The discussion on Tuesday was unquestionably the editorial written by Christopher P. Cavas. Published in both DefenseNews and Navy Times, Chris's article Why No One Believes the Navy has held little back as he unloads strong criticism in waves against the Navy. The first five sentences set the tone for the analysis.
When U.S. Navy officials tell Congress they have confidence in their shipbuilding cost projections, lawmakers don't believe them.There are so many interesting discussions in this article that we either post the entire thing in full, or assume the reader has already read it in full. We are choosing option #2.
When flag officers say they've got enough money for maintenance, fleet sailors wonder why high-tech warships aren't combat ready.
When top admirals say they have a new maritime strategy, analysts struggle to match it with the shipbuilding plan.
When business strategies override operational needs, officers wonder if they're war fighters or executives.
Navy leaders are suffering from a credibility gap - with Congress, with industry and, increasingly, with the fleet.
It is easy to choose among the various reasons offered in the article as "symptoms" for why the Navy doesn't have any credibility. At this point almost any reason given would be fair commentary. We have observed a pattern, particularly in front of Congress but also with the media, with the exception of a handful of program managers, the Navy doesn't even attempt to defend itself or its programs anymore. There have not been any reported specific reasons why, whether it is the civilian leadership or the Navy's own leadership, but the Navy has either accepted or has become resigned to its discredited, undefended positions and has decided to go full speed ahead anyway.
The piece only cites by name one source, Bob Work. Considering how tough much of the criticism is, that isn't really fair to Bob, so we figure we will highlight one other source for some of the criticism. We know where this comes from.
A growing number of professionals also sense a leadership vacuum, particularly at the service's top levels. Some wonder whether Mullen's advancement to the nation's top military job - chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - has kept his successor as CNO, Adm. Gary Roughead, from more assertively taking the service's wheel.That opinion is found only one place in print, right here by us. While we agree with almost every other anonymously sourced comment, and have said as much many times on the blog and highlighted a number of examples, we are among the choir in those cases.
In our opinion, every "symptom" cited is a result of leadership, and leadership is the primary problem facing the Navy today. In a perfect world, change would come from within, but in this world we don't believe change will come at all, at least not anytime soon.
Mullen has done a good job as CNO and now as CJCS, but it has become painfully obvious to everyone that he made mistakes as CNO in regards to the way ahead. Whether the focus is on SC-21 or the 313-ship plan, there is no alignment with resources and maritime strategy, and while new initiatives sound very smart and are very impressive, the entire resource strategy is so far removed from the current conditions and current direction of the Navy credibility has been completely lost. This severe credibility problem for the Navy leaves observers with a decision: either the maritime strategic concept that has been developed is flawed, or the resource plans associated with the strategy is flawed. From our point of view, the maritime strategic concept is incomplete, and the associated resource strategy is a train wreck.
The tension between a flawed strategic vision for resources put in motion by the current CJCS and an incomplete strategic maritime concept by the current CNO means something must give. Who is the leader that will step up? It is this question where the articles criticism finds a conclusion.
The current credibility problems are due to inaction in correcting the current course of the Navy by two men; Admiral Mullen and Admiral Roughead. This isn't about blame, one could easily go back before either of these men were in charge and pass blame around, blame is completely irrelevant at this point.
The second retired senior officer lamented today's risk-averse naval culture, and bemoaned the lack of a strong Navy leader. That should be the CNO, he said."But what does he think? What does he believe? Usually there's a champion, someone who picks people up from the malaise. Where's the champion?"
The bottom line on the credibility problem can be summarized thus: In the Navy, leadership is top down. There are only two men who can fix the credibility problems that the Navy is suffering from. The question isn't whether Mullen or Roughead could fix the Navy credibility problem, rather the question is will they even try? We doubt it, but time will tell.