Christopher Griffin and Dan Blumenthal are to be commended for their excellent article on the Littoral Combat Ship [“LCS: A solution for the Asia littoral,” December]. They are correct in emphasizing the operational flexibility that will result from the modular approach to equipping the basic LCS sea frame. Equally important is the impact that modularity could have on naval sustainment.
Inherent in the creation of self-contained mission modules is the ability to do rapid repair and technology insertion without tying up the LCS. Just like the black boxes in modern defense electronics, a module can be pulled off an LCS — perhaps replaced with one of the same kind from storage — and the ship can proceed back to the fight while the module is in repair/upgrade. By commoditizing the production of modules and the systems they carry, the LCS program can achieve both economies of scale and emphasize the strength of American industry, which is in the design and production of systems and components that will go into the modules.
The most insightful sentence of the entire article is this: “But any advantages that accrue from the ability of the LCS to operate as a single ship may be overwhelmed by its potential contribution to a networked force.” The future of the Navy rests on its ability to create a network that will allow it to operate as a distributed force, sharing information among a wide variety of subsurface, surface and airborne platforms, manned and unmanned. The collection, processing and distribution of information are the keys to military superiority, particularly against the range of asymmetric threats the Navy will face in the future. Networking also leverages platform-specific investments made in such areas as anti-submarine warfare and air defense. Networking is an inherent feature of the LCS program involving the integration of onboard and off-board sensors and systems, as well as the operations of squadrons of LCS both independently and as part of larger fleet formations.
Vice president, |The Lexington Institute
I must respond to several inaccurate and misleading statements in the article on the LCS.
Firstly, on piracy, the statement that “the Malacca Strait is the haunt of pirates who are so confident as to regularly steal entire container ships” is nonsense. There is no record of any incident in the Malacca Strait when an entire container ship was stolen, let alone regularly.
Secondly, the article propagates extreme views of a possible threat from China that are not held by most East Asian countries. Statements such as the following are well off the mark: “They [security partners of the U.S.] must hedge against growing submarine and mine warfare threats in the region, especially in light of China’s uncertain strategic future.”
Japan and Taiwan are possibly the only East Asian or Western Pacific countries that would hold this view. However, it is true to say that few regional countries “are willing to risk their relationship with China today by advocating or even visibly joining a balancing coalition against Beijing.”
The challenge for regional countries is to accommodate and adjust to the inevitable rise of China — not to engage in any futile hand-wringing exercise.
Senior fellow, |Maritime Security Programme
Institute of Defence |and Strategic Studies
Ralph Peters’ article “The hearts-and-minds myth” [September] is seductive and dangerous. I pray your readers recognize it as the definition of the path we must never take.
Peters mingles truths and partial logic into a disturbing soulless conclusion. Fully disregarded is who we are and what we stand for. We are the founding nation of the enlightenment he mocks. We can not reduce ourselves to the barbarity we face. Our strategies and tactics must be different. Giving in to barbarism may win a war only to destroy what we are.
Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Benson, |Coast Guard
Each reading of Ralph Peters’ work promises to produce two responses in even the most loyal and familiar reader: at least one “Exactly!” moment and at least one “Is he serious?” moment. His recent “Letter to the new secretary” [December] doesn’t disappoint. By my reckoning, here’s the tally.
Exactly! — “Welcome to the second-hardest job in the world.” Secretary of defense is, indeed, the second-hardest job in the world — especially right now. Administering the mammoth defense budget is, by itself, an insanely difficult and practically metaphysical task. Add Iraq and other operations to the mix and “whoa, Nelly.” So, Peters is dead on, right out of the blocks.
Normally, I’d be able to list more “exactly” moments. But in this article, we reach culmination in the first line.
Is he serious? — “You’ll encounter bitter resistance from vested interests inside and outside the Pentagon, but without an honest threat picture, service parochialism and lobbying power will continue to stymie rational force development.” That’s rich. Is Peters, who is arguably the most transparently and blindly “muddy boots”-biased commentator today, lecturing the new Sec Def on reducing “service parochialism”? He can’t be serious.
“No programs, not even those currently in the production phase, should be off-limits to termination.” Gee, does anyone know what program he might be talking about? Does it start with an “F” and end with a “22A,” maybe? Peters has been making a career of this bit of transparent parochialism for some time. Let’s put aside the mindless and toothless argument that America doesn’t need the F-22A. Even in some parallel universe where it made sense and was possible to pull off, how would canceling the Raptor benefit the joint forces that are fighting the good fight in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, or even in the near future? That’s right; it wouldn’t. Peters is simply trying to leverage current operations for tomorrow’s budget wars, “rational force development” be damned. Why? Because “the money won’t be there for both the next generation of land warfare systems and the full replacement of combat losses and systems stressed to a premature end of their service lives.” In other words, since we live in the “Era of Not Enough Money,” Peters’ solution to the Army’s programming conundrum is to cancel the F-22A. Peters is attempting a delicate dance here. On the one hand, he has to marginalize the future near-peer threat in order to support his case against funding numerous air and naval systems. But on the other hand, he can’t appear to be eager to give away the Future Combat System that he euphemistically refers to above and which is incredibly complex, expensive, still largely on the drawing board, and is designed to fight against the same near-peer threat as the F-22A. It’s a nice effort, really. But Peters is stepping on his own parochial feet.
Ralph Peters is an engaging novelist and editorialist, two genres where his predictable parochialism and literary license are not only welcome but expected. I enjoyed “Letter to the new secretary” and look forward to his next work of fiction.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Macloud, Air Force
Ralph Peters has done it again. In “Plan B for Iraq [November],” he urges that we exit Iraq shooting, without worrying about collateral damage. He apparently believes that our Army must inflict more civilian casualties in order that we “leave the world with a perception of American strength — and ruthlessness.” He wants America seen as heavy-handed rather than weak.
It is my heartfelt hope that this un-American attitude will disappear, at least from public discourse, with the end of the current administration. Some people will continue to think that “the other” is disposable, but they should not be willing to generate the disapproval that this idea should evoke.
Col. Robert Balzhiser (ret.), Army
To anyone old enough to remember the days of pre-stainless steel firearms, Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson’s call to “reblue” the Iraqi national police is a wonderfully descriptive term, and I might add, one based on a verb that lives on Page 162 of my old Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
While on the subject of words in AFJ, how about an annual glossary in which over-50 readers can be brought up to speed on the vocabulary used in this age of miltary transformation, e.g.: “Long War” now describes what was once known as an occupation, and the Hessian mercenaries employed by King George III should now be referred to as “contractors.”