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Thread: Debating defense priorities and expenditures

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    Default Debating defense priorities and expenditures

    I think this is a topic we'll be revisiting a lot this year, if early indications hold. Most of what I read is pretty typical and predictable, but this post I found quite interesting. An excerpt:

    The reason Winslow Wheeler stands out as a perfect example of what is happening in the Defense debate today is because the Defense discussion under the Obama administration with Gates isn't about a future we are building towards, it is about meeting the obligations of a predeclared agenda. There is no shift in strategy that is recognizable under Gates, rather a shift in priority. Instead of debating what we need to meet the obligations of political leaders who call upon the military to do, well... just about everything, we are debating ways to save money. There is nothing observable that defense thinkers are working towards, and the predictable result is that everyone is digging in to push back against the pressures.
    Personally, I think this observation hold some truth, but I also think it didn't just come about with the new administration - rather it's a "feature" of our defense policy debate.

    And:

    So what is the answer? The House and Senate appear content with the status quo of being told by the Navy how it is going to be. The Navy is forbidden to discuss the budget, which is clearly a tactic to insure as few tough questions as possible get asked regarding new plans. When a program is on track, justified, and on budget... populism is allowed to trump process. When a program is way off course, well, any number of reasons end up insuring continuation. How can money be the problem when processes are ignored and leadership is never held accountable? No matter how much the defense budget gets cut, the problem is still centric to people and culture, not money.
    The defense budget fight looks like it's going to be a bloody one.

  2. #2
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No more bloody than many others over the years.

    Neither Galrahn or Winslow Wheeler seem to understand that the US defense budget perpetually has three huge millstones around its neck. Nor do most of the commenters at your link.

    Congress must appropriate the money for what DoD wants and Congress prefers bases and programs that spread largesses about Districts to defense purity. Been that way since 1787 with only rare exceptions -- usually occurring only when there's a MAJOR threat or a major screwup -- and is unlikely to change.

    DoD does not have the luxury of spending to support a 'strategy' -- that is a terribly misused term (often by a lot of folks who should know better) -- because our governmental system has never allowed such a creature. Politicians distrust the ideas of their predecessors and will force changes that impact any chance of a 'grand Strategy.' A lot of people have urged and are urging that we adopt such a creature -- not going to happen. Never has and the Cold War was not such an animal; there were dozens of strategies back than -- most not too swift.

    Thus the services are forced to buy things Congress will support in an effort to be prepared for who knows what contingency and Flag Officers, like politicians, distrust their predecessors. Or just have a different idea about what is great and good...

    Fortunately, we seem to luck out and get it pretty well right most of the time; as long as we're beating 50% I suppose that's good. It would be nice to get the percentage of good over about 60 or 70 though...

    It's also been beneficial that most of the folks we've had to fight have been more goofed up and generally less competent -- some less wealthy -- than we are.

    Add to those perpetual difficulties the old American psyche. I recall a German LTC talking about Kärcher's little portable Decon outfit: "The Americans will buy a few, engineer it for seven years until it doesn't work and then buy several thousand of that variant..."

    Still, if we did not push ideas like the Zumwalt's, F-35, EEV and FCS, the technology would get pretty stagnant. As for the great COIN/HIC debate, we'll shuffle along doing neither well and it'll work out. I've become reconciled to the fact that no matter how badly the Politicians and Flag Os foul up, the Kids pull their fat out of the fire. Heck of a way to run a railroad (Hmmm, what happened to them??? ).

    That seems to be the American way...

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Gotta agree

    I also found the commentary to be a touch short on any perspective about American history. Our external strategies (such as they are) tend to arise due to a perceived foreign threat, and they usually generate many offspring of widely varied practicality and viability. Those same strategies also sink into the ground as soon as the threat (real or otherwise) disappears...and we get yet another "peace dividend."
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Galrahn's Avatar
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    Very interesting. I guess I have largely missed the perspective that Grand Strategy is a bridge too far for the US, or that peacetime strategy is even possible. The CDI paper was the first time I had seen this perspective, but it does appear to be more widely shared.

    Are these views a concession to the industrial system, a failing in our politics, or due to inability of the services to articulate their vision?

    I like to think the content on my blog is intended to promote thinking about maritime strategy from the perspective of war and peace. If I was to buy into either of your comments, it sounds as if they imply military strategy during times of peace and/or unthreatened prosperity simply isn't realistic.

    I respectfully disagree.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Smile Actually we had a discussion on Grand Strategy a little while ago

    Quote Originally Posted by Galrahn View Post
    Very interesting. I guess I have largely missed the perspective that Grand Strategy is a bridge too far for the US, or that peacetime strategy is even possible. The CDI paper was the first time I had seen this perspective, but it does appear to be more widely shared.

    Are these views a concession to the industrial system, a failing in our politics, or due to inability of the services to articulate their vision?

    I like to think the content on my blog is intended to promote thinking about maritime strategy from the perspective of war and peace. If I was to buy into either of your comments, it sounds as if they imply military strategy during times of peace and/or unthreatened prosperity simply isn't realistic.

    I respectfully disagree.
    And I note you didn't get the opportunity to share your informed input on the subject. I'm sure you would probably be able to contribute quite a bit to help the the yungin's like myself develop a more holistic frame of the debate.

    Realizing your time may be limited I still have provided the Link for your perusal.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    It isn't really a surprise that the Defense budget is going to get smaller. I say Defense because DOE will probably see a cut in its nuclear weapons budget.

    Gates was a supporter of building new warheads, but I doubt that that will happen now.

    The downside is that saving money without spending some isn't really possible.

    If it were a goal, using a relatively small amount of money to replace some key equipment could reduce personnel, operating and maintenance costs. In 1996 the DSB released a report in which they indicated that aging equipment was increasing costs. The lasting quote was that "the tail is eating the tooth." We may be entering a period that has similar consequences.

    Just cutting the amount of money coming in and not adding any new equipment is a good way to ensure that you reduce possible savings while simultaneously decreasing readiness.

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    Ken,

    I agree with you to a point, but at least during the Cold War there was a focus. Many (not all, obviously) weapon systems were designed with specific Soviet threats in mind, so the capability we were buying was a bit clearer then, IMO, and spending on those systems was easier to justify.

    The same thing for numbers. We could look at the Soviets and come up with a rational basis for how many fighters or destroyers we might need in the case of a war. Certainly there were a lot of politics involved, but I think our war-planning and strategy informed those decisions much more than today, where there is no focus.

    That lack of focus along with vague QDR's result in system where anything can be justified. The COIN/HIC debate is, I think, partially about differing views on what our post-Soviet focus should be. I think the result is that procurement decisions are more political than they once were. I can live with that to an extent (another "feature" of our peculiar system of democracy), but I think there will have to major changes to fix or ameliorate the broken development and procurement processes which are not providing enough value for our money.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Your recollection and mine differ

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I agree with you to a point, but at least during the Cold War there was a focus. Many (not all, obviously) weapon systems were designed with specific Soviet threats in mind, so the capability we were buying was a bit clearer then, IMO, and spending on those systems was easier to justify.
    I'd submit most all weapons systems are designed with a clear vision of the potential threats so that was not unique to that period. We also bought a lot of dumb stuff that would not have lasted long in combat and was terribly difficult to maintain. I can name you a dozen birds that were bought that were a total waste of $$ -- start with the B-58, B-70, F-104 and F-105 or the A3D, A5, F11F. Where are the Nuke Cruisers today? Then there's my personal Army favorite:

    ""When the computer was activated, it immediately started aiming the guns at the review stands, causing several minor injuries as members of the group jumped for cover. Technicians worked on the problem, and the system was restarted. This time it started shooting towards the target, but fired into the ground 300 m in front of the tank. In spite of several attempts to get it working properly, the vehicle never successfully engaged the sample targets."" LINK.
    The same thing for numbers. We could look at the Soviets and come up with a rational basis for how many fighters or destroyers we might need in the case of a war.
    Ah, yes. Like our late 1980s ploy "We will put ten Divisions in Europe in ten days." Lot of people believed that; a lot knew better because the MSC Reserve Fleet couldn't be activated and manned in time and we didn't have the airlift. We never had enough tracked vehicles or pure troop strength to do our part in offsetting the USSR. Only after the Reagan buildup did we get even start to get close. During the period, the Navy certainly and the USAF mostly were in threat range -- the Army, not so much. Thus our perspectives differ a bit but the truth is things then weren't much better than they are today...
    Certainly there were a lot of politics involved, but I think our war-planning and strategy informed those decisions much more than today, where there is no focus.
    What strategy? War plans we had. However, I was talking to a Reserve unit Commander in 1988 or so; "Okay," said I, "you're not doing any field training because you know the warehouse in Antwerp from which your unit will operate. What are you going to do if the 141 lands in Torrejon because Antwerp and its Port were ground zero for a 50 KT warhead while you were flying cheerfully across the Atlantic?" He had no answer for that.

    As I said, your recollection and mine differ...
    That lack of focus along with vague QDR's result in system where anything can be justified. The COIN/HIC debate is, I think, partially about differing views on what our post-Soviet focus should be. I think the result is that procurement decisions are more political than they once were. I can live with that to an extent (another "feature" of our peculiar system of democracy), but I think there will have to major changes to fix or ameliorate the broken development and procurement processes which are not providing enough value for our money.
    I agree on the need for changes in many thing -- not least the procurement system.

    However, my recollections from Korea forward are of the same incoherence I see today. Some things got worse then better; others improved and then went downhill. We had good years and bad years but anyone who thinks there has been or was during the Cold War any real coherence in our defense budget is missing a few things.

    The process is badly flawed and it will not change because in the absence of a major threat, Congress likes it that way. So do some in DoD because they can manipulate the system to get stuff in the POM. then a new CNo/CoS/Cmdt comes along and scrubs stuff and inserts HIS vision.

    The reason for less than prescriptive QDRs (you do recall who insisted on those...) is that wiggle room factor I mentioned. DoD has to do what they can to prepare for an uncertain future in the absence of any finite political guidance on defense matters. Thus they opt for vague.

    Congress would really like to give such guidance but that's not their job, so they try to do it by juggling funds and priorities. Administrations are reluctant to give such guidance because even though it emphatically is their job, they don't want to be wrong -- thus no guidance other than rarely.

    I also know that the few times there has been such guidance, it was generally badly flawed. Reagan and Bush did not give finite guidance, they just said 'go shopping.' That's not a strategy, it's not even a plan, it is an invitation to waste and flawed procurement actions. My sensing is that if any finite guidance is received in the next few years, it also will be flawed.

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    Council Member Galrahn's Avatar
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    Ron,

    I need to read that thoroughly and come back to it, several interesting links in that thread.

    Ken,

    I think you and I agree in that we both see policy as the driver, not strategy. I think we disagree in that I believe that can change, where you do not. I agree with many of your observations though. You may appreciate this, 8 Minutes of DoD Acquisition History.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default

    I don't tend to think that strategy can drive much of our process for historical and cultural reasons. Ken and I both brought up a great deal of this in the thread Ron referenced, but the short version is that our political system simply isn't set up to cope with any sort of long-range planning. With an election cycle every two years, most politicians spend their time focusing on purely domestic/local concerns. It's been that way for the majority of our history. And when the military does try to drive strategy, they tend to focus on their favorite areas or pet projects and ignore factors that might be of policy importance because they're either "out of their lanes" or they don't understand them (and the same can be said for politicians who think the military can fix everything that happens beyond our borders). For the U.S. to actually develop and maintain a functional grand strategy would require a number of cultural shifts that I just don't see happening.

    Does that mean that we should ignore it? No. But I'm in favor of realistic goals, to include a decent short-term strategy focusing on real threats and not mythical constructs intended to get programs funded. Given our collective history of wanting to fight imaginary foes, I'm not sure how successful even limited goals will be.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We are in partial agreement -- but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Galrahn View Post
    I think you and I agree in that we both see policy as the driver, not strategy. I think we disagree in that I believe that can change, where you do not. I agree with many of your observations though. You may appreciate this, 8 Minutes of DoD Acquisition History.
    while we agree that Policy is indeed the driver, I have to ask -- why would one want that to change so that, as you appear to suggest, strategy becomes the (or even 'a') driver?

    Very serious question.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    I have to ask -- why would one want that to change so that, as you appear to suggest, strategy becomes the (or even 'a') driver?
    Ken - that may get into to if somebody wants to be more efficient or more effective in a given area.

    I had a discussion with a buddy a couple of weeks ago about how hard it is to convince people that sometimes you become more efficient (not having to spend years adapting, re-doing, or re-learning and spending more blood and treasure while risking other objectives) through being more effective.

    The cost may be more up front, but ultimately less than it would be if you went in with the idea that you can always increase effectiveness via efficiencies. This is not just about defense spending priorities, but about the closely held values you design your policies and programs to support.

    Caveat 1- sometimes its going to be long and ugly just because long and ugly is what you bit into - buyer beware.

    Caveat 2 - sometimes you may not intend to be effective at all, and your actions to become more efficient in one area are based on your priorities in others. Domestic programs cost allot of money (every policitian has them regardless of party) and like R&D engineering they often have cost overuns.

    Best, Rob

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I probably didn't say that very well...

    My point was / is that policies of the US can endure and have done so -- our strategies, OTOH, change frequently. As I believe they must. Perhaps ,certainly will' is more expressive than must; again, that 2,4,6 and 8 year effect on strategizing...
    "...that may get into to if somebody wants to be more efficient or more effective in a given area."
    I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand what you mean. To me, whether one calls something a strategy or a policy has little to do with efficiency or effectiveness. Either of the former can produce either -- or neither -- of the latter.
    "The cost may be more up front, but ultimately less than it would be if you went in with the idea that you can always increase effectiveness via efficiencies. This is not just about defense spending priorities, but about the closely held values you design your policies and programs to support.
    Nor do I see a relationship there... Sorry.

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    Council Member Galrahn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    while we agree that Policy is indeed the driver, I have to ask -- why would one want that to change so that, as you appear to suggest, strategy becomes the (or even 'a') driver?

    Very serious question.
    I will look at it from the Navy's perspective, but I would argue an Air Force example could apply as well. To operate at sea, or in the sky, you require equipment. We can field light infantry on land without major technologies, indeed low tech light infantry rules in many parts of the world.

    This technology requires long lead times for development and often will be utilized for about 2/5s of a century, meaning every technology decision shapes several generations. Even the JOE doesn't look out far enough to cover the life of a new program.

    So I would argue strategy is necessary for effective planning, and also necessary for avoiding mistakes that can take time to develop and even more time to overcome. Policy isn't enduring because it changes. However, strategy is driven by policy so it is constantly changing too, which tends to reinforce your point.

    But even with that said, I would argue the Navy's Surface Combatant 21 program, the DDG-1000 and LCS, is a failure not of policy, but strategy. The Navy's littoral strategy is severely flawed in several ways.

    The Navy believed:

    1) 14,500 ton ships could somehow be stealthy in populated maritime littorals.
    2) Unmanned systems can replace manpower in complex human terrains, like the littorals
    3) Speed is protection, as if a ship will outrun a missile

    Policy, economic in nature, will almost certainly cancel the DDG-1000, but only to save money. The same economic driven policy may mean we build the LCS, not because it actually makes any sense as a technology for the littorals, but because it is relatively cheap as navy ships go.

    Then we will spend more money later because the LCS can't do what it needs to do against littoral challenges, because the unmanned systems we have all over the sea allows us to either "shoot" or "watch." The absence of sailors prevents alternatives like "inspect" or "arrest."

    If RoE prevents shooting, we don't secure the maritime domain, we watch it. In the end, policy drives future naval capability because strategy failed, and as a result was ignored...

    Make sense?

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    Default The Ultimate Weapon...

    Agreed friend.

    Interestingly enough, our constitutional arrangement of forced triangulation or standoff from a solid geostrategy calls for a surge of support from our population in order to wage war. This effect then increases productivity, enlistment, drives, rationing, support and the all important psychological mobilization that we saw small examples of in '81, '91 & '01.

    The people acting together as one always are our greatest strength.

    Wars truly are won not on the battlefields, but in the minds of populations.

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    Council Member ipopescu's Avatar
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    Default my thoughts on defense budgeting

    I attempted to address some of the questions that would need to be considered in order to bridge the strategy-resources gap in a recent piece in the new JFQ http://www.ndu.edu/inss/Press/jfq_pa...ons/i53/17.pdf
    The article struggles with some of the same questions raised on this thread, so I thought it would be germane to link it here. The intro is pasted below:

    With a large increase in funding rather unlikely, it seems reasonable to expect that President Barack Obama will attempt to solve the Pentagon’s financial problems by trying to achieve a closer match of budgetary resources with its overall defense and national security strategy. Ideally, the Obama administration should be able to choose among competing funding priorities the ones most needed to accomplish its goals, and eliminate some of the less relevant ones to free up funds and hence make its plan affordable and sustainable. Should this happen, it would be one of the few times in history when the American defense planning process made a great deal of strategic sense. The reasons for this are twofold: first, the Pentagon’s budgeting priorities are like a big ship, where small rudder changes are all that is possible; and second, military procurement plans are more often than not rather impervious to policy direction.
    Despite the sorry state of the previous administration’s plans, it would be overly optimistic to hope for a dramatic overhaul from President Obama; the institutional inertia is just too powerful. The best that could be realistically demanded of the national security team is to integrate at least some of the hard budgetary choices to into a coherent strategic framework that truly connects means with ends and that takes into account both the internal and external factors determining the future of U.S. defense policy. This article is dedicated to providing such a concise analytical framework that suggests some of the critical questions that should be considered during the process preceding the first Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) of the Obama administration.
    The article is grounded in a theoretical understanding of war and strategy strongly influenced by Clausewitzian thought. Thus, an appropriate depiction of future challenges must necessarily employ a holistic understanding of conflict. Descriptions of future war that fail to take into account both its operational grammar and its policy logic are incomplete at best and dangerously misleading at worst. For traditional and historical reasons, American defense planning has too often suffered from a debilitating bifurcation of strategic thinking: debates on war’s grammar have been conducted without regards to political objectives, while policy and strategy debates rarely considered the actual realities of the battlefield and the suitability of current military means to achieve the specified policy goals. Keeping in mind that strategy-making is above all a continuous process of matching means and ends according to dynamic changes in real-world circumstances, this study focuses on pointing out four inter-related factors—grand strategy, the Bush legacy, the nature of the threat, and the nature of modern warfare—that need to be considered during any strategic deliberations on defense policy planning, programming, and budgeting.
    Ionut C. Popescu
    Doctoral Student, Duke University - Political Science Department

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    Ken,

    I'd submit most all weapons systems are designed with a clear vision of the potential threats so that was not unique to that period.
    Sure, but the difference today is there isn't much agreement on our threat focus - there's no "peer competitor." We built a military during the cold war which, despite the many problems and incoherence along the way, was focused on the Soviet threat. My point is there isn't any such focus today so the incoherence is much worse.

    We also bought a lot of dumb stuff that would not have lasted long in combat and was terribly difficult to maintain. I can name you a dozen birds that were bought that were a total waste of $$ -- start with the B-58, B-70, F-104 and F-105 or the A3D, A5, F11F. Where are the Nuke Cruisers today?
    You're quite right, but there are some big differences today. First of all, those "mistakes" didn't cost as much, relatively speaking, as defense projects do today. There also used to be a lot more competition in the defense industry - many aerospace companies have consolidated into two, for example. There were, generally, more contracts that cost less than today. To use a couple of your examples, the F-105 cost about $10 million each in 2009 dollars, the B-58 about $97 million (again in 2009 dollars) and the entire Valkyrie program was about $11 billion in today's dollars, or about the same amount congress has spent on the "alternative" engine for the F-35 (which still isn't finished). All those programs you mention were comparatively cheap in terms of development and unit cost to equivalents today.

    Additionally, like AIG, defense programs are "too big to fail" today thanks to collusion between the Congress, defense industry and the services. That has produced all sorts of negative consequences.

    In short I agree with the general thrust of your argument that there has been a long history of incoherence - on that we agree - but I think things are much worse now due to the factors I've argued here. I freely admit that may be my own perception, tarnished by my relative youth, but the numbers in terms of cost, development timelines, number of programs, etc. I think support my argument.

  18. #18
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think you reinforced my point...

    Quote Originally Posted by Galrahn View Post
    ...We can field light infantry on land without major technologies, indeed low tech light infantry rules in many parts of the world.
    I broadly agree but would suggest some care -- our Light Infantryman today costs about 25 to 50K to equip, job dependent and they have some high tech gear that took a long time to develop; and there's more on the way.
    ...meaning every technology decision shapes several generations. Even the JOE doesn't look out far enough to cover the life of a new program.
    Totally true, ergo...
    Policy isn't enduring because it changes. However, strategy is driven by policy so it is constantly changing too, which tends to reinforce your point.
    I believe that our policies have changed not nearly as sweepingly or as often as our Strategies. Strategies are changed not only at our whim but alos due to situational changes and opponenets actions. Polices are less affected by those outside factors.
    ...I would argue the Navy's Surface Combatant 21 program, the DDG-1000 and LCS, is a failure not of policy, but strategy. The Navy's littoral strategy is severely flawed in several ways.
    I totally agree -- but submit that was mostly because of a poor understanding of the environment AND a 'blue wate' lust plus Congressional influence.
    ...1) 14,500 ton ships could somehow be stealthy in populated maritime littorals.
    Don't think so. They believed that a 14,500 ton ship could stand off and dominate the littorals -- not the same thing at all. For proof of that, simply look at the original weapons fit. Ask the Navy why they're playing with ATACMs or what happened ERGM -- and the Mk 148.
    2) Unmanned systems can replace manpower in complex human terrains, like the littorals
    A littoral is not complex human terain; it's shallow near shore water, nothing more. The use of unmanned systems may or may not prove viable; we'll see. What the nearby humans in the littorals do won't have nearly as much to do with that as the technology.
    3) Speed is protection, as if a ship will outrun a missile.
    Don't think so. Not at all correct (regardless of what some know nothing may have said...) -- speed was and is seen as affording flexibility in employment and rapidity of movement from one action location to another. The M1 tank did not change the speed of comabt -- but its ability to move to blocking or reinforcing positions at very high speed complicates the planning of opponents.

    Point is that those STRATEGIC assumptions made by one person (or several...) are now being questioned by others. As they should be.
    ...we build the LCS, not because it actually makes any sense as a technology for the littorals, but because it is relatively cheap as navy ships go.
    Doubt it -- I believe the LCS will be seen as significabnt over match for its actual job description and a significantly cheaper alternative of the same or slightly less size will appear.
    In the end, policy drives future naval capability because strategy failed, and as a result was ignored...

    Make sense?
    Sure it does. I thought that's what I said...

    Or, differently put; strategy is infinitelt variable and MUST change as circumstances direct. A policy cane exist for years and survive numerous minor differences in the environment.

    Strategies are short term efforts to achieve specific goals -- try to make them long term (as in Grand Strategy) and you will screw the pooch. Take a look at WW II Strategies and ships / shipbuilding. Five years and myriad changes...

    The US can and has adopted long term policies. Long term strategies are beyond us and that's a good thing...

  19. #19
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Is tha not a function of the economic envirionament over the last 20 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    ...I think things are much worse now due to the factors I've argued here. I freely admit that may be my own perception, tarnished by my relative youth, but the numbers in terms of cost, development timelines, number of programs, etc. I think support my argument.
    That and the deterioration of some but not all of our science and engineering?

    Mistakes are more expensive per capita today -- but there are far fewer capitas.

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    Council Member Galrahn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    The US can and has adopted long term policies. Long term strategies are beyond us and that's a good thing...
    Ken,

    I think you are wrong on so many parts of that post it would take us enormously off coarse on this discussion to go through it, only I will suggest that I don't think you know what you think you know about naval programs, and I think your view of what the littoral is matches very well with the folks in the Navy who have unsuccessfully developed a littoral strategy for the post cold war US Navy.

    On the quoted section above, I think that is an interesting view. I think Bush had some policies that the Obama administration is rejecting, interventionism and unilateralism among the most influential policies that will impact defense strategy.

    But I disagree that long term strategies are beyond us. I don't believe the absence of a long term strategy is proof they aren't possible nor that they would be ineffective if implemented. Implementation is difficult, but not impossible.

    I note Russia, India, and China all have long term strategies and I see no evidence it is beyond any of those countries, and I would note that India is a democracy and even more of a political mess when it comes to policy than the US. Our national inabilities are rooted in our indecision, not our incapacity.

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