Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Now THAT is an endorsement

This may shock you, but I can be a contrarian. What I learned over the last 15 years from the CANSLIM method and IBD for investing has treated me quite well, part of that method (look opposite the prevailing mood "bullish/bearish") also applies for what comes out of the mouth of "official spokesmen."

If they call it too sweet, look for the rot. If they call it insane, it just might be the right answer. This piques my interest right away.
“The proposal has not been vetted among the Navy leadership,” said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman. “The hypothetical numbers listed in the brief are ludicrous and are not reflective of Navy leadership’s thinking or intent and has no bearing on the budget or POM (Program Objective Memorandum). The brief is based on a 2-year-old war game and is not being used to recommend force structure options.”
Yep, I want to see it (hint; if you have it UNCLAS non-FOUO, please email it). What are they talking about?
The U.S. Navy’s top strategist has floated to the chief of naval operations three alternatives to the service’s current 30-year shipbuilding plan that if adopted would radically reshape American naval power.

The three options are contained in a 26-page briefing titled “Three Futures, One Navy, A Portfolio Analysis” by Vice Adm. John Morgan, the service’s strategy chief, which was e-mailed to Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Oh, and Jeffy - just a little free career advice - unless you are an, ahem, quasi-anon blogger named after a slimy creature; I wouldn't recommend running around calling an Active Duty VADM "ludicrous" ... and when you think the world revolves around the POM, you have done one tour too many in DC.

Anyway, if it hasn't been pushed through "leadership's thinking" then that doubles the odds that it is worth looking at. The track record of "leadership's thinking" over the last decade has not been something to put on your FITREP. So, I can hear you now, "More details 'Phib, stop y'er blabber'n 'bout yourself!"
The force structure options — a 263-ship fleet optimized for major combat operations against a peer competitor; a 534-ship shaping force tailored for coalition and maritime security operations; and a 474-ship balanced force able to perform high- and low-end missions — would replace the current 30-year shipbuilding plan. Each option is based in part on the findings of a 2005 “table top exercise” involving Lockheed Martin, the maker of the Aegis combat system that equips the Navy’s cruisers and destroyers, as well as one of the two builders of the service’s new Littoral Combat Ship.

The current 30-year plan aims to yield a 313-ship fleet by 2013 — up from 280 currently — assuming projected investment levels remain unchanged and existing programs remain on budget and schedule.
I vote for #3, here is why.
• Balanced force. A fleet of 474 ships able to conduct operations from high-end battle to low-end counterterrorism and maritime security. This force would be composed of nine aircraft carriers, 23 big-deck amphibious helicopter carriers, 46 amphibious ships, 57 cruisers and destroyers, 132 corvettes, 160 patrol craft, 20 riverine squadrons, 15 auxiliaries and 32 submarines of all classes.
Though interesting, the other two options simply have too much Strategic Risk - and I am not arrogant enough to think I have any clue exactly what threat we will face in 10, 20 or 50 years.
• Major combat operations. A force of 263 ships, smaller than the 313-ship fleet that Roughead has said he wants, tailored for battle against a peer competitor. This fleet would be composed of 12 aircraft carriers, 13 big-deck amphibious helicopter carriers, 26 amphibious ships, 81 cruisers and destroyers, 54 corvettes, 21 auxiliaries and 56 submarines including attack, ballistic and cruise missiles boats.

• Shaping force. A fleet of 534 ships, mostly corvettes and patrol boats better suited to littoral, maritime security and partnership operations. This force would be composed of six aircraft carriers, 24 big-deck amphibious helicopter carriers, 48 amphibious ships, 48 cruisers and destroyers, 161 corvettes, 200 patrol craft, 30 riverine squadrons, 15 auxiliaries, and 32 submarines of all classes.
As always, follow the money. It applies here as well. We simply have to watch cost.
The briefing assumes the Navy’s ship construction budgets will remain constant at about $12.5 billion annually over the coming three decades for a total of $377 billion. But that $12.5 billion figure, sources said, is below the roughly $15 billion annual shipbuilding budget that the service has previously said it would achieve over the coming years, which is critical to the execution of the current 30-year plan.

Each of the options assume the following unit costs: nuclear-powered aircraft carriers at $5 billion, big-deck amphibious helicopter carriers of either LHA or LHD classes at $2.5 billion, amphibious ships of LSD or LPD classes at $1 billion, cruisers and destroyers at $1 billion, corvettes of the LCS class at $500 million, patrol craft at $100 million, riverine squadrons at $100 million, submarines at $2.5 billion, and auxiliaries at $500 million.
Galrahn has other thoughts on the article worth reading on this as well - and I will go ahead and start collecting my beers. You will know what I mean when he makes his recommendation.

Another thing to say about this - I like the fact it calls a LCS what it is - a Corvette. More oh Caesar, more!

Speaking of Caesar, this article says good things about the new CNO as well. Here is why,
“Adm. Roughead has created a tone with the senior staff in which he encourages us to provide him thought pieces, and this brief was nothing more than an e-mail sent to the CNO by one of his senior staff to let him know that it was out there,” said Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, the Navy’s chief spokesman.
The document was generated to address Roughead’s budget concerns, sources said. During the course of briefings after taking office, sources said Roughead became alarmed about the service’s future budgets and its ability to field the kind of forces it needs to support its new maritime strategy.

Last week, Roughead said the service needs “appetite suppressants” when it comes to its ship requirements. Critics have said that Navy cost overruns are often driven by the service’s inability to control requirements changes in its designs.
And the Salamander did grin; and the Sailors did feast upon the lambs, and the sloths, and the carps, and the anchovies, and the orangutan's, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats...

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