tv Discussion on Navy Operations Shipbuilding Programs CSPAN March 30, 2019 6:47am-8:01am EDT
one of the things this shows to members of the committee. someone is at least asking, now we see numbers like 308 coming to us, we would be looking back and saying how in the world would we match the threat level with 308 ships and two deltas that were critical to us, one of the things is around the world we were seeing threat
levels rising every day, no place we were looking where the threat levels were going down. the second thing is a huge disconnect between verified requirements of combatant commanders, in 2007 we met 90% of them. by the time you look a couple years ago we were down 50% or the low 50s in terms of needing that. that showed it was difficult to have that number and it wasn't magic to have 350 or 355 but it was a directional thing we had to look at. the other thing that was incredibly important to our allies is we would have meetings with them if you were hitting at 308 or some other number. the other thing i would suggest is an age old thing, the thing do sure to pull an aircraft carrier out. an easy thing when you come in. we expect somebody to pull an aircraft carrier out.
it is an easy dollar figure and they know we will put it back. i can tell you like the sun came up today that aircraft carrier is going back in there and that refueling is not going to last much longer than it can get to joe courtney or rob whitman's pen and the reason is both of them realize you are talking $17 million for the first year and even though they are you slightly less this is a 25 year life expectancy your cutting off that carrier. but the big thing, they have testimony to buttress what they have been briefed on, there is no way you can get the coverage you need with nine carriers and you needed to make a decision, you don't have to have 2+3 carrier situation to go with less, i don't think you will see the committee doing that. a couple things and i will turn it over to mark. the -- it will be the big deal that has been the marquee thing we have been looking at 4 a number of years and the key to
that is the deterrent fund for two reasons. it lets us by 11 ships for the price of 10 which is a big deal but it is more important. it took a while to get across to the navy. the fund is symbolic too and it is symbolic of the united states navy for this reason. it's very difficult to come in and argue to members of congress. a lot of people don't realize unless they've changed it recently when you are talking about something as big as this members of congress are not briefed on the bill. often times they get two minutes in a conference where the chairman is talking about the bill before it comes up for a vote so you have amendments that are thrown on, that take $100 million out to pull something else out.
the sea bass deterrent fund was huge because it was symbolic that we needed to rebuild the navy and joe courtney and i both recognized this. one vote, our flight was not between the authorizer's, it was one vote with 74% democrat and 74% republican all voted for it but here was the magic. i remember sitting down after debate and had members come to me and say let me get this right. if i love america -- i said that's right. you need to vote for this. it wasn't funny because what they were saying is the navy is crucial to america and that is a huge thing we will see happening. the other thing just, i am a little bit concerned with destroyers, we are looking at fights today we are not going to have lineal fights we will have 360 ° fight and when you need that you will need more destroyers around those carrier
groups that we have so that is one of the concerns. one thing i want to hit is maintenance is going to become a challenge, our public yards don't have the capacity to do that maintenance. they are moving maintenance into some of the yards, there is still a learning curve and i think you'll find the committee saying the committee will work more on skill sets between public and private yard to make sure we can do the maintenance we need. if you start extending the life expectancy of some of these vessels the maintenance will be a crucial thing to make sure you can do and the last thing i will throw out to you as you often hear about unmanned platforms and how unmanned platforms are going -- we are going to use those to replace
the manned platforms, that's not going to happen. the unmanned platforms are going to be crucial, they are going to be important but they will be supplementing the manned platforms and that is what you will see the committee looking at in trying to do down the road so with that i will turn it over to mark. >> thank you, mister chairman. we will throw it to you. i heard echoes in your comments of a 1954 proceedings article by a young senator huntington that said the strategic concept is necessary to convince the public to provide the resources necessary. >> i would love to talk about that a little later, it's a crucial issue we haven't talked about enough. >> thank you. >> i'm going to talk about strategy, war fighting concepts and the industrial base will be a quick sprint so we can cover details in the q&a on those
issues that i find particularly important. the strategy you are familiar with, national defense strategy came out year ago focusing on great power competition, long-term competition with china and russia. it may not be as clear in the downgrading of core operations and day-to-day presence, the mechanism for doing that and the strategy is dynamic force employment and the idea is the administration will prioritize will prioritize requirements and reduce stress on the forces. the side effects of that is you can reduce the size of the forces, that's more of a challenge for the army but for the navy is a challenge to the kinds of ships but all the services are caught in this tension.
on the one hand you have a strategy focusing on high end conflict but on the other hand you have regional commanders, the president and the secretary all asking for crisis response, humanitarian assistance, engagement with allies and ongoing conflict in the middle east especially and the tension is unresolved. the reason it is unresolved is the high budget you can buy both capacity and supply capability. budgets get squeezed in the navy and all the services are going to face a tough trade-off. after the strategy, we can talk about naval war fighting concepts that derive from the strategy and drive the dollars. i think you are all familiar
with the chinese bubble, the anti-access area they are building on their homelands but that means for the navy that conflict in the pacific, they are trying to build a barrier at the first island chain, a barrier made up of mostly undersea capabilities and some land-based air projection, see projection capability and a lot of the ship say outside of that bubble or on the edge of the bubble and shoot in until the adversaries kick those enough that you can move the larger ships in. you hear this concept of distributed lethality from the navy, the notion of having survivable platforms.
so as the general said, show me a budget and i will tell you your strategy. you see four effects of this strategy in the navy's current program. the first is the emphasis of carriers. the congressman talked a little about that and it achieved a lot of potential but if you are really focused on this high end fight, carriers, i have been criticized by many for being too few, too expensive and too vulnerable for a high end flight. when looking at it broadly you look at regional conflict, crisis response and things that are much more attractive. the navy at carrier program i
would argue is incoherent, forcing to retire one carrier early, very expensive way to go forward. i ran some numbers for some work i was doing on infrastructure. if you extend the life of the carrier it costs $220 million per year of carrier life. if you keep it for the full 50 years costs $370 million per year of carrier life but if you build a carrier and keep it for 25 years and retired you are paying $550 million per carrier year so the current carrier is extremely expensive. the new naval plan, continuing to look at the planet appears -- it is very unstable.
if you look at the navy's 30 year shipbuilding plan it looks like they will compete under this. they will retire the nimitz class early and accelerate the purchase of the ford class, and extremely expensive way to provide carrier capability. the shipbuilding plan is challenged fiscally. the traditional level of shipbuilding run $17 billion. the trump administration has been able to bump it up to 20. looking ahead it will rise to 25 or $28 billion a year so it will be a fiscal challenge. the way you see the strategy implemented in the budget is in the production of munitions, long-range precision munitions, almost all the production lines have been maxed out and you see
new capabilities coming online. a long-range anti-ship missile. the third places underwater capabilities. the navy put a third submarine into the fy 20 budget and is pushing hard to maximize the production of submarines undersea capabilities even when beginning production of the columbia class which is a large, expensive program that will put a lot of demand on the shipbuilding industry. final area you see the new strategy with unmanned systems. there are two surface systems in the fy 20 budget for a 5-year period and also a number of underwater systems and these have the potential to be quite revolutionary. they put them out in the fleet, see what their capabilities are and their limitations.
there are a lot of questions about the legal aspects and safety aspects but the only way to get an answer is to buy a few and put them out and see what they can do. the navy, starting with surface, doing a lot more with the subsurface, not so much in the air. you can talk about why that may be but they delivered on aerial vehicles. a lot of and answered questions in the shipbuilding plan particularly with the amphibians and logistic force. if you accept the concept about the environment, you have to get inside to resupply these island garrisons, marines or army but we have a relatively small number of capable logistics ships.
you will need a lot more ships, smaller, faster ships to get inside this bubble and survive and it is -- the other area, the regional conflicts and day-to-day deployments, you have a relatively small number of extremely capable ships and extremely expensive ships. how they are going to operate in this environment is unclear. it may drive the navy to some lower end fast amphibian ships so efforts don't have to stay outside the bubble. and the navy to its credit is doing a full structure assessment that is supposed to come out by the end of 2019 so we will get some answers to those questions.
and lastly i would like to take a quick look at the impact on the industrial base. if the navy is going to move to the notion of distributed lethality, smaller ships or unmanned ships, that would argue the number of shipbuilders that are eligible to participate will expand, it won't be confined to a small number that can build a large extremely capable ships the navy has been buying the last couple years. the other thing is legacy shipbuilders do have a grip on the structure. they are reacting in a very sensible way from a business perspective. when they started hearing about possible strategies, very attractive offer for two carriers but the downside is it
locked the navy into large carriers for the next decade or so. and made similar proposal for large amphibians and it is very sensible but may not fit the strategy. turn it over to the moderator. >> thank you very much for the usual presentation that makes your head heard when you start thinking of the contradictions. is the fun part since i know there is no lack of opinion and no shrinking violet. you may have noticed the cameras. we are not only on the record, we are being broadcast thanks to c-span. the usual rules, please wait for a microphone to appear behind you, state your name and affiliation and a brief question please, first person that had his hand up was michael. >> mark, you quite properly
brought up the tension between day-to-day utility and war utility and the difficulty if you're in the 18th century you are fighting with a horse, 19th century the british royal navy, you don't have great power wars as seen to learn from like the rest. so we haven't seen any great naval war between large powers for 75 years so one of the things you can see in the historical record is the longer you go without a big war the more you begin to favor the day today utility of force. war talk and war thinking tends
to become more ritualized and stratified patterns. at some point this would mean it seems to me a total emphasis on the day today and the war becoming no matter how much you talk about it becoming ritualized so how would you deal with that in the coming several decades for the u.s. navy? >> the tension you point out is very real. day-to-day requirements, very pressing day today war looks very hypothetical long-term. what that will do is drive the navy to a high level mix or spectrum of capabilities so you have some high end capabilities that can go into that bubble.
some lower capability assets that would be more appropriate for regional conflict or day-to-day operations. the british example is a good one because in the 19th century they did focus on day-to-day operations but that was very sensible. they had a very large empire, they were predominant at sea and the navy helped them maintain this empire. jackie fisher when he retired a lot of the old ships focused on germany and the north sea but in the united states to pick up the rest of the global commitment. if we do that who is a we will turn the global commitment over to while we are focusing on high end threats and that is the piece that is missing. >> george beatty.
>> i want to ask about strategy. to varying degrees you talked about linking shipbuilding and our approach to naval seapower to a broader strategy. at a fundamental level strategy is about reconciling ends and means and making sure they are in balance with one another and when you're facing formidable threats one of the things you can do is expand your means in ways that allow you to deal with those threats effectively but another thing you can do is look at the threats themselves and ask yourself are the things the united states can do to make that threat not as threatening as it might otherwise be and in this regard i want to ask about the russia china relationship and the potential impact of growing russian and chinese cooperation
on the threat we face and what the implications would be if the growing military and strategic cooperation between moscow and beijing were attenuated to some degree. with that head of an impact on our ability to cope with the threat we are seeing with the means we have available to us? >> i will give you the first shot. >> there is no question if you had to face a russian chinese alliance it will be a lot more powerful than if you had to face one of them individually. i think when you mention the fact we have to constantly be looking at what we can do to reduce our threats that is part strategy. strategy is always part of seeing what you can do to reduce your threat to make sure you don't have a fight or their choice between having to do that and one of the things we
have to do is constantly be aware that alliance could be taking place. we've seen things just it might be but we have also seen things that suggest it's not as close as we think but what we have to be careful of his we are not doing something to foster that and allow it to grow and become greater. >> one thing i would add is we have some levers there, one, for example is siberia, very large territory, a lot of russians and chinese to the south and i would put russia on notice if they try to combine them siberia would be one of the areas that would be up for negotiation. >> down here on my right. >> center for american progress. let me take a difference on this number of ships. having lived through a 600 ship
navy, we have the first sequester, president reagan said we can't get to 600 ships and you may remember a secretary of the navy openly criticize him, got fired, went on to become a senator from virginia. that really didn't change that much since you didn't get to that goal and it doesn't lead you to make what the late senator mccain call the terrible decision to buy the little combat ship so that gives you numbers but does it really help your security? finally if you have a couple minutes, you talked about the ships, what about the planes? how do we fund them and was do we put on them? >> lcs has been very disappointing but the navy does need a small combatant, they have the ffg 7 class in the 70s and 80s that were quite successful and now they are
looking at ss x. the navy needs a small combatant for all those things that don't require a large ship like anti-piracy. we sent to billion-dollar destroyers to take on gunman in skiffs and that makes no sense. you are much better off having a smaller combatant and if you are in a conflict those are ships that may provide escort because you may have to convoy your logistics force. >> you are right, there is no magic in the 350, i said that in the beginning but there's a big difference between 350, and 308. 600 ships versus 400 ships is a big difference. also we need to recognize something mark said when he talks about the tension between
capacity and capability. sometimes capacity becomes capability and one of the things we look at coming back to what you mentioned about russians and chinese i really worry about submarine superiority in terms of numbers if we start ally russian subs with chinese subs and the delta we are going to have in terms of a load number we will have because even though our subs may be more capable we haven't quite gotten to star trek yes where we can beam them around the world. it is very important we have numbers sometimes too. the question for us is we don't want numbers for numbers sake but we want a realistic assessment and really asking because one thing we thought with those load numbers is too high deployment times, we run the steps into the ground and all of a sudden you are talking maintenance dollars and costs that are eating that up and in every conversation i had it was
never we looked at the threat level and said we don't need those ships. it was always we looked at the numbers and didn't want to spend those numbers for the ships and all i am saying is i think it is crucial as a nation that we sit back and say what do we really need? what is our strategy and if we can't afford the strategy let's not trick ourselves. let policymakers know here's the risk we face as a nation if we don't have this. last thing i will tell you is numbers matter in terms of our allies too. i can't tell you how many times our allies come in, 600 ships may not be a magic number but people remember that about the reagan era. they were building up the military. one of the things when we cut a carrier out one time before, our allies around the world were in my office saying what are you doing? you are telling us you're going to be here and have this presence and you are taking a carrier out. that is when numbers have some impact.
>> you asked about air wing and i'm going to steal a thought from one of my college areas called retreat from range pointing out the carrier air wing changed over time. in the 80s it had a range of 1000 miles and now it is down to 600 and that works fine in a regional conflict because you can do a lot of tanking, doesn't work well in a great power conflict where you have to stand off. the navy doesn't have an answer to this. you have a partial answer and this unmanned tanker but longer-term they have to come up with some strike capability. >> i want to go back to my collapse question about day-to-day and wartime. you have to have both, we are spending so much more on
day-to-day particularly for platforms that are vulnerable and expensive. and the idea that we will find something else to fly off of the deck seems to overlook the fact that may be missiles since airplanes get the writer speed and altitude to get to the guide, do we need airplanes and carriers to do that or are there cheaper ways to do it? >> that is the thinking behind the navy proposal to reduce, decommission the carrier and moved to other capabilities particularly long-range missiles. the tension for day-to-day operations. carriers are hugely useful and the navy gets pulled in both
directions. i would say the navy could have hedged on the carriers and one option would have been to refuel the truman and go to eight years centers on the bill so the navy would still be building carriers, they would have had a force that gradually declined to 7 by taking several decades and couldn't be reversed if necessary and if that is where they wanted to go it would be a more sensible way to go. >> the gentleman to my left. >> thanks. i think i am going to be singing a similar chorus to a couple things that have been said already. tara paraphrase a recent secretary of defense you probably got to go to war with the navy you got.
path dependency is a real issue but i'm wondering as a thought experiment how much we think the ideal navy, if we could tell bill arise from today, with the technology we have, the geography of the most likely conflict and the strategy of the most likely adversary, how similar would the ideal navy be to what we have today? and the idea that carriers or carrier battle groups are going to be the optimal solution dealing with the chinese, seems to me to be questionable. we are -- a big element of strategy is recognizing the systems we have gotten that we bought into for a number of years but also seems to me useful to ask how much is in
ursa driving us forward and how much is the systems really can be modified to what we need? >> that is a huge thing that drives every one of us sitting around the table, not just inertia would be the normal programmatic kind of thing but i spent my life in an aircraft carrier and that's my expertise i'm going to have a meaning to think aircraft carriers are important, say the final pilot, i think we don't want unmanned platforms, we want somebody sitting in that seat and flying that plane but there are other things to look at. i don't think the chinese setback and said carriers are obsolete and that's why we don't want to have carrier groups to compete with the united states. they realize it is not just the time you have been building the carrier that is important but the time it takes to train and make sure people can drivers carriers and operate those
carriers and that is decades that is one of the inabilities they have. if i'm looking for strategically on the board, i realized i could be decades out trying to get carrier on carrier so i've got to think asymmetrically and out-of-the-box. that is an important thing why they make some of the decisions they make. the thing i will tell you that is realistic is we don't always do a good job of being able to cut and return when we need to turn and part of that is inertia and part of it is because it takes a long time to build a navy. you're not talking about just walking in, 6 months, build these ships. it is a long period from start to finish and one of the things we have to do is try to cut that period of time down between the time we have a concept at the time we can --
sometimes it is 22 years. compare that to what the chinese can do in 6 or 7 years, that is one of the real things we have to do and overlay that with our administration concepts of how we make those cuts in turn so we don't get locked into long-term programs we can't explain. >> the navy you design depends on what you navy is to do. if you want a navy that is focused on power conflict and breaking into the bubble then you probably would not, you would probably not build many carriers, you might build smaller carriers but if you wanted a navy that could do a full spectrum of missions, great power conflict, regional conflicts, light engagements, crisis response, humanitarian assessment, you would build a
navy that has a lot of carriers. is that number 8, 10, 12? you can argue that number but you would have a different navy. >> hendrix? >> the 7 questions i would want to ask, it's not going to be about the carrier air wing which may come as a shock, numbers matter, 355, i was involved in data crunching when i was still in uniform and we came up with a number of 353 and 2009-2010 working on that policy, based on requirements so that the issue was we come lower than that, we will gap or vacate or skip maintenance and training so the 355 is like being able to cover the maritime regions we identified and give maintenance and training and i ask because i
think there's a growing softness on 355 whether to accept less then that and if so, what region will we gap and signal to the rising competitors that that, we are willing to let you do that. on the matter of the allies, every time allies talk they say we need the us to be there and be strong but ally navies of frank by 2 thirds since 1990 were only one third of the frigates or submarines they once did the we did studies on that when i was still in the think tank. how do we encourage the allies to own up to their part of the bargain as well? small question. >> for the allies, if i had that answer i would be the undersecretary now and the reason i say that is hammering
on the allies since the beginning of nato to do more. they have done a disproportional amount, the allies need to do more. since the end of the cold war, their capabilities have fallen off the cliff. the problem is how do you do that? the president has done it in his own in a medical way, sandpapering them every time he sees them. maybe it had some affect or spending has gone up since it started under this administration. i wish i had an answer but being a little nasty may be part of the solution. >> i take a different tack. i don't think the nasty approach works. we've got to realize who is making the decision and what is
driving them. the tears you are talking about in decision-making with these countries, we are talking military on military, let's have military people get it, they have the same problem with the leadership that we have in the united states. we talked about the navy tried to do this thing in 2007, conversation with america to let america understand why the navy was important. mark determined we need to decide what we want the navy to do. my biggest fear was not what we wanted the navy to do but what the navy was going to have to do. when you go to the navy they don't say we can't do that. they will say we are going to do that and the biggest risk, i used to have people come across my table every day in testimony and i hated this term, we think this is acceptable risk. what in the world is acceptable risk? that is why we could say all day long, we only have two carriers, not three, that surge capability, we are talking lives on the line, not whether
we win or lose. that is important. one of the things we have to do a better job doing, from my own experience having allies come with us. they wanted to make sure that we were explaining the strategy to them so they understood it so they could at least make decisions. these guys can tell you with prime ministers, help us understand your strategy so we know whether to buy this agreement that submarine or how we come along and do this but the second thing is we got to do a better job for our own country in explaining the risks that are out there, and it is not an easy task. every country has that. we start with folks that get this and try to work that up the latter. never going to be easy but one of the things that kills it is if we are starting and
stopping, if we have x number of f 35s, why did we jump into this equation. to begin with. >> the gentleman here. >> captain josh taylor, military fellow. my question is regarding we have spoken about the need for small service overall but the limited capacity the us has which increases price and at the same time talking about opportunities to partner closer with our allies and partners and i'm wondering if this may be a bit of should building heresy but if there might be an opportunity to purchase any of the farm produced ships since our northern european nato
allies, several corvette size designs that are quite capable in not only might that be quicker flash bangs get them out on the fleet but encourage them also to invest in their own navy so i wonder if you have any thoughts on that. >> my look at that is there are a number of different matrix that i always run through. first thing you have to ask is how it impacts the industrial base because that is a real thing we have to look at and the reason it is a real thing is if we lose our capability of producing or maintaining our vessels that is something that is very important to us. the second thing is i think there's a lot of things we can do with our allies in terms of partnerships, look at what we are doing with our submarines and that is a very important thing for us to do and continue to do because we keep costs down in doing it. as we find these things to
partner with in doing it is incredible what it can do to our costs. like mark was talking about. it is true the contractors came, a good business deal for them into good business deal for us because if we could do advanced procurements and save the costs it is one of the things chinese are doing right now. they are producing so many things, their cost is reduced on that so putting those things on the table are very important but we have to crosscheck them against those other matrix points. >> it is a fair chance that we might build a ship to a foreign design and some of the competitors will be of foreign design for the reasons congressman defined. we have to have foreign designs, the jhc whatever it is called now is a different epf was essentially a foreign design.
>> some shipbuilding -- >> let me interject a question. people frequently talk about acquisition reform. change order for the number of change orders for the unceasing number of change orders has often been held up as a reason it takes a long time to do this and it adds greatly to the expense. any truth to that? any hope of disciplining or establishing a good idea cut off date when you start building a ship? >> i wish there were but should building is an unusual situation and that the first ship is really an r&d ship. there is no such thing as r&d ship. the first one is where they are
proving out a lot of the design, a lot of the manufacturing techniques so it is not surprising that first one has problems and a lot of cost growth. it is hard to cut off changes but one thing you can do is give a little space between the first ship and subsequent ship so at least you can see, stabilize the design before you going to serious production. >> when mike talked about what navy would you build now, you always have that technology creep where you start out and then you see something new and got to have that and that is one of the things the changes. >> right over here. >> will rule in for the charles koch institute. i favor a strong navy but navy spending isn't done in a vacuum. it is competing potentially
with other military spending as well as civilian priorities, domestic priorities. we need to spend more on the navy to a couple is our ends. my question to you in an era of debt and deficits that even admiral mike mullen said this is the biggest national security threat, what trade-offs do we consider to meet our naval goals? the money won't grow on trees. >> back to the question of what you want the military to do. you want to do all the things we are doing our, build capabilities for competition. you are going to keep forces in eastern europe and facing russia with the current initiative.
if you keep forces in the middle east, syria, iraq, afghanistan and the pacific, you want to do all those you need a defense budget. if you want to give up on those, i know you would be, then you can do some different things. if you pulled back in europe and say europeans, have potentially powerful militarys and they will give you the lead on defending nato on its eastern front and you can make the army smaller and put it towards shipbuilding but you have to be willing to make that trade-off. >> the question is a great question. it is a fundamental question we wrestle with all the time and we will continue to wrestle with. one thing we owe the american people is an explanation of this is the risk you take, why we are making these decisions. i am kind of harping on this, we don't do a good job of that.
this is only a percentage of gross national product and this is what every country is spending and therefore it is okay are we got to do reset or wargame and it showed this. we don't do a good job showing the pictures and you can only spend money in one place and we love to spend it here but if we do here is the risk you are undergoing as an american. if we start doing that my experience has been americans really stand up and say no, we want door number one, make sure we are defending and protecting the country. but we have to constantly ask is this what we want or need and that is an age old question but that's what we need to constantly ask ourselves and wrestle with.
one of the unstated assumptions of this conversation is carriers and amphibians provide great presence and great value and other than humanitarian relief which we can prove it doesn't seem to have a good record of actually stopping conflict. qaddafi didn't know we had carriers when he decided to bring down the 747. not like saddam didn't know we had carriers or afghans etc. so we have a 4 structure based on an assumption that i don't see a lot of empirical data or serious study of. >> that is true. it's very hard to say exactly what you get with presence. part of the problem is the flipside of what you said. we don't know the conflicts that never occurred because
your ships are there. you also have allies that sort of expect you to be there and if you aren't there they feel like you have changed your pulse, not just they have the capability, but back you up, change your policy and you are not now committed to them the way you were before. when you listen to them that is what they say. >> all the way on the left, to make sure staff is getting exercise with the microphones. >> the department of the navy, i want an idea of your context from the point of view of the strategic framework, given the top line we are talking about at the same time combined with the radius problems would you
prefer more ships in a slightly less ready state or fewer ships in a more ready state? this is a good way to get to your framework. >> first of all, if it were me i would not allow them to put me in that box to ask that question because once they have done that you have lost, but it is a foolish question. i would say i've got to have both. the reason i've got to have both is fewer ships even if they are in a better state of readiness may mean i'm in a worse state of readiness down the road because if i'm having to do too much deployment for the sailors i have got or running those ships into the ground all of a sudden that would be a self-defeating proposition too. what we have to constantly be doing is what i said at the beginning.
what is the true risk out there that we need to defend against as a nation? i'm not saying what we want to. they are tricky issues, to determine the difference between want to and need to but that is why we do these things and have these exercises and have strategic plans and to be able to come back and say can i do it on this number of ships? if i can do it on that number of ships i need to look at policymakers and say i can't do it on this number of ships so you accept that risk. let me tell you why this is important. one of the big frustrations i have is when we have a mishap anywhere in the world you guys know what happens. it is like the end of the casablanca movie. round up the usual suspects and fire somebody and put a scapegoat on somebody but oftentimes we don't do a good job tracing that all the way back to who said we could get by on this number of ships in the first place that created that problem. with the navy saying we understand that we will come to you and tell you we need more ships and they need to be in a readiness state to do what we want them to do.
if not you could have those problems down the road. what always bothered me is, whether it is the navy or any other branch that came in and said our analysis says we can get by, the old adage more for less, it never panned out that way and so we need to be realistic in telling policymakers here is the risk we see, this is the danger and if you don't resource it this way here's what could happen, you tell us the dollars. >> let me jump on that for a second and go out on a limb and say we need a balance and the reason i say that, what they did was sensible with some serious readiness shortfalls, they fixed those in the 17-18-19 budgets but readiness is expensive and perishable so that is enough and now we move
on to something for structural modernization. >> readiness is not very sexy. it is a hard thing to sell. >> i showed three people on my right flanking doctor forbes. >> the national war college. >> i appreciate the discussion of strategy. that's what we do in the war colleges. i asked your suggestion on this. one of the problems we have is strategists. all the war colleges know that the navy is running away in droves, we need to train naval officers and senior strategy and joint operations, one of the results is if you talk to the -- my mission is to fight in china and i don't think that is something we want so all the sophisticated discussion, we are the ones having it and they are not.
how do you solve that? >> we worked on that. one of the things we've pushed hard for is to make sure we have slots for strategist and it will not impact their career mobility as they are going up and i can tell you admiral richardson was very receptive to looking at that and making moves on it. that is a crucial thing to do because if we don't do that and make sure we got those individuals who want to be there or want to do that, that is a price tag we will pay down the road. >> one thing i would add is keep in mind the strategies the ways and means, the congressman raised that earlier and i want to emphasize that. it is easy to articulate ends, what we would like to do. it is getting from ends to ways and means and the cost of it that is much more difficult and we haven't seen that out of the department of defense.
we have a strategy and 355 ships is the answer and 58 combat teams and how you get between them is unclear. >> don't create 38 amphibians, the gentleman down here has been patient. >> i agree the prioritization we are putting on new capabilities is greater more distributed, smaller combatants, unmanned systems, hypersonic missiles. the point is from the strategic point is given these, they could be targeted like a carrier and one of the problems we had an analysis is even with the payload, the smaller frigate with 32 bls or smaller usb, you quickly use up those weapons even if you survive and now you have to get logistics and all that. that part of the strategy.
but also looking 20 years from now the vast majority of the fleet is going to be the ships we are currently building, not the new ones and prudent to develop a strategy and capabilities that allow you to let those ships, carriers and other things fight and not just the humanitarian ops. not the new weapons systems and platforms that may or may not get their act out there in the next 10 or 20 years. >> the short answer is the shipbuilding plan is a bit above the future. when you buy a ship you are talking what they look like in 30 or 40 years, it is fair to try to imagine what the future might look like. >> i agree with that.
building those, working towards that but realizing you have to fight as you work towards that goal, you have to fight with what you have. >> market a great word he used while ago, balance. we don't like that word very much but there aren't any exactitude in this business. it is striking the best balance we can get because it is like buying insurance and if you don't have a hurricane or whatever you wish you hadn't bought it but that is the important thing, to strike that balance. >> last two questions bundled together and give our panelists the opportunity for the last word. >> thank you, recently retired naval officer. we started this discussion with a call for real strategy and what was implied is real maritime strategy. the way we divided up the world
into regional theaters looks to me a lot like the way and army officers fall the world in 1945. bar design means they are focused on their own day-to-day problems and not big picture. is it possible to have a real maritime strategy within the bounds of the current command structure? >> the associate? >> just going to have a conversation. >> a long time ago. have we missed the window on reforming and extending range of the air wing with the m225 decision? do we miss the chance to stretch out with unmanned or something else to get a penetrating strike? >> let's take both of those. first of all, i think, can we
do a strategic lay down even with combatant commanders and regional approaches, the answer is yes because one of the great things about the united states military is we have a culture of strategy. i guarantee every 5 professors couldn't all agree on the definition of strategy. but the great thing is we believe in inculcating our military a culture of strategy for different things so we have hundreds of strategies going on all the time. if we ask a combatant commander, i remember a conversation i had with one and i asked him what are you worried about 5 years down the road and he rightfully said nothing. the reason is all his focus was on the next 24 hours. that is what he should be doing. you take that energy, that focus but that doesn't mean we can't get an overall strategy
that is much bigger. i hope in answering your questions that we haven't missed that window. every time we miss an opportunity it makes it harder to do but getting that carrier wing rate is so crucial to whatever we do down the road and that mixed between manned, unmanned, is going to be absolutely vital for us and there are some things and opportunities we might not have missed. >> i end on this notice strategy heresy and iq there is always a strategy. the strategy may not be fully articulated or successful but there is always a strategy. >> thank you for being a great audience and please join me in thanking our panelists.
[applause] [inaudible conversations] .. >> from the deputy cancel new york times on defending the newspaper. samantha allen reports on algae bq communities. in charlottesville community. for complete schedule check your cable guide or visit booktv.org. we kick off the weekend with an author discussion on the future of artificial intelligence.