the LCSs and their upgraded variants, which the service has dubbed
the Small Surface Combatant.
“The Navy’s new proposal, like
the LCS, will continue to have its
critics,” Hagel said in announcing
the decision in December. “But con-
sidering the context of our broader
naval battle force, and the current
strategic and fiscal environment, I
believe it represents our best and
most cost-effective option.”
While the program still is a few
years away, the Navy has some
upcoming deadlines, the first of
which is to provide a detailed
assessment of the cost and feasibil-
ity of back-fitting the extra gear
onto LCSs already under contract.
Navy officials also must provide
the Pentagon acquisition chief and
the director of cost analysis and
program evaluation with detailed
cost estimates, as well as a plan for
keeping those costs under control.
Meanwhile, Navy officials are asking the Senate and House Armed
Services Committees to provide
some clarity to a provision in the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill
that established a National Sea-Based
Deterrence Fund from which the
Navy can pay for its expensive effort
to replace the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines.
The goal of the fund was to
ensure that the Navy would not
need to pay for the boats, considered the most survivable leg of the
nuclear triad, out of its shipbuilding budget. Doing so would devastate the Navy’s other ship programs, service officials have argued
repeatedly over the years.
Between 1976 and 1980, for
instance, the Navy’s shipbuilding
budget doubled to pay for the
Ohio-class subs, Mabus told the
committee. But the size of the fleet
still was cut 40 percent over those
five years “because it simply wasn’t
enough to do both,” he said.
But while the fund is welcome,
Chief of Naval Operations ADM
Jonathan W. Greenert said the
Navy still is uncertain about the
specific intent of the language —
specifically the accounts the Navy
can draw from to fill the account.
“Is it just other Navy shipbuild-
ing accounts? Is it just other Navy
appropriations?” Greenert said.
“Or do we mean the whole Depart-
ment of Defense could contribute
to this fund which, in my view,
would be great.”
Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island,
the top Democrat on the Armed
Services panel, said he believes
Congress envisioned the Navy uti-
lizing department-wide resources.
“That was the intent, I believe,”
he said. “The clarification we’ll try
to produce for you, sir.”
Sea Services Update
The Navy, Marine Corps and Coast
Guard have revised the nation’s
maritime strategy to reflect current
threats and strategic concerns, providing more detail in the resources
needed to sustain the strategy.
Set forth in the document
“Forward, Engaged, Ready: A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century
Seapower,” it includes many of the
concepts and force structure requirements that have been discussed
in recent months by sea service leaders. It strongly supports the foundational principle of forward presence
— being “where it matters, when it
matters” — one of the oft-stated
tenets of ADM Jonathan W.
Greenert, now in his last year as
chief of naval operations. The second foundational principle — the
importance of operating jointly
with, and leveraging the power of,
allies and partners — also is paramount in the revision of the strategy
first introduced in 2007.
“Forward naval presence is essen-
tial to strengthening alliances and
partnerships, providing the secure
environment necessary for an open
economic system based on the free
flow of goods, protecting U.S. natu-
ral resources, promoting stability,
deterring conflict, and responding to
aggression,” according to the preface
of the document by Navy Secretary
Ray Mabus. “The ability to sustain
operations in international waters far
from our shores constitutes a distinct
advantage for the United States.”
The cooperative strategy is
signed by Greenert, Marine Corps
Commandant Gen Joseph F.
Dunford Jr. and Coast Guard
Commandant Paul F. Zukunft.
The strategy recognizes the rising
importance of the Indo-Asia-Pacific
region, especially with regard to
China’s naval expansion. It acknowledges China’s demonstration of its
embrace of international norms,
such as its anti-piracy participation,
but also recognizes its intimidation
of neighboring nations, noting the
need for both U.S. constructive
engagement and forward presence.
The strategy supports the positioning of 60 percent of the fleet in the
Asia-Pacific region and the recent
positioning of a Marine rotational
force in Australia.
The strategy document also
addresses regional instability in the
Middle East and Africa, primarily
caused by terrorist organizations
such as ISIL, or Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant, as well as the importance of NATO in providing security
in Europe, especially with the
Russian support of aggression in
Ukraine. Presence in the Middle East
will increase to 40 ships from 30, and
the Marine Corps will maintain a
large Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force in the region.
Naval presence off Africa will be sustained with adaptive force packages.
The revised strategy also introduces the imperative function of
assured access in all domains, the
need for naval forces to operate and
project power anywhere in the maritime commons. These domains
include electromagnetic maneuver