One Navy’s Lost Quarter Century, the Other’s Great Leap Forward (excerpt)
(Source: US Naval Institute Blog; posted Sept. 02, 2020)
By CDR Salamander
Put your mind on our major surface combatants, our airwing, and the weapons they carry. Then take a moment to go back a quarter century to 1995, still in the first Bill Clinton administration, then move yourself through three more Presidents from both political parties – and multiple Congresses where power in both houses changed in all sorts of different degrees of control.

With all these leadership teams in DoD, DoN, Congress and all the trillions of dollars, what have we been able to do? We failed to find a suitable replacement for our frigates and instead invested the lower end of our fleet with Littoral Combat Ships we still don’t know what to do with.

We failed to replace either the Spruance DD or Arleigh Burke DDG with the DDG-1000 white elephant. We could not get CG(X) off the PPT and so are living off the vapors of the remaining Ticonderoga cruisers. At least we restarted the Arleigh Burke line and seem to be set to build them until the crack of doom, mostly because we have no other option.

Now look to the airwing. As the first Super Hornet flew in 1995, they count; about all we did with our airwing was replace legacy Hornets with Super Hornets, exchange EA-6B with EF-18G, sent the F-14 and S-3 to the boneyards and tweaked E-2 and the navalized Army helos that go with them. The C-2s are on their farewell tour to be replaced with Ospreys. We do, at last, have some F-35 … so a wee bit of progress there.

What, exactly, have we been focused on in that quarter century? OK, there were two inertia-driven, unending wars in Central Asia that distracted DoD from Navy affairs, but that excuse does not survive many follow-on questions.

These are questions I’ve been looking for answers to in my decade and a half of writing, and I’m still not getting a good answer, so let’s see what China has been doing.

A good source is DOD’s annual report to Congress on the People’s Republic of China. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the USNI blog.


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