Wednesday, November 26, 2014

LCS Collects Another Soul

You can add this to your list of evidence that one of the most negative secondary effects of the dog’s breakfast program that is the sub-optimal LCS, is the impact it is having on the credibility of our senior uniformed leadership.

Everything they (not the royal "we" I disowned any defense of LCS a decade ago) serve up in defense of the Little Crappy Ship winds up being a thin gruel and weak cheese buffet that rarely survives the follow-up question. Each time they make the effort to fill in for an industry spokesman, the more they let their professional capital drain through the scupper.

The latest to wallow in, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michelle Howard, USN. Via Valerie Insinna at NationalDefense, let’s roll up our pants and get squishy with it;
“My biggest concern and challenge is whether or not we end up being sequestered. That is my biggest concern and challenge to the LCS and the mission modules and for us to be able to replace those aging mine countermeasure ships out there,” she said
If that is your largest worry about LCS, then you've been in the Beltway too long. 

My largest concern with LCS is that it is going to force Maritime Component Commanders to order Sailors to go in to harm's way with an unnecessarily impotent warship with a glass jaw ... but ya'll know that.

Sequetor or not, if LCS is not funded, it is because it is not enough of a priority in the world's largest shipbuilding budget. It isn't a priority because there are things that are more likely to be of value ... because LCS is a fetish program, not a sound basis for a meaningful warship. Full stop.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert testified on Capitol Hill in September that if sequester is reinstated, the Navy will only be able to maintain a force of about 250 to 255 ships, she said. Today, it has a force of about 290, which means that “over the course of five years, we would have to reduce that force structure in order to keep other ships ready."
Of course it won't, and it has been unrealistic to try to sell a 313, 300, 290 ship Fleet with the known macro-budgetary issues in addition with full knowledge of what was coming after the 2009 election.

This has been a reality for half a decade for those who have seen the broader picture. In the face of a realistic budget, the Tiffany Navy pushed, planned, and built under CNOs Clark, Mullen, and Roughead set up following CNOs with the task of slowly walking the happy talk back, while they collected consultant fees from retirement. The last decade I warned of 240 - which was on the low end for even my estimates - well, 250 to 255 is now USN's worse case in the open? As Kaplan said with us seven years ago, American's Elegant Decline - indeed. All by choice.

Our discussions here last decade that brought us to 240 was based on two things - the undeniable budgetary pressures to come, and the lack of political and uniformed leadership to fight against it and make the sale. Could we afford a 313 ship Navy? Sure, all it would take is the ability to look past a decade of land war and, again, have the right political and uniformed leadership who could make the sale. We are here because we have failed there.
As to whether the Navy would have to cut the LCS total buy or to stretch out production of its 32 vessels, Howard said, “Until we know what would happen [with sequestration], we wouldn’t be able to make those decisions.”
What reactionary flapdoodle. Why not outline different courses of action? I know they are there. Sequestration should just be a decision point, nothing more. If the LCS isn't worth it - then it won't survive the rack-and-stack within the board. Any COA offered up, you known I'll "Press 0" and ask for the next record, but that is me. I'm just waiting for everyone else to accept the sunk cost, vote, and then let's all move along.

Now for the worst - yes it gets worst - part of the article.

OK, I try my best to be self aware. I know that if a LCS rescued me at sea, I would find a way to critique something about the ship that pulled my almost lifeless body from the water ... but ... what in the name of all that is holy is the VCNO speaking about?
"Definitely, in this case, you want to have something like LCS and its mission packages … because that ship is self deployable” and speedier than legacy ships, so it can quickly move to a denied environment and create “maneuver space for the forces to flow in behind us.”
Ummm ... please team; correct me if I am wrong. LCS is not self-deployable - hence the shore support plan for the next deployment from Singapore. We have also decided, especially in the MIW CONOPS, that LCS cannot go in to a denied environment any more than traditional minesweepers - unless you assume no air or surface threat in addition to mines. LCS requires other ships to protect it while it does MIW. Correct? 

Also, even if we create a benign AAW, ASUW and ASW environment - for LCS to be quicker to its area to conduct MIW - doesn't it have to come pre-configured for MIW when it shows up?

We've already moved past the "plug and play" CONOPS for mission modules, so if your LCS has the ASUW module and then it needs to do MIW, it needs to go to the rear support base, offload one mission package, get a new mission crew while loading the MIW and then xsit to the area needing MIW. Correct? That is if in some parallel universe you are able to do that. If not, you need to call home for MIW equipped, manned and trained LCS. Of which now and in the foreseeable future, we have none.

That cannot be faster than say a forward-deployed modern class of minesweeper such as the German Ensdorf-class that can put-put onstation at 18-kts. What am I missing?

In the penultimate paragraph,
"How do you rework technology so that we can gain access to those areas and then be able to sustain access in those areas, so that if we had to, we could dominate in a warfight?” she asked.
No. You do not "rework technology" to gain access to an area you were kept out of due to Red's effective A2AD. You eliminate, destroy, and then make their surviving system deaf and blind ... and then degrade them further by another cycle of destruction. Then you move in once you mitigate the threat enough that you are willing to risk your high demand low density units.

You do that through strike. You need cruise missiles and other unmanned strike assets to kick in the door. That means you need long-range strike aircraft. You need electronic warfare systems. Oh, and you need strike. Did I mention strike? Things that kills the enemy and breaks his stuff. That way you "gain access to an area you were kept out of." It's been a solid operational concept for thousands of years. We should study it a bit more, methinks.

Yes, that is old think, I know.

VCNO is smarter and better than this - but she is being put out there to sell the unsaleable ... and it shows.

Maybe we can hire Gruber to do some consulting work. I bet he has some ideas and talking points we can use.
If you like your MIW capability, you can keep your MIW capability.
Um, no.

Hey, time for me to start getting ready for tomorrow's eating. I'll leave you with my opinion via a dramatic rendering of what we must do with LCS.

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