Military.Com reports today:
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday on Monday released his vision for the Navy's decade ahead. Citing a long-term competition that "threatens our security and way of life," he said the Navy must ditch platforms it no longer needs to invest in new tools that will be required to deter aggression and preserve freedom of the seas.
There are two major points which, I assume, Gilday had to make, as were supposed to do so Soviet officers when preparing any serious paper. They had to emphasize the guiding and ruling role of the Communist Party, in the US today it is a reference to some security and way of life. I really do not know who actually threatens "American way of life" externally, most of the threats are surely of the internal origin, but I am splitting hair here (wink, wink).
"I don't mean to be dramatic, but I feel like, if the Navy loses its head, if we go off course and we take our eyes off those things we need to focus on ... I think we may not be able to recover in this century," Gilday told reporters Friday, ahead of the document's release. "Based on the trajectory that the Chinese are on right now -- and again, I don't mean to be dramatic -- I just sense that this is not a decade that we can afford to lose ground." ...With China and Russia rapidly modernizing their militaries, Gilday said there is no time to waste in pushing ahead with the Navy's plan. That includes necessary investments in public shipyards, dry docks, maintenance facilities and aviation depots that he says are overdue for upgrades.
He speaks about divestment of legacy platforms such as Ticonderoga-class cruisers, dock landing ships and, naturally, LCS. I doubt that the US Navy will be able to beat China in terms of a number of surface platforms, granted China's monstrous ship-building capability, and the only decisive advantage the US Navy will continue to have for awhile over PLAN is, as I said on a number of occasions, US Navy's submarine force which is modern, advanced and extremely capable. But the time is coming when even this will not be enough, especially with China planning to obtain genuine hyper-sonic anti-ship capability based on her surface combatants. For now China's declared hypersonic capability is based on primarily land-based DF-21 ballistic anti-shipping missile. Latest PLAN's destroyers, such as massive Type-055 still carry a Chinese YJ-18, a copy of export variant of Russian 3M54 Kalibr, but even this missile, when in dense salvo, will wreck a havoc with any surface force.
This brings us to a strategic issue. Russia today can sink any surface force around Eurasia and it depends how fast will Russia decide, if ever, to open access to Chinese to her true anti-shipping hypersonic weapons. It is difficult to forecast. It may become possible down the road, once Russian Navy will begin to field new generation of hypersonic weapons. After all, Russia sold both S-400s and SU-35s to China. But for now, I doubt that Russia will provide China with any Kinzhals and Zircons. Having said all that, it was in the news that Russia begins deployment of a squadron of MiG-31Ks, Kinzhal carriers, on Kamchatka. This means the exclusion zone with roughly the radius of 2,500-3,000 kilometers with the center at Elizovo. That means Russia's anti-shipping capability stretching to the northern tip of Taiwan. This is not counting other supersonic and hypersonic capabilities of the fast modernizing Russia's Pacific Fleet. So, the question is, thus, how Russia will decide to support China in case of military conflict with China. Russia can easily contain Japan. But will Russia provide China with technology, let alone gets involved directly?
But most importantly, the key issue here is that a surface fleet as we came to know it in the last 100 years is over. Real revolution in military affairs pushed the legacy large platform Sea Control force to the brink of extinction. Any combination of surface forces centered around massive aircraft carriers will be detected, tracked, and, in case of real war, destroyed beyond the range of any type of carrier aviation. Nor exotic and unproven weapon systems such as lasers or whatever else is being envisioned will be able to deal with a swarm of highly maneuverable M=9+ missiles, which can also be made impervious to counter-measures such as lasers, which still require an extremely accurate targeting, granted that such missiles can be detected at all. That in itself is a huge issue. So, Admiral Gilday talks about the decade ahead. So, what's the real plan? To develop weapons similar to what Russia and China have? I don't know. I can see the US developing some sort of M=5-6 hypersonic weapon for land-attack mission but there is a serious doubt that the US Navy will receive a viable, long-range anti-shipping missile any time soon, if ever. A confusion about the role and the nature of hypersonic weapons is well illustrated in (you guessed it) bizarre piece in The National Interest, where the author, now traditionally, has no idea what he is talking about, while peddling same ol' BS of scaled Strategic Defense Initiative and all those, oh so ever "capable" sensors.
But Admiral Gilday did make a tacit admission of the doctrinal and technological dead-end the US Navy faces today. This also relates directly to US military as a whole and, undeniably, to a country in general. As I state ad nauseam--America's military posture is unsustainable and it was such for the last 10 years at least. Without a deep revision of America's national defense priorities, no papers, especially declaring that America is under some threat, will have any effect. The problem is much deeper than mere a loss in the arms race. One has to ask a question if the country as a whole was lost. And I don't have the answer to this question, at least not yet.