quinta-feira, 3 de abril de 2008

Discussão Observing the Absence of a Strategic View For Surface Combatants

Observing the Absence of a Strategic View For Surface Combatants

This quote in MarineLink by Rear Adm. Goddard is the most telling statement we have read yet on the DDG-1000 program, and in our opinion is an excellent example why many Americans have trouble understanding the Navy's surface combatant strategy in the context of maritime strategy:

The complementary and interoperable mission capabilities of DDG 1000 and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), along with the next-generation multi-mission CG(X) cruiser, will satisfy the full spectrum of operational requirements demanded of the surface combatant force well into the 21st century.

“DDG 1000 is the Dreadnought of our Navy,” says Rear Adm. Chuck Goddard, the Program Executive Officer for Ships (PEO Ships), who is responsible for acquisition of DDG 1000. “For those of you who are historians Dreadnought is the ship that changed the British navy. It was a tough decision for them, and when they did it, they made the rest of the ships obsolete. But it also brought all new technology in terns of hull, propulsion and combat systems. Dreadnought was the first of the true battleships.”

The phrase "operational requirements" is fairly broad, and doesn't offer many clues regarding the approach the Navy has taken regarding the strategy for surface combatant fleet constitution, but based on our observations of the evolution of SC-21 we remain wholly unimpressed. We see the "operational requirements" that have been utilized in the evolution of SC-21 to be very tactical, and in many ways limited in its strategic vision.

SC-21 evolved by applying the conceptual vision of Seapower 21, which is essentially a list of desired metrics. The Navy never had the time to build a strategic vision of the concepts the metrics in Seapower 21 represented. The Navy was in a rush to transition from wargame results at the turn of the century to a new shipbuilding plan mostly due to the time restraints and desire of keeping surface combatant numbers from slipping. The reality that the LCS went from concept to water in less than 5 years highlights this rapid evolution of SC-21.

The LCS, DDG-1000, and Sea Basing when it is described as a program have all become a set of packages with properties or individual platform "operational requirements" that reflect the desired metrics explained in Seapower 21 (stealth, speed, modularity, etc), but we do not see the individual platforms that have evolved from these "operational requirements" as part of a strategic vision based on desired capabilities for the surface combatant fleet, and it is not difficult to highlight why purely from a strategic point of view most observers outside the Navy also have trouble with the current fleet constitution plan.

The US Navy currently has 22 first rate battleships, 62 planned second rate battleships, and a flotilla of 44 unrated ships (Perry's and Avengers). In executing the Maritime Strategy, the Navy is supposed to be operating under the auspices that "every budget is a strategy", but has somehow determined that when executing the new maritime strategy over the next decade the plan should be to increase the fleet with 7 dreadnoughts and replace the current unrated flotilla with a new flotilla of 55 unrated mini-motherships. Is that really the strategic vision for fleet constitution the new maritime strategy is calling for? Based on the comments on this blog, other blogs, and Proceedings for the past several years, only those who fear instability in shipbuilding support the current plan, which implies to us the considerations of shipbuilding costs has trumped any strategic vision for fleet constitution.

If we are taking a historic view of ships and a strategic view of fleet constitution, one would think we should start by looking up the "cruiser role" in our review of seapower and maritime history. We will find the "cruiser role" well described in any story involving Lord Nelson, or evident in any of the last 3+ centuries of maritime power with the exception of only the last ~5 years, specifically the last ~5 years of the US Navy when economic considerations retired all DDs and left the nations guide missile frigates without guided missiles. At the same time, transformational theory replaced the historical view of maritime strategy regarding fleet constitution, and we are now building an all battleship navy supported by an unrated fleet of mini motherships. I want to believe it is unlikely an Annapolis graduate would be unaware of the historical strategic warnings regarding fleet constitutions of all battleships, and yet here we are.

We find it ironic that Julian Corbett warned maritime powers never to pursue fleets of only battleships, warning specifically that fleets that concentrate on battleships will become too expensive to operate enough ships to maintain Command of the Sea. Too expensive to operate enough ships... sound familiar? Corbett wrote this warning in a chapter called Theory of the Means-The Constitution of Fleets in a book called Some Principles of Maritime Strategy; so its not like one of histories greatest maritime strategists hid this lesson in obscurity.

no proximo blog alguns comentários a respeito da desta discussão:

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