Monday, January 16, 2012

Potomac Flotilla PPT Pom-Pom

Do you hear it? Sometimes it is as a whisper; sometimes as through clenched teeth; and sometimes as a warning.

Every professional should somewhere in their nogg'n have Rear Admiral Meyer’s philosophy on memory speed dial; and short little mental audio file of;

Build a Little, Test a Little, Learn a Lot
The Meyer school, like those that developed the cruisers and naval missiles before him, are from one school. That progressive, optimistic, but engineering minded caution which has a great track record.

To truly advance, which they did, that school needed to interact with the type of person perhaps best described as a "futurist"; people who have quick and agile minds; those who try to think 3-4 steps ahead. You know the type. The two types work great together either as a group, or in the best of cases, in the mind of a single person. It works well as long as the Meyer school gets 51% of the vote. When out of balance, sub-optimization happens.

The futurists live in a world of ideas; constantly flowing ideas. They bounce from the possible, to the improbable, to the impossible often in the same paragraph. They don't want to be bothered with the green eye-shade types and their "Cult of the No." They are aggravated by what they see as the obstructionists inertia of the establishmentarian "new-is-different-different-is-scary-scary-is-bad" trolls at the end of the conference table. Those types raise the futurists' blood pressure, elevate an octave of their voice, and most infuriatingly - slow down the inevitable dialectics of technological progress; as the futurists see it.

Futurists are needed, but with too much power and a lack of strong pragmatists to counter them, they soon start to wander from the probable, to the possible in a parallel universe, to the disaster of tomorrow's reality. There is a reason H.G. Wells and Robert A. Heinlein were never given a major decision making position in real institutions doing real things; outside perhaps of Heinlein's worker bee engineering work in WWII.

When a futurist's idea gains an advocate who bets the balance of a professional reputation blended with a healthy bit of ego, you can have problems as truth changes and the laws of physics and math remain.

That is where Undersecretary of the Navy Work comes in to this post. If you were following DoDBuzz's twitter feed last week, there were a couple of interesting tweets about Work's comments at the Surface Navy Association's 24th National Symposium.
Work, in funny high voice, mocked hand-wringing over numbers of ships in fleet: "Is it 313? Is it 310?" Doesn't matter, he sez. Cont (1/2)
...
(2/2) Work says look at capabilities of ships, new systems such as BAMS, NIFC-CA, global placement. That means ship numbers matter less
I would feel better if he were, with a wave of the hand, dismissing concerns of shrinking numbers based upon gains in effeciencey through known, and demonstrated technology - not modeled, presumed, simulated, vignette'd, believed, felt, thought, or hoped.

Known. BAMS, NIFC-CA, global placement, and LCS are all in the believed, felt, thought, or hoped category right now.

Meanwhile, even our shrinking global committments are taking a toll on our present Fleet in both personnel and material condition. Numbers matter - real numbers - when faced with real requirements.

Look at the condition of our ships and manpower needs. If we cannot get the numbers and capabilities we need inside the budget - then as a Navy we need to cut back on our operations and make sure the national command authority knows we can't do X, Y, & Z. The worst thing we can do is say that there is no need to worry, with my bag of pixie dust, 1+1=3 and all is well.

Let's talk about Work's solutions:
1. Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS): That this the UAS companion to the P-8A. Thank goodness it is built on the Global Hawk platform, so the technology risk is minimum. How it will actually contribute is still only PPT thick. It will augment some of P-8A's lower-end mission areas, that we know. It is just an UAS - and evolutionary UAS at that - and will take all the knows quirks and requirements of UAS with it. That is all. As for ships - it will only help on the margins in some mission areas. Its manpower footprint is not small either. In any analysis, it is a wash given a shrinking fleet.

2. Navy Integrated Fire Control - Counter Air (NIFC-CA): Again, nice system but is just another technical evolution - one that is a bit more than PPT thick - but in the operations we are and will be doing will only impact shrinking numbers on the margins.

3. Global Placement: OK, I'll bite. Is this a new way of saying "Forward Deployed Naval Forces?" DDG to Rota for BMD or LCS to Singapore to .... go to Singapore? Stationing ships overseas. OK, that has been a practice of navies for a few thousand years, but sure - use it if you need to.

4. LCS: Ahhhh yes - LCS the gift that keeps on giving. A short legged, overpriced, undermanned, exquisite bit of Tiffany, heavy, uni-mission, incomplete corvette. Hey, you've all heard my assaults on LCS, let's let someone else speak about it for a moment.
Navy surface requirements boss RADM Rowden says Navy must, must, must get LCS right, as it's make-or-break for surface force.
Thank you RADM Rowden. You are right. We have no idea if we have LCS right - even if Work and others continue to tell us of its wonderful ability to ride rainbows and skittles flow out of its exhaust ports. We are planning based on hope. What is our Branch Plan if our Planning Assumption (getting LCS right) is shown not to be valid? Ahem.

Too bad we don't know if we got it right - we are betting the farm on it. A ship based on a buzz-word, distorted from its original concept founded on an archaic concept, foisted upon a Navy by false vignettes three strategies ago. Even our friends and allies don't want it. It used to be that our "low end" ships were so well designed that in addition to buying USA made ones - our allies built their own versions (see KNOX and OHP). (BTW, we discussed the LCS silliness a bit on Midrats with Bob Killebrew on Sunday.)

Throwing acronyms at a problem is not solving it or addressing concerns it brings; neither does waiving away critics.

Remember at West2011 last year? I am glad that Work mentioned John Patch's article - even if he was dismissive and slightly insulting. No biggie there - I can be dismissive and slightly insulting myself - but it fits a pattern. That is also when we heard him yell that,
"We don't need more frigates, if we need more we can use our allies."
From capabilities to caveats, I think our experience from HOA to the Gulf of Sidra should have reminded everyone, again, the utility of having your own multi-use frigates under your own command.

Again, numbers matter. Look at our deployment stats the last few years. Look at the BATAAN ARG if nothing else.

In the end though, Undersecretary Work is an exceptionally talented patriot and in the short time I have spent across the table from him last year, he seems like someone who would be fun to buy a few pints of Boddingtons with.

Phil calls him a "happy warrior." I think that is fair, and his position is one part of the creative friction that will be needed to get the Navy this nation will need. I don't have the solution (though I would love for Plan Salamander to be run years ago when I first proposed it - what was that - at least 5 years ago) - but neither does he. The answer is somewhere in between.

That being said, I think he is wrong in the way many futurists get lost without the leavening of a good the pragmatist by their side. He sees the problems in front of us, but as solutions to the problems only offers PPT programs, best case scenario outcomes with no backups, and solutions to even partially fix problems identified over a decade ago with what we have now. "Now is bad; and tomorrow will have to sacrifice and accept risk for the perfect next year."
The answer, you see, is always in the out years.
Work admitted that he might be accused of “talking nirvana,” and he acknowledged to reporters afterward that part of Washington’s emphasis on Navy fleet numbers was because of the Navy itself. Two consecutive chiefs of naval operations spent years selling 313 as at least the minimum number of warships the Navy must have, but as we saw Wednesday from Senator Susan Collins, even the Navy’s own projections aren’t very optimistic about that.

Work said he thought the Navy should begin trying to tell Congress a broader story about the Navy as “a total integrated battle force,” as opposed to just a simple number of ships, but he and other top Navy leaders this week did not concede the service should change its official requirements.
Ummmm .... many, including your humble host, have been saying "balderdash" to 313 since it came out - and we were right. Math is funny like that - you can't spin it away once you start paying welders. No one who is serious has accepted 313 as doable for years, much less in the last three years.

As for the Navy being "a total integrated battle force" - what is the news with that again? Is not water wet? Yes, I know he is going down the network-centric hobby horse way; but again that example is a self-parody. Water one day will be wetter they say; one day.

Always,
"Ignore Meyer, your sensors, your instruments, and their reactionary data. The answer to your problems is over the horizon - go faster, you'll get there - ignore the shoal water you are in and the fact we were warned about it two watches ago, and your ears that hear the scraping against the hull - go faster to the future, I can feel it's just over the horizon."

33 comments:

cdrsalamander said...

Actually; no - I didn't read it.

Gal and I come at LCS from different angles.  He is mostly hope with a little bit of worry about the system; I am mostly worried with little hope for the system.

Of note, we never got to the 5th OHP or SPRU and have people say, "If we got this right .... "  We are very deep into the program and still don't have a FMC mission module that we can then operatinally test. Even if LCS works as promised, which it won't - it will still be a uni-mission, short legged, Tiffany PPT made flesh. A perfect ship for a reality that never existed and never will.  Useful only on the margins with a huge opportunity costs today and tomorrow.  $.02.

Byron said...

Also, it was known up front that the FFG was lacking in two key areas when the program was funded: fin stablizers (my GOD did they roll) and a tail. The Figs started getting built without (it was the only way to get it funded in the Jimmy Carter/Ford years) and just as soon as Reagan was elected (600 ships!) the Navy started fitting the fins and even doing the stepdown extension to the stern (which made the ship around 20ft longer. Follow up flights came from the yards with this equipment already part of the ship. Still, it was known deficiency, there was a plan to fix it, and it got fixed and the FFGs were damn good ships, much better than they Navy ever figured they'd be.

cdrsalamander said...

Yep - those issues were "known knowns."  Problem with LCS is there are oodles of "known unknowns" and how knows how many "unknown unknowns" LCS-2esque are still to be found.

MR T's Haircut said...

We will not fix this until many people die or we lose too many ships we are not capable of defending the SLOC.

couple of problems here that I see.  We have for too long been a Navy afraid of self examination.  We NEVER put ourselves on report.  I would bet we have seen a decline in CASREP/CASCOR traffic, due to COC afraid of putting themselves on report or a sense of apathy due to it isnt gonna get repaired anyways so lets work around it..

I had a COC once that refused to initiate CASREPS unless it caused a mission impact.  If we still had one running SLQ ___ or 2 working AQS____ then we are gonna get the job done anyways... AYE AYE THREE BAGS FULL...

so to me the solution is simple.. STOP THE OPTEMPO and tell the Boss "WE CANNOT MEET THAT MISSION REQUIREMENT.'  I mean come on these Admirals are senior enough they should have the balls and the inlfuence to tell the COCOM / JFCCOM they are NOT mission ready..

this is more a LEADERSHIP issue then a material / budget issue.


Politicians dont care for bad news and it is the JOB no it is the DUTY for the Admirals to stand the fuck up and call a spade a spade...

MR T's Haircut said...

yea but a known known about the LCS is they cost a shitload of obama bucks!

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

the only place where we are a "total integrated battle force" is power point.  It sure isn't in a A2AD environment, when all of our TADILs are scrambled, when we're at EMCON Alpha because the enemy is RDF'ing the shit out of us in order to launch DF-21's on a line of bearing..

It isn't even underway in normal steaming operations.  hell, we can't get interoperability between AEGIS baselines!  JSF interoperability between SSDS Mk2 and AEGIS is YEARS away, maybe even over a decade!

It isn't even pierside in many cases.  Anyone remember the last time that BFTT worked right?  Bold Alligator 11?  NOPE.  read the unredacted version of that goat rope AAR.  The only thing that seemed to go well in that exercise was the leadership group photo that was splashed on Navy.mil

Ship numbers matter because at the end of the day, when all of your wiz-bang gee-whiz stuff that I do for a living goes Tango Uniform, you need to be able to still accomplish your missions, and excellence in the basics gives you that--numbers, seamanship, engineering, GUNNERY, etc.  

So, to that end, I can imagine RDML Myer, at his gruffest, saying the following:  "Build a little.  Test a little.  Learn a lot. Don't believe everything that you read on power point.  And don't be a condescending asshole former Marine who just because he became UnderSecretary and used to work for CSAS thinks he knows everything about surface ships."

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Correction: Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

DeltaBravo said...

Well, sadly the headlines in the paper this morning were about getting rid of one of the flattops.   Trading proven functioning naval capacity for a hopey/changey skiff? 

Perry said...

Anyone remember the NORTON SOUND???  http://www.ussnortonsound.com/a/html/history2.htm  How about the GLOVER? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Glover_(FF-1098)  Or the BRONSTEIN/McCLOY?? http://www.gyrodynehelicopters.com/bronstein_class.htm

It was kind of a radical concept, but back then the Navy would test stuff out on ships that were not intended to go to battle, where failure was acceptable and it wouldn't cost lives.  We realized that when building transformational stuff, we didn't know everything, or even much, about the system, and therefore our first efforts were likely to be operational failures.  We tested them in the lab (whether they be the NORTON SOUND/GLOVER, the nuclear prototypes, or the "cruiser in the cornfields") and AFTER we'd rung the bugs out of them, we then deployed them to operational units.

The idea that we can go out and build something both transformational and ready for operational deployments is a pipe dream that only works in PowerPoints.  

The Usual Suspect said...

There you go making sense!  Please be aware that you could be banned, marked with the scarlet "S", demoted in place, or reprimanded for such transgressions in the future. Please avoid such folly in future posts. 

Old Farter said...

What ever happened to COMOPTEVFOR?  Do they not still test and evaluate? I always thought they gave that job to someone with a reputation for telling the truth. What are they saying about this mess?

James said...

I still like my modular cargo ships idea instead of the LCS. Mine atleast wouldnt sink and would present something of a problem for subs in the littoral and at sea. As well as being capable of amphib and basic patrol duties.

James said...

Lets look at those transformational programs.

LCS-impossible to tell though a nightmare already. Most of its modular systems arent operational even now. Over all it IS a failure already as the Navy has stated it is not capable of doing the job it was designed for.

FCS- FAILURE. The idea that the Army could make everything simple and straight and rely on super technology has been proven again and again a failure.

F-35JSF-Like the LCS a failure even if partly operational. The amount of money and time put into the aircraft and the supposed savings are worthless when the planes are going to be built at a far slower pace than it should have been. The B model is coming along slowly and may be worth it. Over all a failure. After all its went from 92mil for the a model up to 130mil. The C model is predicted to cost around 150-165mil a copy. The B may even be 180mil or more.

DDG-1000. A ship even the futurist cringe over. At 3.5 billion dollars 1 ship is more expensive than two modern burkes. The Ship like the LCS relies on never taking damage. Its firepower is only reasonable because of its battleship size and its design is unstable and reliant upon systems never proven except upon crusieships and such where they have failed in some spectacular ways.

As a aside-There was at one time a idea to use a reccessed gun inside the hull like a moratar. At the tie it was thought the guns might be 8 or even 16 in cannon. However this was rejected as it would prove to be only able to fire guided shells acuratly.
The AGS can only fire guided rounds meaning the reasons stated for its rejection are now meaningless.

There are a nearly limitless number of Supertech weapons..........99% have failed.

So ask why if the patern shows failure 70% of the time, mixed result 25% of the time and a working good product 5% we keep investing in them.

Dave Foster said...

What they are saying, often enough, is that the Syscoms field garbage with lots of problems.  The merits of success in the Syscoms is to keep a program going, get Milestone B first and foremost, get to C eventuallly with and along with this plenty of FOT&E and necessary block upgrades.  The Syscoms are failing the fleet - I see it every day.  The Syscoms develop and test based on often enough questionable requirements and COTF evaluates the same requirements.  You will not see a system requirement that is less than a laundry list of conventional wisdom, futurist, networked nice to haves.  Nothing new.  The Kennedy admin instituted PPBS which demonstrated such failure that by the end of the decade OSD was looking for a way out.  Which led to DoD 5000.  Which has been revised every few years since coming out in the early 70s because it's not seen as satisfactory.  Which led, in part, to JCIDS.  Which is, apparently, OBE and going away.  Futurism meets proceduralism equals what we have today.  It will not get better, will not be reformed from within.  The future will be an extended muddle of the present and past.  I'm no futurist - I'm one of those unimaginative, practical engineers who doesn't get it - but that's the only future I can see for the USN.

Dave Foster said...

AOD, I have to laugh - everything in the future is predicated on Link-16 being up.  There's enough honesty creeping into studies that imagines a battle without the overhead (GPS, Satcom).  But to get the standoff needed to stay away from the scary wondergadgets that everyone else supposedly has, then it's in flight target updates coming over Link 16 until endgame when the seekers are to take over.  It's easy to string words like "<span>a total integrated battle force" together.  Easier even than slapping together a .ppt.  What we are actually doing is working on houses of cards.
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Dave Foster said...

Hear, hear!  It is ALL leadership and not at all a budgetary issue.  DoD and the Navy have been pissing through money and sloppy thinking is the main output.  Austere times have been good for the USN intellectually - see post Civil War and interwar eras.  Fruitful because absent much money we needed to think.

DeltaBravo said...

LCS:  For those times when your Chevy Vega just won't float.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Dave, right on brother.  This is why new CNO brought back the Barrons, or at least is trying to.  Responsibility is apparently en vogue again, at least that is how it comes across (for now).  To me, that is step 1.  Step 2 is bringing back Navy Materiel Command!

Step 3 is folding the Air Farce back into the Army.

Step 4 is giving the Navy Department parity with the War Department (oops, I guess that is steps 4 and 4a)

Step 5 is rewriting Goldwater Nichols and getting rid of the CJCS.

Surfcaster said...

But this time will be different, you can trust me.

Dave Foster said...

"<span><span>I sense this is about to happen with both LCS" - f</span></span>or one small peice of this, see the demise of the NLOS program and the, ahem, substitution with a weaponized Firescout that has minimal useful load, small range, and is a straight and level ISR ball optimized platform, not a dynamic, A-G weapons platform.  An example of many mid-stream "adjustments."  The king-daddy of them all, of course, is the dumbing down of JSF requirements in the recent baseline review during the last DAB, perhaps more legitimately a breath of sanity in reaction to failure to approach requirements.  Its too easy to lard up the gee-whiz and soon enough, you've got a monster that, as SB notes, is beyond programmatic comprehension and therefore adequate management. 

But, both contractors and acq folks deserve plenty of blame because both sides want "more capability" and have the hardest time saying no.  The contractors and syscoms are full of visionaries and futurists who instead ought to be practical engineers.  Threshold and objective performance requirements are laundry lists of improbable combinations.  On top of these, add "net ready" KPPs and other "<span>a total integrated battle force" and you have high complexity.  The program offices will do whatever they can to make the systems work but they won't recommend cutting anything - three bags full and all of that, and "requirements," no matter how dubiously concocted, are sacrosanct. </span> The contractors and we in the acq world move the programs along and deliver underperforming and complicated equipment in fewer numbers and later than promised for more cost routinely.

Dave Foster said...

I'll hold my breath on the deck chair arranging.  That certainly is our history in the acq biz, org chart and process adjustments.  Those are mostly superficial, I'm convinced.  'Never again is what you swore the time before' ought to be the syscom's, OSD's, and the JROC's collective motto.

I realize that just about every major system that we have in the field today was one of the boondoggles of its day: C-5A, C-17, B-2, Apache, Osprey, any number of missile programs, the areas I work in.  I would expect that much is true for systems in other operating regimes.  OSD knows well enough that getting to MS B at low TRL is a recipe for failure.  We all know it and we attempt to address it, but that's not really the way things work out.  I don't know that prototype competitions really work - see LCS, JSF, JAGM, etc., and that's one of the only ways to demonstrate some level of performance in the physical world.  The root of the problem is the complexity that we are after and I believe that the domestic IT that we all enjoy and work with everyday, our smart phones and this sweet thing called the internet, has established a model that DoD wants but won't get, mostly for the real and intractible challenges of dynamic, global wireless network topology (that I'm even stringing these together shows how screwed up I am) and adversaries who will endeavor to compicate its function.  The total integrated battle force is just a really bad piece of a warfighting conversation.  The problem is that the total integrated battle force is science fiction - the "leadership" is talking and supporting scifi at the expense of practical military capability.

James said...

You know one thinks........the Firescouts range is around 110nm....which is.....crap.

However These two vehicles have alot more range and one not only has the ability to lift its own weight in cargo it has 267nm range and is already being tested unmanned by the Marines for resupply. One wonders if it would be possible to make a modular system that could make it capable of carrying weapons and extra fuel or maybe even dipping sonar...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaman_K-MAX

The other had emence range almost 20hrs and it being tested by the army and marines.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_A160_Hummingbird

Hate to say it firescout is looking like another wunder weapon.........who am i kidding it just plain sucks.

Dave Foster said...

Firescout was a red headed step child of a project a decade ago - an interesting approach for a vert life ISR platform that leveraged (oh god I can't get away from the acq buzzwords) a cheap civilian platform.  It really had no life, no raison d'etre on its own until LCS found a possible use.  It's deployed with GOFO operators to the Med, to the Red Sea, to the Med (one shot down or crashed over Libya) and to Afghanistan.  It's not integrated on the ship - the GCS is in a conex on deck.  There's no organizational structure for FS - it's to be integrated in composite HS squadrons.  Not sure what effect this has on the helo det T/O workload - more of the lessons being learnd.  This is all good - just what we ought to be doing - build a little, test a little, and learn from deploying actual, imperfect equipment, and then revise, rather than powerpoint engineer wonderwidgets.  Firescout is limited and rather lame, but it's a place to start and the Navy has no real idea what it might do with UAVs, so the experiments with Firescout and Scan Eagle are smart and simple starting points.  The Navy has been talking about a follow on, notably Fire-X, which maybe be some type of Bell 407 mod if NG can keep hold of the VTUAV (http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/fire-x/index.html - see those sweet graphics - we can't make high quality graphics in NMCI powerpoint :'( ).  I believe that the idea, which has been poorly articulated from an operational utility standpoint, is that FS is simply an interim system that will help get LCS down the road a bit, particularly since NLOS is no more, and then something groovier will come along.  Something with more payload and longer range - maybe something more than a 407 form factor - should be doable.  The major unanswered philosophical issue among the many issues with UAVs is autonomy vs. the ground control link and the burdens of the data link tether vs. the uncertain ethics of significant autonomy.  The major programmatic issue, as always, is how long/complex is the laundry list of "capabilities."

James said...

The problem with that is that the basic vehicle is to slow and has too short of range.

Just seems to me to be a system that is still basicly without a point. There needs to be a Program to get a medium range unmanned helicopter capable of doing some recon and light armament.

We need the predator of helicopters.

Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat said...

The acquisition process needs an overhaul. While politicians are arguing about how to nuke Iran or how much soft power to use, if we got serious and had a real overhaul of the acquisition system, lead by former Program Managers and others that actually had to work within it and know its strengths and weaknesses, we'd save a ton of money and cut a lot of BS out of these programs.

Maybe LCS could have been a nice ship, but its almost impossible to bring anything into the Navy through the normal acquisition process without it taking 10 years and being overbudget and suddenly required to fill everyones requirements that don't make sense in the end. Heck, the UAVs that work halfway decently were acquired using JUONS, so they didn't go through the normal JCIDS process.

Wishful thinking, but I'll cast my vote for whatever politician actually has a plan to reform how we buy stuff in the DoD.

Dave Foster said...

Agreed, but I'm convinced that wishful thinking it will merely be.  We've revamped acq serially for the last 50 years.  The politicians and PMs (many of whom go on to work for the vendors and peddle influence back to the acq system) are the last ones who will change/fix anything in any significant way.  The business of DoD is business, and warfighting is an abberation to be gotten over/through, and back to biz as quickly as possible.  The majority of DoD is in the rear.  The majority of military officers get sheep-dipped in the rear - staff, acq, etc.  Our center of gravity is back on our heels, on our asses, at our stateside desks.  The effort to reform, from within and without, raging against the dying light/the machine is good, brings energy and ideas into the discussion, and mitigates some eggregiousness, but overall, it won't change much.  Find a copy of Merton Peck's 'The Weapons Acquistion Process: An Economic Analysis" (1962), the first broad and systematic study of the military development/procurement system, read it or scan it.  Find studies from the 60s to the present - GAO has a good site and archive - and any number of analyses over the years, and you'll find the same questions and issues raised across the decades.  15 years in the acq business now and the only thing I think this means is that there's some kind of general character to the enterprise that remains essentially the same regardless of time or what can only be concluded are superficial reform and reorganization efforts.  DoD does produce weapons that work, they just usually don't meet expections for cost and schedule to complete or in terms of envisioned performance.  The common sense, ultimately normative, view for how it ought to work verses how it actually works does not apply.  I have dissonence working day.  I know others do too.  I don't believe that the system will get "better" because it hasn't so far and plenty of energy, time and money have been put toward the problem.  Given the fundamental, disfunctional nature of acquisitions, the best "reform" would be to account for the disfunction and to undertake fewer, less complex projects.  Obviously, eh?  The only way to do this is to limit the range of stakeholders.  The total integrated battle force, that kind of thinking, gives too many cats & dogs a vote on what is "needed" in any given system and the added performance specifications scale exponentially to powers greater than 2.  Every warfare communtity can think of plenty of performance improvements nice to haves but then you start adding many other players - gets ugly quickly.  The only reform that I can think of that might help would be to get rid of, not just JCIDS, but the whole joint, FCB, JROC, purple-world approach.  This across-the-boardism has generally failed; to wit, PPBS, Ada (MIL-STD-1815/1815A), Goldwater-Nichols, JTRS, JCIDS, Nunn-McCurdy.  While I'm ranting, a personal peeve: let's be honest and add a "J" to LGB and Hellfire and take that "J" back from JSOW, JASSM, and JMPS, and probably JSF, altough, while we're at it, let's just put the pillow over JSF's head tonight as it sleeps. 

I think we've instituted underperformance across the board in an attempt to mitigate gross individual programmatic failures and that a more local, warfare community direction and control of systems development could not work worse than how it works today.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Separating Meyer from the Corporate AEGIS Mafia is neccessary to have an informed discussion about surface combatant shipbulding.  AEGIS, despite its successes and failures, is a very proprietary system.  It costs a TON of money to open it up.  Open Architecture is a good idea for this very reason.  But Open Architecture does not need to be a radical departure from current combat system design.  On the contrary.  It simply means that the pieces parts are arranged and fielded in such a manner that the Government owns the interface specification standard, the track manager and potentially the Command and decision element so that it can plug and fight such applications as it deems fit with reduced integration costs.

that being said, there is big money spent every year making sure that this vision is not realized for AEGIS.  And the result is more and more admirals going to work for Lockheed Martin when they retire (coincidence, I know) and a combat system that is more expensive than most other nations' entire navies.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

no more overhaul.  Just gut it.

James said...

The thing is the apache, C-17, C-5, etc ALL have a clear mission and are all capable of really doing that mission.........not so the LCS.

James said...

Oh yes and the problem isnt so much the idea of the JSF as the reality of it.

Like communism, socialism or such when it comes to real world conditions they just arent working.

I think the problem lies more in the way the generals and admirals want to see and operate thes things. The LCS program when first preposed was logical........and then it got destroyed as a hundred different missions and specifications were added.

Revolutionary instead of evolutionary rairly works.

Dave Foster said...

More heat for LCS: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/mines-littoral-combat-ship/

Good point on the disctintion between programs with obvious application.

I've read plenty of "not operationally suitable" for some aspect of a system in plenty of COTF reports, but, as the article notes, this does not, and has not, meant that the program has a fatal flaw.  If it has enough topcover, more time, effort, and $ will be vectored its way.  We get bad marks for putting FOT&E in the schedule during early planning, but my thinking is be honest - it's always needed.  How many "Opevals" has the AH-1Z seen and not yet fielded?

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