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Excusing the “Do Nothing Navy”

November 30, 2008

You have to give them credit. The Custodian over at Galrahn’s blog does a superior job at justifying why its OK for the Navy to build warships not meant to fight, it is astounding! The reasons he gives are priceless and almost makes you forget there is a War on Terror on:

There has been no shortage of U.S. military deployments. While it is true that there is only one case where an actual forced entry might have been plausible – the 2003 invasion of Iraq – it is also true that there are at least two cases where the capability might have been called into play had circumstances turned out differently.

Wow, that was really close! After listing about 2 dozen US Military deployments after 1992, he contends there was at least 2 occasions where our multi-billion dollar amphibious fleet could actually have been used! That’s really getting your money’s worth right? And wait there’s more:

But it appears on first glance that while a full amphibious assault has not been seriously envisioned since the decoy maneuvers of the first Gulf War, there have been numerous potential situations where an amphibious capability and associated fire support have been applicable even if not applied.

Well I convinced that we aren’t wasting our money, aren’t you? But the best is yet to come:

I would argue that having a capability in order to not use it, after all, is in no way a strange position for U.S. armed forces.

Hmmmm…So its OK to spend vasts sums to produce an amphibious fleet we never use for what its built for, but we can’t seem to find the resources to combat piracy? Well, I must admit not actually using military equipment would solve the little wear and tear problems the Army is suffering with its tanks and other vehicles in Iraq. Maybe that’s why the USAF wants to build fighters it won’t use in the Middle East wars, so it wouldn’t suffer attrition problems like its older warplanes have endured on the front lines.

The article itself isn’t bad where it discusses naval surface fire support (NSFS), except with the amphibious portion that arises, the attempts to explain its continued existence in a new era of seapower becomes ever more ludicrous. Much like many tried to justify the continued existence of battleships after Pearl Harbor (and some to this day!), in a environment of ever tightening defense budgets, continuing to fund warships or any platform which is irrelevant to the threats we now face is simply insane.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 3, 2008 8:40 am

    Cheers to you and a good attitude you have. Nothing personal i assure you, just that since we have been waiting 60 years for the amphibious assault you mentioned, and we have missed some choice opportunities on the way in my view, we could safely move on to something more affordable that works.

    You are on the money concerning naval fire support. Wished that I mentioned that issue more though I am so frustrated over the apathy concerning the piracy issue, as the USN and many supporters seek to keep the “good old days” alive by fostering conventional warfare platforms on the taxpayer with little relevance to modern threats. Your thoughts on supplementing guns with missiles and rockets for shore bombardment is very refreshing. And thanks for not suggesting we need to “bring back the battleships”!

  2. December 3, 2008 1:14 am


    Cheers and thanks for engaging. I would say your characterization of my points is a bit specious due to cherrypicking, but I think I grasp your position. I just am not sure we agree on what mine is. I would argue that there is a difference between having forces that fulfill their purpose without action and forces that fulfill no purpose and do not fight. Amphibious assault or unopposed landings will hopefully not be needed – but the point of my posting that list was to demonstrate that hope aside, trends say they will. In many of those cases, amphibious forces *were* sent into potential hostile areas, either by lightering or by helo – and in every one of those cases, the safety of the troops involved was enhanced by the threat of U.S. fire support when available, whether aviation, missile fire or popgun. My point is that *given* our continued dispatching of troops into harms way in the littorals, available fire support for those troops is our responsibility, and figuring out how to do it in the most relevant manner, with the highest chances of successful deployment, is paramount.

    I’d also point out that my eventual recommendation was *not* to build gold-plated warships that we never used. My recommendation is to revive the concept of the monitor rather than the battleship – and if possible, to do so using existing assets, reconfigured.

    Cheers again, and thanks.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 1, 2008 7:06 pm

    Kind of like Iraq not being apart of the War on Terror, Gal? Its just an excuse to separate ourselves from the problem. 300 dead in India don’t lie and it was “From the Sea”. The Sea!

    And if piracy was just “criminal behavior”, why did we need the Royal Navy and the USN in the 1800s to stamp it out? heck why isn’t the Coast Guard leading the 5th Fleet in the Gulf of Aden if it is only a criminal issue? I can’t imagine you really believe this! Somalia is war-torn by Islamic extremists which is the root of this problem. Any doubts about that?

  4. December 1, 2008 2:14 pm

    “Some would consider fighting piracy a part of the War on Terror. Hello?”

    Who? Which maritime expert? Name? I look forward to that, because I don’t think you are going to find a maritime expert that links pirates and terrorists as anything similar. Terrorism is a national security issue, piracy is criminal behavior.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 1, 2008 11:02 am

    Mrs. D I am convinced that this is the calling of our generation. The infant Navy of the 1800s surely felt the far-off Barbary was important enough when it had few resources to spare. Today we are allowing what could be a minor problem turn into a major crisis.

  6. Mrs. Davis permalink
    December 1, 2008 9:50 am

    Two reasons; congressional pork and pentagon careers.

    Yes let’s ignore those small countries far away about which we know little. It is hard to believe how some naval folks can slide into isolationism.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 1, 2008 8:34 am

    Some would consider fighting piracy a part of the War on Terror. Hello? These are Muslim extremists making war on the civil population, except its at sea. Please explain to me the difference. And have you seen this:

    Mumbai Terrorists Used Pirates’ Tactics

    The pirates have trumped your mothership concept and you’re not worried?

    Not dealing with the problem is the same as saying we wish only to pick the wars we fight, not the ones that are thrust upon us. By maintaining a blue water potential only the Navy gets to keep the warships they are used to such as ever bigger surface battleships, carriers, and hardly used amphibious warships ( or used in only being threat environments where the costly defensive equipments are of little need).

    Mrs. Davis:
    Point well taken. It is good to see our allies take the lead in something for a change. But meantime what will our navy do? Continue planning for the next Midway, if some sea-going nation will FINALLY build an adequate carrier fleet we can fight. Good luck waiting for that to happen. Why do we have to continue paying for this vast and costly fleet of carriers, missile battleships, and amphibious ships is we never intend to use them?

  8. November 30, 2008 11:08 pm


    Your position is interesting. So there are two wars right now, but that isn’t enough, we need to also fight pirates which are not effecting us in any way, simply because… why exactly?

    Don’t give me the freedom of the seas bit, because you can’t cite a single instance where piracy is actually preventing our freedom of navigation on the high seas, neither you or I are European remember?

    I still don’t understand how you think amphibious ships are somehow unnecessary. Our military is down to 6 of 62 brigades capable of forcible entry, 2 of which are Marines (the only two with armor), and you are for removing that capability. I guess we will always have a nation ready for us to use their port facilities to unload our Army safely before major war in the future. What a terrible bet.

  9. Mrs. Davis permalink
    November 30, 2008 9:02 pm

    Whaddaya mean we aren’t combatting piracy. Our strategery of having the 1,000 ship fleet do it for us is working brilliantly. Why just today I read that the Egyptians are thinking about going after the pirates to rescue their Suez revenues. Some sites are just a little too fallows.

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