Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Strategic View at NAVSEA is Embarrassing

Admiral Morgan once told me every budget is a strategy. We are still waiting to see evidence of that, ask a dozen sailors the strategy of any given program, and you will not find consistent answers. The guidance in the Navy towards resources doesn't exist, so slogans like the one Admiral Morgan used have little value until they are representative of something visible.

It is probably a good assumption Admiral Morgan hasn't read this email posted by some NAVSEA SES, reproduced over at CDR Salamanders, because had he seen it, he might have a few words regarding the abuse of the word and concept of strategy.

Around the world, the Navy is executing the six core capabilities of the Maritime Strategy - forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response. This strategy is not about navies, but about maritime domain awareness. It is about partnership, it is about cooperation, it is about countries pooling their resources, sharing information. This is exactly what NAVSEA did this past week in attending the Quadrilateral Shipbuilding Forum (QSBF) in Ottawa, Canada. The purpose of QSBF is to facilitate the exchange of information between the member nations, including Canada, Australia and the UK, that are focused on reducing the cost of naval shipbuilding.
Ends, Ways, Means, Context... the 6 core capabilities listed in the Maritime Strategy represents the ways to execute strategy. Someone skipped strategy class, but is accurately representing the confusion NAVSEA has built a reputation for in the 21st century. The Navy's maritime strategy is being shredded by a complete lack of clarity in understanding the basics of maritime strategy by mid level officers who send out nonsense like this, and until the confusion stops filtering down the ranks, the Navy is not going to represent themselves well internally or externally. When NAVSEA sends out an email suggesting the 21st Century Seapower Maritime Strategy "isn't about navies," it suggests NAVSEA doesn't have a very good understanding of their job within the context of the maritime strategy.

Maritime Domain Awareness, partnership, cooperation, information sharing, and pooling resources are ways to implement strategy towards an end, in this case a way for NAVSEA to develop better methods for the production of the best possible means to be used implementing strategy. Unfortunately for the person who wrote this email, the ends in the context of maritime strategy for NAVSEA are Navies.

The mission of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is to develop, deliver and maintain ships and systems on time, on cost for the United States Navy. NAVSEA is specifically responsible for the means to implement maritime strategy. We observe this email sourced to NAVSEA as representative of the condition of shipbuilding, if an organization is confused on simple strategic concepts like ends, ways, and means in the context of maritime strategy, why the hell should anyone expect them to do their job effectively without demonstrating their confusion.

Consider the irony, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” inks several pages laying the context of strategy before it lists six purposes as the ends of strategy, six core capabilities as the ways of strategy, and three guiding priorities to execute the maritime strategy. The strategic discussion towards means was classified, and NAVSEA is specifically responsible for the means no one in the public domain can see. Now we have a SES in NAVSEA quoting the maritime strategy, suggesting "this strategy is not about navies." This is embarrassing, the Navy can do better.

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