Friday, October 26, 2012

Three Immediate Post Debate Reactions

From: Jim N.
Sent: October 26, 2012
To: undisclosed recipients
Subject: Fw: Three Immediate Post Debate Reactions

Three Immediate Post Debate Reactions
Some good reading here.
For your consideration,
And: One excerpt:
“Even more astonishing, to me, was Obama’s ignorant and gratuitous insult to the U.S. Navy, describing Navy ships as the equivalent of horses and bayonets. It seemed like a prepared line, and it was appalling. Are the hundreds of thousands of sailors bearing arms under our flag (on the president’s orders) defending America’s security around the world tonight merely riders in some quixotic cavalry brigade chasing make-believe Indian chiefs? How exactly does a “pivot to Asia” work without those old fashioned ships? How does a global superpower project force abroad with fewer ships than it had when it wasn’t a global superpower? How does the advent of aircraft carriers make the Navy less rather than more significant? Is the sitting president really this confused about defense strategy? That line seems like a Romney ad in Virginia just waiting to happen.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Debate: Romney

Quick thoughts on the debate.

Initially I was concerned about Romney's "kinder, gentler" strategy but in the end I think it worked. Maybe Obama "won" the debate if it we score it as an abstract debate, but this is about gaining trust and earning votes. I don't think Obama won over undecided voters. If any votes moved, I suspect they moved in Romney's direction.

Romney looked presidential and wise. Obama ended up looking petty, mean, and substituting attack for agenda. Obama's snarky comments about the size of the navy seemed to please the MSNBC crowd, but will not play well with pro-navy voters in places such as Virginia and Florida. In addition, Obama looked like he was ridiculing Admirals and other military experts who have expressed concern about the size of the navy.

Romney did a very good job on Obama's apology tour, especially his noting that Obama had skipped Israel on his visit to the Middle East, and that Obama had accused the USA of "dictating" to countries. That will play well with Jewish voters many of whom, at least according to some polling I have seen, seem inclined (surprise!) to vote for Romney.

Maybe I am too combative, but I would have gone after Obama on Libya. In retrospect, however, Romney probably made the wise choice by not generating a "politicized petty debate" on the ins-and-outs of Benghazi. Obama would have used the opportunity to filibuster and lie on the story; Romney can go after him on the campaign trail.

I thought that the Governor did a very nice job of tying foreign policy to domestic policy and scored some big points on the need to strengthen the economy. Romney very cleverly understood that although this was to be a discussion about foreign policy, voters are more concerned about the economy. Romney did a very nice job on China trade and North American energy independence. He also showed that he has a very good knowledge of the issues out there.

Romney kept himself close to Obama throughout much of the evening and Obama had difficulty distancing himself from Romney despite past efforts to depict Romney as a wild-eyed war monger.

The Obama body language was bad; his overly aggressive crouching stare made him look like some sort of giant bird of prey or a vulture ready to swoop down. Not good imaging.

By the end of the evening, Obama looked tired and frustrated. Obama looked like a boxer who has been flailing and dancing all evening and just wore himself out.

Obama needs a BIG October surprise to win. Absent that, Romney will be the next President.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Neither "Horses or Bayonets" - Why the Size of the Navy Matters

From the Third Debate:
ROMNEY: “Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now at under 285. We’re headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me.”

OBAMA: “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. ”
Well, I am counting ships. The Navy has, in fact, said this country needs a minimum of 313 ships to fulfill all the missions assigned to it. That 313, by the way, includes those marvels described by the President - aircraft carriers and submarines.

What do we actually have? 

I put up a post that talked about the size of the fleet the other day. You can visit it here. In that post I discussed the size of the surface combatant force, which is on its way down to something under 108 ships. There are at least two more ships in commission today than at the end of the period shown in the chart above. One is a new LCS, USS Fort Worth, and one is USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112).

Now, for those you who might think a ship is a ship, let me suggest that there is a rather large difference between a ship intended to take the fight to an opposing force (a combatant) and the other ships which are intended to either support the combatants (the auxiliary force consisting of refueling and ammunition ships) and the "follow on force" designed to deliver land combat power from the sea (the amphibious force).

The total includes, as I have indicated, submarines (67 of which 14 are ballistic missile boats or strategic assets, the others are definitely combatants), aircraft carriers (10 after the Enterprise is decommissioned and before the Ford enters the fleet). We have 31 amphibs, 47 auxiliaries.

So, how do we use our fleet? From the Navy's own website::
Ships and Submarines
Deployable Battle Force Ships: 287
Total Ships Deployed/Underway Ships Deployed: 114 (40%)
Ships Underway for Local Ops / Training (USFF / 3rd Fleet) Ships Underway for Local Ops / Training (USFF / 3rd Fleet): 45 (15%)
Ships Underway
Underway Aircraft Carriers:
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - port visit Naples, IT
USS Nimitz (CVN 68) - Pacific Ocean
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) - 5th Fleet
USS George Washington (CVN 73) - West Pacific
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) - 5th Fleet
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) - Atlantic Ocean
Underway Amphibious Assault Ships:
USS Peleliu (LHA 5) - 5th Fleet
USS Bataan (LHD 5) - Atlantic Ocean
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) - port visit Subic Bay, RP
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) - 5th Fleet

Aircraft (operational): 3700+

USS Enterprise is on her way back home to be decommissioned after a zillion years of good and faithful service with a crew none of whom were born when she was commissioned in 1961.

Okay, 287 total ships.

And, as noted in my earlier post, plans are to shrink warships while slowing the building of new ones.
What does it mean if we have fewer than 313 ships?

It means longer deployments for aging ships. It means a greater demand on a shrinking sailor "workforce" - it means that our carrier fleet, so condescendingly described by the President to Governor Romney, goes to sea with escorts that cannot then be used for other missions. It means the ships we do have are ridden hard. It means maintenance slips.

It means that, as many us who are former Navy officers keep saying, that at some point the Navy will have to tell the President that there are missions we cannot do because we don't have the ships, despite the language of the poster nearby.

We don't have the ships because we cratered to the Russians on anti-ballistic missile sites in Poland and decided to put ABM ships into the Black Sea or off Spain or someplace where they cannot be diverted to other missions.

We are scheduled to build 55 Littoral Combat Ships which are proclaimed to be the "Swiss Army Knives" of multi-mission warships, but only if they have their modules (which they don't quite yet), their helicopters and a logistics support system that, in my view, has not yet appeared. We will use these under-gunned, undermanned but expensively high speed ships to show the flag.


They may have a great potential - but do a Google search on "LCS" and then decide how you will feel when you or your son or daughter is assigned to one to "show the flag" to the growing Chinese fleet which, while it has problems of its own, has hardly under-armed the ships it obviously perceives it needs to push into the Cow's Tongue of the South China Sea.
As shown in my earlier post, of the 287 (+/-) ships of the U.S. Navy, less than 1/2 are meant to be combatant warships capable of gaining sea control by force. Amphibious ships and the auxiliary ships are "follow on forces" - they come in after the sea and air space are ours. Leave out the 10 carriers remaining after the Enterprise retires and we are scheduled to have 107 war fighting surface ships next year.

We are more than a "two-ocean Navy" - we operate world-wide, in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf. We keep 40% of our force deployed; 15% in training for deployment; and the remainder in the shipyards for repair or in port doing other maintenance.

Why the heavy maintenance schedule? The sea is a harsh operating environment. And, unlike a company that operates a fleet of trucks or cars, we can't just pick up a bunch of the new model year from the local dealer. You have to have a plan - have strategy and build a fleet to match that strategy.

I guess shrinking your fleet because you can't budget to keep the minimum you need is a sort of strategy. Just not a winning one.

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