Wednesday, September 04, 2013

LCS, Transparency and the Shift

For those of us in the LCS-harpie brigade, this bit last Friday by Mike Fabey at Aviation Week deserves two reads.

He interviews CHINFO, and our friend Rear Admiral Kirby made a few points that not only are exceptionally candid about the past messaging concerning LCS - but also gives hope that going forward we can have the creative friction we need to make the best of what we are going to have - like it or not - in the Fleet.
Look, every program has its bumps. Every program struggles to some degree. But it’s not just widgets and pipes and wires we’re talking about. It’s real money, taxpayer money. And it’s real capability we are trying to develop. We have an obligation to clarify all that.

This may come across as overly dramatic, but these ships don’t belong to us. They belong to the American people. And the American people have a right to know what we are doing with their investments.

The way I figured it was, if we want to be able to talk credibly about the things we were doing right on LCS, we needed to likewise be credible about the things we weren’t doing so well. People are never going to believe only half the story. I call it aggressive transparency, and that’s what I wanted for LCS.

Once we turned the action officers loose, they took off and built the relationships with reporters that were so lacking. Our fleet commanders, program managers and other leaders also stepped up. As a result of those relationships and the mutual access they afforded, the narrative started to change.

We still have work to do, even inside the Navy. But I think we’re getting there, and I think the press coverage -- already quite vibrant -- has improved. And I don’t mean that from a “positive” or “negative” perspective. I don’t like it when people refer to news coverage that way. What I mean is that the coverage today is simply more fulsome and contextual now that we are being more open about everything.

The Littoral Combat Ship will be a big part of the future fleet. It’s more than “just a ship.” We have to do more than just answer questions about it. We need to have meaningful conversations. We need to be accessible.

I’m OK if people question the program, but I don’t want them to ever question our transparency. Thanks to the great support we are getting from the fleet, that’s not a problem anymore.
Good. Good, and better. Yea ... and to be petty, I do feel a bit vindicated.

This is the direction the military of a representative republic should communicate to the taxpayer and media. Nice, and a refreshing new direction - but just be careful to take a pass on the bug juice, insist on the bottled water.

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