CSIS Says Navy Rudderless

CSIS Says Navy Rudderless

For more than a year, some of the keenest Navy watchers have been muttering that the service has lost its way.

One senior defense analyst told me three months ago that the Navy and its leaders had utterly failed to develop a warfighting strategy and had utterly mismanaged their shipbuilding program because they just didn’t know what to do.

Now one of the most venerable names in strategy and national security issues, Tony Cordesman, has come out publicly and said pretty much the same thing. “Unrealistic force plans, overoptimistic cost estimates, unrealistic projections of technical feasibility, and inadequate program management have created an unaffordable ship building program, led the Navy to phase out capable ships for new ships it cannot fund, and threaten the US Navy’s ability to implement an effective maritime strategy.” write Cordesman and Hans Ulrich Kaeser, co-author of their study, “Abandon Ships: The Costly Illusion of Unaffordable Transformation”. A Washington thinktank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, published it.

Their analysis zeroes right in on the absence of any strategic vision for the Navy. “The problem starts at a conceptual disconnect between strategy and reality. The Navy’s ‘Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower’ is a set of concepts that was not linked to any clearly defined force plan, modernization plan, program, or budget. Navy shipbuilding plans are now shaped more as the result of budgetary constraints than as a response to strategic requirements. They seem to be an expression of wishful thinking rather than a realistic strategic guideline for naval procurement.”

It gets worse. “The Navy’s procurement policy is in serious disarray, and is creating situation where the most serious threat to the US Navy is now the US Navy.” Can you hear the Chinese admirals chuckling in the background?

How bad can it get? “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the execution of the Navy’s current 30-year shipbuilding plan would cost an average $25 billion per year, 30 percent above Navy estimates. Cost overruns, such as estimated $1 billion for the CVN-78 aircraft carrier jeopardize the entire program. Overoptimistic cost estimates have led Navy officials to shift funding to the outyears. This will cause a temporary shortfall of carriers and a breach of US law,” the authors write.

What is the solution? Part of it would appear to involve sacking people (as the British would put it). All this bungling “is a case study in failed leadership on the part of the most senior officers and civilians in the Navy. Who should get the boot? The authors point the finger at “senior flag officers, senior civilians, and the Secretary of the Navy.” Hold them accountable and then the Navy needs to Improve costs analysis, contracting procedures, technology estimates and other management tools.

Let’s see if Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees.

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Well on the bright side atleast it’s not just the Air Force right? But really, why do we need a new class of aircraft carriers??? The Nimitz class seems to be doing just fine.

According to the navy…

“Carriers of the Ford class (CVN-78) will incorporate many new design features including a new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor), stealthier features to help reduce radar profile, electromagnetic catapults, advanced arresting gear, and reduced crewing requirements.[2] The U.S. Navy believes that with the addition of the most modern equipment and extensive use of automation they will be able to reduce the crew requirement and the total cost of future aircraft carriers.[3] The primary recognition feature compared to earlier supercarriers will be the more aft location of the navigation “island”.”


No Air Force bashing? You mean the other services aren’t perfect either? I’m shocked.

Lol! there was a jarhead on a few months back posting “atleast the Marines and Navy know how to spent their money, Glad we don’t have the air force’s problems”. Yeah the Marines really got the EFV going on the right track right? and the Osprey came in on time and budget correct? and they through all their eggs in with the STOVL JSF and now they may have to buy some super hornets because the ageing F-18 C/Ds are starting to fall apart. Way to go boys.

The Air Force gets blasted for hanging on to manned stealth fighters but the Navy has these big floating targets that cost billions and no one raises an eye.

Yeah, I know we devote an entire fleet to protecting them but how many times have we read about a near-peer flyover of a carrier or a sub penetrating the defensive ring in the past five years?

I agree the mission of thee new boats remain the same and they should reduce costs becuase of reduced manning and better gear. However the prgram managment side of building the boat is having issues. Not saying people or contractors are doing a bad job, but people have to be held accountable for thier actions.

I have not seen the Strategic Plan for the Navy so I am sort of uniformed on the subject.

Even though I have not read the Plan, I would initially suggest a balance within the Fleet makeup.

Similar to what we (Navy) accomplished during the Reagan Administration.

“Qood, Quick, Cheap; you get two.”

It’s possible to get what one needs even if he starts with no precise idea what that is, but this means changing plans as one goes along.
Requirements creep and changes expand programs, add costs, and delay delivery.

Politics further confuse things. No wonder we have delay and ovverrun.

Everything being said about the Navy here is utterly true about every other part of the military. Our military’s acquisitions and procurement have been run by dabbling politicians and their contractor lobbyists along with some starry eyed dreamers with pet ideas at the top for the last 30 years and it’s beginning to show.


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