work.

Strange and sad thing though is a desire to remove the gun from CG and DDG. Again, they seem to want to pull away from a multi-mission capability. Uni-mission ships simply do not have a good history.

Remember the quote by LT Copeland? As was amply shown during the Falkland Islands War and 5-inch Friday - a multipurpose gun is needed on every warship that can carry it - the larger the better. A multipurpose gun is the Leatherman of naval warfare - all sorts of uses in one package. I would caution being too binary when it comes to NGFS (nee NSFS)- but following is on balance good - quite good.
These are single-purpose ships carrying two of the best guns available for naval gunfire support (NGFS), such as an advanced gun system (AGS), with 2,000 rounds, precise navigation, countermine underwater search, and evolved sea sparrow missiles (ESSM) combined with softkill defense at short range. The Gunfire Support Ship need have only a small surface search radar (because it will operate in company), no stealth properties (because it will reveal its position in action), and no sonar or ASW (antisubmarine warfare) ordnance (as a cost-saving measure). Hull size will be determined by the minimum space and sturdiness required for two guns and their ammunition, which in turn will determine what form of UAV for reconnaissance it may carry.

Littoral warfare operations ashore can be greatly enhanced by the low cost, high volume, and overall efficiency of naval weaponry over aerial bombing or land attack missiles. When in range, the ships are also superior to land-based artillery, which has a large support tail.

Guns in CGs and DDGs are ill-matched because their land attack missiles reach deep inland but must be fired safely from their maritime sanctuary, which is now sometimes 100 miles or more offshore. Missiles are expensive and so best suited for select, fixed, high-value targets to complement the Gunfire Support ships that produce rapid, high-volume fire in support of the battlefield. ... NGFS is an important responsibility of the Navy and if and when any new technology has been demonstrated, swift introduction is unlikely without a force component dedicated to the mission, the value of which was amply demonstrated in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II, in Korea at the Pusan perimeter, Inchon, and Hungnam, and repeatedly during the long Vietnam War.
The Blue Water discussion is interesting - but has some problems.
An ominous trend (although the data sample is small) is that the success percentages of the attackers have gotten better since 1975. Since it seems predictable that the offense will continue to regain the advantage over a defender’s surface-to-air missiles, it is a mistake to rely heavily on expensive DDGs and CGs with Aegis and SAMs. We do not want to eliminate these capable ships and we think new ones should be added periodically as technology advances. If the ships were more easily and quickly updated to neutralize the natural advantage that is possible with ASCMs and TBMs (Theater Ballistic Missiles), we would be more optimistic about their future value. In the meantime, we propose to let attrition at end of life reduce the number of DDGs to a steady state force of 30.
Sure ---- but no one has ever tried to attack an Aegis ship with a ASCM. The HMS SHEFFIELD and USS STARK that they reference earlier are not Aegis ships. I understand the need to decrease funding of large ships to buy more smaller - but I think they might be going too heavy on the small side than the Blue Water side. Just my opinion. I share their concerns with ASCM and ASBM - but better AAW is the answer, not fewer AAW platforms with legacy systems.

On the lower side of the Blue Water force though, they get it exactly right.
To maintain total surface combatant numbers for offensive action and screening at around 140, we conjecture a new blue water frigate similar to those in the other navies of the world. They emphasize sea control but are capable of escorting large and small carriers, amphibious lift, and delivery and sustainment shipping. They carry at least eight long-range surface-to-surface missiles, a helicopter or UAVs, have a capable ASW suite, and strong, short-range hard and soft kill defenses.
There are many international frigates and corvettes that serve as examples for developing an affordable design, which should be evolutionary, but cost, at most, $400M in series production. These include Turkey’s new MILGEM class corvette, Singapore’s Formidable class frigate, Indonesia’s Sigma class corvette, India’s Project 28 frigate, and the Russian Steregushchiy class frigate.
Airtight. Their concept for dedicated land attack Corvettes - different than the Gun Corvettes, also has some merit for discussion - and I like this "influence squadron."
A compact task group with a land-attack mission might consist of four missile corvettes carrying 200 improved Tomahawk land attack missiles (TLAMs), plus a CVL, a DDG, and two new frigates.
They end up with a proposal. Could I live with this?
- Build DDGs at a limited rate, sufficient to keep one shipbuilder’s line open, and to keep technology current, but with the intent of reducing the Aegis force to 30 warships within 25 years. The steady state force of 30 ships costs $60B, so the SCN per year for a 30-year combat life is $2.0B.
- Introduce several affordable frigate designs of 2,500 to 3,000 tons and about 25 knots, with the goal of creating a force of 90 ships at a unit cost of $400M. Essential features are at least eight upgraded TASMs (tactical Antiship Missiles), strong close-in defense, and a modern ASW suite. The ships will emphasize sea strikes and ASW. Each must carry a helicopter or pair of UAVs.
- Design and build simple corvettes carrying about 50 land-attack missiles—upgraded TLAMs as it were. They are not fast, but 25 knots is desirable. They operate in silence, with any radiating platform being in the air or scores of miles away. Because of their simplicity and American shipbuilder design experience with stealth properties, the first design will probably be very much like the final one.

Merely for completeness we include here a component of 20 auxiliaries. The numbers and costs are unchanged from the 313-ship Navy plan.
Absolutely. This is much better than the mix we have right now.

Why is there so much here I agree with? Well, on balance I think it is because they tried their best to root their program in an understanding of history and a realistic expectation of what technology can gain you in the foreseeable future.

Doubtless the structure herein is jarring to those content with the Navy’s current emphasis on power projection and faith in a continuing sanctuary at sea. Nevertheless, insofar as possible, the new fighting machine comprises only well-developed and tested capabilities responding to current circumstances in the spirit of Bradley Fiske’s goal of unity between policy, strategy, and warship characteristics. We often illustrated the fighting machine’s ship characteristics with existing foreign warships, especially borrowing their ideas for coastal operations. We also drew from nascent domestic attempts to create a more distributed force.

Nowhere does the new fighting machine depend upon technological innovations such as the sensors, SAMs, and command-control for advances in BMD; directed energy weapons, rail guns, robots, dirigibles with surveillance radars, and exotic hull forms.
Radical? No; a refreshingly sound and professional work. You can discuss the ideas in this work as adults because there is a minimal amount of "fairy dust" in here - told with simple and direct language; things often missing in such documents produced over the last 15 years.

Finally, back to the Confederate Navy. What would a Confederate Navy look like if they looked at what did and did not work for them in the war while maintaining their curious intellect? Perhaps in a modern sense, such a POV could produce a scaled down version of this.
- CVLs for both blue and green water operational flexibility.
- Land-attack missile ships, each carrying 50 missiles and numbering about 20 inexpensive vessels that can be deployed in pairs or task forces tailored to the risks and demands.
- A new class of AIP diesel submarines to complement the more expensive SSNs for an increasingly important role in sea denial.
- At least 12 dedicated naval gunfire support corvettes that can quickly and affordably go where the ground action demands, be put at risk according to circumstances on the ground, and more readily embrace new NGFS technology when it is tested and ready to install.
High-speed mine clearance vessels that can be on station quickly to clear the way for the operation.
- A large number of smaller, less expensive frigates to complement a smaller number of DDGs and boost surface combatant numbers at less SCN cost.
- At least nine single-purpose strategic defense BMD-DDGs for deterrence.
In many ways, though the name gives me heartburn - but that is just me. the NNFM document and PPT that go with need to be looked at as the very serious and usefull thought pieces that they are. In my view, they are a much more useful document than the last Maritime Strategy when it comes to looking forward to why we need a Fleet and what we can do with it.

Galrahn's discussion at his place on the work is well worth your time, so give him a visit too.


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