Fighting Today’s Threat
Here is Jay Tea at Wizbang’s take on how we are handling the major threat at sea these days; international piracy:
I hate to say it, but not very well.
The biggest militant threats we now face are small. I’d wager that a single US naval task force could easily wipe out every single pirate on the high seas, quite possibly without using a single aircraft. And our combined Army and Marine Corps probably outnumbers the number of active terrorists, let alone outguns them on every single worthwhile metric. But their size is not just a weakness, but a strength as well.
Our military is designed to fight other militaries, put forth by other nations. We don’t have that problem any more — there’s not a nation on earth that either wants to or could stand up to us in a fair fight. So they don’t even try.
Instead, they focus on attacking “soft” targets, avoiding the kind of force-on-force engagements that will end very, very badly for them. And in between those attacks, they disappear, they hide, they lurk in the shadows and avoid drawing our attention.
Yet our mostly hi-tech military is still geared to fight the Big War, with our giant missile battleships, supercarriers, and stealth fighters. How will they fare against the poorly armed but fanatically motivated insurgent:
Not very well.
Those amazingly capable weapons are remarkable technological achievements, and they represent the latest and greatest in American ingenuity and technology and innovation and industriousness. They are the ultimate (for now) example of the American tradition of “quality over quantity.” But they are expensive as hell. We can’t afford very many of them. And against foes like terrorists and pirates, we need quantity over quality.
The Zumwalts will be, quite simply, the most powerful destroyers ever built. Indeed, I question whether they qualify as “destroyers.” They are far closer to cruisers in size, and will possess greater destructive power than the mightiest battleships ever wielded.
But against pirates, I’d trade one Zumwalt in for a half-dozen World War II-type light cruisers, modernized with advanced communications and sensors. Hell, keep the cruisers — gimme a half-dozen Fletcher-class or Sumner-class destroyers with modern electronics. Their vintage weapons would be more than enough to take on today’s pirates.
What a great article, which I encourage you to read in its entirety. I was hoping that the new littoral combat ship would be the “Fletcher’s” of our day; a fast ship able to go near to shore and support the troops with naval gunfire, missiles, or uavs. Instead it has become a half-billion dollar boondoggle. Still, I’d rather have 100 LCS than 10 Zumwalt destroyers, which is how many you could buy of the lighter and more relevant ships for the smaller number of DDG-1000 dinosaurs!