Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yeah Baby

Here you will find an excellent article on naval shipbuilding strategies to meet the security and humanitarian commitments of tomorrow's United States Navy.

The Navy needs a larger number of ships, not only for winning a war at sea against a stronger opponent but also for carrying out diverse missions in peacetime, ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, security assistance, enforcement of maritime agreements, counterpiracy, vessel traffic service, multinational exercises, countersmuggling and counterdrug, to regional deterrence through forward presence in selected parts of the world’s oceans. In operations short of war, the Navy’s mission includes prevention of transnational terrorist acts on the high seas and in international straits and larger ports, support of counterinsurgency or insurgency, and peace enforcement operations.

The Navy today lacks both the numbers and the type of combat ships to successfully carry out all its diverse missions in times of peace and war. The reasons for such a long-standing unfavorable fleet structure include the Navy’s preference for building an ever-larger number of high-capability but large and expensive ships optimally suited for operations on the open ocean; the associated costs of building such large ships; the use of purely business considerations in determining fleet size/composition and deployment patterns; the belief that new technologies are a substitute for numbers; and a false reading of the future strategic environment.

In mid-2007, the Navy had in active service 278 combat and support ships, including 11 aircraft carriers (CVs/CVNs), 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), 53 nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), four guided missile submarines (SSGNs), 22 guided missile cruisers (CGs), 49 guided missile destroyers (DDGs) and 30 guided missile frigates (FFGs). Striking force of the fleet comprised 11 carrier strike groups (CSGs) and 10 expeditionary groups (ESGs). Since 2000, the Navy’s plans for the future size of the fleet have varied in terms of total number and force composition. For example, in March 2005, the Navy’s report to Congress envisaged a total number of ships of between 260 and 325. In February 2006, the Secretary of the Navy submitted a Report to Congress (based on Sea Power 21 requirements) for fiscal 2007 that outlined requirements for 313 ships and 3,800 aircraft as necessary to meet all demands and to face the most advanced technological challengers.



The money quote:

The gains in combat power of a netted force essentially depend not on raw organic power, such as firepower and mobility, but on one’s ability to decide and act faster than one’s adversary. Such an increase in one’s combat power depends on many intangible factors, but primarily on the human element. Among other things, micromanagement, excessive command and control, and poorly educated and trained commanders and staffs can not only drastically reduce but also even eliminate any potential gain achieved through superior information technologies.


Experience has repeatedly shown the fallacy of relying exclusively on technological superiority and arbitrarily reducing the size of one’s forces. Technology must always be properly integrated with other, mostly intangible, elements of one’s combat power — specifically, combat leadership, unit cohesion, morale and discipline, doctrine, and training. Otherwise, the new technologies will be of little or no help in defeating a stronger and more agile opponent. Experience conclusively shows that numbers have their own quality. Hence, the importance of the numerically larger fleet should not be dismissed as irrelevant in the information age.
Hat tip the ever informative Galrahn

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