Monday, October 08, 2007

Waiting For The Navy's Petraeus

Mike Burleson at just hits it out of the ballpark (mostly). He is a little off in that some of his "new" threats are really quite old but ignored, and he gives LCS to much credit - but where he is right, he is right.
I would dearly love to see a Navy admiral with the courage to stand up to the status quo, as America’s new commander in Iraq General David Petraeus has done for the Army, to answer the challenges of modern war at sea.
Our current hi-tech fleet is too expensive for the kind of gunboat diplomacy against Third World countries we frequently find ourselves conducting. It is also far too small for a worldwide anti-submarine campaign the likes of which we fought in the World Wars of the last century. A defensive mindset has given us a Navy mainly expected to defend themselves, rather than taking the fight to the enemy.
Donald Winter on his plans for "Business as usual" during his tenure (via Defense Industry Daily):

"In the past, the Navy has had shipbuilding production plans that included 34 Spruance class destroyers, 30 Aegis Cruisers, 62 Arleigh Burke class destroyers, and 54 Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates – very large production runs over relatively short periods of time. Needless to say, those production rates are just not feasible with ships like DD (X), CG (X), CVN21 (Ford class carriers), and Virginia class submarines. We need a new shipbuilding model that can cost-effectively provide significant increases in capability at low rates of production."

In my own opinion, the less capable and cheaper vessels he mentions at the start are more capable than future plans for whiz-bang and technically uncertain dinosaurs at sea. My reasoning for this is a large fleet can be many places at once, showing the flag still being the most effective deterrent of aggression, and can maintain itself better in a war of attrition.
Bottom line: we are not ready for a war of attrition at sea, the kind the Army had forced on them in Iraq and is just barely now turning around. Our enemies can’t match us carrier for carrier, destroyer for destroyer, but have no qualms in hitting us where we are weakest. General Petraeus understands this, after many hard-won lessons in Iraq. We can only hope our naval leadership will soon realize it as well, before it is too late.
Hat tip Chap.

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