Barnett: Keep Fleet Numbers Up
Here is more from strategist and author Dr Thomas Barnett on the kind of Navy we need for now and in the future, and he echoes calls often repeated here for greater emphasis on smaller warships. From ScrippsNews:
I see a future in which the small-wars force (more Army and Marines) experiences continued significant growth in its global workload, while the big-war force (more Navy and Air Force) experiences the opposite. As such, the Department of Navy’s blue-water (capital ship) fleet will shrink significantly over the next couple decades while its green/brown water (smaller craft) fleet will expand dramatically, along with associated personnel requirements.
As our current naval Leviathan force enjoys a significant — as in, several times over — combat advantage over any other force out there today, our decisions regarding new capital ship development should center largely on the issue of preserving industrial base — namely jobs. My advice is that America should go as slow as possible in the production of such supremely expensive platforms, meaning we accept that our low number of buys per design class will be quite costly.
Yours truly has previously supported a freeze on on all supership construction to allow the green water/brown water navy to catch up. Still, this idea might allow our major defense industries to better absorb the shock of changing naval priorities. Dr. Barnett continues:
To the extent that fleet numbers are kept up, such procurement should largely benefit the small-wars force’s need for many cheap and small boats…
This is the age of the small warship, such as corvettes, fast attack craft, and other littoral warships. And impending budget cuts will force the change anyway, so its best to make preparations now:
Given America’s ongoing ground operations, our navy faces severe budgetary pressures on future shipbuilding — like aircraft carriers. Those pressures will only grow with the current global economic crisis, which fortunately generates similar pressures on navies around the world.
He sums up with the following pinnacle statement:
Give America’s naval forces fewer big ships with fewer personnel on them and many more smaller ships with far more personnel on them.
The new Littoral Combat Ship isn’t called for here, which at 3000 tons and intended as an FFG-7 Perry class replacement in a frigate disguised in a revolutionary package. Ultimately I see LCS as a very bad idea born out of a good one, which was Streetfighter. We don’t need anymore large general purpose frigates which are swiftly approaching the billion dollar mark, with little to show for their great expense, but we do need something for the littorals. I am convinced it is small missile/patrol boats, backed by some corvette missiles ships.