Monday, December 12, 2011

The Navy of 2025: A Contrarian View

In last month's Proceedings, the Admiral Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations, published a think-piece, Navy 2025: Forward Warfighters.

My view is it was on balance a missed opportunity, but with a few nuggets in it that have promise if they are fleshed out more - specifically Payloads over Platforms - but today's post isn't about my commentary.

An active duty officer and good friend to the blog has put together a response that I think is well worth your consideration. It is soundly based on recent historical precedence. Our friend has been kind enough to let me publish it here.

The rest of their post is their's; over to you Shipmate!

2025 will be a year not dissimilar to 2011. A third of the Navy will be deployed overseas, much of it in the Arabian Sea. The same ship classes in commission today will be in commission then. USS NIMITZ will celebrate its 50th anniversary in commission. USS FORD will have deployed and some system that no one was expecting to break and cause problems did.

Total aviation flying hours will have been reduced from what they are today – with make up time in simulators. However, since we will only have 8 carrier air wings the time per pilot is not significantly altered. UCAV will have made its first deployment and the lessons learned will herald it a tactical and strategic success. Deckplate hesitance over its real capabilities during deployment will remain despite the positive reports.

In submarine warfare MRUUVs will only be in early fielding tests with no significant technological changes in engine operation or communications having been solved over the next 15 years. The last of the Los Angeles Class will be decommissioned while the 688(I), Seawolf, and Virginia Classes remain operational. Block IV and V of the Virginia Class were cancelled in favor of the Ohio Replacement. The Ohio replacement program will have been delayed twice, and in all shipbuilding arenas there will be questions of the capability of the shipyards to complete quality work after a loss of skilled labor. There will be discussions in the Navy of cancelling or truncating the Ohio Replacement and restarting the Virginia class line, using Virginia Class and the Virginia Payload Module to serve as ballisitic missile submarines. The Trident II/D5 will remain the only operational sea launched ballistic missile.
In surface warfare, a spate of failed INSURV inspections will plague the Littoral Combat Ships and aged Flight I Arleigh Burkes. The first seven Arleigh Burkes will be decommissioned prior to their 35 year Expected Service Life, being deemed too costly to operate with the large required crews and too old to upgrade to modern combat systems. The same fate will befall the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, with 9 being retained in service to act as escorts for the super carriers.

The Flight III Arleigh Burkes, after having been fully optimized for atni-ballistic missile operations will be found to be suboptimized for anti-air warfare and will have been relegated to ABM deterrence patrols.

The planned replacement for the LSD 41 class will have been cancelled and the Navy will have decided to drop the amphibious lift requirement to a fiscally constrained 24 ships, having settled on the San Antonio and Wasp/America classes as the ships for the two ship amphibious readiness group (renamed “expeditionary influence squadron”). The Marine Corps will reluctantly accept this change but will openly speak against it.

In aviation, the Lightning II cancellation will have left a development gap and the type models and series flying in 2011 will remain in service. A Joint Future Fighter program between the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force will have begun seeking a single common aircraft, but will end with three differing models – one twin engined model for carrier operations, a single engine model for land based operations, and a short take off and vertical landing version to operate from the Wasp/America classes and austere airfields.

The HMMWV will remain the Marine Corps’ land mobility vehicle of choice. The drive train will have been merged with a US version of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid engine.

Navy sailors will remain the dominant fighting spirit within the Navy and will continue a century long tradition of success at sea with minimal support from the shore infrastructure. And they will do this while supporting five years at sea for every one year on shore duty. Most will separate from the service either at the end of their initial enlistment, or at the twelve to fifteen years of service mark, taking their 401K into the civilian sector. Making Chief Petty Officer will be a competition among those remaining, with Sea Duty Incentive Pay and Continuation Bonus Pay being offered to E6 and above in an attempt to convince them to remain on Active Duty.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very plausible.

MR T's Haircut said...

2025?  Sounds exactly like 1977... have we learned NOTHING?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

That is a superbly-written rebuttal to the CNO's wildly optimistic assertions ("The net effect is fewer weapons are needed in today’s conflicts.").

Officers such as the one writing what you posted should be those most cultivated in the Navy.  I hope that becomes so.  Though something tells me it will be anything but the case.  

What is very telling about the tenor of these words is how much more grounded in reality they are than those of the CNO. 

The conclusion of the CNOs article discusses how the US Navy "took the fight to the enemy", while seemingly glossing over the fact that the Navy of 1812 was woefully inadequate to defend the republic against much of anything.  And that, despite the publicity of the heroics on the seas, even our Naval victories were but pin pricks to the Royal Navy.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Except in 1977 we had more than the 150-160 ships we will have in 2025. 

Surfcaster said...

On current tracks much of this will come true. Apply the past decade to the next decade and this is what you get.

Also missing from this is that as there will be no organic ASW/Minehunting capabilities with the occasional exception of some very overworked Flt2 Burkes.

Environmental concerns will have a Congressional requirement that all retiring ships must be decommisioned at an acceptable overseas port of the highest bidder.

ewok40k said...

-with 8 carriers in service this gives us 3 at primary theatre of operations, 2 at secondary and 3 at home in the pipeline...
-this means if the primary centre remains the Persian Gulf, loss of just 2 carriers in WESPAC means PLAN has achieved their "Port Arthur", and would be well on the way to their "Tsushima" should US sent their remaining fleets in a "avenge the fallen" offensive
-what aircraft are those carriers carrying, btw? F/A-18Z? with F-35 gone by 2020 next fighter might take 2050 to materialize...

Steel City said...

Concur on the very plausible comment on the shipbuilding programs.  I don't see the active force predominantly getting out in the 10-15 year range nor do I see 5 years of sea duty with one year ashore ever happening even under the worst of circumstances.  You do see sea-shore rotation stats like that at times but they are voluntary...folks that either enjoy sea duty so much that they don't want to leave or they don't want to give up their sea pay premium $.

Another Guest said...

This is perhaps a little optimistic.  

WCOG said...

Sounds about right, welcome to hell!

Bob said...

No matter what anyone says, AAW will remain the priority within the AEGIS community for the foreseeable future.  BMD is simply another capability that gets integrated.  Only way that Flt III sacrifices AAW for BMD is if the programs involved on the Navy side run out of money and PD452 is forced to step in to pay for the development of the whole combat system (and probably part of the ship).  That ain't gonna happen, believe me.  Virtually everything else in the surface Navy would go first.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Before we bash the CNO, let's look at what he is doing.  He is challenging us to provide him answers.  CNO is a nuke.  He reads EVERYTHING.  He wants to make DECISIONS.  This is a good change from the past administration, trust me!  He is worried about the capability that we are delivering today.  He is petrified about what is coming down the line.  He knows what we know--if you want M-1 ships, you need to either significantly increase funding or significantly decrease the number of ships without DoD just taking the savings writ large.  CNO is focusing on holistic analyses and DOTMLPF.  This is a great start.  So let's not call him out to lunch just yet--he has a vision and is challenging us to find creative ways to realize it.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

More Kool-Aid, anyone?

byron's internet daddy said...

the 401k thing is real and will drive out more than just the enlisted.   

Byron said...

Fast Eddie Fishburner (you can't hide for sh!t, you know that?), my daddy died 6 years ago, and you sure as hell ain't him. Get to eating, butt wipe.

Byron said...

HEY, CNO, QUIT BUILDING THOSE STUPID LCS'S!!!!!!

How about that?

GIMP said...

I'll cast my lot with the contrarian on this one.

Add to it that new systems will significantly underperform and incur cost overruns; the Navy will deceive Congress with unsupportably optimistic predictions about shipbuilding costs, system capabilities, and fleet readiness. The Navy will protect program budgets by cutting personnel costs at every opportunity, while still purporting to "take care of Sailors." Manned aviation will suffer cuts in parts, hours, and training to fund unmanned platforms that will prove to be ineffective and extremely susceptible to electronic attack. The official postition on all programs, manned and unmanned, will be that they are complete successes. The Navy will delude itself into believing that unmanned aircraft, cyber, and undermanned ships with broken systems can actually get anything done in the real world. If anything goes badly, the Navy will blame its own officers and sailors for everything while burying all evidence of failed systems, undermanning, lack of training, parts, fuel, or anything else that actually matters, while continuing to transfer large portions of its budget to industry for things that don't work, all in an effort to secure post retirement employment for a powerful cadre of senior leaders.

In other words, nothing will change.

Combat Wombat said...

Neglected to note that the Navy's over-reliance on IP networks for tactical, strategic, sensor, and C&C data transfer, coupled with their lack of ability to simultaneously outsource and insource the entire infrastructure; the frailty thereof to countermeasures, attack, and advancing attack technologies, combined with an inability to retain at least some of the "old ways" of doing things will ensure a self inflicted denial of service, and thence a loss of any ability to project power beyond the 12 mile limit. :'(

Mike M. said...

I'm a revolutionary optimist.

The biggest problem facing the Navy in 2011 was the imbalance of the overall DOD force structure.  Goldwater-Nichols had locked the overall Defense budget into a balance that was optimized for fighting a land war in Europe - a world that was twenty years past even then.  Fortunately, the problem was being recognized, and substantial changes made to the allocation of resources.  The Army was cut to 24 brigades, with the savings going directly to the Navy.

Strategically, this move may have saved the United States.  While American and Canadian shale oil resources have largely replaced Middle Eastern resources in North America, Europe continues to buy.  The Navy continues to patrol, albeit at a reduced tempo.  The Pacific has taken over as the primary area of interest, thanks to Chinese growth.  India has become a major ally.

LCS was terminated after the construction of the 20 contracted ships.  They've done tolerably well in SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM, releasing serious combatants for the Pacific and Middle East.  The new FFGX program is expected to produce real fighting ships soon.

F-35 was cancelled in 2013.  The Air Force got 270 additional F-22s, as well as 900 late-model F-16s.  The Navy got more E/Fs, as well as carte blanche on the development of the F-24.  The Marines, after some serious soul-searching, ditched the Harrier in favor of a mix of E/F and Super Tucanos. 

Unmanned aviation lived up to expectations...of the people who understood the technology and its limitations.  The absurd notion of replacing manned aircraft with unmanned aircraft was replaced by the recognition that unmanned aviation was a niche technology.  Great for maritime patrol, and high-risk TACAIR missions, less so for other uses.  USVs and UUVs have also proven useful, but again, as a niche technology. 

Flight III Burkes are coming off the ways, but it's a controversial program.  The inconsistent policies of the 1st decade of the 21st century did terrible damage to shipbuilding.  A lot of money was squandered on the plan du jour. 

The big surface navy program, though, is CGNX.  Big behemoth, designed to both shoot missiles and power energy weapons.

As for subs, the Virginia class powerplant was adapted to drive the new SSBN/SSGN design.  They aren't the fastest boats, but it was the only option without a backbreaking price tag. 

Manning continues to be a headache, but the 401k-based retirement system proved attractive to a lot of people.  Sailors are more willing to reenlist knowing that they don't have to make a 20-year career to collect a retirement check.

Vigilis said...

Greenert, who is very capable, appears to be cautioning someone besides his successors.

He reflects many tenuous needs to his audience, including requirements for more partners.

One thing is missing that we would all do well to consider.  After expected attrition of warm bodies, exactly what, besides a draft, is going to induce sufficient enlistments after a major 911? 

The draft has been effectively emasculated for future use.  There would be so many lawsuits now for attempts to exempt women from a draft to meet USMC and naval needs that it is untenable in today's legal environment. 

Could enough volunteers be mustered any longer willing to serve under complex JAG rules of right to fire and field campaigns where more have been sacrificed to IEDs than in actual enemy combat?  Should someone let China's PLAN know that we will soon deem armies obsolescent?

Abduh-a-la-h said...

Wishing you so thank you much and good for builds LCS and sending them to every where so that may we practice our gunnshots at them often times.

Much thanks you next years futures for makes 55 LCS for to enable us to have many target practices with our gunshooting.

Please to accept our greatly gratefulnesses for granting us Target practice for your fast targets you will send to our future waters. We make solemn promises to pick up from waters all surviving wet sailors after completely our target practices on fine little LCS targets for us.         :) :)

sid said...

The USN can no longer operate as Nimitz did off Okinawa in 1945 when there were "more ships and planes than the enemy has bullets."

So that also means that following tha German penchant for always going after the "wunderweapon" to make up for the numbers they knew they would never have isn't going to work.

Nor will the attitude that we are smarter than everyone else...And that our indisputable qualitative advantage will carry the day.

The wunderweapons and wundersoldiers did not carry the day in the end.

Nope...the USN is going to have to fight the wars of 2025 and beyond facing the prospects that it will not be able to sweep in with total dominance...that it won't have secure flanks from which to draw support...against an enemy that could well be just as smart...just as dedicated to winning...with tools that could well be just as good in larger...in some cases better...and that things will be a toss up until the bell rings.

James said...

"In aviation, the Lightning II cancellation will have left a development gap and the type models and series flying in 2011 will remain in service. A Joint Future Fighter program between the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force will have begun seeking a single common aircraft, but will end with three differing models – one twin engined model for carrier operations, a single engine model for land based operations, and a short take off and vertical landing version to operate from the Wasp/America classes and austere airfields."
Obviously this man has lost his mind i mean really! cancel the f35?! AND build aircraft for the specific services they need to undertake?! Has he not heard of transformationalness?

Naval_Historian said...

I'll pitch in on Personnel:

After the first few years of the 401k based retirement, enlisted end-strength is nearly at optimal levels. The first 2 years of the program saw a mass exodus of retirement-eligible E6-E9 Sailors, a "brain drain" that mandated 100% selection quotas in selected rates. Between PTS, the ERBs and the "brain drain", some commands found themselves in the unenviable position of Second Class LPOs, PO1 Division "LCPO"s, and CPO Department LCPOs.  The personnel challenge is fading into memory, except in the Selected Reserve. Over on the SELRES side of the house, some units' 'junior' Sailor is a red-stripe PO1 or PO2; PTS and the ERBs have resulted in a very overmanned Navy Reserve, as non-selectees try to "stay Navy". 2025's major personnel challenge is maintaining a viable Reserve Component, and COMNAVRESFOR is meeting the challenge by offering Continuation Board non-selectees the options of voluntary demotion, transfer to the Voluntary Training Units or early retirement; 16+ years for E6, 17+ for E7, and 18+ for E9 are the gateways to qualify for traditional retirement. Overall, the program resembles 2011's Enlisted Retention Board, with one exception: the old "Blue to Green" program has been resurrected, and SELRES non-selectees are offered the opportunity to transfer to comparable jobs in the Air and Army National Guards of selected States.

James said...

There would be plenty of volunteers if the Navy accepted them. Buddy of mine taked to the recruiters.

So i am over weight and i know i need to lose it and am working on that right now:

Army-Yea no worries we can work with that.
Airforce: We can work with that WE'LL MAKE YOU A FIGHTER PILOT!
Sorry zoomies couldnt resist
Marine-Cool lose the weight and come back if you think you want to be a marine.
Navy; OH....um....oh ok....well we'll send you some info and yea...

Of course when they get past that they get to deal with the diversity idiots, the double timing superior officers, favoratism, and all the other insanity.

Not to mention the fact that the navy continues to destroy any coolness to the navy.

"So you want to reup! GO NAVY!"

And then wonder wny people say no.

Naval_Historian said...

Addenda: Some rates were  stop-lossed for the second year of the new 401k-based retirement; Sailors were involuntarily extended on active duty until replacements could be promoted the losses were so severe during Year One. While NPC DID move quickly to address the issue, retirement packages submitted between NAVADMIN 107/xx (message promulgating the 401k retirement) and NAVADMIN 243/xx (message authorizing stop-loss for retirement-eligible Sailors in selected rates) were approved in order recieved, but many were not reviewed for months due to the backlog.

James said...

Exactly. Plus what good are those Wunder weapons when the enemy just by passes them and destroys the things that make the country run.

ewok40k said...

it over 20 years to develop f-35, my take is should it fail it will take into 2040s to create any "next gen" - and we will be left with F-18Z and F-16 block 99 or something along the lines...

Bryan Clark said...

Good alternative view from this writer. I would encourage him or her to put their name to the piece.

That said, I think it has two main flaws: 1) the description assumes past history is a predictor of future performance, which may not be accurate (I am choosing to not be cynical here). 2) it describes where the Navy is in 2025 but does not discuss where the Navy should be in 2025. It offers no ideas for where the fleet should go, but only extrapolates current efforts and problems forward 15 years - not very inspiring.

I think the CNO's article is intended to identify some themes that should apply to the Navy of 2025. As opposed to laying out what happens to each piece of Navy force structure in 2025, it identifies the factors which will drive what the fleet will look like. The ideas of using more forward stationing, rotational crewing, favoring payloads over platforms, and operationalizing the EM spectrum are ones planners will have consider as they develop the future fleet.

sid said...

All of this wonderful idea about inport resupply for the LCS's etc needs a big Rethink...

(AFP news blurb circa 2025)

'Its been nearly a decade since the British relinquished their sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.  In the years since the Chinese, who were insturmental in the UN Resolution forcing Great Britain to give up the islands have established a fromidable naval presence in the Indian Ocean centered about the former US base at Diego Garcia'....

Better start buying some mobile fleet support infratructure...It ain't all about the whizbang baubles...

or "The Network"....

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cdrsalamander said...

Bryan,

I disagree - in this command climate I agree with the author's decision to keep anon (for the record, I know him). In the finest traditions of the Federalist Papers - he is exactly correct in not putting him name to it.  It is something he did on both my advice and others.

ewok40k said...

and even if not for Chinese, there is a risk of the many atolls sinking under the rising ocean... while I am not with the "save the planet" crowd (for purely egotical reasons, Poland is running on Silesia coal for most of its energy needs) , failing to consider the effect of melting polar ice caps is not exactly a good thing...

sid said...

Sorry ewok...But not buying the straight line Glow-Bull Warming hype/money scam....

My bet is that by 2025, temps will be well backed off, and sea ice will be back to 1970's levels.

One thing about 2025 you can bet on though ...

There will be yet another hyped "threat" of human extinction.

And an offerred "solution" that is nothing more than a money grabbing scheme.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Sid,
You called it.  And the concomitant demand for the US to send all of its money to nations that hate us.  That's the only way we can save the planet.

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