Wednesday, May 25, 2005

USN Combatant Ships: 2005 A Look Forward & Backward

Remember Reagan's 600 ship Navy? A new low point has been projected during 2005 with 285 ships still in commission. That is 119 more than in 1912 (5 years before WWI). According to the Navy Times, personnel reductions already planned call for 3,200 cuts in fiscal 2006 and 7,400 more in 2007. An unnamed Los Angeles class submarine will be decommissioned (the San Francisco, now?). Submarines will be hard-hit by delays in out-year, new construction as well. Funds for a single Virginia class SSN have been included in next year's ship construction budget.

On a slightly more positive note, project funds are provided over the next 4 years for submarine propulsion improvements such as reducing nuclear plant size and replacing reduction gear with electric drive. The U.S. submarine fleet stands at 54 boats, about twice as many as we had in 1912, when the U.S. was building 13 new ones. But a study by the Navy suggested it needs only 37 - 43 subs!

Taking BRAC’s intention to close sub base Groton at face value and adding what Lt. Raymond Perry USN ret. had already noted regarding the impact of Joint Duty service on submarine admirals, an unbiased observer might suspect an ominous shift in NAVY thinking. The submarine service would embark on a path to less distinction in order to reduce its costs.

Since the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, Joint Duty has been a requirement for military officers. For Clinton's JAG LAWYERS it assured greater infiltration of the frontline command structure, but for submariner officers it was a distraction they first tried to exempt. An important, but predictable consequence of Joint Duty to the Sub Force ("Senior Submarine Force leaders frequently remarked at that time that if they could not obtain such an exemption then submariners would withdraw from joint duty altogether" -Lt. Perry) was fewer qualified submarine admirals, thus fewer in high places. The latest JCS Vice Chair appointment (Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr.) could well be the last submariner in or near a top military post under current NAVY thinking.

What to look for over the next 6 years, if a shift is actually occuring:

1) Pentagon sees need for more submarines than the NAVY; for background,
visit Bubblehead's Connecticut Counterattack and read about Senator Dodd's concern that a Navy study was incomplete and resulted in a projected need for far fewer subs (37-43) than thePentagon study (43-50);

2) Groton SSN squadron transferred to a non-submarine base (surface admiral command) ;

3) Women sailors assigned with men to those submarines ;

4) No more sub pay.

Only surface admirals could think this way.

After the guff taken from the Air Force over the NAVY JAG experience, the world of Navy admirals is collapsing on them, budgetarily at least. Have submarines lost again?

7 Comments:

At 30 May, 2005 16:12, Blogger John deVille said...

Given the tactical demands of the modern "war on terror", is there a need for greater naval strength or should scarce resources be allocated elsewhere to effect maximum security of the homeland?

John

 
At 30 May, 2005 17:52, Blogger Vigilis said...

We have only history to guide us. Diminishing our ace deterrent certainly appears prudent while terrorism seems to be the single antagonist on our dinnerplate.

Crippling a long leadtime industry that would allow us to recover when need again arises could be as foolish as we were at Pearl Harbor. Say, Canada or Mexico decide to allign with China. Economic overtures by China have probably been offered to those countries. So much for the competence of our media!

Offensive preparations have been the key to U.S. avoidance of war. There is nothing more prepared or with a greater deterrent factor than our submarine force. Why let it wither after its untold, Cold War success?

 
At 30 May, 2005 20:43, Blogger John deVille said...

Well, I don't dispute the Cold War success nor the long leadtime issue...but, let's say Canada and Mexico align with China (whatever THAT looks like), how would a powerful navy come into play.

And again, we're talking SCARCE resources here -- we can't have it all. Given the nature of the present threat and likely potential threats, what resources do we really need?

I'm not saying that a robust navy isn't needed. But do we need a different kind of navy?

 
At 31 May, 2005 11:46, Blogger Vigilis said...

John, for instance:
For highly favorable China trade status, one of our neighbors abrogates existing treaties with the U.S. and gives China rights to develope and manage mixed use(military and commercial) ports on the Atlantic and/or Carribean coasts.
Suddenly, we have Chinese aircraft carriers and boomers parked on our doorstep. How would a powerful navy come into play? Neuralization and supply line denial. Inconceivable? Will Taiwan ever be re-unified with China? Tough calls.

 
At 31 May, 2005 14:16, Blogger John deVille said...

In the scenario you describe, it's gonna be hard for China to cash in all its T-Bills and dollars.

Will Taiwan and China re-unify. Absolutely - -it's happening as we surf. We will all wake up one morning and it will just be the case -- like American women in combat -- just happened.

 
At 31 May, 2005 20:51, Blogger Vigilis said...

John, your conclusion on the T-bills/dollars is patently wrong. The U.S. cannot afford to dishonor its legal debt. We are still the number one rated debtor in the entire world and it would be supremely foolish to prove otherwise (just not in the cards).

I am fascinated by your confidence in Taiwan's current progress towards re-unification with China. Admittedly, I am no Taiwan expert.
Please share a few details of what is presently happening.

Regarding American women in combat, it will be a precursor to America's downfall (proof of a "metrosexual" majority) and I just do not see it. Are you by chance teaching in public, or private school? The biggest threat today to public schooling is (surprise) home schooling.

 
At 04 June, 2005 08:58, Blogger Skippy-san said...

Its is not just the submarine community that is being hurt. Naval Aviation despite the rosy picture painted by our Flag leadership is mortgaging our future to pay for the war in Iraq today.

Under the current CNO, a culture of sycophancy has been created that prevents meaningful discussion about why having a decent sized Navy is important. Instead everything has centered around how many people can we cut, how much money can we save. Now I am all for being a good steward of the taxpayers money, but at some point enough is enough. It would also be better if we were not throwing tons of money away on LCS and DDX, but instead buying ships that are functional even if they are not all Gucci.......

Me I think the US Navy has a startling resemblenace to the British Navy in the 1920's. And when World War II came they were not big enough.

 

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