Archive for the 'Navy' Category

VLIn the next few weeks to months we should find out who will be the next Secretary of the Navy. Especially with President-Elect Trump’s desire for a path to a 350 ship Navy, there will be a lot of fine detailed work to be done, but out the door there is a larger theme that I would recommend to whoever finds their way in the office; back to fundamentals.

Long deployments, running rust due to fewer deck Seamen and less time and money to do preservation, DDG-1000 that can’t survive a Panama Canal transit, LCS engineering casualties almost every fortnight – these and other items are just external manifestations of a Navy that is a bit off balance. Some will argue that many of the causes of this ill-resonance felt throughout our Navy predate the present SECNAV, but that isn’t really the issue at hand.

What would be more important than attacking detailed issues first? Former Navy Intel Officer and Asst. Secretary of State Robert Charles recent article, Securing the Navy, had me thinking about that last night.

He based his article on the SEP 2016 Navy survey (which if anyone has a copy, I’d love to see it). Some of his observations are a bit evergreen,

…sailors are “increasingly unhappy with lengthy deployments, high operational tempo, and calls to reduce pay and benefits,”

“Sailors are most likely to leave uniformed service because of poor work/life balance, low servicewide morale

Yep. I think you will get that in almost any survey to one degree or another.

Then some other items are brought up;

How did we get here, … leadership appears to have become distracted or dissuaded from traditional ways of inspiring, rewarding, reinforcing and guiding men and women. Instead, leadership became enamored with domestic political ends and social engineering, forgetting to inspire and reward the resolve of men and women in uniform.

The next administration needs to focus on the Navy not as a social experiment, not as a way of pulling in fringe votes for fringe candidates, but as a group of professionals, selfless and committed, patriotic and hard-working, mission-focused and mutually respecting. They deserve good leadership, leaders devoted to them and to their success, not to political agendas. Individual careers matter, and so does the mission to which individuals devote their lives, assuring America’s national security.

A good starting point. As a great man one said; excellence is achieved by a mastery of the fundamentals.

In David Maraniss’s book on Coach Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, the author outlined what Lombardi said to his new players in the summer of 1961.

He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”

Fundamentals. The basics. One should always make sure those are mastered first – but when things don’t seem to be going right, then what? You need to step back a bit and start again with the basics.

A lot of SECNAV Mabus’s time in office and political capital was spent on items a few layers beyond Navy basics; “green” fuel, shoehorning women in to every USMC combat position possible, excising “man” from ratings … no wait … eliminating ratings altogether, and a few other priorities. We all have our list. It was his watch, he had his priorities. Fair.

What would be a good start for the next SECNAV? Perhaps a start would be a moment to state, rather simply,

This is a Navy.


A WESTPAC Missile Gap?

November 2016


One of the worst kept secrets is that the balance of our surface fleet can do very little surface warfare outside their 5″ gun. Sure, we can play defense until Winchester like champs, but more often than not we’re hoping the aviation side of the house will be there to punch back – and if their lucky, a SSN might be lurking about. Hope and Luck; not a warrior’s ethos.

Like a fleet of Lotus Eaters, through compromise, risk hedging, and pulling the cost-saving short straw – we drifted through a post-Cold War complacency and a post-GWOT ground combat focus to a point where we decided that we would be happy to rely on an increasingly dated ASCM, Harpoon, on fewer and fewer platforms. As we advanced with our primary surface combatant, offensive ASUW was so out of mind that when it came time to move from Flight II to Flight IIA, we decided we didn’t need even Harpoon. As a result, the majority of our most numerous class of surface combatant can’t really effectively engage other warships at sea in combat. We’re the US Navy – who would ever want to challenge us at sea? Right?

Our FF(not-so-G) could carry Harpoon, but they are long gone after the even earlier removable of their ASUW capable SM-1. Our CG can, but they need to stay close to the bird farm. With an arc welder, duct tape and a few pounds of bailing wire, we managed to slap a few ASCM on a LCS – but that is about it when you run out of the Harpoon capable Flight I and Flight II Arleigh Burkes, 28 out of the 76 commissioned or planned of the class.

This is well known, and in the last few years some steps have been taken to patch up the gap. LRASM is under development, we’ve played around with the option of the Norwegian Naval Strike Missile, and there are steps to bringing back the anti-ship capability of the TLAM. Some people will shyly whisper about the sort-of ASUW capability of the SM-2 – but that argument usually never survives first contact with a raised eyebrow. We’re coding ASUW in to the SM-6 – but how many of those will be forward deployed in 2020? 2025? A lot can happen between now and then – so what does one do?

This is good and should receive more funds to accelerate the gap-fill. In the last decade or so, from the “1,000 Ship Navy” to “We Don’t Need Frigates, but if We Do, Our Allies Have That Capability,” response, we have assumed that others will be able to cover capabilities we don’t have. Well, more news came across recently involving our most capable partner nation at sea, the British Royal Navy;

Royal Navy warships will be left without anti-ship missiles and be forced to rely on naval guns because of cost-cutting, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.

The Navy’s Harpoon missiles will retire from the fleet’s frigates and destroyers in 2018 without a replacement, while there will also be a two year gap without helicopter-launched anti-shipping missiles.

So, we’ve got that going for us in the Global Maritime Partnership, which is nice.

That is a summary of where we are – and this topic of an offensive ASUW shortfall comes up inside navalist conversations on a regular basis – but it never gets the traction it should. Perhaps it is because we just have not used the right methods to demonstrate it.

Well, I think we have a solution from to that educational challenge at least.

From the Autumn issue of the Naval War College Review, Lieutenant Alan Cummings, USN, has a must-read article, A Thousand Splendid Guns.

I’ll let you read the full article, but there are two images that provides an overview of our ASCM shortfall in crisp profile.

When looking at the Chinese Navy in WESTPAC, how do our surface units that can or should carry ASCM line up – just in quantity?
Yes, I know there is quite the quality differential. That really isn’t the point – not the time to go down that rabbit hole in comments. Focus.

Let’s look at what these units bring to the ASCM fight.
Put your, “but..but…but” points about defensive capabilities and whose weapons are more primitive in the corner and look at that in detail, and you see the problem.


Please join us on at 5pm EST on 13 Nov 2016 for Midrats Episode 568: Seapower as a National Imperative, with Bryan McGrath:

Why a Navy? Why a strong Navy? Why is a strong Navy an essential

requirement for the United States Navy?

From its ability to project national will, to it hidden hand in the economics of every citizen’s life, why is it so critical that we have a Navy second to none.

To discuss this and more – especially in light of the election – will be returning guest, Bryan McGrath, Commander, US Navy (Retired).

Bryan McGrath grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1987. He was commissioned upon graduation in the United States Navy, and served as a Surface Warfare Officer until his retirement in 2008. At sea, he served primarily in cruisers and destroyers, rising to command of the Destroyer USS BULKELEY (DDG 84). During his command tour, he won the Surface Navy Association’s Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Award for Inspirational Leadership, and the BULKELEY was awarded the USS ARIZONA Memorial Trophy signifying the fleet’s most combat ready unit. Ashore, Bryan enjoyed four tours in Washington DC, including his final tour in which he acted as Team Leader and primary author of our nation’s 2007 maritime strategy entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”

Since retirement, Bryan has become active in presidential politics, serving first as the Navy Policy Team lead for the Romney Campaign in 2012, and then as the Navy and Marine Corps Policy lead for the Rubio Campaign in 2016.

He is the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, and he is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, a small defense consulting firm.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here or pick the show up later from our iTunes or Stitcher pages.


Why Are We Here?

November 2016


“Why are we here?” As leaders, this is one of the most difficult questions to wrestle with. Every person wants to know the why behind the orders they both give and receive. Every person wants to have a purpose. We all want to know that our actions matter. It is a challenging question to answer, though, because we are in a complicated business in a complicated world and because our country, our leadership and our culture – focused on trade over profession – have allowed us to wander astray.

Why are we here? In the simplest terms, members of the military exist to defend our country. In the words of so many commanding officers, we exist to bring immediate, sustained, and overwhelming combat power in pursuit of national objectives. On a Navy deployment, more often than not, we exist for the sake of deterrence. Ask one of our junior Sailors, and you are likely to hear an earnest “I’m here to fix the engines” or “I’m here to work on the radar”: in other words, “I’m here to conduct maintenance.”

After September 11th, the country – including the military – got caught up in a patriotic fervor. The answer to “why are we here?” became “to kill terrorists.” In the wake of such a horrific event, that answer made sense. But, after 15 years – 11 for me – it has started to ring hollow.

Why are we here? To kill terrorists? To what end?

Why are we here? To deter Syria, Russia, Iran, ISIS, al-Qaeda, China, and North Korea? To what end?

Why are we here? To train the Iraqi Navy? To what end?

Why are we here? To conduct sparse and hugely restrained counter-piracy operations? To what end?

Why are we here? To win hearts and minds? To what end?

Why are we here? What is the role of today’s U.S. Military? Is it to defend our shores? Is it to defend our allies? Is it to pick fights or exercise hard diplomacy? This is not a new question for most. I do not discount the answer many troops give – that we are here for each other. I feel that too. It is the deepest and most meaningful answer to the question. Far too often though, the nature of our jobs causes us to focus inwardly – we lose sight of our greater obligation to our fellow citizens. Recently, three events made me think more acutely about how we define what it is we do, why what we do matters, and how, or if, our actions connect us to the American people we theoretically serve.

Why are we here? My ship just returned from a Theater Security Cooperation and deterrence-driven deployment. I came aboard during the last two months. It is not common to get into deep discussions with your Sailors about our greater purpose, but it should be. As leaders, we could be better about this. I could be better. No doubt that our Sailors would be more motivated if they were consistently briefed about the impact of their daily actions. But more often than not, the answer is a challenging one to translate, if apparent at all. “We are here to keep the Chinese at bay – to challenge their excessive claims and to defend our allies – so let’s grind down that rust!” One way or another, I think that they felt their purpose was to be on deployment. While this bland answer works in the short term, it lacks clarity. It is void of emotion. It leaves most Sailors feeling empty and less invested in the effort. A few weeks ago, the chain of command was discussing yet another non-judicial punishment case, and the theory was floated that our high post-deployment operational tempo – a tempo with dubious greater purpose marked by aggravating weeks at sea supporting the training of other units – was the root cause for many of the disciplinary cases we were witnessing. It was not an earth-shattering observation. The cycle our Sailors and troops in every service know is: train for deployment, be on deployment, and be not on deployment, with very little time – or active leadership – spent on why. I struggle with this challenge no matter where I find myself in the cycle. When addressing my Sailors, I revert to the “we are here for each other” purpose. It is not cliché, but I crave more substance in the answer. I know they do, as well.

Why are we here? In early October, an organization, likely Houthi rebels, shot several cruise missiles into the Red Sea at a good friend of mine. At his shipmates. At their ship. At America. The ship performed brilliantly, defending themselves and their fellow ships from imminent harm. This was notable for a variety of reasons. To the media, it was the first time a U.S. Navy ship had been shot at by cruise missiles since the Stark. To the Surface Fleet, it showed that the long-deployed but previously combat un-tested Aegis Combat System worked. To Surface Warfare Officers, who train their entire careers for this exact – but previously somewhat far-fetched – scenario, it proved that the training paid off. To me, it meant that my friend was still alive. In this instance, they were there for each other. But before they were shot at, why were they there? For deterrence and to keep sea lines of communication open? Maybe. But to what end? While both are important missions, some call this “being the world’s policeman.” Is that why we are here, and if so, why are we so reluctant to say so?

Why are we here? Our ship was recently at one of this nation’s Fleet Weeks; a rare opportunity to interact with the public we are so often distanced from and a chance to show tax payers and visitors alike what our ships – and our Sailors – have to offer. As the first day’s duty officer, I was impressed to see thousands of people queue up for a two-plus hour wait to spend ten minutes touring the ship. During one of my trips to visit the people waiting in line, I found myself sharing stories with strangers, having my picture taken with them, and smiling pleasantly. Suddenly, a loud voice boomed behind all of us. A young man stood 15 feet away on top of a retaining wall with a small microphone and began to preach. Loudly. Passionately. And, depending on your personal views, a bit controversially. He was smartly dressed, was non-threatening and had no semblance of mental or social issues. People began to stare. They watched intently as security showed up and crowded the man who now preached in bursts interrupted by their polite requests for him to leave and his polite requests to be left alone. Visitors and Sailors alike watched this unfold. The police were mentioned several times. Neither the man nor the security guards were acting inappropriately. Adjacent to a Navy event with dozens of Sailors in uniform interacting with the public, though, the situation quickly became awkward and it seemed that the property owners were intervening on the Navy’s behalf. While I was personally concerned about the man’s rights, I was even more worried about the CNN Factor – the negative image of on-looking service members watching a man’s rights being infringed upon while surrounded by the public we serve.

I went over for a discreet chat. I asked the owners and the guards to let the man speak. Hoping that I was right, I informed them that the Navy did not have a problem with his presence. And finally, I reminded the owners and the guards that, ultimately, this is why we are here. They kindly agreed and went about doing their jobs. Afterwards, I shook the man’s hand, asked that he not threaten anyone and mentioned that the Navy and the city were glad to have him. He was genuinely thankful… and then promptly went back to his fire and brimstone. Nobody was in the wrong. Everyone acted professionally and in good faith. As I walked away to deal with the next challenge, I wondered, is this why we are here? So that people can say objectionable things or vote for objectionable people without fear of civil or military uniforms hauling them away? While it might seem obvious, it was the first and only such experience of my career and the closest I had ever felt to finding the answer.

Why are we here? We are indeed here to defend the country, to kill bad guys, for deterrence, and for cooperation with our allies. Hopefully, though, we are ultimately here to ensure the American Way remains intact. But it remains a tough question to answer. An even tougher answer to quantify. And ultimately, it leads to an often perplexing existence for the nation’s service members. Our military is incredibly important. I know this to be true. I am fully on-board. As leaders, though, I think we can do a better job of laying a foundation – of answering the question: Why are we here?

It starts at the top – with our national leaders who dictate where we go and what we do. Sending us to fight un-ending battles – wars without defined objectives – causes us to wonder. It trickles down to our service and community leaders. Ordering us to focus on everything but war fighting – when re-learning basic social skills is more important than how to shoot straight – causes us to wonder. Finally, it ends with us. Focusing on showing up to your job – one with an often unpleasant life attached – vice investing in a profession, inevitably causes us to wonder. We need clear actions and regular discussions. Our national leaders must use us judiciously and vocalize their intent. Our service and community leaders must ensure our laser-like focus on the mission, vice the minutiae. We must serve with purpose and communicate effectively with each other and our troops – we are here for each other, but more importantly, we are here for the American People! Why are we here? It is an important question in critical need of a well-defined answer. As professional war fighters of varying services, specialties, and experiences, we should never lose sight of this question, nor its dynamic answer, lest we become lost in our own existence, deploying simply because it is time to deploy or fighting because… what else are we supposed to do?

14192803_1169656796429531_7334328988447422808_nIn a sad insult to the rump class of Pocket Battleship sized Destroyers we are building, the three ship ZUMWALT Class, this week fate delivered what many expected for a while.

Just a couple weeks after the Navy commissioned its most advanced warship, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), the service says it won’t be buying any more of the guided precision munitions the ship’s Advanced Gun Systems uses, called the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP).

What are we to learn of this? There are a few things.

First of all; we have to acknowledge that of the ships of the Transformationalist Era; LCS, DDG-1000, LPD-17, and FORD – have something in common; they proved history and critics of Transformationalism right.

You cannot pack too much technology risk in to new platforms, slather them with hope and PPT and assume that all will turn out well in future people’s PCS cycle long after you are gone.

Somehow we have lost a larger sense of that handmaiden of ownership, stewardship. We need to move away from the desire to have others fawn over ourselves for our supposed “visionary embrace of the future,” but instead have a calm dedication to stewardship of the continuous improvement of our navy. That is what gave us AEGIS, TLAM, and the Virginia Class SSN.

The programmatic Hipsterdom that is Transformationalism begat the shambolic parade of our last few classes of warships.

Next; bespoke, expensive, and exquisite systems that will not have wide use in the fleet are low hanging fruit when people come looking for money. If there is something good and less expensive that can replace the awesome, you will get the good. If the good can’t be had at enough savings, you just might get a void and a blank-plate.

Price. Matters.

As smart people are moving away from “salami slice” ideas of cost savings towards whole wedges, this is what will happen.

“The Navy continuously monitors the gun and ammunition industry capability and capacities,” Capt. Thurraya Kent, spokesperson for the service’s acquisition directorate, said Nov. 4 in an e-mail. “To address evolving threats and mission requirements, the Navy is evaluating industry projectile solutions (including conventional and hyper-velocity projectiles) that can also meet the DDG 1000 deployment schedule and could potentially be used as an alternative to LRLAP for DDG 1000.”

“We are looking at multiple different rounds for that gun,” the Navy official said, adding that “three or four different rounds” have been looked at, including the Army’s Excalibur munition from Raytheon, and the Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP), a project under development by the Office of Naval Research and BAE Systems.

“There are multiple companies that have looked at alternatives to get the cost down and use that delivery system,” the Navy official said.

But the likelihood is that there will be no LRLAP replacement before the Zumwalt enters operational service.

Current plans call for the guns to be fired during CSSQT and, the Navy official said, “the intention is to shoot the guns.” The 2015 budget provided $113 million to buy 150 LRLAP rounds and associated items, and those rounds will be used for the tests.

No funds for LRLAP acquisition were included in the 2016 or 2017 budgets. The latter included $51 million in 2018 for the program, but it’s not clear whether or not that money will be requested.

Last, we need to be willing to return to a practice of evolutionary development with room to allow that you will now and again fail small and keep going, as opposed to assuming you will always win big or have nothing.

We have a new gun system? Great. Mature it ashore and install on an established platform and see how it works at sea. New engineering plant? Same. Manning concept … etc.

Decades – really centuries – of naval best practices shows us how it is done. We should go back to that template.

For now we find ourselves in 2016 without meeting the need that started us down the road – effective and accurate NSFS from the sea. Recent combat experience Al-Faw’s “5-in Friday,” to Israeli corvettes off Gaza, to the French Navy’s 76mm and 100mm guns off Libya, the modern requirement is clear – but it can be done better.

Where to next? In the near term, “good enough” 155mm solutions will need to be found and hopefully will work.

So much wasted time for so little gain for the nation. I hate to say it, but this is also true – none of this should be a surprise to anyone. How as an institution did we go this far down this path? That is the most important lesson – one I don’t think we have really dealt with yet.

While software changes will certainly be needed to incorporate other munitions into the AGS, adapting the handling system for a different round could be complex. The automated magazines, designed to hold 300 LRLAPs, are sized for that particular weapon and it’s unlikely another munition would have exactly the same dimensions.

Other rounds under development for the 127mm guns arming all other US destroyers and cruisers could be adapted to the AGS, but would likely need a sabot arrangement to adapt the smaller shell to the 155mm weapon.

Read that again as you ponder the institutional mindset mentioned earlier on in this article. This nugget about DDG-1000 needs to be repeated. This was a warship the size of a Pocket Battleship that would carry the largest guns of any warship in our navy – gun with a large rate of fire and range – that was intentionally designed not to be able to use these guns to engage an seagoing enemy.

Let that soak in.

But as the Zumwalt moved from shipyard to sea and to the fleet, the Navy has notably downplayed that attribute, and while the technical achievement of the cutting-edge DDG 1000 has been widely trumpeted this year, its ability to directly support Marines ashore has not.

There was no requirement for the AGS to strike seagoing targets, and the system does not have the programming to do so. But the big guns could be adapted to target ships if necessary, the Navy official said.

“We would have to do the software modifications to make that work.”

Please join us at 5pm EST on 6 November 2016 for Midrats Episode 567: Goldwater–Nichols; Problems and Solutions

The systems that trains, mans, and equips our military – and provides guidance and support to their civilian masters is broadly shaped by Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. There is much discussion that in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, is there a better system to serve our national security requirements than one designed at the height of the 20th Century’s Cold War?

Using his article in War on the Rocks, Don’t Rush to “Fix” Goldwater-Nichols as a starting point, our guest for the full hour to discuss this and other related issues will be Justin Johnson of The Heritage Foundation.

Johnson spent over a decade working on defense and foreign policy issues on Capitol Hill before coming to the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense were I am now a defense and foreign policy analyst at Allison Center for National Security and Foreign Policy.

Johnson received a master’s degree from the Naval War College with a particular focus on terrorism and the maritime domain. He is also a member of the 2013-2014 Future Leaders Program at the Foreign Policy Initiative, the 2011-12 class of Next Generation National Security Leaders at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and the 2012 class of the Heritage Foundation’s Marshall Fellows.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Johnson grew up in Iowa before moving to Eastern Europe. After living in Germany, Belarus and the Czech Republic, Johnson attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia where he studied philosophy and art.

Join us live if you can, or if you forgot the time change, you can pick the show up later by clicking here or from our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

On 4 August 2016, the Navy released a message announcing the eventual elimination of the original Type I Navy Working Uniform (NWU). The uniform, long a subject of wide criticism, was finally being replaced with something more versatile, more breathable, and more well-liked by Sailors who had tried it out. Navy Times praised the fact that we were “dumping the dumbest uniform ever. Only one small problem seems to have been overlooked by the Navy:

It’s green camouflage.

Having never tried the Type III NWU myself, I trust the claims of my peers that it is more acclimated to warmer temperatures and a better overall fit. But there are some glaring problems with adopting this as our daily working uniform.


Types I and III NWUs in 2010

First, it does not reduce the number of uniforms we need. Most commands do not wear both the Type I and Type III on a routine basis; blue is for “normal” jobs and green is for “expeditionary” jobs (more on this to follow). Pilots will still wear flight suits in their aircraft, and ship drivers will still wear coveralls while underway. Shore commands that do not use NWUs will likely still wear service and dress uniforms. It is true that mandating the use of Type III will increase uniformity; never have I seen a more oxymoronic uniform policy than in Bahrain where the staff officers at NAVCENT (who have an admittedly arduous shore duty) wear the green “expeditionary” Type III while their patrol craft counterparts—the ones actually plying the waters of the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz—walk on the same compound in blue Type I. But uniformity alone is not a good reason to adopt a uniform, and while the Navy’s attempt to reduce the contents of our seabags is praise-worthy, it is not helped by this uniform shift.

This brings me to the real issue: why does the Navy use camouflage as its normal working uniform to begin with? Until the mid-2000s, when each service’s camouflage pattern became a matter of inter-service pride and rivalry, we didn’t even have our own camouflage; neither did any other service for that matter. Camouflage is designed to be worn on a land battlefield to hide from the enemy—that’s why it’s called “camouflage”—and we had a standard pattern that all services used when necessary. The Navy jumped on the bandwagon of digital camouflage patterns—which the Army is already abandoning—in the late 2000s, threw some water-looking colors on it, and left everyone scratching their heads wondering “why?” In the years since, the NWU has become a uniform as often ridiculed for its appearance as for its utility. We have forgotten that we are the NAVY. We don’t need a camouflage uniform—and certainly not a green one at that—to prove that we are expeditionary. Being expeditionary is in our blood as a service. We don’t go on deployments to the Chesapeake Bay or Puget Sound. We sail around the world and interact with its peoples in times of both peace and war. We are meant to make our presence known to would-be aggressors, to keep commerce lanes open and our motives understood. Our warfighting prowess stems from our ability to operate complex technical systems at sea, something a flashy green uniform simply doesn’t facilitate. Most of us don’t try to hide (and for us submariners, at least not in a way where wearing camouflage would help).

That said, the Type III NWU certainly has a place for those Sailors who need it. SEALs, EOD technicians, Seabees, and their supporting personnel all operate in hostile environments on land where the need to blend into the environment is paramount. Those Sailors make a huge contribution to the Force, but they are a very small portion of our people, which is why until camouflage was all the rage in Washington they didn’t have their own pattern. If anyone needs to wear the Type III, it is these men and women—it was designed with them in mind, after all—but reserve it for those who need it. Mandating it for the rest of the Navy creates an artificial feeling of expeditiousness that strays from the true expeditionary nature of the Navy.


Dungarees, per 1984 uniform regulations

We are not Soldiers or Marines; we are professional mariners and naval aviators. We should be wearing uniforms that suit a life at sea, not uniforms that pretend we are all boots on the ground shooting bad guys. For ship drivers and aviators, wearing green camouflage has zero bearing on our warfighting capability as a force. We have different ranks and customs than the rest of the armed services, and we should have uniforms that reflect that. We wear whites and blues that people around the country, even the world, recognize as naval uniforms; why shouldn’t our working uniform be just as identifiable? Our uniforms should tell the story of a service proud of its unique role. If we decide to start wearing green camouflage on ships, then we are telling the nation that we want to be like the Army or the Marines, rather than embracing what makes the Navy special.

If you look at a photo of Sailors in working khakis or dungarees, you instantly recognize them as part of the Navy. Why not bring those back? They identified us as a service, looked the part of the professional mariner, and were still user-friendly enough to wear on a ship. And with a tucked-in shirt, inelastic waistband, and metal rank and warfare insignia, they even looked more professional than what we wear now. We don’t need steel-toed boots that look like combat boots or perfect-looking rolled sleeves to have pride as Sailors, so why do we continue to think otherwise? Implementing the NWU in the first place was a classic case of fixing something that wasn’t broken. Deciding to replace it is a good idea, but Type III is even farther from the Navy’s spirit and a step in the wrong direction. The Navy should ditch camouflage and go back to what makes us proud to be Sailors. After all, who are we hiding from anyway?

Posted by LT Al Perry in Navy | 38 Comments

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 30 Oct 16 for Midrats Episode 356: Fall Free For All Spooktacular!

Midrats is back live! With a week left to go till the election, I am sure you are about done with all the political talk, so join us at 5pm Eastern this Sunday, October 30th as we cover the the globe on the breaking national security and maritime issues that have come up over the last month.

From FORD to KUZNETSOV; from The Baltic to Yemen we’ll have it covered.

As always with our Free For Alls; it is open mic an open mind. Call in with your issues and questions, or join us in the chat room.

Join us live if you can, or pick the show up later by clicking here. You can also get the show later by visiting our iTunes page or at Stitcher

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 11, 2016) -- Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), into the James River during the ship's Turn Ship evolution. This is a major milestone that brings the country's newest aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 11, 2016) — Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), into the James River during the ship’s Turn Ship evolution. This is a major milestone that brings the country’s newest aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)

Consider for a few moments two benchmark facts.

1. Aircraft Carriers are the premier capital ship in our navy and for navies throughout the world. Sorry submarine bubbas, it’s true.
2. By the time he leaves office, SECNAV Mabus will have been on the job roughly eight years.

Mid-month, SECNAV put out this rather remarkable comment;

“The Ford is a textbook example of how not to build a ship,” Ford told reporters. “(We were) building it while it’s still being designed” — which results in costly do-overs of already-finished components — “(and) trying to force too much new and unproven technology on it” — whose teething troubles result in unplanned delays and costs.

“That was already on fire when I got in,” said Mabus, who became Navy Secretary the year the Ford’s keel was laid. “But we’ve stopped the cost growth.” The carrier’s schedule is still slipping, however, with a November delivery to the fleet postponed indefinitely due to problems in the Main Turbine Generators (MTG).

Mabus is correct. He did not conceive this baby, but it has been his responsibility to raise it. I am sure his comments are informed from what he has been briefed on via the review our Sam reported on back in August, or what led up to the review.

How could we have such a screwed up program for the crown jewel of our navy? The premier capital ship in the world’s premier navy? For regular readers, this will come as no shock; spawn of the Cult of Transformationalism that abandoned the evolutionary for the revolutionary.

FORD sprouts from the same intellectual well that LCS and DDG-1000 do. The Transformationalists decided that they could just wish aside centuries of experience on how to modernize a fleet. By their own confidence in their own self-perceived brilliance – compounding risk; technology, budgetary, programmatic, etc – none of those problems would be theirs.

I was hoping the issues with FORD would be a focus on itself, but then things got a bit strange. Mabus quickly pivoted and started to defend what almost all agree is a snake-bitTtransformationalist flop, LCS;

Isn’t LCS also a textbook example of a troubled ship program, I asked Mabus, for much the same reasons as Ford?

“No,” said Mabus. LCS is more an example of typical teething troubles on a new design, he argued.

“Every time you start a new class of ship…you’re going to have issues,” he said. “LCS gets a lot of attention, but during the first deployment of an LCS to Singapore…it was ready for sea more than the (US) Pacific Fleet average.”

“It’s got a lot of attention mainly because it looks different,” Mabus said. “It is a different kind of ship.”

Ummmm, no. FREEDOM Class does not look all that different, and eight years after the commissioning of HULL-1, “new class of ship” excuses for the cascading failures no longer applies. INDEPENDENCE looked different a decade ago. We’re used to it now. Then again, he has a lot of personal capital invested in LCS, so one would expect a bit of a blinkered view.

Why do two programs with similar troubles get such a different reaction from Mabus? It’s especially striking because the carrier program matters much more to naval traditionalists, who often disdain the relatively tiny and lightly armed LCS. But throughout Mabus’s seven years in office — the longest tenure of a Navy Secretary since World War I — he’s measured his success in terms of numbers of ships.

From 2001 to 2008, Mabus said today (as he says in every speech he makes) the US Navy fell from 316 ships to 278 and put only 41 new ships on contract. In the seven years since 2009, Mabus has contracted for 86.

“Quantity has a quality all of its own,” Mabus said — and you don’t get quantity without a small ship cheap enough to build in bulk. In the face of two skeptical Defense Secretaries and sometimes bitter criticism from Congress, Mabus’s commitment to LCS explains a lot about its survival

Perhaps it would be unkind to state that we have been engaged all month in littoral combat off of Yemen, but no one in their right mind wants a LCS anywhere near that coastline.

Perhaps it is best to leave that there so we don’t wander in to another LCS post. Let’s stick to the FORD issue.

If I may be self-indulgent a bit; when we few, we happy few anti-Transformationalists began tilting against the Transformationalist series of ships that came before FORD; LPD-17, LCS, DDG-1000 – from titanium fire mains to NLOS, one of our primary critiques was a cavalier view towards technology risk. It is great to see that, in his own way, Mabus is on the same page of the hymnal with us now.

Speaking Thursday with the massive carrier in the background, Mabus said, “I think we’re a long ways down that road” to fixing the power-generation issue.

He gave a similar assessment of the advanced arresting gear (AAG), which has been installed on the Ford but is still being tested.

The Navy is studying whether to continue with AAG on the next Ford-class carrier, the John F. Kennedy, which is under construction at the shipyard and about 23 percent complete.

“Everything that has been brought up lately, we have been looking at for years, and testing for years,” he said.

Kendall ordered a review of the Ford program, which is now under way and should be complete by December. Until all concerns are resolved, Mabus said he can’t specify a delivery date.

“As soon as it’s ready,” he said. “I’m not going to give you a date. But the testing is going well. Getting to the root cause of the generator problem is going well.”

He also reiterated an oft-stated observation: that the Ford suffers from a decision made more than a decade ago to pack new technology on the ship instead of phasing in new systems over three ships.

“It’s not the shipyard,” he said. “It was us doing this to them.”

How bad is the AAG issue?

The ship’s Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) is more problematic, and “has had significant delays in completing its land-based test program due to the technical challenges encountered in transitioning from design” through final testing, Mabus reported. Other Navy sources report dozens of roll-through tests have been conducted with the AAG at the Navy’s test facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey, but to date no true arrested landings have been accomplished.

Mabus noted that the Navy is reviewing whether to continue with AAG installation on the Enterprise (CVN 80), third ship in the class, or return to the standard Mark 7 aircraft recovery system operating on all current carriers. Installation of AAG on the second ship, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), is continuing for now, Mabus noted, because design and construction work has progressed to the point where a replacement would have a significantly negative impact on costs and schedule.

That bad.

Less of a Transformationalist problem, LPD-17 has been made useful with the extra Sailor sweat and seabags of money prescribed to fix her. LCS and DDG-1000 are what they are, but there was great hope that we would somehow get FORD right. That we would be lucky and good – looks like we were neither.

I think everyone understands technology risk as a factor described above, but what is programmatic risk? Part of programmatic risk is just that; as the DDG-1000 people will tell you, if you are too much of a burden your program will be cancelled. You also can become your own parody. In doing so, you open the door for those who want to do things with that money and effort – specifically the likes of our friend Jerry Hendrix;

The first move of a new presidential administration will not be to “cancel any of these programs but we’ve shown it is possible to make significant changes in short time,” said Jerry Hendrix, one of the report’s authors and a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank.

“We want to stir the debate.” he added.

The proposal was first reported by The Washington Post.

Most notably, the report calls for canceling the $40 billion Ford-class aircraft carrier program, halting construction of the littoral combat ship, and purchasing fewer F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Those funds would be reallocated for the stealthy B-21 bomber, adding 16 additional submarines, and investing in emerging technologies like high-energy lasers, the CNAS report recommends.

Combine the latest news with FORD and the bitter fruits of the Light Attack Mafia’s bureaucratic victories in the 1990s and early 2000s, and you give other ideas room go grow. You can get the full report here.

The 2020s will be, how do the Chinese put it? Interesting.

A Farewell to Arms is the title of one of Ernest Hemingway’s best works and a book that reflects some of his own personal experiences on the battlefields of World War I. The story unfolds right here in Italy. The title is somewhat metaphorical because it represents LT Frederic Henry’s farewell not only to the honorable profession of arms, but also to the arms of his beloved compatriots that he leaves behind.

At the end of October, I will complete my tour as Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO and return to Washington, D.C. for my next assignment in the Pentagon. Leaving this job is hard because I leave behind so many fine young men and women who have selflessly stood the watch for the last two years while navigating in harm’s way. They are composed not only of Americans but also Alliance and coalition partners who share the same ideals of freedom and justice as we do. They are young; they are strong; they are brave; and they deserve our thanks.

Since 9/11, these Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines have been fighting the war on terror; in the last year, this fight has spread to the waters of the Mediterranean where the USS Harry S. Truman and Eisenhower Strike Groups, USS Wasp Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG/MEU) and French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle have been conducting strikes on Da’esh in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

As the clock ticked down to the day of my Change of Command, I wanted to take the time to visit, walk the deck-plates, talk to the troops and just say: “Thank you!”

Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in the hangar bay aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Sept. 28, 2016 (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Eric S. Garst)

Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in the hangar bay aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1), Sept. 28, 2016 (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Eric S. Garst)

A couple of weeks ago, I did just that onboard USS Wasp (LHD-1) and USS Carney (DDG-64) in the Mediterranean. Wasp has been underway for over 100 days straight delivering lethal strikes on Da’esh in Libya. The morale of the American Sailors and Marines on these two platforms was exceptional. When I asked how they kept such a positive attitude, many simply told me, it’s all about the mission.

Today, I visited USS Ross (DDG-71) and the French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle, both operating in consort, in the Eastern Mediterranean. As a young Navy Lieutenant, I was very fortunate to have been given an opportunity to study in France as an Olmsted Scholar. My relationship with the French Navy began in 1986 and it has grown even stronger as the Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. Charles de Gaulle has deployed three times in the last two years, twice in support of our operations in the Arabian Gulf. They have filled gaps in carrier presence and brought incredible combat capability to the theater. This latest deployment takes place in the Eastern Mediterranean while they service targets in Syria and Iraq.

Like the USS Wasp, despite the high operational tempo of the Charles de Gaulle, morale was excellent . . .it’s all about the mission. They are just like us.

The French Strike Group Commander, Contre-Amiral Olivier Le Bas (himself an exchange pilot with the U.S. Navy) and Commanding Officer, Capitaine de Vaisseau Eric Malbrunot, gave me the honor of addressing the crew on the 1MC after de Gaulle launched and recovered several sorties of Rafale strike-fighters conducting combat missions over Syria and Iraq. This is what I said. This was my Farewell to Arms. . .

For all of you Francophones out there, I spoke to the crew in their native tongue because I think that is very important. I have translated my comments in English immediately after the French text below:

A Rafale fighter prepares to launch off the deck of the aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) on a strike mission against Da’esh. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

A Rafale fighter prepares to launch off the deck of the aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) on a strike mission against Da’esh. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

A bord le Charles de Gaulle – Bonjour !

Je suis Vice-Amiral Jamie Foggo, chef de la Sixième Flotte Americaine. Le dernier fois que je vous ai visité été le dix novembre deux-mille-seize.

Votre commandant, Eric Malbrunot m’a chaleureusement accueilli. Le lendemain, j’étais à Paris avec votre chef de la marine et votre Président, nous étions à l’arc de triomphe afin d’assister à la cérémonie de l’armistice. Cette journée de commémoration été très particulier pour moi.

Ma famille a beaucoup en commun avec la France ; mes deux grands-pères ont se battu dans la grande guerre ; puis mon père a débarqué sur les plages du Normandie avec l’armée canadienne.

Mois – j’ai fait une grande partie de mes études en France. J’ai appris le français par l’une des Grandes Dames de Paris Madame Elisabeth Girardet , à l’alliance française en mille-neuf-cents-quatre-vingts-six. Femme d’un Professeur fameux de Sciences-Po, m’a donné une passion pour la langue et la culture de la France.

J’ai continué mes études à Strasbourg, sur le professeur Francois-Georges Dreyfus – l’homme Politique, l’auteur, et speci’aliste des relations Franco-Allemands en France. Il était mon mentor. Alors, vous voyez que je suis un francophone et un francophile. Ma famille a eu des liens avec la France pendant une siècle. Mais, nos pays ont eu des liens bien plus qu’une siècle! De Lafayette pendant la révolution américaine et L’Enfant – l’architecte de notre capitale Washington D.C. En mille-sept-cents-soixante-dix-neuf le roi Louis seize mis à disposition la frégate Bonhomme Richard à la marine américaine – le Continental Navy.

Notre héro naval américain John Paul Jones disait “Donnez-moi une navire rapide, parce que j’ai l’intention de chercher le danger.“ Alors, il a pris le Bonhomme Richard en abattant le HMS Serapis dans une des victoires les plus célébrés dans l’historie maritime des États-Unis.

Malgré nos différences occasionnelle, nous sommes très similaires et nous avons crée des marines puissantes avec une portée globale. En particulier, nos deux marines sont les seuls qui disposent des porte-avions nucléaires.

Le lendemain de mon départ de Paris était le douze novembre un jour avant les attentats à Paris. En vue de ces pertes de cette tragédie, personne n’étaient plus triste que moi.

Toute de suite après, le Charles est déployé en Méditerranée orientale, afin de porter le combat vers l’ennemi — Da’esh. Puis vous avez continué votre travail a cote de nous et des autres partenaires de la coalition dans la golfe arabe. Et vous avez fait un travail magnifique !

Vice Adm. James Foggo III, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, right, and Vice Adm. Charles du Che, Commander French Mediterranean Fleet, enroute to USS Ross (DDG 71), Oct. 13, 2016. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

Vice Adm. James Foggo III, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, right, and Vice Adm. Charles du Che, Commander French Mediterranean Fleet, enroute to USS Ross (DDG-71), Oct. 13, 2016. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

Vous étés ici encore une fois, mais vous n’êtes pas seules. Comme le français ont nous soutenu pendant notre lutte de la libération, mon gouvernement a envoyé l’USS Ross pour vous assister. Nous avons aussi des officiers américains abord le Charles, et nous nous battons ensemble contre un ennemi abominable. C’est la solidarité franco-américaine !

Alors, nous avons beaucoup en commun ; je suis venu pour vous dire que je suis très fier de vous et vos compatriotes en restant forts toujours contre cette menace tyrannique. Nous ne pouvons pas vaincre cette ennemi sans travailler ensemble.

Mon amis et ancien chef des forces alliées en Europe, amiral Jim Stavridis, disait souvent – We are stronger together » – Nous sommes plus forts ensemble ! Je suis totalement convaincu par cette phrase. Merci pour ce que vous faites ; merci pour votre sacrifice personnelle et de votre famille.

Merci pour votre amitié et l’alliance. Vive le Charles! Vive la France! Et Vive l’amitié Franco-américaine !

The world is watching you. Bonne courage!

On board the Charles de Gaulle – Hello!

I am Vice Admiral Jamie Foggo, Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The last time I visited you was 10 November 2016. Your commander, Eric Malbrunot welcomed me warmly. The next day I was in Paris with your CNO and your President; we were at the Arc de Triomphe to attend the ceremony of Remembrance Day on 11 November. This anniversary was very special for me.

My family has a lot in common with France; my two grandfathers both fought in the Great War; then my father landed on the beaches of Normandy with the Canadian Forces in 1944.

The nuclear aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91), as observed from a French Dauphin helicopter. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

The nuclear aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91), as observed from a French Dauphin helicopter. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

I did a large part of my studies in France. I learned French from one of the Grandes Dames of Paris, Madame Elisabeth Girardet, at the Alliance Francaise in 1986. She was the wife of a famous Professor at the University of Paris (Raoul Girardet) and she gave me a passion for language and culture of France.

I continued my studies at the University of Strasbourg. I studied under Professor Francois-Georges Dreyfus, politician, author, and specialist in Franco-Germans relations.

He was my mentor.

So you see I am a both a Francophone and a Francophile. My family has had links with France for a century. But our countries have had links for much more than century!

For example – Lafayette during the American Revolution and L’Enfant – the architect of our capital in Washington, D.C. in 1779, King Louis XVI provided the frigate Bonhomme Richard to the U.S. Navy – the Continental Navy.

Our American naval hero John Paul Jones once said: “Give me a ship fast, because I intend to go in harm’s way!” So he did when he commanded Bonhomme Richard and engaged the HMS Serapis in one of the most celebrated victories in the history of the United States Navy.

French and US leadership and Sailors aboard the USS Ross (DDG 71), Oct. 13, 2016. Ross is providing multi-warfare defense support to FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

French and U.S. leadership and Sailors aboard the USS Ross (DDG-71), Oct. 13, 2016. Ross is providing multi-warfare defense support to FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

Despite our occasional differences, we are very similar and we have created powerful navies with a global reach. In particular, our two navies are the only ones who have the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers like the Charles.

The day after I left Paris on November 12, 2015, was the day before the horrible terrorist attacks in your capital. In response to these tragic losses, no one was sadder than me.

Immediately after the attacks, Charles de Gaulle deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean, to take the fight to the enemy – Da’esh. Then you continued your work with us and other coalition partners in the

Arabian Gulf. And you did a wonderful job!

French Rafale fighter recovers aboard aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) dropping ordnance on Da’esh targets in Syria. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

French Rafale fighter recovers aboard aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) dropping ordnance on Da’esh targets in Syria. (Personal photo courtesy of Vice Adm. James Foggo III)

You are out here again, but you are not alone. As the French supported us during the American Revolution, my government sent the USS Ross assist you.

We also have several American officers onboard the Charles, and we fight together against an abominable enemy. This is Franco-American solidarity at its best!

So we have a lot in common; I came to tell you that I’m very proud of you and your compatriots as you remain strong against this tyrannical threat. We cannot defeat this enemy without working together.

My friend and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral Jim Stavridis, often said – “We are stronger together.” Of that, I am totally convinced.

Thank you for all that you do; thank you for your personal sacrifice and the sacrifice of your family. Thank you for your friendship and alliance.

Long live the Charles! Long live France! And long live Franco-American friendship!

The world is watching you. Bonne courage!

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