Reminder and Location Update: CIMSEC DC Happy Hour w/Guest Jim Fanell: What’s the PLAN in 2017?

Location Update: Join our DC chapter for its January DC-area informal happy hour. We will be meeting on the second floor of Fuel Pizza on K Street for an informal discussion on the latest developments of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with CAPT Jim Fanell, USN (ret.).  Jim is a Government Fellow with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, having spent 30 years as a naval intelligence officer specializing in Indo-Asia Pacific security, with an emphasis on the Chinese navy and its operations.

Time: Monday, 23 January 6:00-8:00pm
Place: Fuel Pizza, 1606 K St NW, Washington, DC 20006 (2nd floor)
Washington D.C. 20003

All are welcome – RSVPs not required, but appreciated:

Ensuring a Strong Navy for a Maritime Nation

New Administration Topic Week

By The Navy League

The United States is irrevocably tied to the ocean and its international and domestic waterways militarily, economically, and politically. Since its founding, America’s prosperity has relied on freedom of the seas. The world looks very different today, but keeping conflict far from our shores and maintaining sea lanes free and open to commerce remain the underlying reason for the prosperity of the United States. America’s Navy must be supported if the U.S. is to continue to reap the benefits of international trade which the American economy rests upon.

It is imperative that the United States maintain naval forces that can sustain our national commitment to global maritime security. The biggest impediment to maintaining that force is the lack of a fully funded shipbuilding program that produces the right quantity and quality of ships, with the right capabilities, for the right price. A shipbuilding plan must support the industrial base and ensure we have the capability to surge shipbuilding when needed. Rising great power contention threatens freedom of navigation, and we must ensure we have the capability and capacity to reassure our allies and friends that freedom of the seas remains is a priority. Freedom of the seas underpins both our security and our prosperity.

The Navy is under severe stress after years of high operational tempo that has exhausted sailors, their families, and the platforms they depend on. Combatant commanders keep the Navy in high demand. It is crucial that our Navy is funded at a level that reflects their importance to our national security footing.

We support:

  • Fully funding a fleet of 355 ships, including the funding of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines through the National Sea-based Strategic Deterrent Fund. 
  • Continued full funding of the Virginia-class fast attack submarine at two or three ships per year, including fully funding the SSN Virginia Payload Modules required to offset the strike capability lost when the four SSGNs are decommissioned.
  • Increasing the aircraft carrier requirement to 12—we are, as Admiral Moore said, “an 11-carrier Navy in a 15-carrier world.” 
  • The Navy’s efforts to upgrade the quality and scope of mine countermeasures capabilities. 
  • Increased emphasis on anti-submarine warfare in the face of an increasing threat. 
  • Adequate numbers of Navy amphibious ships and sealift platforms to provide the expeditionary lift to support present and future combatant commander requirements. 
  • Procurement of sufficient weapons and munitions to meet Operation Plan requirements.
  • Protecting readiness.

The Navy League of the United States is a nonprofit, nonpartisan civilian advocacy and service organization with more than 42,000 members and 220 councils in the United States and around the world. The Navy League supports all the sea services — the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine — that ensure the United States remains a strong maritime nation.

Featured Image: BUSAN, Republic of Korea (Oct. 21, 2016) Petty Officer 2nd Class James M. Jones, from Clermont, Fla., renders honors while manning the rails of the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) as the ship departs the Republic of Korea (ROK) Fleet base in Busan following a scheduled port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin V. Cunningham/Released)

Keep It Simple

New Administration Topic Week

By Brody Blankenship

The Navy is the foundation of America’s expeditionary capability, therefore it will continue to be an integral component of military force in any conflict. However, this amazing force has been mismanaged and deflated beyond optimal limits, leaving the incoming administration much to fix and a disproportionately small budget. But while it is important to focus on the ships, aircraft, sensors, etc., the sailors, Marines, and civilians who support them are the key components for maritime success. Focus on personnel effectiveness and efficiency, making sure the best and brightest are put in positions of responsibility where meaningful decisions can be made. Innovation of necessary tools will follow only after this issue is properly managed.

Also, review naval history; not only that of the United States, but navies throughout the world. There is much today that has been around for ages, yet new titles and buzzwords seduce leaders to reinvent the wheel. Understand the basics of the Navy and its purpose as a part of the armed forces, and look to integrate warfare domains and services as much as possible, bringing the full power of American military might to bear on all who seek to challenge the national interest. Use the Navy as a true political tool in every capacity, and draw from its deep roster of talented and diverse people and capabilities. Understand our adversaries and potential adversaries, and analyze their activity in the maritime domain, looking to counter any strategy that may threaten the United States. Maritime laws will continue to be challenged, and the Navy must be the leader of ensuring the freedom of the seas, as they are essential to the national and global economies. Be clear when passing rules of engagement to the Navy’s leaders, ensuring that the enemies of the United States fear the destructive retribution of the U.S. Navy much more than its commanders fear the politics. This means the administration must be willing to accept full responsibility for operational actions and consequences, many of which will be unintended and unforeseen.

Finally, accept risks and welcome change. Oust careerists who fail to see the bigger picture, and reward those who are willing to lay it on the line in pursuit of national gains. Aggressive military leaders are most effective, as history has proven. Civilians often forget that these leaders do not need to be politically correct to be effective; that’s not in the job description.

Brody Blankenship is a Senior Research Specialist at CNA Corporation and a veteran of Naval Special Warfare. He is currently a Master’s candidate at The George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs, where he studies the Middle East and International Security issues. The views expressed here are his own.

Featured Image: PACIFIC OCEAN (April 23, 2011) Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Bowen Derik, assigned to the Wild Cards of Helicopter Sea Combat squadron (HSC) 23, watches the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) as it pulls out of Tonga after completing the first mission of Pacific Partnership 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Grandin/Released)

An Open Letter to Our Negotiator-in-Chief: Fix Navy Acquisition

New Administration Topic Week

By LT Travis Nicks

The way we buy stuff is broken. The Department of the Navy (DoN) acquisition system buys things we don’t need at prices we can’t pay for products that aren’t complete. What we need is up for debate, so are the prices we pay. However, we have to stop buying incomplete products. When we buy a weapon or platform (ships, aircraft, vehicles, satellites, etc.) without buying its technical data we buy a black box. We own the use of the system but we cannot fix, improve, or optimize; we pull the trigger and see the result. If we need a new result we must buy another expensive black box.

Each major defense contractor has a little fiefdom in Navy acquisitions right now. One has a monopolistic market share in missiles, another in aircraft, etc. There is no competition. The results are the classic follies of oligopoly: quality goes down and prices go up. Mr. Scott O’Neil (SES) served as Executive Director of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division where he was an engineer and technical manager for 40 years. His immersion in the world of DoD weapons development, contracting, and defense industry interactions led him to determine the precise source of this problem. The root cause of their stranglehold is that each company reserves ownership of the technical drawings and specifications for systems the government supposedly bought and owns the intellectual property (IP) for.The result is two-fold. The government has troves of world-class engineers and scientists who are hamstrung by their contractual restriction from access to technical drawings and specifications for systems their employer, DoN, should own outright. Also, the government is unable to take that information and have companies compete to develop the system.

Mr. President-Elect, be our champion and negotiate a better situation. Please sign a law, issue a contracting regulation, or create an executive order that ensures that when acquisition contracts are negotiated the government owns both the IP and the technical information—specifically technical drawings and specifications—associated with the complete system. You’ll break up the anti-capitalist oligopoly and restore competition to lower cost, improve quality, and speed up development.

Travis Nicks is a nuclear submarine officer serving at the Pentagon. He is focused on finding precise fixes to complex problems. LT Nicks is interested in cyber policy and personnel performance issues. The views herein are his alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, or any other organization.

i. O’Neil, Scott. Personal interview. 18 Jan 2017.

Featured Image: A Zumwalt-class destroyer under construction at Bath Iron Works. (New England Boating)

Fostering the Discussion on Securing the Seas.

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