Choose Your Own Navy!
The Center For Naval Analysis has a report titled “the Navy at the Tipping Point” where they detail 5 Options for a future Navy, in mind of static military spending but ongoing, perhaps increasing threats. Here is my own synopsis of the 5. Which would you choose?
- 2-Hub Navy: Deterring Regional Challenges-Would consist of high end forces deployed mainly in the Western Pacific and Arabian Sea. Emphasizing carrier and TLAM strike groups, it would deemphasize amphibious and littoral forces. It would also maintain adequate forces for missile defense. Would depend more on allies for low end escort ships.
- 1+Hub Navy:A powerful forward deployed presence but only in the Western Pacific. Based on Carriers, TLAMs. Arabian Gulf region greatly deemphasized. The fleet would deploy West in the face of growing Chinese anti-access forces, and leave the Gulf vulnerable to resurgent Islamic terrorists.
- Shaping Navy: Engage and Stabilize-The Navy would maintain a strong amphibious staging capability while greatly strengthening the Green/Brown Water assets such as LCS, JHSV, corvettes, and so on. These would be supported by SSGNs and work in conjunction with Riverine forces. Carriers, Aegis Warships, the BMD mission, and SSNs would be deemphasized. The forward presence would be maintained but mostly with low end assets. CNA feels this would face “Loss of combat credibility and deterrence”.
- Surge Navy: Power from CONUS-The Navy would give up forward deployment in favor of a home-based fleet, something unseen in the USN since the 1930s. While presence would remain, it would be very minimal, as would the number of low end assets. The BMD force would be cut, and the lessened need for forward airpower would entail fewer CVNs. It takes for granted plenty of warning time allowing for Surge forces to reach a crisis area. Gives up presence for the threat of massive force if attacked. CNA says “No presence = no influence.”
- Shrinking the Status Quo Navy-This is the “balanced fleet” the Navy is currently striving for, in an attempt to be strong everywhere. The difference being the budget realities allowing only for a “230 ship Navy”. Cuts in ship acquisitions would be across the board, from CVNs and Aegis, SSNs, amphibious ships to littoral ships. Deployments would be extended and assets would be stretched. Training would be greatly curtailed. It would be an expensive fleet, but geared mainly toward low-end contingencies. It’s capacity to surge would be reduced, with the assumption that there would be fewer threats to contend with in the future. CNA’s conclusion for this option is the “Navy will do all things, but none of them very well”.
From reading the document to the end, CNA’s preference seems to be the 2-Hub Strategy. My own choice is the Shaping Navy for obvious reasons, since it is more usable for the wars we are fighting now. Furthermore, I am against the idea that only high end exquisite warships can survive in a future peer conflict. In fact, I worry the opposite may be true.