By not investing in the future, there “are few programs ready right now to accept funds.” Growing the size of the fleet to at least 350 ships as one of those programs that “cannot be accomplished anytime soon” and will required sustained investment.
“You can’t buy perfect security. With the current budget, including overseas contingency funding, the situation in the Pentagon “is not a resource problem” but a “management problem.”
The Budget Control Act” is not the way to run the government,” even while using emergency spending accounts “to get around the caps. “How are you going to pay for” stepped-up defense spending even if the caps of the Budget Control Act are removed without increasing revenue coming in””
“We’re currently in a downward spiral” in terms of manning, equipping and modernizing the armed forces. We currently have two-thirds if the force we need.”
“Navy Needs Capacity, Readiness, Not Just Capability”
Navy needs to move past the Third Offset Strategy’s focus on developing new capabilities and instead balance those technologies with improved readiness and a larger fleet.
Capability, capacity and readiness were not separate funding silos that could be rebalanced as needed, but rather were overlapping pools that spill into one another. Taking money out of readiness to add an Aegis Combat System upgrade for a destroyer, for example, may mean canceling two other ship’s maintenance availabilities, which ultimately decreases readiness and capacity for the sake of one more-capable ship.
“When you ask me which we want to buy – capability, or capacity, or readiness? The only answer is yes,.”
A dozen Littoral Combat Ships were cut from the shipbuilding plans and instead the money was invested in high-tech upgrades such as developing an anti-ship mode for the Standard Missile-6 and Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, and quickening development of future Flight III destroyer and Block V attack submarine technologies.
While some these new capabilities such as the anti-surface missiles – which have been rapidly developed and are in various stages of testing and fielding – have supported the Navy’s distributed lethality concept, leaders called for the end of this sole focus on capability advances via the Third Offset Strategy and a shift in focus to fleet size and readiness.
The time is now for a bigger, more capable and more ready Navy. “One argument we’ve heard is, the Navy has prioritized shipbuilding to the detriment of new technologies, weapon systems, things like that,.”
What are we going to build? We need ships, and we need enough of those ships. But how are we going to deliver those new weapons? How are you going to get them there if you don’t have the platforms? How are you going to be present around the globe, around the clock, if you don’t have those platforms?”
The path forward isn’t going to be easy, going from a 274-ship fleet today that the Navy has struggled to keep ready due to budget constraints to a 355-ship fleet as called for by the new Force Structure Assessment “Well which is it, what do you want? Do you want 274 ready, or do you want 355? That’s a false choice.” Discussions about how to balance capacity, capability and readiness come amid a complex threat environment around the world.
“It’s a pretty sporty environment out there, and when leaders started talking about a gray hybrid environment that was going to be moving at a slow boil, that would require our people to sort peacetime from wartime and respond appropriately and accurately.
“How Ready Are We?”
The mismatch between readiness reporting methods and the fiscal realities of training causes readiness to be reported at lower levels than expected. Commanders-in-chief need a picture that synthesizes operational tasks and the real-world training process.
Navy has at its core 12 aircraft carriers and 10 aircraft carrier wings with which to form carrier battle groups. These warfighting units are subdivided into smaller tactical elements based on platform and mission.
The primary tool within a carrier battle group to project power is the embarked carrier air wing, specifically the strike aircraft in that air wing. The smallest of these air wing units, the squadron, generates readiness reports that form the readiness picture of the larger units they create.
Because the units that report readiness do so with such a narrow focus, their reports create an inaccurate picture of the real capabilities of the larger element they represent. Current reporting does not give the commanders-in-chief an accurate picture of the readiness and capability of this basic warfighting unit to project into a crisis situation.
Why should leaders care about the readiness of a single aircraft carrier and its air wing? The numbers speak for themselves. Short of a major theater war and operations plan execution, it’s unlikely to have more than a single carrier battle group to provide naval air support in his or her area of responsibility.
Because the battle group is important to the combatant command, the readiness of a carrier battle group and its embarked air wing is a highly visible measure of capabilities and those of the echelons of command responsible for training, equipping, and manning the air wing.
The service is responsible for training the air wing for commander’s use. Therefore, when one of the ten carrier air wings appears unready to do its mission, support is focused on that air wing to fix the problem. Readiness reporting has become a serious benchmark of a unit's performance.
What has caused this problem? Generally, readiness is tied to reporting, and the Navy reports on people, supplies, equipment, and training. Intense management of supplies and equipment at a macro level continues to allow units to progress through the interdeployment training cycle and deployment. The long pole in the tent of overall readiness issues is training.
This realization raises some questions. Does the Navy train right? Has training doctrine kept pace with the operational realities commanders face? Maybe the reporting system is not measuring readiness accurately. "An automated system that links tactical readiness data to joint operational and strategic readiness data does not exist"
Instead of focusing on the symptoms associated with lowered readiness reporting, the focus should be on why readiness is not being reported at desired levels. Carrier air wing training and readiness can be used as an example for a problem plaguing all the services.
“Readiness Reporting and the Interdeployment Training Cycle”
The Navy's primary method of reporting readiness is the Status of Resources and Training System, the single, automated reporting system that functions as the central registry of all operational units in the military. It provides unit-level readiness "in four critical areas: personnel, equipment-on-hand, equipment serviceability, and training."
Unit readiness "the ability to provide capabilities required by commanders to execute their assigned missions. This is derived from the ability of each unit to deliver the outputs for which it was designed."
Along with the evolution of readiness reporting has been an evolution in how and for what the Navy trains. If this process were synergistic, the interdeployment training cycle would be a roadmap for how training achieves the "whats" in doctrine. Ultimately, concurrent actions are required between how we train, for what we train, and how that training is reported. A disconnect between any of the three distorts the final output of measured readiness.
The commanders are responsible to ensure the required training of aircraft carriers and their embarked air wings. The goal of the training cycle is to provide "battle group commanders, carrier commanding officers and air wing commanders with well-trained air wings capable of immediate integration into a combat ready carrier battle group." The process has developed into a building-block approach to achieving increasingly more complex operational capability in both scope of unit involvement and complexity of events.
Each squadron level unit must learn to work within itself. Then individual squadrons integrate with the other squadrons in the air wing. The air wing unit then learns to coalesce with the carrier to conduct routine day and night operations while embarked. Next, the ship/air wing unit joins the battle group for inclusion into the composite warfare commander concept of operations. Finally, joint and fleet operations are conducted as a battle group unit prior to deployment.
In a world of unconstrained resources, the best method to achieve large-unit cohesion would be to keep smaller units at a high level of readiness at all times. Instead, the training cycle is built around battle group deployment dates. Units not involved in deployment or deployment preparation are relegated to supporting those units that are involved in such activities. This tiered system of readiness is not the most desirable, but it does have the advantage of some cost effectiveness and predictability.
Because of these financial constraints, training is just-in-time. Every second of available at-sea time or flight time is precious. Units in the post-deployment to pre-interdeployment training cycle phase are expected to be at very low readiness levels.
Equipment and parts are stripped from them to support others. They have a very low funding line for flying or at-sea periods. Periodicity between training events increases well beyond the training standards. Personnel billets are gapped as their overall priority for manning decreases. These constraints, on both dollars and personnel, also constrain the type and timing of training. Combining just-in-time training with limited resources produces competition among units for scarce training time and resources.
The consequences of the current interdeployment training cycle are twofold. First, unit proficiency is low and integration is slow early in the phase. Second, later in the cycle, when units do have the right personnel, equipment, and budget to train, their training priorities are overwhelmed by larger unit requirements that do not translate into the training matrices of the individual units. A disconnect exists between how the Navy trains and how the Navy reports its training.
Problems with Readiness Reporting
The Status of Resources and Training System is a tool ill suited to quantify readiness at the operational level. Since the units reporting are tactical in size, tactical terminology defines their training standards. For instance, the F/A- 18 training matrix has taken all the tasks expected to be accomplished by this platform and laid them out in dozens of events.
With most events falling in a one-, two-, or three-month periodicity window, this list remains robust. The problem is the inability to transfer these tasks into the training environment of the larger unit. The larger unit focuses on the interoperability of the lesser units that make it up.
This leads to the second problem in readiness reporting. The unit required to report readiness simply is not in the best position to effect readiness. Even when the resources are provided to the unit commander, support of higher unit training requirements is the primary mission.
This creates tension in the training process. The units determining the readiness of the battle group chase events that do not fold into the requirements of the larger whole. One of two things happens as a result. The tactical unit responsible for reporting can play along without complaint, then can report honestly its readiness based on the training matrix, or can massage its readiness data to conform to higher headquarters expectations. The other possibility is that the unit can shift the focus of the entire exercise away from the operational level to the tactical training requirements of the individual units, regardless of whether this switch achieves the exercise's stated goal.
Neither of these results is desired.
One recommendation is to create new reports that address higher levels of training and readiness. Two new reports are required at the end of each major event in the interdeployment training cycle phase . The first would be a report on the planned level of training, generated by the event coordinator, the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center, a type wing, a training carrier group, or a numbered fleet staff member.
The report would use the appropriate level of tasks from the Universal Naval Task List to depict the training goal, and would apply accepted measures of successful completion of these tasks to the unit evaluated. It should report not what was done, but how well it was done. A concurrent readiness report would follow from the unit evaluated. This report would tie in current capabilities as depicted in the training report with current manning, equipment, and parts to accomplish the mission as required by the next superior in the chain of command.
At the completion of the readiness program, the report would be from the type wing and the squadron. At the end of the phase the report would be from the air wing commander and the carrier commander, addressing how the air wing and ship currently are manned and their demonstrated collective capabilities.
Following excercise, the training carrier group would publish a readiness report on the battle group's composite warfare commanders' ability to function together. The battle group commander would combine that report with his or her own concerns of manning and equipment at that stage in the cycle.
The Naval Strike Air Warfare Center and the air wing commander would follow after the air wing detachment. Following excercise, the numbered fleet commander would report on the readiness of the battle group to conduct joint and combined operations for a geographic commander.
These reports would allow a commander the ability to compare the performance of one battle group to another throughout the interdeployment training cycle. Reporting how well a universally accepted training program was accomplished, versus explaining what or how much training was accomplished, is the best measure of readiness a commander can receive.
To give the commander an accurate picture of friendly strengths and weaknesses in his or her area of responsibility, new reports are required that combine operational tasks with the real-world training process. Only by focusing on these higher levels of war, toward which the majority of training is directed, can the commander be assured that the tasking he or she gives the battle group can be executed feasibly during the next crisis.
DoD may not be providing its leaders with the analytic support they need to prioritize force structure investments that would best manage risk and address the threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy
1. Advise on defense policy and the integration and oversight of DoD policy and plans to achieve national security objectives.
2. Provide direction regarding service analytic priorities for the budget priorities/development process.
3. Conduct net assessments in support of the development of force structure plans
4. Assess plans/requirements of the Combatant Commands
5. Review their missions, responsibilities, and force structure of Combatant Commands
6. Ensure DoD cost estimation and cost analysis processes
7. Provide accurate information and realistic estimates of cost for the acquisition programs.
8. Provide direction regarding service analytic priorities for the budget development process.
9.Ensure DoD cost estimation and cost analysis processes provide accurate information and realistic estimates of cost for the acquisition programs.
10. Present and justify positions on the plans, programs, and policies