Friday, October 12, 2018

Excuse Me? What?

So America's Military Sealift Command will be on its own if a major conventional war breaks out?

In World War I, British cargo ships were sent to the bottom of the Atlantic until properly escorted.

In World War II, American cargo ships were sent to the bottom of the Atlantic on our east coast until properly escorted.

So what will we do given this experience if there is another big war against an enemy with anti-ship capabilities?

In the event of a major war with China or Russia, the U.S. Navy, almost half the size it was during the height of the Cold War, is going to be busy with combat operations. It may be too busy, in fact, to always escort the massive sealift effort it would take to transport what the Navy estimates will be roughly 90 percent of the Marine Corps and Army gear the force would need to sustain a major conflict.

That’s the message Mark Buzby, the retired rear admiral who now leads the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, has gotten from the Navy, and it’s one that has instilled a sense of urgency around a major cultural shift inside the force of civilian mariners that would be needed to support a large war effort.

“The Navy has been candid enough with Military Sealift Command and me that they will probably not have enough ships to escort us. It’s: ‘You’re on your own; go fast, stay quiet,’” Buzby told Defense News in an interview earlier this year.

No worries. No enemy would dream of preying on our supply lines. And if somehow, in defiance of all odds they do, we can totally afford the losses in ships and mariners until we realize being fast and quiet is no protection. That's how it worked out in the world wars. No way will an American expeditionary force in some distant theater run out of supplies and troops, right?

Wait. What?

Perhaps the Navy should consider stockpiling ASW equipment built to operate in shipping containers to outfit a wartime class of The ASW Queen as a version of The AFRICOM Queen modularized auxiliary cruiser.

Have a super sparkly day.

UPDATE: Perhaps Admiral Foggo should have a conversation with the Navy which doesn't think it has the spare capacity to protect convoys from threats like submarines:

“Russia has renewed its capabilities in the North Atlantic and the Arctic in places not seen since the Cold War. For example, Russian forces have recently reoccupied seven for their former Soviet Union bases in the Arctic Circle,” he said.

“The improved capability of Russia to be able to project power into this region and these strategic routes from the Arctic into the North Atlantic and the GIUK Gap is something that we need to pay particular attention to.”

As for the technology the Russians are using, Foggo said “I think Russian submarines today are perhaps some of the most silent and lethal in the world, with the exception of our own – I think we still in the United States Navy hold the edge.”

The ships must get through. The Navy will be told to get them through whether the Navy wants to or not. So it would be better for the Navy to embrace the mission from the start rather than after heavy losses that threaten the war effort overseas.