Monday, March 16, 2009

313 was just last Friday - forget any other meaning ...

I stand by my position for the last 3 years or so, we are not going to get to 313 ships. The professional malpractice of this lost decade will guarantee it. This is not the fault of any politician of any Party - this is a failure of program management and capital planning by the Uniformed Leadership.

Perhaps it is my agricultural heritage - but the simple fact is that you have to make hay while the sun is shining. We had 8 years of Republican administration to come up with a sane, executable program and blew it. Full stop. While the sun was shining we played parlor games.
The word within the U.S. Department of Defense is that the White House wants to collect six to eight “scalps” — major program kills — in this year’s Quadrennial Defense Review…

(While) most of the military services are scrambling to protect programs, at least one is getting ready to offer up a signature weapons system. The U.S. Navy will propose removal of one aircraft carrier and air wing from its posture, dropping the number of carriers to the lowest number since 1942…

That step would cut the Navy’s projected shortfall in strike aircraft by half. So billions of dollars are saved by skipping the refueling, cutting the purchase of aircraft, and eliminating the need to sustain 6,000. personnel associated with ship operations and air-wing support.
Well, elections have consequences - suck it up. Lex outlines very well the next chapter of The Hollowing.
Put three ships on deployment, three returning from deployment, three preparing from deployment, two in post-deployment maintenance and one in a complex overhaul, and you get 12 ships. Go to 11 ships and you get seven t0 eight month deployments (and sailors start voting with their feet). Go to ten, and you can find yourself in a position where you take on considerable warfighting risk with exceptionally valuable assets.

Meanwhile, the mission set never changes.
Each ship of a class and its associated air wing also come with an aggregate life cycle support tail. When those aircraft and ships are eliminated, the support tail is commensurately reduced. Which means, in effect, that a few years hence we’ll have the same kinds of budget shortfalls Navy faces today, but with less combat capability. Which is how, back in the late 90s, we managed to “recapitalize” the surface fleet down from a Reagan era high of nearly 600 ships to a barely adequate 280 or so.
On target.

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