Saturday, April 18, 2009

SECDEF Out Selling

Secretary of State Gates has spent a whirlwind week visiting the service War Colleges, including this trip to the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

Gates is saying a lot of the right things, and he appears to be a force of nature when it comes to pushing his agenda of acquisition reform and curing the Services of "next war-itis" by forcing them to think more deeply about the world-wide counter-insurgency we are in, rather than myriad conflicts we are not.

I think the Navy came out of his FY10 Budget drill fairly well; it could have been much worse. Gates' often repeated line about our Navy being bigger than the next 13 combined (11 of which are allies) always left me a little leery of whether he saw the Navy as superfluous and overstuffed. His words in Newport at least, demonstrated his appreciation for what the Navy does for the country and the criticality of staying on top.

It will be interesting to see how the next Quadrennial Defense Review shakes out. In order to remain strategically (and politically) relevant, the Navy is going to have to alter its force structure to produce greater numbers of modestly capable ships while continuing to push the limits of sensors, propulsion, and weapons technology on future large combatants and submarines. This concept has often been referred to (derisively) as the "high-low" mix, and it is something the Navy has never been in favor of.

1 comment:

PW said...

ConservativeWahoo, there is so much to point out in this simple post that I really have no idea where to begin. The Navy is the Navy's worst enemy. That is the bottom line. The Navy is looking for a mission to feel relevant and overlooking the missions which make it most relevant. Gates needs to shake up the Navy but not in a way which rocks it, but makes it look at its own mission and decide how to implement that in today's world. The answer is not amphibs which meet nobody's requirements or guns which provide support to noone but are made in state X. The Navy needs to embrace its heritage and postulated missions and stop shaking in its dungarees every time their is a review. If we have done our work in the intervening 3 years, the quadrennial will not hurt.

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