Archive for the 'Southwest Airlines' Tag

Guest Post by Lieutenant Doug Robb, U.S. Navy and Lieutenant J.D. Kristenson, U.S. Navy

 

After more than a decade of asymmetric warfare, conventional security challenges are once again rising to the fore. This has resulted in heightened operational tempo, lengthened deployments, strained ships, and exhausted crews. Given the daunting tasks facing the maritime services, the Surface Navy cannot afford to remain “steady as she goes.” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s article, “Payloads Over Platforms: Charting a New Course,” advocates a capabilities-based approach for future Navy combatants that emphasizes flexibility, adaptability, and longevity both to meet changing threats and address the materiel problems that have plagued the surface force for years. One solution is to create a Fleet comprised primarily of three different platforms based on existing designs. Interestingly enough, there is an organization—albeit a commercial enterprise—that may provide a useful model: Southwest Airlines.

While Southwest Airlines (SWA) and the Navy have divergent missions, there are notable similarities. Although SWA is a private-sector business operating in a highly competitive market, the Navy also provides a consumer (the combatant commander) with a product (warships) designed to execute the mission. Like Southwest, if the Navy does not deliver it risks “losing business” to the other services that are competing for new mission areas in a time of shrinking budget resources.

In recent years, the Navy’s adoption and implementation of business practices has often been clumsy and much of the criticism noting that the Navy is not akin to a private-sector entity is valid. Yet, when dealing with the financial realities of budgeting and procurement that will largely determine the underpinnings of the future Fleet, it is quite reasonable to look to the business practices of successful companies for guidance. Southwest Airlines provides an intriguing template for how the Navy can meet its objectives more efficiently and effectively.

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