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Littoral Combat Ship - How we Got Here and Why

Littoral Combat Ship - How we Got Here and Why

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Published by CDR Salamander
Littoral Combat Ship - How we Got Here and Why
Littoral Combat Ship - How we Got Here and Why

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Published by: CDR Salamander on Jan 29, 2013
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07/20/2013

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The Littoral Combat Ship:How We Got Here, and Why
Robert O. Work
 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Robert O. WorkUndersecretary of the NavyI would like to express my deep appreciation to several people whohave contributed to this work.Ms. Allison Stiller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ships,and Rear Admiral (lower half) James Murdoch, Program ExecutiveOfficer for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), provided me with a wealth of LCS program documents, information about the LCS program’s history,and a good understanding of characteristics of the two LCS variants. They represent the hundreds of people, uniformed military andgovernment civilians and contractors, who work hard every day tomake the Littoral Combat Ship the absolute best ship it can be.Several colleagues were kind enough to take the time to review earlydrafts. They include Captain Henry “Jerry” Hendrix, Director of theNaval History and Heritage Command; Randy Papadopoulos,Secretariat historian; Captain Ronald “Robby” Harris, U.S. Navy,retired; Commander John Patch, U.S. Navy, retired; Commander AlElkins, U.S. Navy, retired; Ronald O’Rourke, naval analyst at theCongressional Research Service; and Dr. Eric Labs, naval analyst at theCongressional Budget Office. Among them include proponents, critics,and skeptics of the LCS; accomplished naval historians; and the two of the finest naval analysts in America. Their keen insights andrecommendations helped make this paper stronger, more completeand better balanced. I am indebted to all of them.Of course, any inaccuracies or shortcomings in this paper are minealone.i
 
FOREWORD
Robert C. (Barney) RubelDean, Center for Naval Warfare Studies
 
 The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) has been a controversial program fromits inception, experiencing delays and cost overruns, not to mentionsevere criticism from elements of the national security community.Despite all this, every Chief of Naval Operations since Admiral VernClark has supported the program. To date, Navy attempts to defendthe program have not succeeded in quieting the criticism, and thevarious technical and operational difficulties experienced by the firsttwo examples have not helped matters. Perhaps the most seriousobjection to LCS is that the Navy charged into series productionwithout having a clear idea of how the ship would be used.Undersecretary of the Navy Robert Work is known in Defense circles asa meticulous researcher who has a comprehensive grasp of Navy forcestructure and fleet architecture issues, stemming from his years as ananalyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.Secretary Work brings those same traits to bear in the preparation of this Newport Paper. In it he forthrightly chronicles the development of the LCS; not attempting to shy away from reporting on the program'svicissitudes nor trying to put a positive spin on Navy decisions alongthe way. Instead, he offers an informed view of how the logic behindLCS developed and evolved as the program progressed. As he solucidly points out, LCS does not fit easily into the existing framework of Navy thought, and thus it is vulnerable to criticism by those whoattempt to judge it by existing criteria. Secretary Work provides uswith a better understanding of how LCS is to function in a networkedbattle force. While this explanation may not quiet all criticism, it atleast brings much needed clarity to the story of how and why the LCScame to be.More than simply a history of the LCS program, this Newport Paperprovides important insights into the dynamics of Navy programmaticsand is therefore highly useful reading for anyone interested inunderstanding the Navy's acquisition process. In addition, and perhapsmore importantly, if the reader pays attention to Secretary Work'sdiscussion of how LCS might be used in "associated support" of abattle group, and thinks about it for a while, he or she will be rewardedwith a glimpse of something that has been missing from the Navy'sintellectual structure for a long time: naval operational art.Since at least the end of the Cold War, the Navy has organized itsfighting capability into autonomous battle groups centered aroundii

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