OK folks - I'm not just making this required listening because at the 43:25 mark, Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute quoted your humble, ahem, blogger - no - you need to listen to this as it is a great panel and a very well rounded discussion of where we are as a Navy and were we need to go.
All these panel members want the same thing - they just differ on how to get there and what tools we need when we arrive. It is a great example of the "creative friction" that is so important to achieving success in any endeavor.
The panel members were Robert O. Work, Under Secretary of the Navy; Eric J. Labs, Senior Analyst for Naval Forces and Weapons, Congressional Budget Office; Ben Freeman, National Security Fellow, Project on Government Oversight; Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; and moderator Benjamin Friedman, Senior Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies, Cato Institute.
Depending on your Operating System, you may just have to download the MP3 and listen - but head on over to CATO and catch the full policy forum; The Future of the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet.
Just a note about "The Under." As most of you know, though I disagree with him on LCS - I personally and professionally like the guy. He is a great patriot and thinker - I just think he is wrong in most things about LCS. Not all, just most. Actually, on LCS I hope I am wrong in the end and he is right - as if I am mostly right ... then ungh.
He is a happy warrior - but perhaps too happy. Though he understands and recognizes technology and program risk - I don't think he appreciates the downside or has really thought out Plan B - as Plan A will be almost compete before we know if it is even a good plan - very different than the small run plans of the past he used as examples in his presentation.
He is also making the mistake of not understanding fully why people oppose LCS. He gets little angles of the opposition, but not the whole picture - creating little partial straw men to argue against. It misses the nuance, but is fair on his part and worth looking at.
He states that there are three type of people who do not like LCS:
1. Those who just don't get the new Fleet design and as such just .... don't get its transformational brilliance.
2. Those who do not like the problems in the early stages of the program and are stuck on that and can't get over it. (BTW - tacky and internally contradictory move by The Under in using the "inherited from the previous administration" dodge - while praising CNO Clark).
3. Those who don't like the design flaws.
He also growls at those who want a frigate, "If we needed a frigate, we would build a frigate." Well, from HOA to Libya to about everywhere else - yes we need a "frigate" in the modern 21st Century sense.
Let me address 1, 2, & 3.
1. I agree some don't understand the Fleet design because they haven't made the effort to try - but most people I know have and they simply don't agree with it. They don't believe it is a good design, that it will work as promised, or that is the best design to meet the known unknowns our Navy always seems to sail in to. I would also offer that many of those don't like the design because it is based of a selective Hegelian dialectic reading of Fleet progression since WWII. Undersecretary Work, just because someone does not agree with the Fleet design you like, does not mean they "don't get it." They do - they just don't like it, kind of like Moxie.
2. Fair description of one subset of opponents. Many are as described - and they can't get over it as many of those errors are "baked in" to the ships and cannot be PPT'd out. They also remember how truth changed and are a little jaded as a result. Agree though that it is looking backwards a bit too much, not forward.
3. That is really a sub-set of 2, with a healthy skepticism of the "Swiss Army LCS" nature of the program - a more effective position to take.
I am also concerned because his argument is full of contradictions that don't lead one to have faith that everything will turn out right. Just a few examples.
A: You can't state that some people don't get the "radical, new, transformational, sliced, dices, julliennes" Fleet design on one hand, and then say that the Fleet design represents a "return of the small combatant to the Fleet design." Even a paleo-neo-Mahanist would understand that. May need to re-tool that counter.
B: Of course it is a warship - but you cannot have the CNO state:
"I don't worry per se about its survivability where I would intend to send it," Greenert said of the LCS. "You won't send it into an anti-access area."... and then talk about a future LCS Skipper turning towards the enemy like the Tin Cans off Samar. You can't be both (for the record, I agree with The Under. The LCS CO will have to order his ship in to the teeth, as he won't have a choice as history teaches up. That, again, makes many of my points).
Enough of my prattling on - listen to the forum and what all the panel members had to say.
Hat tip Galrahn.