2012 U.S. Naval Power in the 21st Century: 450-Ship Navy, <24 Hours to Anywhere, Peace from the Sea — Full Text Online

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Revised Source Document:  USNI Steele 2012 450-Ship Navy

I wrote the original Somali piracy overview for US CENTCOM J-2P in 2005–no one wanted to take on the problem.  A few years later I was told by both USSOCOM and Navy Irregular Warfare–I am not making this up–that the reason they did not take an interest at the time was that it was “not a big enough or expensive enough problem.  Click here to read the Wikipedia summary of Piracy in Somalia area.

Full Text Below the Line for Ease of Google Translation

US Naval Power in the 21st Century:

450-Ships, Anywhere Under 24 Hours, Peace from the Sea

by Robert David STEELE Vivas

I am a naval officer.  I not only love the sea in all its forms, but I understand the sea to be 75% of the Earth’s surface, and very likely the source for many good things—and many bad things—that will characterize the 21st Century.  “From the Sea” has been a meaningful term to me for my entire adult life.

This manifesto will summarize the strategic and operational threats, the expeditionary environment as first defined by the Marine Corps Intelligence Center in 1988 and still valid today, and then offer up a very specific architecture for a 450-ship Navy capable of putting boots and bullets or band-aids or beans anywhere within 24 hours of demand. Integrating the Maritime Sealift Command (MSC) elements as platforms for Multinational, Multi-Agency, Multi-Disciplinary, Multi-Domain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2), this broadly-distributed 21st Century naval force will deliver—in addition to its traditional war-fighting prowess—Peace from the Sea.

Strategic Threat

As America faces the consequences of just over thirty years of profligate irresponsible spending based in part on borrowing a trillion dollars a year, I believe that for both financial and political reasons, the 750 plus US bases abroad are untenable.  This article not only proposes a 450-ship Navy so distributed as to put Marines anywhere within 24 hours; it also proposes creating a long-haul Air Force and an air-deliverable Army while sharing with the Coast Guard 100 new ships – 25 Expediters (air-capable destroyer-frigates) and 75 littoral patrol craft divided among air, fire support, and troop carrying variants.

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I am indebted to LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret) and other top minds from other countries for identifying, in priority order, the ten high-level threats to Humanity: Poverty, Infectious Disease, Environmental Degradation, Inter-State Conflict, Civil War, Genocide, Other Atrocities, Proliferation, Terrorism, and Transnational Crime.  As Senator Sam Nunn, then Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has pointed out, understanding the real-world threat is the starting point for devising a strategy and creating a force structure.

We are weak on national security because the Pentagon is optimized for threat number four—inter-state conflict—while our national security policy is focused exclusively on threat number nine, terrorism.  The military services – all of them – have also avoided rigorous joint requirements definition, austere acquisition, and honest operational test & evaluation – for decades.

Here are “snapshots” of the ten high-level threats.  Everything here is either fact or common sense, yet none of this is has been discussed by any of the candidates for any office across America in the recent November election—nor is any of this being coherently presented to the President today.  The national intelligence community appears largely worthless – as General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), then Commanding General of the U.S. Central Command has stated so famously, he received from the secret world, “at best” 4% of what he needed to know.  Everything else came from open sources he sought out, to which I would add the observation that we still lack an Open Source Agency devoted to the 96% of the world’s information that is not secret!

  1. Poverty is pandemic, 5 billion globally (1 billion extreme, increasing in the USA, foundation for all else—if each of the one billion rich gave $5 a year, we energize the other five billion with free cell phones, knowledge “one call at a time,” and so on.
  2. Infectious Disease without borders, kills leaders and wealthy, prevention critical, low-cost medicine works—USA pays $600 a unit for something that sells for $6 overseas.
  3. Environmental Degradation is poisoning air, water, and land while also accelerating—changes that took 10,000 years, now take 3 years—it is not just Global Warming—fresh water vanishing, earth toxifying.  When an aquifer (dropping a meter a year) takes in salt water it is lost forever.
  4. Inter-State Conflict made possible by UN Security Council members who sell the guns—ban exports—create regional peace networks, use planned giving to negotiate peace terms.
  5. Civil War is a manifestation of corruption—USA supports 42 of 44 dictators looting their commonwealths.
  6. Genocide coincides with resource scarcity, lifetime of shared hatreds—it can be anticipated and prevented.  Israel must adapt, instead of arming Arabs and Israel USA should invest in a fifty-year education & prosperity regime that raises an entire new generation in peace
  7. Other Atrocities include child and adult slavery and prostitution, “by name” kidnapping of movie starlets and girls that catch a wealth foreign predator’s eye, murder for body parts.
  8. Proliferation defined as Nuclear, Radiological, Biological, & Chemical (NRBC), should also include cluster bombs, landmines.  UN Security Council members are the proliferators!
  9. Terrorism is a tactic, not a threat, but included by the Panel to recognize the potential for catastrophic consequences, e.g. radiological poisoning of an entire city.  Law enforcement can and should resolve this providing that USA and others wage peace instead of war.
  10. Transnational Crime is seriously under-estimated.  It is at least $2 trillion a year, there is ample literature demonstrating that the Mafia, the Vatican, Wall Street, and both political and bureaucratic elements of the U.S. Government entwined at least informally and in some instances by design.  Drug cash is Wall Street’s liquidity and the reality is that none of the federal agencies are truly committed to eradicating crime.

            All of the above threats require collective citizen understanding and collective group awareness.  It is not possible for the Republic to be safe if our national security is unbalanced, incomplete, secret,  or dismissive of public dialog and public decision.

Operational Threat

In 1988, building on the knowledge that the Marine Corps Intelligence Center and the Marine Corps University produced—both created at his direction—General Al Gray brought forward the distinction between conventional threats and emerging threats.  I reproduce that chart below.

Conventional Threat

  • Governmental
  • Conventional/Nuclear
  • Static Orders of Battle (OOB)
  • Linear in Development
  • Rules of Engagement (ROE)
  • Known Doctrine
  • Strategic Warning Possible
  • Known Intelligence Assets
Emerging Threat

  • Non-Governmental
  • Non-Conventional
  • Dynamic or Random OOB
  • Non-linear “Off the Shelf”
  • No Constraints (ROE)
  • Unknown doctrine
  • No Established I&W Network
  • Unlimited 5th Column

Figure 1:  USMC Threat Distinctions Drawn Publicly in 1988 (Twenty Years Ago)

            In 1992, inspired by General Gray’s deep insights, I studied and then classified the threat classes as I could discern them as the senior civilian within the new Marine Corps Intelligence Center.  We faced then, and continue to face now, four completely distinct threat classes with four correspondingly distinct forms of conflict that I illustrate below:

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Figure 2: Four Threat Classes Requiring Four Forces After Next

At the most fundamental level, each of these four warrior classes, each of these four forms of war, demands an explicitly distinct approach to issues of surveillance and reconnaissance, of command and control, of fire and maneuver.  .

All forces—air, ground, sea—must adapt to four different types of threat and four different kinds of operational environment while being prepared to harness all other military and non-military forces.

Rethinking our naval capabilities in terms of the four threat classes is a good start, but our understanding deepens further when we delve into the actual nature of the expeditionary environment, and consider carefully how our existing and planned capabilities do or do not lend themselves to effective sustained operations in this environment.

Expeditionary Environment

For planning and programming purposes, the “expeditionary environment” is not, as some tend to assume, “every clime and place” (although both the Navy and the Corps must of course be able to fight anywhere), but rather a fairly well defined list of specific countries, comprised of those countries where there is a high probability of employment.

It differs from the traditional DoD planning environment because it is almost totally comprised of Third World countries and represents challenges calling primarily for Operations Other than War (OOTW). 

            This is an environment where the Navy-Marine Corps team should be without peer.

Below are some strategic generalizations that emerged from the original Marine Corps study of the expeditionary environment published in 1990.  Although they were promulgated at the time, and the current Expeditionary Factors Study is in general use (but lacking the summary section), no one in the Marine Corps or the Navy appears to have made the connection between these strategic generalizations and how we train, equip, and organize ourselves for the future.

  • Amphibious Ready Groups without benefit of an accompanying Carrier Battle Group are very vulnerable to significant coastal defense missile capabilities as well as submarines, frigates and corvettes – the US Navy does not have Naval Gunfire Support (NGF) capabilities today, and is outgunned by common coastal defenses.
  • On the air side many of our countries have night/all weather capabilities and early if not third generation radar, stand-off munitions, and integrated air defense systems.
  • The ground threat is complex and lethal, with trained experienced infantry, modern armor, relatively sophisticated artillery including scatterable mines, and some smart or stand-off munitions as well as surface-to-surface missiles.
  • Of the sixty-nine countries examined in the prototype study, seventeen possess or have used nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and fully forty-one of the countries have active on-going insurgencies, drug wars, civil wars, severe instability, or a regional war in progress.  This has only gotten worse in the intervening years.

In brief, our world is a violent and unstable.  Expeditionary operations must not be mis-construed as “lite” operations.

In considering the physical operational environment, stark distinctions emerged between the real-world expeditionary environment, and the current planning model used by the Navy (which designs our aircraft) and the Army (which designs our major ground systems).

  • We found our countries equally divided between mountains, deserts, jungle, and urban environments—our naval aviation and ground assets must be able to operate in all four environments.  In all four cases, the ability of aviation to loiter overhead safely is much more important than our acquisition managers understand.
  • Thirty-nine of our countries were hot, defined as a sustained heat index of 80o (and many were very humid as well) suggesting that our aviation systems will always be forced to operate at the outer edge of their performance envelope—delivering half the needed performance and hence “flawed by design.”
  • Cross-country mobility was a showstopper—we could not get from the beach to the capital city off-road in 60% of our countries, and would have trouble in an additional 20%.
  • The average line of sight distance throughout our world was less than 1,000 meters—only eight countries offered stand-off engagement ranges over 2,000 meters where the M1A1 begins to offer value.
  • Although not documented in the study, the average bridge-loading limitation in the Third World appears to be 30 tons, with many areas limited even more, to 10 and 20 tons.

In other words, in virtually our entire expeditionary environment, our naval aviation assets—both fixed wing and helicopter—are severely constrained in terms of lift and range (or loitering capability) at the same time that we have virtually no cross-country mobility and our most expensive ground assets are next to useless.  It is at this point that the Navy and Marine Corps must be driven to reconsider the roles played by artillery and armor, and evaluate how some functions might be down-sized (if left on the ground), realigned (if moved to aviation or naval gunfire) and/or enhanced (if augmented with C4I assets able to better orchestrate a mix of ground-based, air-based, and theater precision-munitions resources).

“Getting there” is half the challenge.  When we looked at various parameters for naval deployment and employment, the following emerged:

  • Forty-two percent of our countries could not be reached in less than six days with existing Amphibious Ready Group deployment patterns.
  • Half of our countries did not have usable ports and would require instream off-loading of amphibious and Maritime Pre-Positioning Ships.
  • Most of our world can accommodate strategic airlift.

Once there, we found very severe constraints on operational effectiveness:

  • Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) logistics presented some real difficulty—capital cites beyond the round trip range of a CH-46 (i.e. requiring forward refueling points), very hot aviation temperatures and very large numbers of Embassy personnel as well as U.S. citizens.
  • Hydrography was not a practical constraint to naval gunfire but the Navy’s 5″ is out-gunned by thirty-one of our countries’ coastal defense systems.
  • The lack of adequate 1:50,000 map coverage of our world is a real show-stopper.  This deficiency impacts not only on ground maneuver and fire support coordination, but also on aviation mission planning and precision-munitions targeting.  This is the single most urgent constraint on naval effectiveness in the near and mid-term future.
  • Our “cultural terrain” included 40 countries whose primary language was Arabic or other than English, Spanish or French (most practicing Islam or an eastern or tribal religion), and 22 Christian/orthodox countries where Spanish and French were the most common language.

What does this all mean? Our environment is lethal, but much of that lethality is static. We need to trade-off mobility in both services against firepower, lift against weight, communications and intelligence against weapons systems—and at the strategic level, we need to take a very hard look at the possibility of trading off or integrating maritime mobility with air transport mobility. An improved understanding of our cultural and physical environment, increased emphasis on lift and logistics as well as the communications and intelligence architectures to support our operations are our best means of maintaining capabilities in the face of a reduction in force.

Force Structure

From where I sit, we have not yet had a honest strategic debate about the 21st Century force structure at the policy level, at the same time that military strategists—notably the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute (SSI)—have for close to fifteen years been speaking and writing about realities that to this day have not penetrated into the halls of the Pentagon.  Although we have been calling for “four forces after next” since at least 1998, we have not been effective.  It is my hope that now, in the aftermath of ten hard years whose dominate parameter for both our troops and their families must be the word “sacrifice,” it may be possible to get a hearing.

I now believe, after thirty years in the inter-agency, military, and multinational environment, that we should re-think the entire Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS), and that the President should, in the National Security arena, distinguish among four domains, each to have its own PPBS process, its own Program, with the White House, not the Secretary of Defense, being the final arbiter of what is now a single Program 50 (Big War) and a single Program 150 (International Affairs).

Below I illustrate both four distinct forces after next that in the aggregate represent a displacement of the 2 theater war strategy with what I call a 1+iii (One Plus Triple I) strategy, a strategy I believe is much more suited to our needs today and into the future.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Figure 3: Four Forces After Next with Information Operations Implications

The original graphic has been updated to integrate my sense of the implications of this new strategy and aggregate combination of four forces for Information Operations (IO).  Greater detail is available in my earlier publications for the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute.

Having set the stage, I will now present, the 450-ship Navy that I devised in 1999 with the help of Mr. Norman Polmar, editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships, and Mr. Ron O’Rourke, the naval analyst at the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  I could not have done this without their wisdom.

Navy 21: 450-Ship Navy

There is one fundamental that we all must recognize as we prepare for the 21st century, and that is the value of being able to arrive early with “just enough, just in time” force to prevent a situation from escalating.  The arrival of a single platoon of Marines, launched from 400 nautical miles offshore, at night, with a gasoline break enroute, stopped the takeover of the Embassy in Somalia—as the Marines landed, the hostiles were just coming over the walls.  A widely-distributed well-balanced Navy is the core of our international power and will become even more essential as we inevitably start closing down over 750 unviable bases abroad that are now seen by foreign publics—and increasingly by the US public—as the dead weight of a dying Empire.

Below we show three navies: the Navy of 1980’s (the “six hundred ship” Navy focused on the Soviets built by then Secretary of the Navy John Lehman within the Reagan Administration), the Navy of the 1990′s (a down-sized Navy confused about the threat and its mission), and the Navy of the 21st Century, both that as planned from the 1990’s and that as recommended by myself.  We can have this 450-ship Navy within five years at very low cost, and can begin

I propose that our naval strategy for the 21st century focus on a broader distribution of platforms and platform types, with a view to being able to deliver a platoon of Marines with a Cobra overhead anywhere in the world within 12-24 hours, a company with Harriers within 24-48 hours, a full-up Battalion Landing Team within 72 hours, a Regimental Landing Team within seven days, and a full-up Marine Expeditionary Force within 14 to 21 days.  This is the “early in, pile on” strategy.

ACTUAL

ACTUAL

PLANNED

DESIRED

U.S. Navy Ship Type

1987 Navy

1998 Navy

2010 Navy

2016 Navy

Notes

Ballistic Submarines

37

18

14

15

Attack Submarines

102

65

50

50

Troop/Attack Submarines

0

0

0

15

1

Aircraft Carriers (Blue Water)

14

12

12

8

Aircraft Carriers (Littoral Ops)

0

0

0

4

2

Battleships

3

0

0

2

Cruisers

36

29

27

36

Destroyers

69

50

73

59

3

Expediters (Air-Capable DDs)

0

0

0

25

4

Frigates

115

38

16

33

Amphibious Warfare Ships

63

40

36

36

5

Patrol Craft/Brown Water Ops

6

13

14

75

6

Mine Warfare Ships

 

22

16

26

20

7

Combat Logistics Ships

56

39

18

18

Mobile Logistics Ships

19

19

9

9

Fleet Support Ships

24

11

7

7

Strategic Auxiliaries

6

1

7

5

Other (AGF-LCC)

14

11

9

9

Assistance Ships (Large)

0

0

0

8

8

Assistance Ships (Small)

0

0

0

8

8

Hospital Ships (Large)

2

2

2

3

9

Hospital Ships (Small)

0

0

0

5

9

USMC Focus (%)

 

11%

11%

11%

14%

Littoral Focus (%)

 

5%

9%

13%

31%

TOTAL SHIPS

 

588

364

320

450

0

DOI: 2 April 1999.
1987 and 1998 data primarily from USN Battle Forces series with CRS, NHC input.
2010 planned data from Norman Polmar.
Note 1: 15 Los Angeles SSNs modified pending new design.
Note 2: 4 carriers with air wings dedicated to VSTOL/gunships, Marines and anti-mine work.
Note 3: Keep every destroyer alive as gap-fillers.  84 vice 73-25 (Note 4) = 59.
Note 4: 25 SPRUANCE DDs converted to DD963V/DDH (aviation aboard) pending new class.
Note 5: Achieve better balance between large LHA/LPD and enhanced WHIDBEY-class LHDs.
Note 6: Extend program, create 25 three-ship squadrons: 1 VSTOL, 1 Marines, 1 fire support.
Note 7: Achieve savings and spread capability by focusing on distributed helicopter assets.
Note 8: Create MPS Civic Action variant with integrated field hospital, engineers.
Note 9: Get serious about continental-level diseases, configure for bio-chemical recovery.
Note 0: Totals include Cat A NRF and Cat B Mine Warfare and Hospital Ships.

Figure 4:  The Old, the Current, and the Proposed

The thrust of a 450-ship Navy is straight-forward.  We must strive to retain the global reach and striking power of the traditional Navy, while significantly spreading out our existing amphibious forces across more platforms widely distributed.  At the same time we must increase our ability to project a littoral force with dedicated carriers, shallow-water troop/attack submarines, reconfigured destroyers (leading toward a new class of ship, the Expeditor) and a combination of patrol craft and mine warfare ships.  Finally, we must add the Peace from the Sea fleet, actually an important part of force protection in the 21st Century—assistance and hospital ships for every clime and place, what is now called Stabilization & Reconstruction, Humanitarian Assistance, and Disaster Relief.

In my view, while the naval force must continue to be lethal, and Marines must continue to pride themselves on being able to create the maximum amount of violence in the smallest possible space with the least amount of time and energy, the two really big opportunities for the U.S. naval forces in this century are going to be:

1.  M4IS Hub for constantly changing and very diverse coalitions across all of the “tribes” one finds in any instability zone: government, military, law enforcement, academia, business, media, non-governmental or non-profit, and civil including religions, labor unions, and citizen advocacy groups.  This enhances the value of the Maritime Sealift Command (MSC) as a non-combatant M4IS presence (with helicopter decks!).

2.  Peace from the Sea. Personally, I am inspired when I think about a distributed Navy delivering Peace from the Sea at the same time that the Air Force finally achieves the ability to do long-haul responsive transport and precision “Peace from Above” air drops (a lost art today), while the Army provides the C4I cadre for a multinational peace force that calls in Peace Targets one village at a time.  Sun Tzu had it right: the acme of skill is to defeat the enemy without fighting, and what most have failed to understand is that the strategic enemy is that which produces poverty and infectious disease and all the other threats, NOT the Armed Forces of other nations.  Again, MSC utility is enhanced.

A few specifics on the thinking that went into crafting a 450-ship Navy or Navy 21:

First, it makes sense to extend the utility of the attack submarine to the amphibious arena. Fifteen of the Los Angeles class submarines can be modified in order to carry 50-100 Marines and smaller vehicles.  These SSN’s have roughly fifteen years of service life remaining.  With modifications, including improved sonar for shallow-water (<100 fathoms) operations and organic landing craft and related cranes for instream shallow-water offload, they would provide a stealthy option for delivering reinforced platoons into coastal areas where air delivery is not a viable option.  In more recent times, as Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) have come into vogue, one has to ask why we do not have at least two such submarines launching and managing six such vehicles, each with a periscope and multi-spectral sensing, along each of the major piracy lanes.  The current Navy focus is on underwater threat detection rather than long-loiter remote coastal observation.  We need both.  I believe that submarines must be a huge part of our naval future—we should not discard the old ones lightly, they have enormous potential for Third World and passive operations.

Second, given the increased emphasis on littoral operations and especially the increased expectation of great turmoil in the rapidly growing urban areas of the Third World, it makes sense to earmark four of the Navy’s twelve carriers for littoral/amphibious operations.  These four carriers should have embarked and be especially equipped to handle air wings dedicated to a good mix of VSTOL/helicopter platforms for  attack and close air support missions as well as very heavy lifting of large numbers of people and/or humanitarian assistance supplies.  Each carrier should have several anti-mine helicopters aboard, and be equipped to serve as a general repair facility for VSTOL and helicopter assets from the rest of the fleet.  In those instances where a high level of air threat is anticipated, a companion “blue water” carrier with F/A-18 Hornets and (until 2010) F-14 Tomcats would be assigned combat air patrol duties.  Air wing composition and embarked maintenance capabilities are the crux of the matter—it is time the Navy gave amphibious aviation its due.

Third, we should reexamine the symbolic as well as the military value of the battleship.  Two are recommended, one for the Atlantic Command and one for the Pacific Command, each to serve as a Presidential summit site as well as a fire support capability when needed.  Although battleships as a type are expensive, their ammunition is dirt-cheap when compared with the extraordinarily expensive not-so-precision munitions that we cannot rely upon for sustained barrages.  In fact, the annual operations cost including salaries for one battleship is almost exactly equal to the cost of the 79 rounds of precision ammunition expended against the Saudi terrorist leader in Afghanistan in 1998—an attack that killed 26, wounded 40, and scared a few goats.

Fourth, we must protect the destroyer fleet and use it to fill gaps in our fire support as well as our amphibious strike capability.  It may come as a surprise to many, but a series of modifications can be made to the SPRUANCE (DD 963) that will permit it to carry as many as five Harrier-type aircraft or a couple of Harriers and a couple of heavy helicopters, while also embarking a reinforced platoon of up to fifty Marines.  This same vessel can be fitted with a 64-cell VLS (vertical launch system) plus the enhanced 5-inch/62-caliber gun.  Every destroyer should be kept alive, with 25 of them being refitted to carry Marines and amphibious aircraft, while the remaining 59 are upgraded in terms of fire support.  In the 1970’s Congress authorized funds for two DD 963 variants that could carry several VSTOL aircraft or helicopters, and designs were prepared.  It is time to restore Congressional interest and make a serious commitment to this program as a means of refitting and retaining 25 of the existing SPRUANCE destroyers.  A new class of ship should emerge from this initiative, one we call the Expediter.  The 2,000-ton Streetfighter described in a recent international publication does not exist, but it should—provided it is designed to carry Marines and VSTOL aircraft.

Fifth, we must recognize the imbalance in our plans for a limited number of very large LPH/LPD craft—each an enemy submarine skipper’s dream target—and also take note of the fact that such large craft will tend to be four to six days away from crisis points at any given moment.  Instead, if we accept the 24-48 hour response imperative in implementing the “pile-on” concept, we need a mix of the planned “big decks” and additional WHIDBEY ISLAND-class LHDs capable of carrying reinforced companies and VSTOL/helicopter gunships.  In combination with the much faster modified SPRUANCE-class destroyers, this would give the Navy-Marine Corps team the ability to deliver in extremis platoons and companies anywhere in the world with only overnight notice.

Sixth, we need to dramatically expand acquisition of the CYCLONE-class patrol boat as well as the new deep-water patrol craft hull planned jointly by the U.S. Coast Guard with the U.S. Navy.   Such a craft, at the mid-to higher tonnage range, could carry up to fifty Marines for limited periods, and could also operate two H-60 helicopters or one H-53 helicopter and one Harrier.  It could not, however, carry fire support missiles in adequate number at the same time.  This suggests that a good out-of-the-box solution for 2010 brown water needs as well as high-seas drug interdiction and other coastal defense needs might be 25 three-ship squadrons, with one ship being primarily a troop carrier, one a helicopter/VSTOL platform, and the third a fire support ship with one VLS and a mix of heavy-caliber anti-air and surface-to-surface weapons.

Seventh, we have gone overboard on mine-laying platforms.  We can achieve savings and distribute the anti-mine capability more widely by reducing the planned number of ships from 26 to 20, while spreading the programmed helicopters as embarked organic assets across the fleet.

Eighth, somewhere in all the planning for the naval fleet of the 21st Century we have over-looked operations other than war!  The best force for the avoidance of conflict and the resolution of non-combat crisis is the force that can deliver food, water, medicine, engineering and other civil affairs relief from the sea, with a low logistics and ideological footprint.  The seaborne peacekeeping force should be comprised of at least 16 roll-on/roll-off bulk carriers such as we use for the Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS) but modified to berth a few hundred engineering, police, and civil affairs personnel, to have a small field hospital capability combining onboard capabilities with MASH-type capabilities that can be established ashore, plus the right kind of supplies as well as a good mix of ground and air mobility assets.  Half of these ships should be designed to operate in support of the half of the countries from which pier-side offload is not an option, i.e. they should be able to do a combination of instream and helicopter-borne offload.  The MSC force is a substantial one, and more can be made of their non-combatant assets.

Ninth and finally we come to hospital ships.  Two exist in the reserve fleet and there are no plans for any more ships of this type.  In the face of growing concerns about continental-level diseases and the risk of bio-chemical terrorism, and out of respect for the growing dangers of revolution and forced emigration related to starvation and disease, it would make sense to invest more heavily in medical assistance platforms, possibly with multi-national manning.  A naval force properly cognizant of the four warrior classes and the deteriorating expeditionary environment should have three large hospital ships and five small hospital ships.  In combination with the civil affairs platforms and a discreet mix of destroyers and patrol craft, these hospital ships (each capable of cooking 7,500 meals daily while also distilling 75,000 gallons of fresh water daily) could be the centerpiece of a naval peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance force while also being helpful here at home, for example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

There is a small cost.  One rough estimate, outlined in the figure below, suggests that it will cost (very roughly) just under $20 billion dollars.  This cost is immediately convertible to jobs and new work.

Rough Cost Calculations

Number of

Acquisition

Conversion

Total

Years

Ships

Cost (M)

Cost (M)

(Billions)

To Do

Troop/Attack Submarine

15

0

200

3.000

5

Carrier Wing Realignment

4

0

50

0.200

2

Battleship Reactivation

2

0

125

0.250

2

Whidbey Island LHD Plus Up

9

0

75

0.675

3

SPRUANCE Conversions

25

0

200

5.000

5

Additional Patrol Craft

60

125

0

7.500

6

Reduction of Mine Ships

6

0

-125

-0.750

1

MPS Civil Affairs Conversions

16

50

100

2.400

4

Hospital Ship Conversions

6

50

200

1.500

3

TOTAL COST

 

 

 

 

19.775

DOI: 2 April 1999
With appreciation to Ron O’Rourke, Congressional Research Service, for assistance in
preparing very rough estimates.  Costs are without refueling of submarines.  Battleship
Re-activation cost based on August 1995 Navy estimate to SASC of $115-210M.

Figure 5: Rough Cost Calculations for Enhancing the Navy to Meet Littoral Needs

Below is an illustration of how I would recommend we deploy the 450-ship Navy within a strategic and operational partnership with the other three services and the rest of the U.S. Government; and with multinational coalition partners that contribute both military and civilian personnel with deep foreign language, cultural, and historical knowledge relevant to stabilization & reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations.

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Figure 6.  US Navy as Global “Base” Presence

Adaptive engagement, understood in the context of the multi-faceted threat and the strategic generalizations that we have discussed above, provides a frame of reference for making deep and decisive changes in how we train, equip, and organize both the Navy and the Marine Corps.  Adaptive engagement will place a premium on many smaller and faster platforms widely distributed; on foreign area and language skills; on civil affairs, military police, combat and non-combat engineering as well as hospital services, public affairs, and intelligence skills.  Adaptive engagement will place a premium on being able to “pile-on” anywhere in the world—a platoon with a Cobra overhead within 12-24 hours; a company with a couple of Harriers within 24-48 hours, a Battalion Landing Team with organic air within 72 hours, a Regimental Landing Team within ten days, a full-up Marine Expeditionary Force within fourteen days.  Adaptive engagement will also validate the need to reduce shooters and doers by ten percent so that intelligence and civil affairs and other forms of “engagement” can be doubled and tripled within the declining force structure.

If the U.S. Navy can realize this vision, then the U.S. Army can abandon its many intrusive, expensive, and vulnerable bases, and instead become the cadre for a global multinational force that serves as a constantly engaged hub for Whole of Government ground operations that are preventive as well as remedial.  In this construct, the U.S. Air Force becomes a long-haul transport service that can do C-130 deliveries to any airfield in the world, while also doing precision drops anywhere, all within 24 hours of demand from a Forward Air Controller (FAC) traveling with each of 10,000 Army “A Teams” operating in every clime and place.  The Marine Corps will retain pride of place as the three division-wing team ready for short-notice in extremis combat operations, while the U.S. Coast Guard will double in size, not only to secure our ports and offshore areas against all forms of interdiction, but also to secure littoral areas and wealth-generating secure ports from pirates and rebels, in partnership with local forces.

GO NAVY!

In my view, the 450-ship Navy can be the catalyst for the re-invention of national security and the re-engineering of Earth.  It can inspire and make possible strategic changes in leadership, intelligence, and Whole of Government orchestration.  Brainpower, not firepower, is the center of gravity.  If the U.S. Navy and the new Director of National Intelligence can come together on this point, then I confidently anticipate a 450-ship Navy being the centerpiece of a new national strategy, a national strategy that emphasizes waging peace instead of war, a national strategy always ready for a Big War, while simultaneously and without drawing down on the Big War Force, being able to manage a Small War, a global Peace campaign, and a 360 degree Homeland Defnse.. Our naval forces should always prevail in the inevitable conflicts that will come our way, but much more importantly, we should prevail in what General Al Gray called “peaceful preventive measures,” in creating a prosperous world at peace…..a world in which global perceptions of the USA begin with images of the Sea Bee, the Hospital Ship, and naval helicopter or VSTOL delivering Peace from the Sea.

That’s your challenge, Sailors.  Now go tell it to the Marines and pitch it to the President.

The author was founding Special Assistant and also Deputy Director of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center (now Command).  He is a graduate of the Naval War College, former CEO of OSS.Net, Inc. and now the pro bono CEO of Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3.Note removed, download original document at top of post.