I expect reports on water being wet any day now. From the 28 JUN NavyTimes and other places;
An independent probe into the state of the U.S. Navy's surface force has found widespread, systemic dysfunction in its manning, readiness and training, and repudiates much of the service's high-level decision-making in the last decade.Good googly moogly. All the Navy needed to do is pay for Skippy-san and myself to lock ourselves away in a conference room in Singapore for a weekend and we would have told them the same thing years ago for 1/10th the price. Or they could have read our blogs.
The report - commissioned by Adm. John Harvey, the Fleet Forces commander, and produced by a seven-member panel led by retired Vice Adm. Phillip Balisle that included two serving rear admirals - warns that unless the Navy mends its ways, it will continue to see surface ships condemned in inspections and sail unready to fight.
Although sailors and Navy observers have pointed before to many of the problems and trends that Balisle's "fleet review panel" uncovered, the report provides the clearest, most detailed look yet at how a preoccupation with saving money drove the surface Navy to a low point.
"It appears the effort to derive efficiencies has overtaken our culture of effectiveness," the Balisle report says. "The material readiness of the surface force is well below acceptable levels to support reliable, sustained operations at sea and preserve ships to their full service life expectancy. Moreover, the present readiness trends are down."
How did it happen? Driven by top-level pressure to be as efficient as possible, Navy leaders in the early 2000s made a series of interrelated decisions to cut sailors, reform training, "streamline" fleet maintenance and take other steps in keeping with the philosophy then en vogue of "running the Navy like a business."
The fleet organized itself into layers of "enterprises," which thickened already legendary layers of military bureaucracy and made command relationships difficult to understand, the panel found.
In summary; give the COs what they need to take care of their ships. Cut the bloated shore bureaucracy. Stop the happy talk, that is how you got here. Exhibit 1.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said that the move to "optimal manning" made practical sense earlier this decade, but "changes to the structure ashore, changes in some of the oversight functions" have come to hurt ships' ability to train, do maintenance and fight."That is not clear and direct talk. That ignores facts. Why not just say that we made a mistake? It never made sense. Never at the pier. Never in the wardroom. Clark, Mullen, Roughead - this is your baby; name it and claim it.
Between 1994 and 1999, about 3.5 percent of ships failed inspections by the Board of Inspection and Survey, Balisle's commission found. From 2005 to 2009, almost 14 percent of ships failed. Not only does this hurt the fleet of today, it means the Navy can't keep around the ships it says are vital to building its hoped-for fleet of at least 313.See that years of service? The Terrible 20s just got worse.
"Independent reports indicate that if the surface force stays on the course that it is presently on, DDGs will achieve 25-27 years of service life instead of the 30 years planned and 40 years of extended service life desired," the report says.
Even the highest-profile and most vital system aboard the Navy's front-line warships - Aegis - fails much more often than panel members expected; technical problems with cruisers' and destroyers' SPY-1 radars have gone up by 45 percent since 2004, the report said. But because of smaller crews, poor training and the complicated bureaucracy of getting repairs or replacement parts, many ships sail while "consciously accepting degradation."
Where is accountability?
For half a decade, there have been outstanding officers, SWO and EDO who have been telling me their tale of woe. If this is a shock to the CNO in 2010 then it is his fault. I am just a garden variety, work-a-day retired CDR. On active duty, I was just the guy stage right on CNO calls - and I knew this. Why did I know this? I watched, listened, and asked.
But Mueller would not comment on specific recommendations in Balisle's report, including precise numbers for how many sailors the panel thinks the Navy needs: 4,496 new sea billets and 2,028 shore and maintenance billets, for a total of 6,524 new billets. Those numbers are based on an overall recommendation that surface ships be automatically manned at 110 percent over their base level, to account for the roughly 8 percent effective loss of crew the committee discovered across the board.Once again - I can help you find those billets to shift from shore to sea - you just have to be willing to accept some high-freq squealing. Sailors belong on ships; ships belong at sea.
The USMC in the last few years did a scrub of those Marines who had not deployed in the last few years. We should do the same. Examine the billets and designators that they come from. That can help justify what needs to be done. And yes, because it is THU - start by cutting 66.66% of these billets and related ones throughout the Fleet. You'll save a bundle of money on TAD as well - enough to send more Sailors to schools to do things like teach you fix radars and repair pumps.
What 4-star comes out of this looking good? Admiral Harvey - he is the one that charged Balisle with assessing fleet readiness last September. Methinks he knew this was a problem for years. This is the only way to get the word out without being crushed. We all have our place in the Navy ecosystem. BZ to him as well.