I'm a retired Army officer, and while I will cheer with all my comrades in green on the first Saturday in December, I know we're the poor boys of the services, the Navy gets the most. In the post war years, America's projected power primarily with carrier strike forces (CSF). Last month, we put three CSFs into the Pacific in reaction to Chinese provocations. For ages, when a crisis has arisen, one president after another asked one question, "Where are the carriers?"
Now there is a legitimate question of the future of the carrier. A century ago, many admirals were hesitant to see the end of the battle ship as the center of naval power. Now, with the development of hypersonic missiles and other weapons, has the carrier entered its twilight as the center of force projection? Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis was adamantly opposed to the purchase of two more Ford class carriers. He only agreed to the fielding in exchange for the early retirement of the Harry Truman.
Personally I have no question the carrier is coming into its sunset. A possible replacement is unmanned aircraft launched from submarines, or UAVs launched from smaller ships.
Captain Mazzafro has an interesting look at the culture of the Navy, and how it needs correction. As much as platforms and projection, people are even more critical. I recall an introduction to an article I read around 1980, "It takes ten to twenty years to build an effective navy. Two to three years of neglect can put one into decline." And after the abuse of the Obama years, we need work on the Navy (and the other forces).
How to “dewater” the Navy’s listing cultural ship
(BTW, “dewater” is a naval term used to describe part of the process sailors use to right a ship that is listing .)
by Joe Mazzafro
The strain the Navy is operating under
The troubles of the Navy have been well documented in outlets such as Naval Proceedings, Military/Navy Times, Defense One, Real Clear Defense, etc. along with various defense-focused think tank analysis...
...Consider the mismatch in terms of the requirements placed on the Navy for force presence in the Persian Gulf, South China Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean and the number of ships it has for meeting them.
There is also little appreciation on main street America of the time it takes to train officers and sailors to operate their technically complicated ships and weapon systems in the harsh environment of the open seas.
Ms. (Kate Bachelder) Odell presciently observes that the U.S. Navy (USN) is “trying to do too much with too little public support” while its chain of command is fraying from the top. She might have added that the Navy has not enjoyed strong public advocacy since John Lehman was Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration 40 years ago.
This essay appearing in the Wall Street Journal by someone without deep Navy expertise is a good effort at reaching a broader audience not just about what is going on in the Navy but why.
Deterring the Chinese Navy?
Those who think more deeply about the implications of what Ms. Odell says will realize that the U.S. Navy is America’s frontline force for deterring Chinese military adventurism against US national interests in Asia.
Thoughtful analysts will also understand that the naval forces of the Pacific Fleet are not much of a deterrent against a growing modernized Chinese Navy (PLAN) that can operate within the First Island Chain under the protective cover of land based Chinese “ship killer” ballistic missiles and cruise missiles fired from land based bomber aircraft.
Odell’s message is a simple one: the US Navy is struggling at time when our nation needs it most as it confronts a threatening China, a rearming Russia, an unpredictable North Korea, and a dangerous Iran.
You don’t have to be Navy legend Arleigh Burke to understand the Navy needs a new strategy/operating concept so that current US naval forces can face the PLAN with a better probability of success.
Ultimately in a combat environment increasing characterized ubiquitous surveillance, longer range hypersonic missile, 100 knot torpedoes, and spaced based weapons the US Navy will need to move away from naval formations centered on nuclear powered aircraft carriers, which the USN perfected during the industrial age of the Cold War as the most effective means of sea control and conventional force power projection ever seen.
But the Cold War and the Industrial Age are over.
So the Navy needs to change, but as Ms Odell implies that is hard for any large tradition-celebrating organization to do under the best of circumstance, but when the hull is listing it is even more difficult. Therefore, the first order of business is to “dewater” the USN’s listing cultural ship to get it back on an even keel.
Need to define how a 300-ship fleet can be effectively used
To “dewater” the Navy its current leadership would say it needs more resources to grow fleet size to reduce the strain on the force. I would argue a better approach for immediately relieving the strain on the Navy would be for the Navy to lobby for reducing its requirement load by explaining in detail what it can do effectively with a 300 ship fleet and baulk at doing more than that...
...Joe Mazzafro served 27 years on active duty in Naval Intelligence retiring as a Captain. He then served for ten year as the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s Scientific and Technical Liaison Officer to the Intelligence Community before joining the private sector advising EMC, Oracle, CSC, and CSRA on how to shape their products and solutions to meet national security needs.
I'll leave the rest out, but I think it can be focused. The Navy (and the leadership of the armed forces altogether) must be reminded of why they exist. Four words. From Douglas MacArthur, his address to the 1962 class of the United States Military Academy:
A quote (I wish I could give the author credit) that characterized the Obama years well, "Diplomacy without force is like playing pool with rope." The current administration is dealing with a large bureaucracy flooded with staff from the previous presidency. Their ideas are not the use of our military for force projection or winning our wars, but for social experimentation. I have yet to speak with one graduate of Army Ranger School or the Special Forces Qualification Course who believes women have graduated "legitimately," i.e. without lowering standards. Openly recruiting confused young men and women, paying for sex change surgery, and allowing them to be non-deployable for two years. Spending hundreds of millions to retrofit summaries so women can sail on them. Enough.And through all this welter of change and development your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars.
I have no issue with women in most positions. Flying, sailing, etc. But they have no business in infantry, armor, or tube artillery. There is no position for them in the submarine service, as once a submarine submerges, it has one primary function: To stay submerged! What happens when a female sailor comes up to the captain, two months into the cruise, "Sir, I'm six weeks pregnant..."
Still, and excellent look at the issue for the Navy Captain Mazzafro.