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Zeihan: China and Huawei
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Post: #21
RE: Zeihan: China and Huawei
(09-03-2020 09:53 AM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  "Fix the problems with Navy procurement" sounds as hopeless to me as "switch to renewable energy" or "pass a bill to fix the immigration system" or "fix the problems with communism" (ok, not quite as hopeless as that last one).

Basically, you need to fire some people. The big problem with that is the ones who made the bad decisions have all retired and gone to work at LockMart or Boeing of some defense contractor. But people need to have careers put in jeopardy for making bad decisions. And I wonder about a provision that if you retire and go to work for a defense contractor, your retirement pay and benefits are suspended while you work there.

I think one problem is that the military doesn't really have or develop a lot of subject matter experts, so they end up dependent on contractors to lead them around. The folks who get into the top procurement positions tend to be those who have mastered all the bureaucratic hooks and ladders, not folks who actually know how to build a ship or airplane or tank.

On the Navy side, which I know best, I like something the Royal Navy does. They split what we call the line officer community into two groups--deck/weapons and engineering. The engineering officers run the ship and the deck/weapons officers fight the ship. They have two separate career and training paths. Deck/weapons officers learn Rules of the Road (they have to pass a civilian Master's license, which helps prevent things like the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions) and strategy and tactics (looking back, in 4 years of active duty, I don't think I ever received any strategic or tactical training, except maybe learning how to direct and control a minesweeping helicopter). Engineering officers get a lot of technical training, almost like a master's or PhD in some engineering field. Deck/weapons officers are the only ones who can get command at sea. Senior engineering officers instead go to major shore commands, ship maintenance/repair facilities, and design bureaus.

If we went that route, we could have a situation where senior deck/weapons officers would define the required concept of operations (CONOPS) and the engineering types would then conceive and design the ship to accomplish it. Right now, we have little technical expertise inside the Navy, so whatever the defense contractor proposes, you count how many votes you can get in congress for it, and that's how design happens. The Zumwalts and the LCSs were basically designed without a CONOPS being defined, and so you get two very expensive ships with little or no usefulness in combat.

There is a video of a presentation by CAPT Talbot Manvel, who led the early design of the Ford class aircraft carriers, and it's pretty clear that the guidance that they got was to compare the Ford concept 1-on-1 against other carrier concepts, without considering the opportunity cost angle and asking is one Ford better than two somethings that cost half as much. On the Fords there is so many new things--electromagnetic catapults, computerized arresting gear, computerized weapons lifts--that were put on before they were ready, and still don't work properly. The original plan was to build a 3-carrier sequence with part of the changes on the first one, more on the second, and the rest on the third, but apparently Rumsfeld nixed that incremental approach.
09-03-2020 01:38 PM
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