Over the last decade, a belief has taken root in global naval circles that shallow littoral chokepoints for maritime trade, operations in and around failed states like Somalia, and expeditionary stabilization operations, will become key foci for many deployments. That realization has driven a number of approaches to naval construction. In the Netherlands, Royal Schelde’s Sigma Ships are designed in block modules, which can be added or subtracted to build anything from an offshore patrol vessel to a large frigate. Denmark is already building its Flyverfisken Class and Absalon Class ships, which leverage the mission module concept and can be used in roles ranging ranging from mine or sub hunting, to anti-ship warfare/ land attack, to carrying troops. Sweden’s Visby Class stealth corvettes helped to inspire the American concept of the Littoral Combat Ship – which has been criticized both for its cost, and for having fewer and less flexible high-end weapon options than any competitor.
Germany’s response has been the F125 frigate, which might best be described as an “expeditionary frigate” design. It doesn’t use the Danish or American mission module concept. Instead, it includes a number of features aimed at making it a strong contributor to long international deployments in littoral environments, and to naval support for stabilization operations.
This week DID’s Olivier Travers is attending WBR’s 2013 Defense Logistics event. Email me if you’d like to meet up or submit logistics themes for us to look into.
Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek has been heading the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for 2 years and presented an update on the agency’s challenges and progress during WBR’s 2013 Defense Logistics conference. He candidly talked about how DoD at large, and DLA specifically, had benefited from “budget largesse” in recent years, especially with supplemental budgets (i.e. OCO / war spending) and had grown “thicker in the middle” as a result. In plain admission of the government’s shortcomings, the development of a “culture of judiciousness” to apply better judgment and save money is necessary within DLA. This is a welcome evolution in public discourse after so much hand-wringing about sequestration and befuddlement at the very idea of having to operate within financial constraints.
VADM Harnitchek was equally frank in recognizing that part of the agency’s focus will translate into margin pressure for contractors. Like other DoD senior officials, he’s broadcasting a clear signal that budget constraints are expected to stay and everyone should learn to operate within them. This should lead to increased reliance on commercial capabilities and less DoD resources, in relative terms. To that effect, fuel and food are pretty much already run “factory to foxhole” through commercial suppliers.
Christine Fox will succeed Ashton Carter as the USA’s Deputy Defense Secretary. The acting DDS is a budget specialist who was part of a recent management review, and has served as president of the federally funded R&D Center for Naval Analyses.