Maritime Strategy Architect Changes Tune
OK. Maybe we are doing some little good at New Wars, though we don’t take any credit for this new story. We would hope that as events prove the Navy’s future plans are seriously skewed away from the times we are living with, and the varied threats different from a Cold War force structure, the naval planners might naturally look to the common sense ideas we propose.
Neither will I take credit for most of the reform ideas provided here. I get inspirations from the comments, and the varied military and naval blogs out there. One of my toughest critics has been Raymond Pritchett at Information Dissemination, especially concerning our arguments against large decades aircraft carriers. I would counter that I get most of my ideas on corvettes and motherships from the same website. So, it is a team effort. I am a shameless plagiarizer and aggregator of ideas, whatever it takes to drag the Navy kicking and screaming from a comfortable position of contending with a single peer conventional threat who also builds Big Ships, to dealing with many medium and smaller navies who aren’t above taking off the shelf platforms and sending them to sea against our vulnerable merchant fleet, or weaker allies.
Enough about us though, here is Bryan McGrath, who says he is “most closely associated with that strategy’s development and defense”, writing in the ID blog:
I’m not sure that CS21 is a valid strategy for a Navy that I believe is likely to suffer funding hits in the neighborhood of 25-30% in the coming years. This isn’t a sense that the Navy is going to be picked on–quite the opposite. I think the Navy will be favored within this Administration, as the Obama team moves inexorably from primacy, to cooperative security to offshore balancing as its grand strategy vector of choice. We won’t be able to afford the vision articulated in CS21 and we won’t be able to afford a Navy that looks much like the Navy we have now….
But here we are—… two years after the release of the Maritime Strategy. World financial markets were crippled and trillions of dollars in wealth evaporated. The United States position in the world is somewhat different than it was in October of 2007, and its capacity to support the Navy articulated in that strategy–a long-shot even then (given the unseemliness of actually advocating in public for a larger budget share) has now been replaced by the sinking feeling that it can’t support even the Navy that existed before CS 21.
Whew! You have to admire someone who will admit a mistake. I only hope the Navy leadership is in agreement. Somehow, I doubt it.
It becomes clear that America’s sea services intends to leave fighting terrorists in shallow seas to our allies. Meanwhile, we will continue to fund and build a more traditional and vastly expensive Blue Water fleet. In this, the Navy becomes much like our pre-Surge Army, when it was on the defensive in Iraq, enduring unacceptable casualties, while waiting for the Iraqi’s to step up to tame their rogue countrymen and drive the Al Qaeda invaders from their homeland. It soon became obvious, however, for any real change to occur, the American ground forces must lead the way. A new insurgent-savvy commander plus a more aggressive strategy changed the scope of the battle in just a few months. Today civilian and military casualties have drastically fallen, and Al Qaeda is nearly finished as a fighting force within the country…
It is obvious from the Navy’s new strategy, with its insistence on avoiding conflicts and dependence on allied fleets for small frigates, patrols ships, and other littoral vessels , that it has failed to take seriously the asymmetric warfare which the Army has learned through grueling trial and error. As I have written elsewhere, the Navy continues to wait for its own Petraeus.
Please note the statement above where we said “It becomes clear that America’s sea services intends to leave fighting terrorists in shallow seas to our allies.” In a followup post, here is Bryan McGrath conceding the point:
…sharing the burden with allies often means being right there with them….and if we are fiscally constrained from such operations, the inducement for cooperation will diminish.
Just astounding! But wait, there’s more. Recall our constant critique of the price and size of LCS, specifically because it will not build fleet numbers:
And what I considered essential to this requirement was a ship that could be built in numbers–not 55, but more like 155, which we could send out around the world to the very edges of the empire to work the issues of global system protection.
So from this astonishing revelation from one of the creator’s and key planner’s of the Navy’s current Maritime Strategy what do we learn?
- The strategy is not relevant for the times we live in.
- It is unaffordable.
- It relies too much on often less than reliable allies.
- It doesn’t build fleet numbers.
Bravo! We are greatly encouraged there is hope for Western seapower yet. Without waiting for full-scale war at sea, the Navy might be on its way to real change, from a Cold War mindset of a single giant peer foe, to one where many threats call for many small solutions. Instead of a few overly-complicated vessels geared for peacetime sailing, we would see smaller focus mission ships plying the sealanes like the cruisers of the old Royal Navy defending freedom from the world’s bullies, meeting these multiple small boat navies on somewhat equal terms, but with confidence in the superb training of the average American seaman, and the not-too shabby technology brought on near the end of the last century.
A Bigger Fleet. A More Cost-Effective and Effective Fleet. A Better Navy.