Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New! Improved! Now With Agility!

If Southeast Asian nations are concerned about the reality of our pivot to the region, the Littoral Combat Ship is not the way to reassure them.

This defense of the Littoral Combat Ship is quite possibly the worst article I've seen on defense issues so far this year.

The LCS program has been cut back because the ship is under-gunned, not very survivable if hit, less flexible than its modular design promised, and too expensive. The Navy will revamp the class as frigates to address these problems.

Rather than go through the article in gruesome detail--and quote it to do so--let me just say that most of the points raised in defense of the LCS are in fact defenses of naval power in general rather than defenses in favor of this particular ship class. Pity the author didn't pen that article.

Since America's Navy been providing all of these naval power missions even before the LCS, the LCS is obviously not vital to carrying out the missions.

Really, is the author's boasting of how a new LCS provided humanitarian aid in 2013 to the Philippines meant to imply this is the first time our Navy has responded to a natural disaster?

Does the Navy really assign female sailors only to the LCS?

What does it even mean to say the ship is (uniquely?) "agile?"

Good God, my eyes hurt.

I had high hopes for the article when I clicked on it. I was actually hoping that the article would address a hope I have for the western Pacific operating under the shadow of China's fleet and land-based anti-ship weapons.

That's one reason I was satisfied that we are forward-deploying the LCS to Singapore to operate in the South China Sea--I'd rather lose a LCS than an Aegis destroyer--or God forbid a carrier--if we are hit first and our forward-deployed ships are the targets.

I want cheaper and expendable ships for peacetime engagement whose loss won't harm our combat power to eventually win a war in the western Pacific if China launches a theater-wide surprise attack on our forward-deployed forces.

Indeed, if our forward-deployed ships that could be lost in the opening hours of a war are not the best, that lowers the incentive for China to launch a first strike since our main combat power will be unaffected by such an attack.

This article is no defense of the LCS. I'm hoping that the Navy will fix problems with the new class of ships we have already built. We can hardly afford to have 40 worthless ships in our fleet.

But let's not praise a ship that has somehow combined low capabilities with high costs.

By all means, go read it all if you like. Why should I suffer alone?