Saturday, February 11, 2006

Behind the 2006 QDR (a very public discussion) are very exciting submarine developments?

Author Joe Buff is an MIT-educated member of the Society for Risk Analysis, headquartered in McLean, VA. His interest in submarines and national security makes him a media cheerleader of sorts for submarines. The 92-page, public 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report was sent to Congress February 3rd, representing "a common vision of where we need to go and what we need to do," Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary for policy, said.

Buff says, "2012 is much too late to first start building two new U.S. Navy fast-attacks per year." And some in Congress appear to be addressing this concern already, because, as Buff notes, "The 2006 QDR is important, yet it's only a recommendation to Congress. Congress can, and has in the past, added to or subtracted from the incumbent administration's military spending budgets."

An intended group of QDR readers is all of our potential enemies and even our pretend enemies like Hugo Chavez. They will not have a clue what changes to defense posture will actually take place from reading this document, nor will we. Moreover, there is little of submarine relevance in the QDR that had not been covered in one form or another during the past 2 years of mainstream media reporting. A word search found 4 items with less detail than already revealed elsewhere. Our enemies stay on their toes, expend their scarce defense money to learn more about us and remain increasingly reactive. They cannot learn from us (we do not know, nor should we), and even Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, had better not disclose anything either.

So what will happen? Lots of top secret, good stuff. When will we find out? Regarding submarines, perhaps not for decades.

Do we really need to build more submarines sooner? No, the new kind we need to build are still being designed. That is probably one reason for the delay (the public reason, of course, is budgetary). Much was revealed about the Seawolf class, less about the Virginia class and what is under development is totally black.

My speculation has already appeared:

As part of an announced, four-year DARPA/Navy program known as Tango Bravo (technology breakthroughs), _____ will develop an external weapon-launch system that can stow, communicate with and deliver Advanced Capability torpedoes outside the pressure hull. Space-saving is an acknowledged advantage of stowing torpedoes outboard.

Also, there was my prediction of future need to use small, tactical submarine launched nukes.

Finally, the not so obvious advantage of reduced force size (with U.S. submarines of significantly greater flexibility and endurance) is added stealth. That could be tremendous to forward positioning in areas such as the South China Sea. It will require a radically different playing of today's submarine "shell game." Subs could eventually be deployed much longer (over a year?), rotating smaller crews and provisioning as necessary via a submerged tender (mother sub in each theatre) while SUBMERGED. Yes, it may be more practical for DSRV-type subs to ferry between the mother sub and the patrolling SSN/GN/XN. Submarines, always silent and strange.


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