Monday, July 02, 2018

A Fleet in a Parallel Universe

The fleet a nation builds is not predestined; it develops over time based on the perceived security needs of a nation, its economic carrying capacity, combined with the will and vision of its leaders.

After those basic ingredients are set, then you have to have the right people with the right ideas to implement it. The fleet that results is not the result of a simple 1+1+1=3. Like three different chefs can come up with three very different dishes from the same basic ingredients, so too can different leaders build very different fleets to meet what they perceived best meets a nation’s requirements.

If you had different leaders at a point in time, you would have a very different fleet.

We have the fleet we have because of those in positions of power, uniformed and civilian, at important decision points.

There were alternatives to today’s present. There are alternative futures. The “what if” matrix is as complex as the personalities and philosophies that chose one path over another; one platform over another.

Navalists know most of the more recent decision points that led to the fleet we have today. We know those who led one school of thought or another – who won the argument, and who did not. Who got 80% of what they saw the future needed, who got 20%.

When you look at people with alternative designs from what we have today, one of the first people who comes to mind is Wayne Hughes, CAPT USN (Ret.). In June’s issue of Proceedings, he has an article, “Build a Green Water Fleet” that again raises the issue of what fleet we need as an alternative to the one we continue to build.

The article builds off the concepts I wrote about in JAN 2010 embedded in the decade old “New Navy Fighting Machine". It may be a decade old, but it is still fresh.

In my 2010 post, Reforming the Confederate Navy, I outlined the issue as I saw it,
The Confederate Navy … she threw her lot in with transformationalism. VIRGINIA and HUNLEY were wonderful ground breaking designs and concepts - built against tremendous odds - but in the end they were like the nation they served - beautiful losers destroyed by their own fatal conceits.

What was their conceit? They thought that a few high technological breakthroughs thrown into a few hulls and applied with a bit of tactical verve could triumph over the many primarily pushing sound fundamentals.
Yep, the South did win - it won the post Goldwater-Nichols Navy.

Let’s get back to Hughes’s latest;
The New Navy Fighting Machine Study described an affordable yet more numerous and complete U. S. fleet for the 21st century. By distinguishing smaller, single-purpose, green-water (coastal and littoral) combatants from the large, multipurpose, expensive, heavily manned blue-water (open-ocean) fleet, the study was able to restore a Navy of more than 600 vessels that could be sustained with an annual Ship Construction New (SCN) budget of $15 billion. [3] The fleet’s composition was tested by war games and studies conducted by faculty and students. Their efforts explored the value and limitations of the NNFM force against two first-class enemies, irregular warfare opponents, and for peacetime engagement with friendly states.
What kind of fleet for Green Water ops would he like?
The Navy needs small, lethal, fast, green-water ships and submarines to take the fight to the enemy in the littorals. The Mark VI patrol boat (top) and this HOSS X-1 concept submarine (designed by and copyright J. Scott Shipman of B.B. Hoss, Inc.) are examples of vessels recommended by the New Navy Fighting Machine Study.
…“Minuteman” class of missile combatants to comply with surface navy specifications that included eight antiship cruise missiles, a gun, a combat crew of 12, bunks for 30, and a cruising radius of 3,000 nm.
To get it, he is willing to trade some Blue Water capital;
… the existing 280-ship fleet its 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs) took 46 percent of sea-going billets. By reducing the number of CVNs to six or seven and distributing the sea-based air capability more widely, the NNFM freed enough people to operate the new fighting fleet.
There are some who are questioning the math here, but even if you adjust 25%, the argument should not be dismissed out of hand.
…a light aircraft carrier (CVL), displacing 28,000 tons, that could carry 20 F-35B aircraft plus assorted helicopters and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for scouting and auxiliary functions. Weisser showed that in most scenarios two or three CVLs working together, or one operating in concert with a CVN, would be more adaptable and could deliver firepower more efficiently than sea-based air power operating from CVNs alone.
…16 non-nuclear submarines because littoral waters are where they will be most effective.
Of course, this does not fully address the Blue Water changes, but as the author mentioned, that can be addressed SEPCOR.

One final note from me, for any meaningful change to take place, we need to pull up Goldwater-Nichols root and branch and replace with a new construct. We need a wholesale, highly disruptive change in the bureaucratic structure and the accretions build up around it in the last 3+ decades. Better now in peace by choice, than at war when the decks are slick with blood and we are grasping for something more effective.

It is not a coincidence that we have not been able to field a successful surface combatant since Goldwater-Nichols. Remember, the money to cut steel on DDG-51 Hull-1 was in 1985, a year prior to Goldwater-Nichols.

Since then, we have put forward LCS & DDG-1000, aborted CG(X), cannot stop picking our belly button with DDG(X), and have a fairly good chance of having FFG(X) just be a reconfigured (spit) LCS.

When will the last Arleigh Burke DDG be commissioned, 2030? 2035? Heck, 2040? There is a pretty good chance that a DDG envisioned and first built at the height of the Cold War will almost see service in to the 22nd Century. 2085 at a minimum.

100 years. Almost like we were about to decommission the last of our TENNESSEE Class BB, designed and built after and during WWI.

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