International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny. See the rest of our IntMarSatWeek offerings here.
In a move that is of little surprise to veteran defense analysts, the U.S. Navy has formally divested itself of antisubmarine capability, citing the excessive difficulty of finding submarines with even the best training and equipment. “It’s really frickin’ hard,” said one official from the Navy’s Directorate of Warfare Integration. “When we wargame this stuff, we consistently find that we are vulnerable to submarines, and that’s a real downer for our planners.”
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), long considered a core competency of the U.S. Navy, fell from preeminence after the collapse of the Soviet Union and never fully recovered. When the Navy spent a decade fighting to justify its existence amid two land wars, resources traditionally devoted to the ASW mission were recapitalized into the Global War on Terror. Now that the United States has shifted its strategic focus to the growing uncertainty in the Pacific, the ASW mission has become more of a liability than an asset.
“Our exercises have proven to be of little training value when we simulate a submarine attack realistically,” said a professor in the Operations Research Department of the Naval Postgraduate School. “Through rigorous modeling and analysis, we have discovered that when we constrain or remove the threat of enemy submarines from the model, our forces become far more effective. This technique, properly integrated into our real-world planning, will prove to be a force multiplier.”
Other commentators took a nuanced view. “Capability in combat on the high seas is a Cold War anachronism, this much we know,” said a prominent intellectual between sips of brandy. “What you’re witnessing here is the U.S. Navy coming to terms with the undisputable fact that great power war is a thing of the past.”
While the public talking points make a clear strategic case for eliminating the ASW mission, private commentary suggests complicated motives at play. Since the passing of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986, the Navy has weathered a constant barrage of criticism for a perceived lack of “jointness” in doctrine and culture. By redirecting efforts traditionally devoted to finding submarines (a parochial concern of little interest to sister services), Navy leaders hope to demonstrate progress in combating a deep-seated culture preoccupied with the sea.
“It’s a win-win, all around,” remarked an Admiral at Naval Sea Systems Command who has chosen to remain anonymous. “We’re already seeing benefits to some of our best programs, like the Littoral Combat Ship.” By deleting the requirement for a viable ASW Mission Module, the LCS Program Office has shown instantaneous progress toward full platform capability, at a net cost savings. “I can’t believe we didn’t think of this sooner,” said the Admiral.
LT Will Spears, USN, is an Active duty submariner; post-JO shore duty type. His last tour was aboard a WESTPAC Fast-Attack; he is now at NPS working on an MBA in the Financial Management program. He is the author of the leadership blog JO Rules.