“White House steps in as Navy, Pentagon feud over amphibious ship study” –Defense News/Analysis Paralysis

US Capital West Side, by Martin Falbisoner

Defense News reports, on the convoluted process that has blocked Congress from getting a report from the Marine Corps regarding how much amphibious lift they think they need.

Apparently, the Congress has taken steps to ensure that they don’t get stonewalled and that they get an answer directly from the source.

This does not look Coast Guard related except that it seems the same thing is happening to Congressionally mandated reports from the Coast Guard.

There have been other mandated reports that seem to have been ignored, but there is one I think particularly important. The original Fleet Mix Study was completed in 2009 but was not made public until 2012 after a revision in 2011. For years the Congress has been asking for an update. Like in the case of the Marines need for amphibious lift, this is a force structure question, and the silence has been deafening.

We have not had a new evaluation of Coast Guard force structure for over eleven years. Considering how Coast Guard operations have changed in the last decade, the emergence of new threats (like unmanned systems), new opportunities (like unmanned systems), and the experience we have gained with the National Security Cutters and the Fast Response Cutter operation, is that wise?

Congress needs to be equally assertive about hearing what the Coast Guard needs to do its missions and insist that the result not be filtered by the Department.

Once the desired level is established, certainly, questions will be raised. Limitations will emerge. Study assumptions will be questioned. Affordability will have to be addressed, but we need to start with an attempt at an honest and comprehensive assessment of requirements. We saw the GAO critique the Coast Guard’s shipbuilding program as unachievable because the required budget was larger than it had been historically. That is certainly a factor, but it needs to be considered in the light of objectives and a history of neglect.

Force study evaluations should be an iterative process repeated at least every four years to inform the actions of succeeding administrations both within the service and within government.

5 thoughts on ““White House steps in as Navy, Pentagon feud over amphibious ship study” –Defense News/Analysis Paralysis

  1. Well, we are using a 2 billion dollar ship (and LCS is out there too) to recover Artemis when we probably could have used an OSV to get the job done. How small do we need to get before we think about the best way to use what we have?

    • The Navy ships are available at no additional costs. They were not built for this, but they work, so why not use them. We probably could have used a buoy tender, but they have other work to do. We were not invading anyone so the amphib was available.

      During the Apollo missions a capsule landed some distance from where it was expected. There was a 210 near by, but they were told not to pickup the astronauts they had to be picked up by the Navy. Aircraft Carrier rushed to the scene. Sometimes it is about the optics.

  2. Here’s a little insight into why Congress won’t be getting honesty.

    First, modern civilian leadership has a track record of punishing honesty. The best example of this is Air Force General T. Michael Moseley who was fired for defending the F-22 program. When the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force gets fired for making an obvious point about modernization, that sends a clear message not to bring up inconvenient facts.

    Second, many of our current problems come directly from Congress. The best example of this is the Ford’s weapon elevator issues. The Navy asked Congress for funding to build test rigs ashore, but Congress said no and gave themselves a pat on the back for “saving money”. That obviously blew up on us when the inevitable problems that the Navy wanted to iron out ashore hit the carrier, and Congress immediately went after the Navy for “accountability” rather than admit they screwed up. The end result was a bunch of admirals hemming and hawing in front of Congress because they knew that being honest about the fact that it was Congress’s fault would get them fired just like General Moseley.

    Third, what we actually need is eye watering. Decades of underinvestment and overuse have left the military a depleted wreck with many vital capabilities like the CG(X) next-generation cruiser completely canceled. We never should have let the defense budget drop below 5% GDP, and at this point we need sustained budgets in the $2 trillion range to dig ourselves out of this hole. In the current environment, there’s absolutely no way to tell Congress that and keep your job, so they’re going to keep getting deflections and lies for the foreseeable future.

  3. Pingback: Some Posts of Interest | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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