Sadly, the great diversity of platforms that we used to tremendous effect in Vietnam were thrown away in the late '90s, but we finally did the right thing and did some good with what we put together. We could have done better, but we did OK.
That memory folded in when I was pondering the picture earlier this month (no, this is not a bring back the BB post; I'm not one of "them" for goodness sake) - but I was thinking again how the busy peace has made us forget what is really needed.
From the Falklands, Al Faw, and Gaza; we are reminded now and then the power of the general purpose gun ashore. All those capabilities proved over the last century are needed now, but is has atrophied so much, it is almost criminal. Both in capability and execution. Recall the target set during the Libyan operation? Much of those were well within reach of even the 5" & 100mm on most of the ships off shore - but only a few of our allies, most notably the French, even thought of using them. Modern technology makes it better, but we forget even in the analog age - precision gunfire support in urban operations was not only possible, but was expected. It is a capability that simply exists in no other place.
You know our status now ... but I want to take you back to the attack on the siege of Hue City and the assault on the citadel; something that could not have been done without the 5", 6", and 8" NSFS - not to mention other support via the Riverine forces.
From Thomas Petri's Lightning From The Sky Thunder From The Sea;
... 15 February ... USS Manley (DD-940) ... Between 0842 and 0946, 42 rounds of five inch/54 ammunition was fired against the wall, rupturing in in three places ... On 17 February, USS Providence (CLG-6) ... delivered 136 rounds of six inch/46 ammunition against the citadel wall ... USS Lynde McCormick (DDG-8) ... on 12 February ... expended 1,077 rounds, ... supressing NVA mortar fire and disrupting one assault on 1st Cav. ... On 21 February ... in preparation for the attack ... the eight-inch guns of cruiser USS Canbarra (CAG-2) with devastating effect. ... On 23 February ... five-inch/54 batteries of USS Hull (DD-945) (were directed on) escaping NVA/VC troops trying to escape ... with 50 confirmed KIA. ... on 27 February ... utili(zing) five-in spin stabilized rockets of USS Carronade (IFS-1) to engage a reported NVA battalion west of Hue, causing 53 secondary explosions and unknown causalities ... In support of Operation Jeb Stuart I, US Navy gunline ships ... fired over 13,000 round of various caliber causing 397 NVA/VC casualties (not including 300-plus KIA USS Canberra shared with artillery unitsYou get the idea - read more at about page 185 or so.
Or you can buy the book. We failed the Army and USMC in Iraq by not having what was needed ... and the way things are going, we will fail when the call comes again. Too little, and perhaps too late.
Again, 5" is nice, 155mm (nee 6.1") is better ... 8" is best of what is realistic in 2012. The MK-71 is standing by. Sigh.