Thursday, November 6, 2008

Another Blogger Comparing JHSV and LCS

This is a pretty good post from:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Thinking About The JHSV?"

"Before news breaks on the JHSV contract, let's do some review, eh? And we'll use this little old
International Herald Tribune piece from 2005 to start. First, let's talk presence:

"...The tsunami response, being hailed as one of the biggest U.S. military disaster relief missions in history, has been less effective than portrayed. When a deployment of just 40 navy helicopters requires 6 days, more than 9,000 sailors and $7 billion of military equipment, something, somewhere, has gone wrong, reinforcing Rumsfeld's belief that the United States needs better tools to project power in the strategically critical zone where land meets sea.

Ships made for controlling the high seas have little utility in crowded, shallow waters. The enormous aircraft carrier off Indonesia, the Abraham Lincoln, has little to offer. With a medical staff of 40 and 17 small helicopters, the floating airbase is a marginally useful asset for anything other than all-out warfare...

...An underlying problem is strategic. America simply lacks a presence in shallow intertidal zones. Had fast-moving assets been nearby, the Bush administration, by getting firsthand information from the disaster zone, would have better understood the scope of the tragedy and avoided making an embarrassingly low initial aid offer of $15 million...."

Now...consider the utility of...utility:

"...This diplomatic fiasco is reason enough to demand an immediate transformation of American military posture. But Rumsfeld's vision of a future Navy isn't perfect. He overlooks the mundane nonfighting aspects of present-day military power. That is a problem for two reasons. First, the United States has a long history of using the military for diplomatic and humanitarian gain. Second, it is often the military support system that does the most in furthering American aims.

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships, in what is now called the Great White Fleet, on a cruise around the world. A year later, this fleet was entering the Mediterranean Sea when a tsunami ripped into Messina, Sicily, and killed more than 70,000 people. America rushed to help, and the first American assistance, a supply ship, arrived little more than a week later. Marines and crew from three naval auxiliaries lent a hand in recovery work, while the other 14,000 sailors sent most of their food and medical supplies to the shattered region. Arriving supplies meant to prepare the fleet for an Atlantic crossing were diverted directly to the disaster zone. The contributions from the low-profile auxiliaries made a great impression, and because of them, the battleship flotilla enjoyed an image-enhancing humanitarian triumph..."

And what went wrong with the JHSV's competitor, the LCS:

"The present navy chief, Admiral Vern Clark, is struggling to build a Rumsfeld-approved, 21st-century navy. Under the admiral's direction, the Navy plans to dedicate a fleet of up to 60 small ships to shallow water operations.

At this early stage, the military has focused on commercially available high-speed automobile ferries. With a speed of 40 knots, fast ferries in the Gulf were able to move entire military units more than 1,000 miles a day. With a draft of a few feet, military vehicles and their crews can be landed in any shallow or degraded port. After modifications, the ships even carry and launch helicopters.

Big high-speed ferries cost about $50 million apiece. America can build 24 militarized ferries for the price of just one big amphibious ship. Field commanders in the Gulf and the Pacific want these simple ships built right away, but Rumsfeld has a different idea. He wants a shallow-water combat boat to serve as a combination sub hunter, minesweeper and small-boat fighter.
If this vision stands, American taxpayers will get a handful of complex, overspecialized and costly ships.

Auxiliaries may not capture the imagination. But imagine if 24 American-flagged ships had, within hours of the tsunami, swarmed into the shattered regions of the Indian coast, disgorging helicopters, mobile hospitals and recovery specialists. That's an exciting enough vision for even Rumsfeld to embrace."

This is why the JHSV is important--presence and utility. It's simple. It'll work. the JHSV program progresses, please, somebody, listen to the people who commanded these vessels.

Reading accounts from JHSV commanders--and their pleas for organic helicopter support--I've got a sneaking feeling that some systems analysis people had far too much input on the JHSV program than the actual commanders. And...that worries me.

But, trust me, the JHSV was what the Flight 0 LCS models should have been--what they were before a number of parties (the transformationalists, the anti-LCSers, the cripplingly risk-averse) gold-plated the thing. At least now, with the Marine Corps gradually buying into the idea of
LCS-as-mini-Gator (i.e. APD--look how much life was in the USS Ruchamkin, for example), there's some hope these new platforms will be used in interesting ways. But...verdict is still out...Until then, I'm hoping the JHSV will be the happier Son-Of-An-LCS for the few hooligans left in this Navy." Posted by Springbored at 2:59 PM

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