Category Archives: Strateegery

NDU Press book on Chinese Naval Power

This NDU Press paper compilation from the 2007 conference in Taipei cosponsored by the Chinese Council on Advanced Policy Studies, the Rand Corporation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Institute for National Strategic Studies, and the U. S. National Defense University. While getting to be 5 years old now, the essays still contain much of relevance. Must reading for those wanting to understand strategy in the Asia-Pacific theater.

More on Red Star Over the Pacific

The discussion moves to the USNI Blog Where Capt Salamander zero’s in on the “tacticization of strategy” aspect. The Comments are the interesting part.

Tacticization of Strategy

Another great essay at The Diplomat by james Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara responds to Norman Friedman’s critical review of their book Red Star Over the Pacific but the important part of the article is a discussion of Micheal Handel’s warning about “tacticization of strategy:

Battlefield commanders and many civilians are prone to become spellbound by technological and tactical wizardry. In so doing, they lose sight of the higher – and ultimately decisive – levels of competition and warfare. Since World War II, observes Handel, “technological means have started to wag the strategic dog.” Andrew Krepinevich strikes a similar note in The Army and Vietnam, faulting the U.S. Army for prosecuting a “strategy of tactics.” U.S. forces seldom lost a tactical engagement with Vietnamese regular or irregular forces, yet they were unable to derive strategic or political gains from these engagements. Conflating equipment and tactics with strategy rendered an unbroken string of battlefield triumphs largely moot.

We run the risk of doing the same sort of thing with AirSea Battle if we are not careful. The new Joint Operational Access Concept, with its verbose description of sound military planning with the new improved ingrediant “cross-domain synergy” offers little to the conversation. Hopeful more (any?) meat will be added to the bones as things progress…

New draft Joint Operational Access Concept released

This Blog post at the Diplomat by Naval War College Professor of Strategy James Holmes discusses it in terms of a shift from Mahan to Corbett in our thinking.

There is a link to the document in the piece.

Not with a bang but a wimper…CVNs pricing themselves out of existence?

This piece at Information Dissemination poses the question of whether CVN’s are headed into their twilight by “the death of a thousand slips” rather than a well thought out capability transition plan.

This coming on the heels of the “DDG-51 Flight III that is a CG(X) lite” decision to in effect build a somewhat scaled back version of the CG(X)’s technology on a modified DDG-51 hull rather than a DDG-1000 hull to avoid calling it a new ship; the tribulations of the submarine community coming to grips with needing a new SSBN nad SSN at the same time, and the woeful “bang for the buck” of LCS; and you have a “perfect storm” of decisions that will set the foundation fo the fleet we will have in the middle third of the century being made based on monetary efficiency arguments rather than military effectiveness arguments.

Is it sensible to look at an “ultra high/ultra low” mix of 15 billion dollar CVN,s 3-4 billion dollar “Large surface combatants” and SSNs, on the one hand, and half billion dollar “what are they really for” LCS’?

The “Net-centric” idea the navy embraced a decade or so ago of moving from a platform-centric force, to a force where capability is distributed across more, cheaper platforms, seems to have given way to “status quo” force of high end “exquisite” forces on the one hand in order to claim capability, coupled with a bare bones capability at the low end to claim numbers.

The worrisome thing is that this appears to be occurring based on fiscal and political expediency, rather than a coherent conceptual strategy of “ends” driving “ways and means”. The tail of programatics appears to be wagging the dog of military capability.

Is there a role for ship lasses like the LHA – 6 America in the capability mix with CVNs and not just as the centerpiece of an ARG?

Will the transition to increasingly unmanned aircraft change the nature of the “super-carrier”.

Have we given up on the “big picture” of a truly distributed Fleet? For less than the price of 2 LCS, one can get 2 U.S. built (for Egypt) Ambassador III Class corvettes (@ 225 M2012$/ea to fight) and 2 JHSVs (@ 210 M2012$/ea to host payloads). Mate two of these ‘littoral combat squadrons” to a logistics support ship and you have a brown water force to be reckoned with. 4 LCS would have a difficult time defending themselves against a single Ambassador III, given the range disparity of weapons.

What sort of Fleet will the independent and conceptually disconnected surface, air and subsurface communities end up with in 2040 given the independent paths we are taking? How much money are wasting being “efficient” on a community basis, but “ineffective” on a fleet basis?