Tuesday, March 29, 2022

We Chose Decline

The People's Republic of China does not have to aggressively take our status as the premier world power. It appears that we are willingly giving it to them, sooner more than later.

As a maritime and aerospace power, especially when it comes to the challenge west of Wake, if you want to understand how serious our nation's national security nomenklatura is toward the clear threat to the place previous generations died by the hundreds of thousands to place us in the last century - just look at what we are spending our money on.

Megan Eckstein over at DefenseNews has the summary for everyone. It isn't pleasant reading, especially for those who have their eyes on the world around us. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept the simple fact that the leadership the American people have put in charge of their security simply are not interested in funding it.

Until elections move new people in to power - and even that may not produce the needed result - we will simply have to accept that The Terrible 20s that we started talking about a dozen years ago are our future.

The title of Megan's latest is as good of a start as any;

US Navy budget would pay for 9 ships, decommission 24 amid readiness drive

Yes, that is a net loss of 15 ships. Meanwhile the PLAN grows and grows.

Like the intellectually dishonest "Integrated Defense" we covered yesterday, all this is being justified with spin and bad theory.

A couple of examples;

Meredith Berger, who is currently performing the duties of Navy undersecretary, told reporters the plan is strategy-driven and follows the chief of naval operation’s priorities of funding the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine in full and then prioritizing readiness for today, lethality for tomorrow and capacity for down the road.

The budget proposal, she said, “enables the Department of Defense’s investment in the three pillars of the National Defense Strategy: integrated deterrence, campaigning forward and building upon our enduring advantages to fulfill the strategic priorities that are identified [in] the National Defense Strategy.”

I'm sorry Acting Under, but bullsh1t. No serious person who sees what is happening on the other side of the Pacific believes that. I really am interested in what exactly you will be "campaigning forward" with ... and the rest is, as my European friends like to say, "fried air."

The U.S. Navy is requesting more money in its fiscal 2023 budget proposal compared to the previous fiscal year, but it’s still on a trajectory toward a smaller fleet.


The Navy’s request represents a 5% growth in spending compared to the FY22 budget Congress passed, and the Marine Corps’ request would be a 1.8% increase in spending compared to the enacted FY22 budget.

In an inflationary environment - especially accelerating inflation - these % changes and raw number increases are meaningless.

Only units matter. How many of what you can buy. Focus on that first, then the money.

Along those lines, here is where the numbers fall;

Included in the request are two Virginia-class attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one Constellation-class frigate, one America-class amphibious assault ship, one San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, one John Lewis-class fleet oiler, and one Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship.


The Navy currently has 298 ships. That would dip to 280 by FY27 under the plan pitched by the Navy.

The service proposes decommissioning 24 ships in FY23: nine Freedom-variant LCSs, five Ticonderoga-class cruisers, four Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ships, two attack submarines, two oilers and two Montford Point-class expeditionary transfer docks.

The loss of LCS is a net gain for the Navy, but building two while decom'n two SSN doesn't grow that needed west of Wake capability ... and we are gutting what is needed to get personnel and gear ashore from the sea - a strange position to take when that is one of the critical requirements to conduct and sustain operations in the Pacific.

Of those 24 vessels, 16 have not yet reached the end of their service lives and would require the Navy secretary to sign a waiver to Congress, including all nine LCSs, one of the five cruisers and the two expeditionary transfer docks.


Two thirds of our ships are being decommissioned before they were even used to their designed longevity. That is damning of both our maintenance and fleet design errors of the last 30-yrs.

Speaking of submarines, let's go back to something we were discussing on the Front Porch a dozen years ago;

Let's look at 2020 again. What else is happening in the 20s? Well, for one, we will have to find money to re-capitalized the SSBN fleet. I offer to you that the 20 JAN HASC SEF Subcommittee meeting has an outstanding money discussion about that challenge. Deputy SECNAV Work has also discussed this challenge in other venues, and I think he has a very firm grasp of the problem, as do most in positions to know.

You have to look at it in the broader context of the budget as well. The hangover in the 20s from this decade's drunken frenzy of spending will couple with another cohort of Baby Boomers retiring and putting stress on the budget in ways we still do not have a firm grasp on.

In 2020 - that ship built in 1990 will be at 30 years. That LCS built in 2009 will only have 9 years or so of service life (LCS is expected to only last 20-25 years) - so by the end of the 2020s, LCS will be dropping like flies.

When you consider that we will be limited this decade to LCS and DDG-51 for our non-amphib surface ship program (don't throw JHSV at me, that is just a truck - full stop - all else is spin and hope) - you have about a perfect story for the 20s of limited shipbuilding funds and a stunted fleet.

No one - at least here - should find this from Megan's article even a little bit surprising;

He also noted that 21% of the shipbuilding budget supports the Columbia program — which doesn’t affect the ship count for FY23 since the Navy is not buying a new ship this year but rather is incrementally paying for the lead ship bought in FY21 and buying parts for the upcoming FY24 ship.


The Columbia program will grow to consume 30% of the shipbuilding budget once it moves into one-per-year procurement later this decade. As a result of this pressure, surface ship programs may be scaled down.

A month before the above post from FEB2010, we also had this CDRSalamander post - again from over a dozen years ago;

 We did this to ourselves - and in the budget environment everyone who wanted to has seen for the last half decade, the simple math that the Tiffany Navy forces us to use tells us that there was no way we would reach 313, 300, or even hold fast at 283.

Further evidence continued to mount last spring, when the administration submitted a shipbuilding budget that would only support the construction of eight ships.

In just a few short years, this level of funding will produce a 240-ship fleet, given that a typical Navy warship has an expected life of 30 years.

We will be lucky if we can hold 240 - as we have been discussing here for the last few years.

What is happening on the aviation side of the house?

... it plans to retire 24. It is asking for 96 aircraft, but no F/A-18 Super Hornets and fewer carrier-variant F-35C Joint Strike Fighters than last year. It’s also proposing a decrease of about 10,000 sailors to crew the fleet in the next five years.


Of note, the five Advanced Hawkeyes and the 26 TH-73A helicopter trainers in the budget request would be the last in the program before the production lines end.

The three V-22 Ospreys the Navy is buying this fiscal year and the nine the Marines are buying would be the last for that production line as well, with the services listing zero in their request for FY23 and in the four following years.

10,000? Do you know anyone in a sea-going command who thinks they are overmanned?

I repeat my standard once again; if you believe war in coming west of Wake, time is short. Under no circumstances should any production line of aircraft or ships be allowed to go idle until there is an immediate production of that platform's replacement. 

We cannot afford to allow us to lose in the mid-20s the ability to produce E-2 or MV-22 or F/A-18...anything until their replacements are in production. 

We need serious people for this serious time.

We will have to wait.

No comments: