Tuesday, April 13, 2021

General Hamlet and the Small Boys

The Navy's hate-hate relationship with its fleet of small ships would be a comedy if it were not so tragic.

As recorded here in the opening years of this blog, one of the greatest errors of the last 40-yrs was the Navy's retreat from its exceptional riverine force it learned it needed the hard way in Vietnam. 

At the end of the 1990s, we disestablished the vestige of this once great capability in the Navy Reserve just a half decade before they would be desperately needed in Iraq.

Untold numbers of American and allied personnel were killed and maimed because we invaded a nation whose central geographical feature were two great rivers that we could not, for years, gain effective control of. While we fought for each intersection and highway ashore, on the water the enemy had relatively free run of the Tigris and Euphrates with their lakes and tributaries.

We still do not have the riverine forces we should have - for the same petty reasons the USAF does not have light attack aircraft - but we at least have a few bits in the took kit to use as needed

Problem is, the simply don't have the top cover they need. Via our friend Chris Cavas;

When it comes to big things the U. S. Navy has no problem with commitment. The service loves big aircraft carriers, big submarines, big ships – ships that travel on big oceans. It loves to think big – wide-open, transoceanic, blue water operations. Its shopping lists routinely include items costing in the billions of dollars – big bucks.

But when it comes to the small stuff, forget it. While there are passing fancies, the passion soon flames out and Big Navy is on to the next Big Thing.

The latest potential castoffs are some of the smallest ships in the fleet, if at 78-feet long they can be called ships at all. The Mark VI patrol boats began entering service in late 2014 and by 2018 a dozen of a planned fleet of 48 boats had been delivered. The craft were in response to an “urgent need” request from the U. S. Navy in Central Command for fast interceptors to protect big ships in the Persian Gulf from hundreds of small, fast vessels operated by Iran.

... on February 5 a service-wide message from the director of expeditionary warfare declared all 12 Mark Vis would be inactivated no later than September 30 of this year.

Marine Major General Tracy King, the director of expeditionary warfare, told a Surface Warfare Association audience on Jan. 12 the craft “are very expensive to maintain.” Acknowledging the craft were “very valuable in assuring partners and allies,” he added, “our wargaming has told us we could probably better spend that money elsewhere.”

Another example of the abuse of wargames. Again, you tell me what you want, I'll design a wargame to give it to you. 

Sorry, I'm not sold.

As I read this AM, I'm not the only one;

 “The previously released message (February 5) has since been cancelled, which stops the inactivation of MK VI boats this year [2021]. We are not going to speculate on the program’s future. The PB22 budget request is pre-decisional. We will not comment on future budgetary decisions until the budget request is submitted to Congress later this year.  The decision [to divest the Mark VI Patrol Boats] is still under review.” 

The Salamander Underground wins again. 

If MG King can claim all seeing wargaming, then I can claim credit for anything. It's only fair. (NB: fair to give credit to Chris for this tactical victory though, he was the one to bring this in to the light).

OK people, time to fight. MK VI are good kit to have with a lot of uses ... and there is no better way to build better officers.

No comments: