Thursday, January 31, 2013

India's Third Leg

Well ... isn't this special;
... India today successfully test-fired a submarine launched ballistic missile, with a strike range of around 750 kilometres. The K-15 Sagarika missile was launched from an underwater pontoon simulating a submarine launcher,
K-15 is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by the DRDO for the Indian strategic forces’ underwater platforms. DRDO’s Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) have developed this ballistic missile. This is the first missile in the underwater category to have been developed by India. Officials said more than 10 trials of the missile have been performed earlier. Today’s was the last development trial of K-15. India is also developing three additional underwater missiles for its submarines, including K-4/5 (3,500 km range), the two-stage, subsonic Nirbhay loitering cruise missile reaching 1,200 km and the Brahmos super-sonic cruise missile 290 kilometres respectively. The Nirbhay was reportedly being prepared for a test flight in February 2013.
Of course, they still need a SSBN to put it in - but that is on the way too.

No, history isn't going anywhere.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Importance of Game of Thrones

In politics, strategy and foreign policy - there are a lot of things to be learned from GameOfThrones.

Soon. Via TheInterpreter;
Here are my ten strategic lessons from Game of Thrones:
  1. Trust no-one. 
  2. Women who hold political power know how to use it. 
  3. Make sure you have spies everywhere — your rivals will. 
  4. Policy is not rational — all politics is court politics. 
  5. In strategy, timing is everything. 
  6. If you want a friend, get a dog, better still a wolf. 
  7. When it comes to defence, don't put faith in a wall.
  8. Debt is decay.
  9. Keep your head'
  10. And don't get complacent — winter is coming.
#8 is germane. Oh, while we're at it.

Operationalizing Sequestration

What is this sequestration thingy all about?  Here are a few things to feed your nogg'n with so you can answer "yes" when asked, "Did you know about this?"

Just a little commentary from 'ole Sal; in some ways this rubs me wrong. I think we are very close to conducting PSYOPS against the American people on this. We need to be very careful not to be seen as out front or advocating about what is, ultimately, a very political thing.

Just the facts. Speak only when spoken to - let the civilians fight this fight.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LCS: How Did We Get Here?

Time to put a little bit of the snark behind and address LCS from a forensic point of view.

As step one, I would like everyone to go over to the NWC site and download what is to this point, the summary of the LCS journey from Undersecretary of the Navy, Robert O. Work titled; The Littoral Combat Ship: How We Got Here, and Why.(NB: NWC has taken it off line as of 1/30. Reason here.)

My first thought on reading this was to go section by section in detail, but I don't think I will. I will get to a couple of pull quotes, but mostly I want to keep this very general.

Most of you know my long standing and fundamental disagreement with the direction we have gone with LCS - indeed the whole concept - and repeating it again will not change the fact we are where we are.

As a side note with regard to my loyal opposition to LCS, in some ways, I would seem to have been part of the natural constituency for LCS. My dislike of LCS has nothing to do with the view of many of the pro-large-ship detractors, as a matter of fact I've been a proponent of smaller ship since well before I went online banging the Riverine Drum in 2004. I am someone who agrees with the requirement for a balanced Fleet leavened with a healthy mix of sub-9,000 ton ships from Riverine to the larger EuroFrigates, but I remain in the position that LCS is not the answer to that requirement.  It is an answer, and one we will have to do the best with what we have, but not the answer we needed, at least not at that percentage of the Fleet. 

I reserve the right to be wrong, but part of my disappointment with LCS is not unlike that of a dancer who showed up for a Tango dance party but instead found himself listening to Beach Music.  Don't mistake my lack of enthusiasm as someone who wished he were bowling instead. I still want to dance, just this isn't, in my opinion, the right music.

Most important at this time is to try to make the best of it as we can, while being brutally honest with ourselves about its limitation so we don't risk national reputation and Sailors lives on a tide of happy talk.

Undersecretary Work has done everyone from all sides of the debate a great service with this report, as it is without question the most thorough, honest, and detailed forensic outline of how LCS came pierside. It is very much one-stop-shopping for anyone who would like to know the significant decision points in the process.

You need to make the effort to read the whole thing. If you only read pull quotes, or stop before page 35, then you are going to miss the larger meaning and greatest value.

Go to the link above, or read it here.

To see if I can draw you in to reading the whole thing;
Third, Admiral Clark believed LCS answered the loud calls for defense “transformation” then being made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In a speech given in January 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld said,
“Preparing for the future will require us to think differently and develop the kind of forces that can adapt quickly to new challenges and to unexpected circumstances.”
Moreover, in his view, thinking differently included a willingness to skirt or bend long-established rules when pursuing “transformational” systems. As he explained:
…we must transform not only our armed forces, but also the department that serves them by encouraging a culture of creativity and intelligent risk taking. We must promote a more entrepreneurial approach to developing military capabilities, one that encourages people, all people, to be proactive and not reactive, to behave somewhat less like bureaucrats and more like venture capitalists; one that does not wait for threats to emerge and be "validated," but rather anticipates them before they emerge and develops new capabilities that can dissuade and deter those nascent threats.
Based on these three considerations, CNO Clark confidently declared LCS his number one transformational program and budget priority, and requested authority for a new program start in the Navy’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 President’s Budget submission. Secretary Rumsfeld approved, including the request in the Defense Department’s FY 2003 President’s Budget submission, delivered to Congress in February 2002. By so doing, and consistent with his announced approach to defense transformation, the Secretary signaled he was not disturbed by the LCS’s lack of analytical pedigree.
I don't think one can hang this on Rumsfeld if that is part of this angle; I don't think it is, but it can be read as such. So, in a word; no. 

LCS was and is a product of senior leadership from Admirals Clark, Mullen, and especially Roughead. Without their full-throated advocacy and willing smoke screens, LCS would not have survived - for good or bad.

I enjoy this next bit as, for those who missed it, it catches perfectly the "we are smarter than everyone who came before ... all is new, and don't question by beautiful vision..." vibe that resonated throughout the Chain of Command at the time,
In response, the Navy admitted the LCS program represented “a departure from traditional analysis processes by conducting targeted analysis to support concurrent development of the capability documents, mission module definitions and integration requirements.” This targeted approach included a three-phase “tailored analysis of alternatives” that would “fill in analysis gaps that previous studies had not covered”—a clear reference to the conceptual work and studies conducted in the 1990s. Regardless of whether Congress fully agreed with this approach, by allowing a concept and development process that would follow rather than precede program start to continue, it implicitly endorsed Admiral Clark’s decision to pursue a small Littoral Combat Ship in a way distinctly different from normal programs.
So the PPT will say it, so it will be done. Sigh. That is the most important lessons of LCS. Next program we have to build a new warship - look at what they did with LCS and do the opposite.

Few things demonstrate this programmatic over-reach and Staff malpractice better than the manning concept for LCS. It is as if in someones head we had sea-going Rosies, Roombas, Woombas, and Replicators to go with AI watchstanders ... just because we said we wanted it;
Admiral Clark endorsed an initial “core crew” manning target (those who operated the LCS seaframe) of thirty to fifty crew members, based on his expectation that LCS would set new standards in automation.

Members of his staff pushed even harder, recommending a core crew in the range of fifteen to thirty officers and Sailors. In the end, Admiral Clark and his staff split the difference, agreeing to objective and threshold manning core crew targets of fifteen and fifty crew members, respectively. Importantly, however, they agreed that ship accommodations for the entire crew (core crew plus “mission package” crew) should not exceed seventy-five racks (i.e., installed bunks).105 They felt this aggressive target would be a forcing function both to push industry design teams towards the greatest use of automation and increase chances the Navy would minimize crew size and manpower overhead—and overall LCS lifecycle costs.

The emphasis placed on limiting the total number of racks—and therefore total crew size—was also partly influenced by the Navy’s desire to pursue a “multi-crewing, forward stationed” deployment model for LCS. By adopting a rotational crewing model along lines long practiced by the ballistic missile submarine force, Navy leaders hoped to achieve employment efficiencies of 75 percent (e.g., ships deployed for thirty-six months followed by a twelve months interdeployment maintenance and training cycle). While such high efficiencies would minimize LCS’s peacetime turn-around ratio, maximize the number of ships forward deployed and ready, and lead to “fewer transoceanic transits,” rotating very large core crews would create a substantial manpower overhead bill.106  Therefore, the leaders sought to keep the total crew size from exceeding seventy-five personnel.

Of course, with such a small crew, the supporting off-board logistics, maintenance, and training construct would be absolutely critical to LCS’s ultimate success. However, in 2003 there was no substantive discussion about how this construct might work. The officers were content to let LCS Flight 0 ships “investigate alternative …support concepts that…satisfy these requirements.”
Amazing. Shockingly gobsmackingly amazing. Those who said all those nasty thing to those of us who asked at the time if they were just pulling numbers out of their ..... hats - beers on you.

To keep the already longish post brief ... I will let you find your own nuggets and bring them in to comments.

When you get through reading it, see if it changes in one way or another how you think in 2013 of the program. Do we need all 55? Just 24, 36?

Work's report does a good job pointing out that, in a fashion, LCS is close to what was asked for in the beginning.  However, even if the ship can come out within half a standard deviation of how it was envisioned, it begs the question - was the vision flawed? Was the question itself flawed, and thus begot a flawed answer? Does it answer the initial question in a satisfactory manner while remaining mute to the follow-on question? When compared to similar answers to the "what next" question produced by other nations - most who have exceptionally different maritime requirements - does it come out on top, or is it lacking? Are the planning assumptions still valid? If not, do we have a sufficient branch plan? Ah, there is the rub - though to the end I think you outline some very workable branch plans.

Of course, that is all very academic; we are where we are. That is why I like a lot of the last 3rd of the report, as it informs thought to where I shifted to three years ago; a grudging acceptance of LCS and a hope that we make the best of it.

In that respect, I remain convinced that good people in hard jobs are trying to do their best to make it worth all the time an effort. I think that part of the challenge ahead will be to rebuild so much of the goodwill that was lost inside the beltway and out due to the shifting narrative over the years due to best-case story lines sold early.

The changing narrative, which the article outlines very well, only added to general suspicions that the program was not well thought out and was not well grounded. That may not be fair, but especially on the manning side, it sure looks that way.  Good people working hard and the inventiveness of Sailor can fix many an initial error, so we will have to let that process work itself out.

Like a billiard ball bouncing around the table after missing a too hard hit shot at the left corner pocket, LCS may indeed find its way in to a pocket - heck even the one it originally aimed at - but it will get there in a round about inefficient way totally different than originally envisioned, and it won't be pretty to watch.

A lot is still based on hope, and that remains my major concern. Is the major part of technology risk behind us? I think so - but the critical linkages to tactical utility and optimization have yet to be made. The reason that is true is also covered in the article, I like that.

We'll find out in the next half decade how successful we are. The final answer will probably be somewhere between the Eeyore Opposition and Undersecretary Work's informed optimism.  Heck, I hold hope that I am wrong on LCS and I'll be buying rounds of beers and steak dinners for a few people at the next Salamandepalooza in DC while I dine on crow. That would be the best outcome for all.

To end things up, here is some common ground I have with The Under;
The only thing standing in the way of success for LCS would be a lack of imagination and hard work. After fleet operators get their hands on the ships and refine old operational and logistical support concepts and develop new ones, there is little reason to think the ship will not be an important contributor to twenty-first century Total Force Battle Network operations.
Oh no. I can't let another of my hobby horses pass without comment.

I may quibble over the threshold definition of "important" - but that isn't another of the HUGE background problems with LCS.  Nothing is more fun than red-hatting "networks."

They are great and wonderful thing in peace, exercises, and wargaming - but we do not own space and the EW spectrum. You cannot classify math, and you cannot assume that you own what belongs to all.

FORCEnet, Celestial Networks, whatever you want to call it - it is a mirage. Like our buddy Galrahn pointed out in twitter yesterday as we pop'd ideas back and forth - next RIMPAC, let's turn off GPS and remove all access to satellite communication and IT connectivity. Do it for a few days and see how things go.

Do we want tomorrow's Admiral Beatty to say,
There seems to be something wrong with our bloody networks today!
... as everything goes to crap.

As a final note, Undersecretary Work has been pondering LCS for quite awhile. I recommend as a historical document his 2004 work, Transformation and the Littoral Combat Ship, and in closing would like to thank him for a foundation reference as we continue to try to figure out the pitfalls and promise that these two classes of ships present us.

UPDATE: Yamgumphabalalalala. Visual commentary.
Hat tip JOPA.

Again .... We're Not Doing This?

Someone please, please, give me more details.

As our war(s) wind down, we are coughing up a half-a-billion-dollars to Booz Allen to do ... what the fracking Chain of Command and the Family Services/Medical masses are supposed to do?

Hey, I love me some SOF too, but?
Defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton has won a $475 million contract from the U.S. Special Operations Command to offer assistance services to Special Forces soldiers and their families. The Pentagon announced the contract Wednesday. It runs five years and could total as much as $475 million. Virginia-based Booz Allen has other Special Forces contracts but also provides technology, consulting and security to military customers as well as other government agencies and the private sector. The new contract entails Booz Allen helping the U.S. military to craft services and assistance for Special Forces soldiers who have seen combat and multiple deployments, as well as their families.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Well, that is one way to be a ship's last CO

Tough FITREP bullet to write? Think they will downgrade MSM to NCM ... or just let things pass? Via our buddy Chris Cavas;
Caught between the jagged coral of an ocean reef and Filipino environmental and political concerns, the U.S. Navy announced it will cut up the trapped USS Guardian and take it away piece by piece.

“Our only supportable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections,” Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander of the salvage effort, said in a prepared statement released in conjunction with a Tuesday morning, Jan. 29 press conference at the Philippine Coast Guard facility in Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan.
Good thing is that no one was killed. Besides that, let's wait for the investigation to start spitting out information so we can at least learn something from this.


Can I go a week without enjoying a little facepalm with LCS?

No. Spin is fun to watch ... tap dancing too.

In additional news; light has trouble passing through opaque objects. Non-dampened vibrations cause inaccuracy, and horsepower ratings on helicopters cannot be increased by force of will.
"The Navy determined the MH-60S helicopter cannot safely tow the AN/AQS-20A Sonar Mine Detecting Set (AQS-20A) or the Organic Airborne Sweep and Influence System (OASIS) because the helicopter is underpowered for these operations," it notes. Additionally, the report says the AQS-20A itself exceeded limits in contact depth localization errors and false contacts.
In addition to being towed by the helo, the AQS-20A sonar is also on the unmanned underwater Remote Multimission Vehicle.
Ailes mentioned during that same interview that AN/AQS-20 reliability can be affected by a variety of factors, including temperature, velocity profile, pressure and clutter.
 I warned 'ye.

Hat tip Lee.

You Mean, We Don't Do This Now?

Here, in all its glory, is a perfect example of a lot that is wrong. 

It begs a few simple questions:
1. As we bleat about crying poverty, what billets are going away to make these new billets paid for?
2. What tasking being done now will go away so those now tasked to support this from other UIC will be able to give it the attention it needs?
3. More importantly, and asked with a respectful amount of snark .... you mean we aren't doing this right now somewhere in our HUGE bloated staff and war college structure? Really?

Is the answer to this requirement just one more layer ... really?  Is that all we've got?

R 240037Z JAN 13


















7. POINTS OF CONTACT ARE CAPT JOSEPH [redacted], NWG (OPNAV N515) AT (571) 256-[redacted]/DSN 260 OR VIA E-MAIL AT JOSEPH.[redacted](AT)NAVY.MIL; AND
CDR BRUCE [redacted], NWG (N515) AT (703) 695-[redacted]/DSN 260 OR VIA E-MAIL BRUCE.[redacted](AT)NAVY.MIL.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Minor to Major


This made the rounds at the end of the week, and I'm still pondering it. 

I've been soaking in that band's music since my late teens ... and this deserves a few listens until you get it. Some hear melancholy ... I hear pleading ... strange effect how scale can move the undercurrent of a song, but in a good way. 

The original was a bit too droopy and sad ... but then again, that is what made the song so effective. 

Background here, but here is the summary. What happens when you take R.E.M.'s "Losing my Religion" from minor scale to major? The original:

The change:

BTW for all you Yankees out there - the Southern phrase "Losing my religion" has nothing to do with religion.

Anyway ... to me, this will always be R.E.M., though full of Yankees and Californians, R.E.M. will to me at least be a true Southern band.

While I'm back in the mid-80s again ... Flat Duo Jets baby! 

Want to know what attitude & vibe 'ole Sal was trying (not all that successfully, but trying) to flow with back in the day? Just watch Dex of FDJ, and you are just about there. 

Yep, most of you would have hated me, but I blew through those years like a blazing star and wouldn't trade a minute of it ... how I didn't get kicked out of NROTC I will never know, but ~16-22 was a glorious wrecklessness.

Yes, I spelled it that way on purpose.

UPDATE: Good googly moogly, my dear friend Chap ... there was a documentary about FDJ. "Two Headed Cow." An hour and a half: enjoy!

Friday, January 25, 2013

CHINFO & Rethinking the End of History, on Midrats

This Sunday from 5-6pm EST, block off an hour for a live Midrats you will not want to miss.

In an information driven society wrapped in a 24-hr news cycle, what is the mission, responsibility, and the primary responsibilities of the Navy's Chief of Information?

Well, you couldn't ask for a better guest to help flesh out the answer to that question. Our guest for the first half-hour will be CHINFO-actual, Rear Admiral John Kirby, USN.

For the second half of the hour we will have returning guest, Major Peter J. Munson, USMC - author of War, Welfare & Democracy: Rethinking America's Quest for the End of History - a sobering view of how we got where we are, and the underlying trends that will impact the global system, and America's place in it, for the next half century.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio - the best way to get the show and download the archive to your audio player is to get a free account and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Fullbore Friday

Last week we covered the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor, this week we'll step back to the one who has been with us the longest.

Master Sergeant Nicholas Oresko - nothing more I can say besides what is in your citation.
M/Sgt. Oresko was a platoon leader with Company C, in an attack against strong enemy positions. Deadly automatic fire from the flanks pinned down his unit. Realizing that a machinegun in a nearby bunker must be eliminated, he swiftly worked ahead alone, braving bullets which struck about him, until close enough to throw a grenade into the German position. He rushed the bunker and, with pointblank rifle fire, killed all the hostile occupants who survived the grenade blast. Another machinegun opened up on him, knocking him down and seriously wounding him in the hip. Refusing to withdraw from the battle, he placed himself at the head of his platoon to continue the assault. As withering machinegun and rifle fire swept the area, he struck out alone in advance of his men to a second bunker. With a grenade, he crippled the dug-in machinegun defending this position and then wiped out the troops manning it with his rifle, completing his second self-imposed, 1-man attack. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused to be evacuated until assured the mission was successfully accomplished. Through quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswerving devotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded, M/Sgt. Oresko killed 12 Germans, prevented a delay in the assault, and made it possible for Company C to obtain its objective with minimum casualties.

Hat tip Joe.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Diversity Thursday

Just as a reminder of what is going on at the front lines, former active duty helo pilot, USNA graduate, and - from 2007-10 a history teacher at Annapolis, J.A. Cauthen gives a front line view of much that we covered over the same timeframe from afar.

I highly encourage you to read the whole thing, but here are some highlights;
... expanding diversity in search of greater “fairness” actually institutionalizes a system of bias. Using diversity to manufacture demographic proportionality necessarily becomes insidious and counterproductive.

As a former history instructor at the Naval Academy (from 2007-2010), I witnessed the failings of the diversity initiative first hand. The poisonous atmosphere it created among midshipmen, faculty, and staff in non-academic and academic settings was detrimental to the cohesion of the institution.  Unfortunately, once the diversity fetish is infused into an institution, it is nearly impossible to eradicate.

Changes made at the Academy in the name of diversity seemed harmless, if nonsensical, at first.   For example, the Academy’s alma mater was revised to be gender-neutral by deleting the word “men” from two stanzas.  (One wonders why students then are still called midshipmen.) That change was maddening even to some female alumni. But diversity demands ever-increasing action no matter how nonsensical.

This reckless search for the “correct” color and gender proportions manifested itself in one of the more callous examples I witnessed at the Naval Academy. The color guard, all male and mostly white, was invited to present the nation’s colors at the 2009 World Series in New York. At the last minute, the prospective color guard captain, a student of mine, was removed and replaced by a junior female member. According to the Washington Post, the motive for the change was to “make the service academy look more diverse before a national audience.”

Maybe it did, but the action was an affront to individual merit.

Diversity initiatives also tended to dilute academic expectations and standards. For instance, faculty members often had to refer midshipmen to the writing center for remedial instruction. Even with this resource, lecture and instructional time was sacrificed in order to teach basic essay writing to midshipmen. Basic writing is a skill you would assume nearly all college students (and especially those at the Naval Academy) would have learned in high school.

Bewildering as it may seem, some of my colleagues and I also had to devote a lecture period to library familiarization and usage. We discovered that many midshipmen had no idea how to navigate a library or access its resources. Fundamental reading, writing, and researching abilities should be assumed skills. When midshipmen arrived in class without those foundational skills, the academic environment suffered.

I remember well one prominent example of the problems associated with midshipmen who had been recruited and admitted under diversity initiatives.

This particular midshipman had a combined SAT score of 800: 450 math and 350 verbal.  The midshipman’s reading comprehension and writing ability were well below the university level and likely below that of high school. Not surprisingly, this student struggled all semester.

The breaking point came with the submission of a plagiarized paper. The midshipman simply Googled “French Revolution,” copied and pasted in the first link’s content, and submitted it. I failed that individual in the course, documented the transgression, and forwarded the case to Honor Board for adjudication. But the midshipman was retained. 
It seems that the nation’s highest levels of military leadership have succumbed to the false promise of diversity. How much of this is politically mandated? Admitting and graduating under- or unqualified midshipmen will eventually undermine the institution and the officer corps with potentially tragic consequences, but it resonates with the political elite because diversity has become an end unto itself.

Our nation’s civilian and military leadership evidently desire a more diverse military, one that better reflects demographic currents and those to come.

What they are overlooking is that military effectiveness is predicated on discipline, professionalism, and competence. Effective leadership is based on, among other qualities, trust, confidence, fairness, and competence. Everything else, including ethnicity and gender, is, or at least ought to be, irrelevant.

Winning wars, like winning in sports, requires the best talent, irrespective of race and gender. If our military is comprised of all white males or all Hispanic females because they merit the position, so be it. But to artificially construct a military based on a desired composition simply because it reflects the nation’s changing demographics or satisfies a political fetish is egregiously foolish. 
No link to 'ole Sal, sadly. However, the WaPo article does link to CDRSalamander on the Color Guard story that was broke here, so we'll take the boobie prize. 

As I continue to snivel, for the record, the use of "fetish" to address the obsession our institutions have with this Cultural Marxist concept was first brought in to common use in this blog a half-decade ago ... but I quibble. :) More and more, the truth is getting out, and these cancerous policies cannot stand the light and fresh air that they so very much need. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Amid Tears of Shame ... I Find Hope

As I mentioned to a small cadre last week, this really should not see the light of day.

Whatever we do, we should not let Marine Corps officers read this ... as we would never hear the end of it.

Now, what kind of Salamanderesque attitude is that? I must be getting weak.

No, back to Vince Lombardi Salamander. Sunlight is the best medicine; things shouldn't be off limits just because it might create discomfort for some.

So ... has been such a treasure trove of for the snark inclined as of late; it would be sad to let such glowing gems of leadership not to be gibbetted to the masses as examples of what not to do. We simply must do better.

I'll let you get their names from the link, but here is what we got for answers from the question; "How Do Junior Officers Inspire Innovation?"

A junior officer, or JO as we call them, are your typical new kids on the block. Even a seasoned JO has something to learn and discover about his or her leadership style. ... The willingness to try something new and think outside the box is a junior officer’s key to inspiring innovation. The impact this has on a Sailor, fellow officer, and/or entire crew can have lasting effects. Their ideas can spread throughout commands simply by word of mouth. Innovation and new ideas from a JO can be a breath of fresh air. A curious JO, who is constantly learning, will always try to think of something new.
...Working on the deck plates with Sailors on a daily basis is the greatest responsibility of a junior officer. Our position demands that we guide Sailors to their optimal potential, personally and professionally. Because we are on the deck plates, we see the flaws that “trickle down through the ranks.” While we are a Navy rooted in tradition, our finest resource is the diversity in which we are comprised.
...The role of the junior officer in the Surface Fleet has evolved over the years. The junior officers have become more of a bridge between officers and enlisted,...
...comparing what I do on Freedom to a junior officer’s role on a traditional CRUDES ship is like comparing apples and oranges.

On my cruiser, you wouldn’t find a single junior officer (including myself) helping to clean, move boxes from the pier to the ship, take down lifelines for a gunnery exercise, or even clean their own plate and flatware.
...When I help my Boatswain’s Mates move shackles from anchor windlass or my Operational Specialists write messages, not only am I helping accomplish a task to further the mission of the ship, I’m simultaneously building rapport and a stronger working relationship with my Sailors.
For the love of all that is holy, I need a drink.

Wait ... wait ... there is hope, and hope has a name.

There is one JO in this cluster that deserves to be mentioned by name. By name, as he gets a Salamander BZ and should give all hope that yes, our Navy still makes them right.

Very well played Lieutenant ... very well played.

I give you the Salamander JO of the Month; LT Austin Henne, USN, Main Propulsion Assistant on USS Freedom (LCS-1).

His answer made my week.
I recently attended a LCS PMS summit headed by Rear Adm. Gale  The conference was focused on establishing clear informational objectives required prior to making a decision on the balance between LCS contractor preventative maintenance vs. ISEA based preventative maintenance.  I was extremely impressed by the individuals representing SURFOR, NAVSEA, Lockheed Martin, NAVSES, LCS Squadron 1, and various entities.

While they expressed insight into their specialized fields, I quickly realized I was the only individual in the room who was currently serving on a LCS.  When given the chance to speak, I made every effort to tell the story of the blue shirts on the deck plates who strive valiantly every single day to work hand-in-hand with contractors to ensure that LCS is a viable fleet asset to perform sustained operations at sea.  However, the number of hours that ship force was spending on contractor maintenance was going largely undocumented. In short, the following week a request was made to ship force to document the man hours that ship force spent on contractor maintenance either tagging equipment out, operating machinery, or escorting personnel in secure spaces.  I am very satisfied to know that the enormous effort that LCS Sailors are making are being more accurately documented.
Boom. It is all right there; 
- Put the entire LCS cabal on report, they are a detached and abstractly focused group. In spite of the fact that LCS has been displacing water for years, they only have one serving person at the summit. All those very senior, very experienced, and very important people in one room .... and only one 1st-hand report among them. Gobsmacking.
- Blowing off the squishy question and instead giving an answer to the question you wish were asked.
- Speaking truth to power that their metrics and pretty PPT are garbage as maintenance hours are not reported correctly. The worse fears that those of us have had since the start of LCS's manning CONOPS are right there; contractor maintenance is not meeting the needs of the Fleet, and as a result, already overworked Sailors are having to do the work for them. By doing so, you effected positive change that will help HIS Sailors and HIS Navy.
- Speaking for HIS Sailors because they cannot speak for themselves. Putting himself out there for HIS Sailors, because that is what an officer does. Focused on the ability of HIS Sailors to do their assigned duties in support of HIS ship in the face of a support structure that is failing them. Ship, Shipmate, and then Self.  

LT Henne; if you did this on purpose, BZ. If not, then even more of a BZ as you have the instincts of the best that we ask of our junior officers. Your peers that came first in the article should make sure and scroll down the page and ponder your entry.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sea Swap .... German Style

I never underestimate the Germans ... will they be able to make Sea Swap work where we failed?

Well ... can't fault their optimism;
On the F125 frigate, ... there will be eight crews for four frigates and crews will be changed every four months in theatre.
"In addition, to avoid an increase of overall personnel required, the ship's crew is limited to 120," Jedlicka adds.
Wow. Maybe you can. Perhaps only the very exacting Germans or Japanese could pull this off. I don't know, but it will be good to watch. Hey, they can pull off having bars on their warships without running aground hither-n-yon ... so why not?

BTW, the F-125 ain't no "frigate" - no, at 7,200 tons, well in to the modern destroyer category.

Forget about Sea Swap for a bit .... here are some real interesting concepts that need to be watched closely;
We have redundancy on board for the command post and the communications systems because it is essential to be able to communicate with everyone and have your internal procedures working," Jedlicka notes. "But we don't have redundancy for weaponry and sensors."

The F125 weapon system, too, is tailored to counter modern asymmetric threats. While the vessel will house long-range weapons such as a 127mm/64 lightweight naval gun, which can fire up to 35 rounds a minute and hit targets over 100km away, the majority of its weapons are ideal for much closer combat.

"This ship is not about using the most modern technology; the idea was to use what we have and focus more on close-in weapon systems and the protection of the ship," Jedlicka notes. "That's why you find lots of small gun calibres that give you a real advantage against small boats. These are perfect for the scenarios we have now in Africa with pirates." But it's the four combat boats that will also be found onboard the F125 that Jedlicka is most excited about.

"This is a really new thing, which changes a lot," he emphasises. "If you have pirates in a small boat with hand-held weapons systems, they can inflict a lot of damage to a very expensive ship. So we decided that if we needed to investigate contacts, we should do so in a small ship."
The German Navy has therefore designed a small combat ship to carry out four roles: rescue and transport, boarding, escort and special forces use.

"You put a team of 16-20 highly trained personnel equipped with small weapons in these boats and you can fulfil your task without having an asymmetric threat to the frigate," Jedlicka explains.

Moreover, the F125 vessel is designed to support up to 50 members of the special forces, as well as their equipment onboard.

"This naval platform provides a unique facility to offer support in transport, logistics, communications and command facilities to special forces deployment," Jedlicka confirms.
That would explain its light AAW ability - and if I were the Germans I would be concerned that they have assumed away war at sea.

History doesn't like being ignored. Just a thought.

Hat tip Tom.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Adios SPS Principe de Asturias, Otra Vez

Because he knows I am such a fan of the SPS Principe de Asturias, Commander Luis Nardiz, Spanish Navy (CO of SPS VICTORIA (F-82) ), sent me a couple of pics from the farewell last week off of Cadiz. So sad to see her go so young. 

Nice work by the Armada Española.

Interesting thing about Skipper Nardiz, his background is as a Harrier pilot. Interesting.

For the maritime wonks among us, it is another opportunity to ponder the relative size and utility of the Sea Control Ship, its replacement, the LHD Juan Carlos (L-61), ... and yes ... wait for it .... you'd be disappointed if I didn't bring it up ... but ...


Yes, I feel better.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fullbore Friday

This week's FbF will be largely stolen from Michelle Tan over at ArmyTimes who has done the best job I have read of putting the story right in the fewest words ... but considering the source, she won't mind.

This ain't just for the epic deployment stash either;
A former staff sergeant who helped repel one of the largest, most vicious battles against U.S. forces in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

Clinton L. Romesha, 31, will be the fourth living service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. At 5:58 a.m. Oct. 3, 2009, the enemy launched its attack from all four sides of the small COP, which was nestled in the bottom of a valley surrounded by towering mountains.

About 50 American, 20 Afghan and two Latvian soldiers were stationed at COP Keating, along with about a dozen Afghan Security Guards. Nearby, the 19 American and 10 Afghan soldiers at Observation Post Fritsche also came under heavy fire.

Firing a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns and rifles, the enemy quickly wreaked havoc on the two positions.

In two minutes, the first U.S. soldier was killed as the enemy targeted the COP’s mortar pit and pinned down the soldiers at OP Fritsche, preventing them from providing supporting fire to COP Keating.

The Afghan troops and security guards reportedly quickly abandoned their posts, leaving the Americans and Latvians to fight alone.

During the first three hours of the battle, mortars hit the COP and OP every 15 seconds, and in less than an hour, the enemy swarmed the COP, breaching the Afghan army side of the compound. The enemy eventually set fire to the small outpost, destroying almost 70 percent of it.

Romesha and his fellow soldiers immediately fought back — and continued to fight for hours — as heavy enemy fire rained down on them from all directions.

According to the citation accompanying Romesha’s Medal of Honor, the staff sergeant moved under intense enemy fire to reconnoiter the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner, who is identified in “The Outpost” as Cpl. Justin Gregory.

Romesha “took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds,” according to the citation.

Undeterred by his injuries, Romesha continued to fight, and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and with the assistant gunner, Romesha again “rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers.”

Romesha then mobilized and led a five-man team and returned to the fight.

“With complete disregard for his own safety, Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved confidently about the battlefield, engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter,” according to the citation.

As the enemy attacked the COP with even “greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds,” Romesha “identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters.”

When he learned that other soldiers at a distant battle position were still alive, Romesha and his team provided covering fire, allowing three of their wounded comrades to reach the aid station, according to the citation.

Romesha and his team also moved 100 meters under “withering fire” to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Romesha’s calm — and sense of humor — under fire is described in “The Outpost.”

During the battle, Romesha tries to rally Spc. Zach Koppes, who was pinned down in a Humvee.

As recounted in “The Outpost”:

Romesha ran up to the vehicle under enemy fire.

“This doesn’t look good,” Romesha said. “We’re all going to die.”

He laughed — he had a pretty dark sense of humor, Romesha. “You okay?”

Koppes looked at him. Bullets were ricocheting off the truck right next to him, but the staff sergeant just stood there looking back at Koppes, smiling the whole time.

Holy shit, he’s lost his mind, the specialist thought.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Koppes finally replied. “I still got this sniper behind me.”

“Okay, stay low and hang tight,” Romesha told him.

At that moment, the sniper shot at Romesha, who then ducked behind the Humvee and began playing peekaboo with the enemy, trying to draw him out so he could see exactly where he was firing from. He decided that the Taliban fighter was midway up on the Northface, so he fired the Dragunov [rifle] at the spot.

Then he turned and airily announced to Koppes, “All right, I’m going to head out.”

Romesha’s actions “throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers,” according to the citation accompanying his award. “His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counter-attack that allowed the troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating.”

After the battle, COP Keating, which had been slated for months to close but had remained open because of continual delays, was shut down and destroyed.

Romesha, of Lake City, Calif., is married and has three children. He enlisted in the Army in September 1999 as an M1 armor crewman, and deployed to Kosovo and twice to Iraq before serving in Afghanistan.

Romesha left the Army in April 2011 and currently lives with his family in Minot, N.D., where he works as a field safety specialist for an oil field construction firm.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Romesha’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Diversity Thursday: NAVAIR Edition

I was going to take a pass on DivThu this week as, well, I tire of the topic.

That being said, one of my spies with the best eyes sent this along, and being that so perfectly hits so many of the "I told you so" spots - and VADM Dunaway sent it on THU - I feel, in a way, obliged.

So, we all know about the budget planning scrum going on right now.  

"Mission Essential" eh? A little selective methinks. Scroll down and wait for it ... I think the Left-handed Lithuanian-American Lesbian Podiatrist of the Year Awardee will not be pleased.

-----Original Message-----
From: NAVAIR Commander
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2013 13:48
Subject: UPDATE: Mission_Essential Travel, Hiring and Conferences

To all NAVAIR,

Yesterday, I released an all hands email on FY13 budget planning and impacts of a potential year-long Continuing Resolution. In response to your questions, I've asked NAVAIR Competency and PEO leadership to provide the following amplifying guidance, in accordance with Navy direction. We will do our best to keep you informed and respond to your questions as additional details become available.

VADM David Dunaway


Consistent with Navy direction, OCHR has issued a hold on all new hiring actions and those hiring actions currently in process, pending Navy-level approval of Command hiring plans. These plans are due to Navy leadership by 25 January. In the meantime, we will execute hiring actions where an official job offer has been made in writing on or before 14 January 2013. Additional guidance will be provided to hiring managers when available.

All non-mission essential travel and training should be minimized to the greatest degree possible. From now until 1 April, the first Flag/SES in the chain of command will determine whether travel is mission essential travel, based on the following "mission essential" categories. In these cases, only the absolute minimal number of attendees required to accomplish objectives should travel.

- Travel in direct support of critical warfighting and fleet operations (wartime operations, NATEC tech reps, FRC artisans repairing aircraft in the field)

- Travel which directly relates to Safety of Flight (mishap investigations, engineering investigations, etc.)

- Critical technical / milestone events to maintain program cost/schedule/performance (SETR events, government personnel required to witness formal test events, resolution of critical hardware and software technical issues, etc.)

- Command-directed support (contractual oversight, major weapon system negotiations, litigation, Command IG investigations, financial audits, etc.)

- Professional/statutory training driven by certification requirements (DAWIA certification, etc.)

- Military Personnel (selection board support, medical necessity)

- FMS-related travel

Below is the guidance for 2013 Conferences. Any exceptions or additions require Level 1 and AIR-00 review and approval.

- 43rd Annual Collaborative EW Symposium: Postponed until April 2013 or beyond

- NAVAIR Acquisition Symposium: Postponed until April 2013 or beyond

- International Aviation Logistics Improvement Team: Continue planning; only FMS-funded travel is authorized

- International Military Helo Conference: No Attendance

- Black Engineer of the Year Award Ceremony (BEYA): Follow CNO decision. If approved, attendance is limited to the absolute minimal number of individuals necessary to accomplish objectives.

- Propulsion Safety & Affordable Readiness P-SAR/Augmentor Design System Meeting: No Attendance

- National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE): Follow CNO decision. If approved, attendance is limited to the absolute minimal number of individuals necessary to accomplish objectives.

- Sea Air Space Expo: Follow CNO decision. If approved, attendance is limited to the absolute minimal number of individuals necessary to accomplish objectives.

Executing the Flat Footed Pivot

No reason to ignore it. It is right in front of you, waiting. All you need to do is look at it, smell it, touch it.

I'm pondering the Zeitgeist over at USNIBlog ... come visit and tell me what you think.

AMCSB: Zombie Boards & The Truths They Tell

Never is something more true than, "Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do." 

From FITREPS to the Milington Diktat, we have developed a habit of telling each other little lies. Mostly it is from the intellectual cowardliness of not wanting to be the bearer of bad news, or to do something that will make someone not like you. Worse, it is a sign of disrespect where you tell a lie to someone who knows you are telling a lie, and they act like they think you are being truthful when, in reality, they know that you know that they know that you are lying. That is just your basic FITREP debrief. 

 It is something else though when your nation and your service has been at war for a decade. In addition to "normal" deployments, in order to double-count paid billets (a person is counted only once, though they are doing two jobs, one which is effectively gapped) we created IAs where the Navy sent people to fill warfighting jobs in IRQ, AFG, and other garden spots that supported those wars. There was always a promise that of course, we are at war. You are filling a combat job in addition to everything else ... you are getting "pain points" that will be rewarded. Trust us. 

Well, what ground truth does the latest Aviation Major Command Screen Board tell us?
124Total URL Eligibles (SG 91/92)
39 URL Selects (not including AVN/Seq Commands)
21 of 39 selects on first look (54%)
- 35 had a masters (90%)
- 37 had completed JPME 1 (95%)
- 26 had completed JPME 2 (67%)
- 35 had joint duty assignments (90%)
- 24 were JQO (62%)
- 21 had completed an overseas tour (54%)
- 1 had completed IA/GSA (3%)
It is like a decade of war never happened.  You could have seen almost the same results in 2000. This is simply the result of a system running on autopilot. Led by people who have lost whatever operational mindset they once had, that they don't even understand what their core job is - to fight wars.

What are the "lessons learned" for our best? Get a masters, JPME I, and Joint Tour. All else is secondary. Fight to avoid the front lines and to lead Sailors in harms way. Scratch for those triple-digit N-codes in chop-the-chopped-chop PPT jobs. Get your part-time Masters from degree mills.

And, for all that is good, don't go to war or volunteer for an IA/GSA. That's the B-Team's job.

What does our Navy seem to value after a decade of war? Simple, the box-checking, staff weenie fonctionnaire.

Update: Some people have read this as a slap at those who were selected. I can see how it could be read that way, and I am sorry if some took offense; I could have worded it better.

Our system puts out demand signals that good people respond to, or are pushed to by sponsors to follow. Also, for something as highly exceptionally selective as the AMCSB, the line between the bottom five selected and the top five not selected is very hard to draw. The central issue here is institutional and what we have our best doing with their time, and also what we use as a "tie breaker."

You were a #1 JO, DH, & CO, but due to the luck of the schedule did not do a combat deployment. You want to get in the game, and look to an IA as a way to do it. Do you? The message is clear; better to do a cube farm J-code than lead Sailors in AFG.

That board fact is to our great shame.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

LCS Gets Some Travel'n Shoes

Actually, I kind of like it. In some mission sets where visual matters - I can see where this might buy you some time, and that is good.

It is also experimentation and builds some ship's pride in being unique, and that is good.

LCS-1 is in dire need of a paint job in any event.

Anyway - if you can't have a war horse, which LCS isn't yet; if you can't have a work horse, which LCS will never be; then you probably have a show pony. If you are going to have a show pony - make it look as good as you can. Play the hand you have.

We chatted it a bit yesterday - so here you go.  LCS-1's new paint scheme Earl Scheib will give her before her "deployment" to Singapore.

Salamander approves.

Look at some of her peers' paint jobs ... and though we'll see once it gets put on - but how about the HOUBEI:

.... and the VISBY:

OK. I think we have them beat in aesthetics, but as for those funny things making smoke .... let's not talk about that right now.

Well we won't ... but if you would like to snark along like we did yesterday, I highly recommend Spencer's article from the other day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

LCS and the Audacity of Hope

Oh goodness. I really don't want to make it a habit of Fisking Flag Officers, but if you are going to put your by-line out there, well, welcome to the scrum of the marketplace of ideas.

VADM Copeman, again, "With all due respect ... but ..." - you brought up the subject. Out of nothing but love ... we must engage on  ... the Little Crappy Ship.


The alternative universe of the Potomac Flotilla!

Sigh. Here we go, paragraph by paragraph.
By Vice Admiral Tom Copeman
I'll afford you the same benefit of the doubt as I do all VADM, I really don't think you penned it all, someone on your staff got it started and you got a chop on it. Well, I don't know, maybe you did.  If you did, I don't think your Staff served you well if you let them chop on it.
Twenty-five years ago, then CNO Admiral Trost looked into the future and began our shift from a Cold War focus to dealing with regional and littoral conflicts in the years to come.  So we started down the path to where we are now—working through various iterations, starts and stops, and plenty of ideas on ship types and classes to deal with unknown future threats.
25 years ago was JAN 1988. I'm sorry, no one in 1988 was seeing the end of the Cold War, much less shifting away from it. We were both JOs then ... come on, you remember. Heck, Hunt for Red October wasn't even in movie theaters yet.

Future without the Red Banner Fleet as our primary threat? Future where we would need more smaller ships? (actions of the next decade+ tell a different story as the legacy Riverine forces in the reserves were killed in the late '90s, PHMs were sent packing, PG gone, OHPs castrated, etc). I don't see 1988's Admiral Carlisle A. H. Trost, USN (PBUH) having any of the LCS stink on him.

As a matter of fact, dig around the good Admiral's tenure as CNO and most of what will be found is about physical fitness, the IOWA turret explosion, spanking Lehman, women at sea (he was not a fan). Here is the WSJ from OCT of '87. Lots of talk about the meeting of the Supreme Soviet and their next 5-yr plan.

You brought Admiral Trost in to it ... so ... what was he writing about in 1987? Here, read it yourself from JAN 87's Proceedings;

Let's go to 1989, 24 years ago. What was Admiral Trost saying?

Oh, hey .... let's let the newspaper of record tell us.  From the DEC 89 NYT;
Despite rampant revisionism in Washington on the changing scope and nature of the Soviet threat, he continues to base his analysis of the Navy's needs on a belief that the Soviet Union is just as dangerous as ever.
I'm sure I am missing something. Can anyone here give me something with a '87-89 date stamp where Admiral Trost sees the decay of the Soviet Union and the need in 2012 to have a corvette that can't even get its 57mm and 30mm guns to work right?

Sigh. VADM Copeman; you need a historian on your Staff ... pronto, if for no other reason than to say, "You may want to reference that comment." Now, back to the article.
Now we have assets in place to operate in the littorals and we have new ways of delivering troops and equipment to the beach.
OK, soooooo ..... the gun line off Vietnam was not in littorals? 5-inch Friday off Al-Faw in 2003 was not the littorals? LCS is actually and asset we can, in 2013, fight in the littorals?

"Now"? No we don't. Not now.We have a lot of "hope" and "will" and "plan" but no there-there. It will be years until we know if LCS will be able to do squat ... and until then the best thing to do is to keep it far away from any possible threat until we figure out exactly what it can or cannot do.  Right now, we know mostly what it cannot do - which is all of its primary mission areas.
How many of us saw the expansion of C5ISR? Or, who knew in the late 1980’s that there would even be UAVs, much less see the ubiquity of their use? Which is the sticking point about the future—it is wholly unknown. And for those who say past is prelude. That may be, but the past isn’t a plot.
Well, only the cynic would have said, "Oh, come on. We went from C2, to C4I, to another NCM for C4ISR. What more can they do - make it C5ISR? Please, everyone will think it is an old air-force cargo plane doing ISR ... no one will make that acronym .... we'll be stuck with C4I or C4ISR ... you can bank on it."  Oops. That is what you get for not being cynical enough. By 2020, what more can we add to it?

But yes, a lot of people saw the future of UAVs .... the military had been using them for decades and as technology, communications, and everything else advanced, so did their utility.  Good googly moogly .... don't engineers read science fiction if not their own history?

The past isn't a plot ... but it is the best reference point to the future. Only a few thousand years show us that. I'm still not sure what "...past isn't a plot." is trying to address. While I nood'l that, let's get back to VADM Copeman;
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is an important addition to the Battle Force and is exactly the ship we envisioned 11 years ago to fill a capability gap in the Littorals in Surface Warfare, Mine Warfare and Anti-submarine Warfare. It is here now and we fully expect it to be an important an integral and substantial part of our future force. 
Exactly? Define soon? Not that important right now ... or in the next few years. I'll take that bet. Well, that mention of a year is fun. 11 years ago was what .... 2002. What was being said in 2002?
The Defense Planning Guidance in May 2002 directed the Navy to pursue a new class of small, stealthy "Littoral Combatant Ships" to support troops ashore and to conduct anti-mine, intelligence and reconnaissance operations. The Navy planned to build two "Flight Zero" LCS vessels to refine the new class' concept of operations. More detailed mission modules are to be developed for the Flight One LCS that was hoped would appear soon after 2007. The Navy wanted to buy eight of these ships through 2009, with the first in 2005.
No, go back to RADM Don Loren's 2002 article; nothing has changed. It is still think'n, hope'n and plann'n.  In twice the time it took to fight WWII, LCS isn't PMC in any of its primary mission areas. One could argue ASUW. One could, but I wouldn't. Back to VADM Copeman;
It’s a high speed, shallow draft, multi-mission workhorse full of technology that is our future.  As we decommission different ships of various classes, LCS will step up and fill multiple roles.  It is far more automated than previous class ships, and with lower manning, requires us to adapt our training and operations to meet that reality.
A ship that cannot deploy for more than 4-months due to crew burnout and habitability issues is not a work horse. Show pony, perhaps .... but not a workhorse. 

It is not multi-mission. It is at best uni-mission. You cannot take a training time out and swap out mission modules when a brace of Houbei come around the inlet you are hunting mines in. 

Also, you cannot use the present tense. I like optimism ... but that is for the future when all the pixie dust takes root. Not now. It cannot today, tomorrow or until at earliest mid-late decade even partially fill in for anything.
So, let me get to my priorities:

1.  Warfighting. It’s what we do – A large part of that will be with LCS.  LCS must get into the Fleet and fully integrated where we will use both variants and the mission modules to their best effect.
2.   Readiness. The world is a dynamic place and the Navy has to have the best trained Sailors who will operate the best equipment possible. In many ways what we operate will determine the number, type and training of Sailors needed. That support trail begins now for what we will require in the decades to come.
3.  Building the future fleet. What will the world look like in another decade. That’s a question which forces us to make assumptions about future resources, alliances, bases and strategies. The concepts, design outlines, support requirements—training, simulators, supply chain and dollars—required to operate in 2025 have to get underway soon.
No, we won't do much warfighting with LCS. Its best utility will be presence operations in peacetime. Warfighting will be with DDG and up. LCS will be kept far away from significant warfighting, if it can avoid it. It simply is not ready, and won't be for awhile.

The points about readiness and the future fleet are spot on. VADM Copeman is also spot on about the need to focus on 2025 now (where have we heard that before .....).

This is the point of the article where I am actually starting to pay attention and am leaning in to read what he has to say. It sounds right and reflects sound reasoning one would expect from a USN VADM.

Looking to the next paragraph;
No matter what news you see or hear about our budget, as of today, we get to steam around the world as part of the most powerful Navy in history. We have the best people, representing the best nation, with the best ships ever known. Let’s keep it that way… tell the Surface Navy story wherever you go. The oceans aren’t getting smaller and the world isn’t getting safer. A maritime nation needs a worthy maritime capability.
NOOOOOO! Tease! I feel robbed. Ending the article with output from the Random Flag Officer Speech Generator? I feel like for most of the article I was reading a press release from industry and then the start of an actual article of interest starts .... only to be cut off at the knees by a paragraph by the RFOSG. 

If I may humbly make a request to VADM Copeman .... take Priority 3, flavor it with Priority 2, and flesh that out to about 3,000 words or more. Submit it to Proceedings and use that as a conversation starter.

Heck, do that and I'll extend an apology for being a snarky and immature smarta55, and offer you a full hour on Midrats to discuss it.

UPDATE: Interesting thing. Re-read the above .... and then read this from AOLDefense;
Ultimately, (Copeman) warned, "if you don't want to get hollow, you have to give up force structure."
"Resources are going to drop. They're going to drop significantly," the admiral said.
VADM Copeman just went Salamander circa 2008. Therefor, he is correct. It took a half decade, but welcome. One day soon, they will all go Salamander in their own way. It has been written.

I actually got a kick out of this as well.
"If it were my choice," Copeman said, "I'd give up force structure to get whole. But it's not always my choice."
Admiral Greenert; call your office.