Interview on "Midrats" radio show

Yesterday, I appeared on the "Midrats" radio show, hosted by Cmdr Phibian Salamander and EagleOne. We discussed the U.S. military's Pacific problems, the future of the U.S. forward presence strategy, the air-sea battle concept, and other emerging security challenges.

Click here to access the show. It lasts one hour.

 

 

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I finally had the opportunity to listen to your interview on Midrats and thought it was an interesting discussion.

Conceptually the Navy of today faces the same problems when dealing with adversaries it has for the past 100 years--with some obvious time based and technological changes. Submarines came of age for weaker nations, at least on the sea, with World War I, land power oriented countries have relied on forts, shore batteries (coastal artillery) and later shore based aircraft to challenge attacking naval forces for some time, etc. The least costly anti-ship missile was in all probability the Japanese Kamikaze.

Technology, as you note, has exacerbated the problem for today's fleet, but naval warfare is and has been technology and system based for quite some time. The problem may be once again be a budgetary one. To much of available defense funds have been wasted in the past decade, a la Vietnam, in strategically meaningless military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of being spent on developing the high tech ECM, anti-missile, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Amphibious capabilities that we require to prevail as a sea power.

Much of this type warfare is something of which the public is unaware. The Russians sent their nuclear submarines into the Pacific during the 1960's and thought their egress and course was hidden from our view, but they weren't given what were then Top Secret systems and accompanying employed tactics.

The major problem that this country's navy faces today that, however, was not present in the 1960's. 70's etc. It is our nations vanishing industrial base. A country's naval capabilities is inexorably tied to the size, capabilities, and strength of its industrial base. Ships, planes, etc. must be engineered and built 100% at home else a nation will soon lose that ability. Further, ships and their weapons systems are very costly and have been since the advent of the Dreadnaught. Additionally, it is the profits, costs and payroll of locally based industrial / manufacturing companies which provide the tax base enabling a country to afford a Navy. Absent those tax revenues and that industrial capability we will within 50 years, as did England, cease to be a sea power. This country's industrial base is rapidly moving to Asia which spells disaster for our Navy.

As I have in the past, I would suggest anyone interested in this subject read "Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution" by Nicholas Lambert (http://www.amazon.com/Fishers-Revolution-Studies-Maritime-History/dp/157...). The Royal Navy of the early 1900's, like this country today, was faced with the need to maintain and build a large Navy for a country that was loosing its industrial base and losing its tax base--driven by their need to face a growing German and other Navies and to protect their sea based commerce with their far flung empire.

Today's US Navy strategy appears budget, not strategically, driven. Our country's declining tax base is resulting in this administration hollowing out our armed forces--despite Gaffer Biden's "big stick" claims otherwise.

The RN faced the same problem 100 years ago and, in the battleship era, decided to build less expensive "battle cruisers." Faster ships with less armor and slightly smaller guns that would rely on maneuver and speed to combat the heavily armored battle wagons of the German Navy. Great concept, far less costly, and an operational disaster. At the Naval Battle of Jutland the battle cruisers were sunk left and right, blowing up and taking almost all their crews with the. The last one was the HMS Hood sunk by the Bismark in WWII, losing all but three of its 1200 man, or so, crew.

Our Admirals are similarly (?) responding to budgetary limitations and building a large number of 3800 ton frigates with what appears (?) to be under strength weapons systems? I can't say for certain and only know what I hear and read. A 3800 ton ship is (should be) a decent size Destroyer presuming it is carrying the necessary electronic capabilities and weapons systems. I was an officer in the 1960's on a number of ships including 2400 ton WWII DD types and then newer 3800 ton DE types. They were good ships for their mission of that era.

If the planned LCS is both sea worthy, has the ability to operate close to shore, and can proceed at 40 to 50 knots it could prove to be a valuable ASW platform, especially when teamed with the planed P-8 aircraft. But these size ships need continual refueling which requires either protected Auxiliary Ships or Carriers nearby. In my era we teamed up with P-3's to locate Russian Subs by knowing their habits and using surface squadrons to drive them into seemingly unmonitored areas actually being passively monitored using Jez barriers listened to by electronically silent P-3's.

Other than mine sweeping in support of amphibious operations, what I don't understand is the fascination with shallow water operations. No one in their right mind would risk a 3800 ton DE for mine sweeping that a 300 ton wooden sweep could carry out. It is not cost effective. If a Destroyer can't operate in an area, a sub can't hide in that area. Besides, no one uses physical presence to search for subs, that is why we utilize electronic systems. NGFS and air support also don't require ships be in close proximity to the shore. Are we sure the Admirals are not budgeting for 3800 ton platforms capable of carrying greater weapons and electronics systems with the idea of upgrading them when (hopefully) a more intelligent administration comes into power.