Ok, in line with the "drip-drip-drip" series of posts about something no-one wants to talk about (the trainwreck of shipbuilding that will be the Terrible '20s), let me make a little long range prediction for 'ya. First though, set the scene.
- The fiscal nightmare of the series of deficits we are building and the debt service they will bring - along with the budgetary realities of building a Social Democracy (only tremendous political changes in '10 and '12 elections will change this), will create budgetary pressures that will drive defense spending to below 3% of GDP by 2012 (it is 4% now).
- The largest shipbuilding pressure in the 2020's will be the re-capitalization of the SSBN force.
- Don't forget the new Nuclear Posture Review ...
From the CBO, go to table 2. They are calling it going from 14 to 12 SSBN.
I'll call it now, we will be lucky if we get 10 SSBN(X). Make that a planning assumption.
- Budgets will get smaller.
- Tiffany Navy shipbuilding costs will not get significantly smaller if we continue the attitude and practices from The Lost Decade.
- We will be at sub-250 ships at the end of the Terrible '20s unless something new happens in the next 5 years.
- This is not industry's fault; this is not Congress's fault. This is well in excess of 51% uniformed military's fault.
Way forward? We need radical change at the highest levels of leadership. Clark-Mullen-Roughead lineage got us here. Who am I looking for? Someone like this,
At the time of his appointment as Chief of Naval Operations, (he) was still a Rear Admiral, Upper Half (Two Star) and was promoted over the heads of many Flag Officers who were senior to him. (He) had never served as a Vice Admiral (Three Star), so he was promoted two grades at the time of his appointment as CNO.That is a fresh start. And what did that give us?
Admiral Burke served an unprecedented three terms as CNO. He served at a critical time in world history, the depths of the Cold War. The facts that he was relatively young compared to other Flag Officers at the time, and was an excellent manager and organizer, were keys to his success. He supported the touchy Adm. Hyman Rickover in the development of a nuclear Navy. More directly, he promoted the Polaris missile program at a time when others in the Navy were very skeptical of the idea of a missile launched from a submarine.
Admiral Burke as CNO was intimately involved in the Eisenhower administration discussions of "how much is enough?", as to the number of US nuclear submarines needed for deterrence. Burke argued that a force of around 40 Polaris submarines (each with 16 missiles) was a reasonable answer. Burke further argued that land-based missiles and bombers were vulnerable to attack, which made the U.S.-Soviet nuclear balance dangerously unstable. By contrast, nuclear submarines were virtually undetectable and invulnerable. He was very critical of "hair trigger" or "launch on warning" nuclear strategies, and he warned that such strategies were "dangerous for any nation."Time for 1955 thinking again or we will wind up having two Admirals for each ship.
Earlier, Admiral Burke was involved in the "Revolt of the Admirals", a near mutiny by the leaders of the Navy in the late 1940s, and was saved from being fired by the intervention of President Harry S. Truman. His terms as CNO were times of growth and progress in the Navy. Upon completing his third term, he was transferred to the Retired List on August 1, 1961.