Well ... wouldn't you know. Where we reaped, we now sow. Remember back 5-8 years ago, we brought much of this on the front porch - along with a few selected moles on the inside and in the press - everyone tut-tut'd away.
You need to read it all, but for me it is all a sad read. Like reading the accident report from you friend who you could not stop getting in their car and driving home. You warned, you cautioned ... but could not stop him.
Well, so be it. Like I shared with some friends yesterday, with LCS; my thoughts remain unchanged. The time to kill it has passed over three years ago when I cried uncle. Making the best of the sub-optimal should be the driver right now, but if budgetary issues kill it, so be it.
All the warnings about program and technology risk 5-8 years ago have come to pass and born fruit. You didn't have to be a genius to figure that out. We got here because of ego, professional brinkmanship, bullying and a large measure if simple ahistorical arrogance typical of the worst of the transformationalists.
If we did what other generations did, via other classes of ships also in production on either side of LCS, we would have a hedge to mitigate coming out on the short end of program & technology risk that we have with LCS. But no, no, no - we were so much smarter than everyone else that one-size fits all and through sheer force of will, will make it work.
Fools, and our Navy and it's Sailors will suffer for decades because of this wholesale failure of stewardship. But .... y'all are probably as sick of reading my rants on the topic as I am giving them.
What to do now? Someone open a bottle of scotch, turn off the phones, and wheel in the white board ...... better people have had harder problems to fix, this is fixable.
Until then - here are my Top-5 hits; see if you can find your own.
In no specific order:
- Unrealistically low original estimate. Some observers believe that the original cost estimate of $220 million for the LCS sea frame was unrealistically low. If so, a potential follow-on question would be whether the LCS represents a case of “low-balling”—using an unrealistically low cost estimate in the early stages of a proposed weapon program to help the program win approval and become an established procurement effort.That about says it.
- ... the challenges the Navy faces today in terms of developing an LCS concept of operations (CONOPS), LCS manning and training policies, and LCS maintenance and logistics plans were increased by the rapid acquisition strategy, because these matters were partly deferred to later years (i.e., to today) while the Navy moved to put LCSs into production. Supporters of this perspective might argue that the costs of the rapid acquisition strategy are not offset by very much in terms of a true reduction in acquisition cycle time, because the first LCS to be equipped with a mission package that has reached IOC (initial operational capability) will not occur until late FY2014—almost 13 years after the LCS program was announced. Supporters of this perspective could argue that the Navy could have avoided many of the program’s early problems and current challenges—and could have had a fully equipped first ship enter service in 2011 or 2012—if had instead pursued a traditional acquisition approach for a new frigate or corvette. They could argue that the LCS program validated, for defense acquisition, the guideline from the world of business management that if an effort aims at obtaining something fast, cheap, and good, it will succeed in getting no more than two of these things, or, more simply, that the LCS program validated the general saying that haste makes waste.
- In the years that have passed since the LCS program was first announced in November 2001, countering China’s maritime military modernization effort has become an increasing concern. Countering improved Chinese maritime military forces will involve procuring ships (such as destroyers and attack submarines) that are oriented toward ballistic missile defense, anti-ship cruise missile defense, countering larger surface ships, and countering submarines that are operating far from shore as well as in littoral waters.
The LCS is not optimized for most of these missions. The LCS’s three primary missions of countering mines, small boats, and diesel-electric submarines, particularly in littoral waters, remain valid, but in a period of constrained defense spending, resources devoted to these missions must be balanced against resources devoted to ships with mission orientations that are
more closely aligned with the goal of countering China’s improving maritime military capabilities.
- While the Navy would not release the OPNAV report, a number of sources familiar with both LCS and the report said it lays out in greater detail the problems and issues confronting the entire LCS effort, including the concept of operations (CONOPS), manning shortages, maintenance and training concerns, modularity and mission module issues, and commonality problems between the two LCS variants.
It also cites problems with how the LCS is perceived in the fleet, how leadership presents LCS capabilities, and the need to effect changes in virtually every operational area. “As I looked at some of the draft documentation to say how we’re going to run LCS, what I thought we needed to do was a rebaselining, understanding how much information we’ve generated on how we’re going to operate these ships, and take that and build a foundation,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, OPNAV’s director of surface warfare, during an interview at the Pentagon. “I will call this a concept of employment, or CONEMP. ”Rowden is leading the work to coordinate and compile the LCS analytical efforts.
“The reality of it is, it’s time to step back and say, what did we get wrong here?”
- Planners originally envisaged the LCS as a replacement for the fleet’s frigates, minesweepers and patrol boats, but the new assessments conclude the ships are not equal to today’s frigates or mine countermeasures ships, and they are too large to operate as patrol boats.
The LCS, according to the assessments, is not able to fulfill most of the fleet missions required by the Navy’s primary strategy document, the “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower,” and included in a 2011 revision of the LCS CONOPS document.
Equipped with a surface warfare or maritime security mission package, the ships were judged capable of carrying out theater security cooperation and deterrence missions, and maritime security operations, such as anti-piracy. But the LCS vessels cannot successfully perform three other core missions envisioned for them—forward presence, sea control or power projection missions—and they can provide only limited humanitarian assistance or disaster relief operations, sources said.
The shortcomings are well known in the fleet, prompting a perception that service leaders are looking for missions to fit LCS, rather than the other way around.
So, what if Congress decides to cut LCS at 24? After the cheers, laughter, and tears (depending on who you are) - you have a real problem on your hand. SLEP the MIW ships? What about the PCs? Does anyone really think Congress will build any non-USA designed ship? Even if they would - with what money? That step and others would quickly bring you to a sub-250 ship Fleet.
You are close to an "East of Suez" moment - something at that point will have to give. Without a grand strategy though, we will just look like a drunk teenager trying to mow a two acre field with a 24" mower.
I'll say it again; all avoidable. All the fruits of the lost decade of the bloated-budget, distracted, fonctionnaire transformationalists.
And who has been held to account? The sacrificial CAPT and RDML do not count. We know who has been promoted.
What next? Sad to say - unless you have someone in Congress that is willing to do something off script - I think we are exactly where our leaders in the lost decade wanted us - corrective action delayed until we are painted in a corner so we have no choice but to keep LCS going. They are just waiting for everyone to finally see the light, or from sheer exhaustion - give in and embrace what is the irresistible force of their will.
They will, in the finest traditions of psycho high school girlfriend, make us love them and their sub-optimal Little Crappy Ship.