This is the companion piece to the previous LCS incompetence post (see, “More [Unbelievable] LCS Incompetence”). We discussed the blatant incompetence being demonstrated by Navy leadership and noted that professional warriors should already know what they have, what they need, what’s out there, and so on, without the need for endless study groups. So, what’s wrong with our professional warriors? The answer is simple. We don’t have any professional naval warriors. Here’s the reason …
Lately, the Navy has been dithering over many issues. Do we need an LCS? Should we have a frigate? If so, what type? What kind of over-the-horizon (OTH) missile do we need? What kind of radar should an LCS “frigate” have? Do we need F-35Cs or Advanced Super Hornets? Should an anti-ship missile be supersonic or subsonic? Should the
class LHA have a well deck or not?
What kind of uniform should sailors wear? What size fleet do we need? Should we retire the America Ticonderoga class? Is
distributed lethality a good idea? And
The Navy’s response to all these questions has been to form myriad study groups, committees, Admiral-chaired panels, and the like. All have the common attribute of delaying critical decisions. These systematic delays reflect Navy leadership’s chronic inability to make decisions. For example, the Navy just announced yet another delay, this time in the LCS “frigate” program.
“The Navy has slowed its frigate procurement timeline, looking at awarding a detail design and construction contract in Fiscal Year 2020 to allow more time to understand what it needs the ship to do and how it might affordably meet those requirements.” (1)
Another example of the inability to make decisions is the apparently constantly changing specifications for the OTH missile program (2).
Wouldn’t you think that a professional warrior would understand their craft well enough to be able to make timely and correct decisions without needing to resort to endless study groups of various types?
Consider another type of professional – a professional athlete. The professional athlete practices his craft all day, every day. The practice takes the form of film study of himself and opponents, physical skills practice, general physical training, scrimmaging (practice contests), and games against other athletes. This regimen ensures that the professional athlete is the master of his craft. If you ask the athlete about a new item of sports apparel or a new bat/ball/glove/whatever, he can tell you instantly whether it is any good because he thoroughly understands what is required and he has tried out every conceivable variation over the course of his career. He has no need to conduct endless studies prior to answering.
Should not the professional warrior be the same? Should not the professional warrior be able to define the characteristics of a new missile? Should not the professional be able to evaluate a new doctrine or tactic without endless study? Should not a professional warrior have developed an innate understanding of what characteristics make a good ship or aircraft? Should not the professional warrior thoroughly understand the relationship between tactics and technology?
And yet, our professional warriors seem incapable of making such decisions. Why is that?
Well, the answer is simple – our warriors are not professional. In fact, they are the farthest thing from it – bordering on amateur.
Recall what we just said a professional does with his life – he studies his craft all day, every day, and practices it daily. Now, what do our naval leaders do with their days? They attend seminars on sensitivity, diversity, leadership, alcohol and substance abuse, ethics, gender respect, sexual assault, etc. They process endless amounts of paperwork, mostly useless. They strive to achieve ecologically friendly “green” initiatives. They attempt to increase retention rates. They host visitors and provide tours. They perform humanitarian missions. They build schools. They frantically cross deck equipment for meaningless inspections.
How is any of that building up their warrior capabilities?
What they should be doing is conducting daily operational and tactical wargaming, conducting daily live tactical drills, engaging in frequent live wargames, studying friendly and enemy ship and weapon designs, conducting simulations of weapon performances, exercising live fire weapon system drills, etc. If they did that, they’d know exactly what works and what doesn’t, what weapon system characteristics are desirable and what aren’t, what tactics work and what don’t, and what our gaps and needs are. There would be no need for endless and unproductive study groups and delayed decisions.
Every day we see the end result of the lack of warrior focus. Clearly, the sailors who allowed a vastly inferior Iranian “force” to capture them and seize their boats had not trained to be warriors. The Captain of the Aegis cruiser that allowed an unknown and unresponsive fishing boat to ram it was not ready as a warrior. The entire Navy leadership that keeps flip-flopping over the LCS direction are clearly not professional warriors. And so on.
Do you recall my post calling for a dual path of Administrators and Warriors (see, "Promoting Warriors")? Now you begin to understand the need for it.
We need professional naval warriors and we currently don’t have any. We’d better start developing them or we're going to wind up with more LCS's, more Zumwalts, more Fords, and more F-35's and nobody but the Navy wants that!
(1)USNI News website, “Navy Slowing Frigate Procurement To Allow Careful Requirements Talks; Contract Award Set for FY2020”, Megan Eckstein,
(2)Defense News website, “Boeing Pulls Harpoon From US Navy Missile Competition”, Christopher Cavas,