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LCS: Requiem for Transformationalism
quite the legacy
Yes, it is important that we continue to bring up the LCS program on a regular basis.
Make no mistake - our Navy has very little institutional capital left to draw on in the nation it serves. For the better part of this century, we have had a series of senior leaders who decided that this hill or that hill was not worth fighting for, leading to the Navy being surrounded by problems and challenges that all have the high ground.
Compounding and related to this miasma, a lack of attentiveness to the problems with “just the way things are” in WESTPAC begat Fat Leonard and its resulting frag pattern destroying entire cohorts of upcoming senior leaders. Relishing in a system of incentives and disincentives that transforms otherwise accomplished officers in to beings OF DC as opposed to being stationed IN DC, we refused to admit an error and happily made promises we could never deliver on.
Forgetting our core mission and instead deciding to curry favor with the terrarium politics of DC, we further alienated our Navy’s natural allies expending what remaining institutional capital left on supporting such divisive and outright cancerous socio-political cultural Marxist philosophies such as Kendi’s.
And so, as a cherry on top, here in 2023 the roosting chickens from PEO LCS continue to land. How are we doing making friends and thus supporters for our Navy?
Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott recalled one of his most memorable days in office, the commissioning ceremony of the USS Sioux City in November of 2018.
"You know, one of the proudest days of Sioux City. There were all kinds of Sioux City citizens there because the community got behind that did a great job of showing the Navy how proud we were to have a ship named after us. And then this is what the Navy does to us in return," said Scott.
Scott says the Navy fleeced not only his community but all taxpayers.
“Well, I think it's a joke. I mean, they mobilized our community; we went out and raised a lot of money,” he said.
Scott estimates $1.5 million went toward a christening ceremony for the vessel in November 2018, and a scholarship fund, with the majority from citizens of Sioux City and surrounding areas.
"This is unacceptable to spend $350 million, knowing that they're supposedly a problem and wasting taxpayers' money. But not only that, selling that community on 30 years’ worth of commitment to that ship," added Scott. "And then to have the Navy just throw it in our face. I've lost all confidence, and in the way the government does things, I didn't have a lot of confidence to begin with. But this just shows that they really don't give a crap about a local community."
When this news broke earlier in the week, I had quite a few of you reach out on it. The more I read, the more this little chapter in the LCS Book (hey, there’s an idea…) was a perfect demonstration of the … let me use a phrase all the cool kids like … multi-domain damage the Age of Transformationalism wrought upon our Navy.
One of the worst problems … not admitting honestly to our mistakes, we just encourage the habit of an already cancerous lack of candor that goes beyond the little lies we tell each other - but to the disrespect we show to the American people with comments like the below that no one really believes - even the people who make them;
A spokesperson also released a statement surrounding concerns raised by Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott.
“Sioux City was funded with Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) allocations, which is appropriate for ships intended to mature requirements for the innovative designs. To maintain our strategic advantage, particularly under fiscal constraints, it is important for the Navy to carefully review our force structure regularly and divest of legacy capabilities that no longer bring sufficient lethality to the fight.”
The Navy did not comment on Scott’s concern that putting the USS Sioux City out of service was a “waste of taxpayer money," but did say the ship helped the Navy improve for the future.
“Sioux City was instrumental to maturing the reduced crewing philosophy, maintenance strategies, fleet CONOPs, and other issues associated with the introduction of any new class of warship. Upon decommissioning, Sioux City will be placed into Foreign Military Sale (FMS) disposition status. To maintain our strategic advantage, particularly under fiscal constraints, it is important for the Navy to carefully review our force structure regularly and divest of legacy capabilities that no longer bring sufficient lethality to maximize our effectiveness in deterring and defeating potential adversaries.”
Embarrassed? You should be. If not, you may be part of the problem.
As we have since 2005 on the OG Blog and here, this story must be told and retold as an ongoing warning and example to present and future leaders who are responsible for program management, design, or even discussions about what is needed to build a fleet that will be ready to defend our nation’s interests at sea.
As I did SEPCOR to a group of folks earlier this week and will share here, what is important to remember about LCS is the story about how we got here.
LCS it is the story of failed leadership produced by, and a self-replicating mindset of, an ultimately institutionally destructive construct of incentives and disincentives.
This construct distilled from the arrogance of the 1990s victory in the Cold War that extruded a flawed, arrogant and preening “word view” that by the turn of the century begat a reverse engineered CONOPS midwifed by a toxic command climate punishing anything but full alignment.
And so we were fed happy-talk about “Optimum Manning,” “Mission Modules,” “Blue/Gold,” “Hybrid Sailors,” “Concurrent Development of Systems,” “Speed,” “Contract Maintenance Support” etc etc … as generations of best practices of bringing new classes of warships online was thrown away as “Old Think.”
The alarms were going off well in to the mid-00s - and anyone who raised those alarms were crushed, marginalized, or dismissed as uninformed cranks. As each predictable problem manifested itself over the following ~2 decades, the response was to release some excuse, denial, or farcical spot-welded patch - it did not matter.
In a prelude to the complete lack of accountability in the Fall of Kabul, there continues to be a complete lack of accountability for this unmitigated disgrace except for the occasional CAPT or RDML who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong times w/o the right friends to give them top cover.
Even here in 2023 we have retired 4-stars who know this problem well yet are acting as if they are shocked - SHOCKED - that things are turning out this bad with LCS.
I’m sorry, but bullshit. They were part of the midwifing team. They know it a hell of a lot more then anyone here - especially me - and yet in an almost spoof-proof display of a lack of self-awareness - they become a meme made flesh.
That is why it is so infuriating - this is their baby. Instead of owning it and helping bring about a constructive and honest discussion about how we got here - they act as if this is a bolt from the blue. Worse, it shows contempt and disrespect to anyone who reads their self-serving cover stories.
Why is LCS what it is even today? Just see how the leadership responsible for it behave today. Not all of them - but almost all.
That tells you exactly why we are where we are. We will not fix our macro problems until we also address the cultural problems that create the fetid surface they grow on.
Let’s get back to SIOUX CITY for a bit. How did it start ~half a decade ago?
For the first time the people of Sioux City, Iowa, have a combat ship named in their honor.
But the 3,400-ton USS Sioux City can’t traverse the Missouri River to travel to its people — instead, a commissioning ceremony marking the vessel’s official entrance into the Navy’s fleet will be held in Annapolis, at the Naval Academy sometime next year, organizers said.
“It really connects all the different elements of Annapolis in my mind — the water, the Navy, Annapolis, hospitality, who we are,” said Retired Rear Admiral Frank Thorp IV, an Eastport resident and the chair of USS Sioux City Commissioning Committee.
Frank Thorp … hmmmm … sound familiar? He should;
In his twenty-eight year Navy career, Admiral Thorp served as the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information, the principal spokesman for the Department of the Navy. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Joint Communication) where he was responsible for overseeing Department of Defense strategic communication initiatives.
His other assignments include Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chief of Naval Operations, and Chief of Media for US Central Command (forward) during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Oh, and this little jewel…
He co-chaired the commissioning committee for the USS Zumwalt in Baltimore in 2016.
Yes, so the Press Secretary present at the Age of Transformationalism’s birth under CNO Clark … ran the commissioning of what will be seen as two of the primary examples of that failed pseudo-religion of the first decade of this century whose fruits we are only now harvesting.
If nothing else, at least history has a sense of humor and irony…and irony here abounds.
Retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, chairman of the USS Sioux City's commissioning committee, said he didn't learn of the decommissioning until informed by McGowan a week ago Friday. While he didn't know the reasons for the decision, Thorp said, he understood the Navy leadership's responsibility to use its resources wisely.
Go ahead, read that again and then read the extended article linked above.
What does that do to any of the good will remaining in Iowa? People will put up with a lot - but being talked to like that after the hundreds of thousands of dollars Sioux City residents and supporters put towards this ship so far?
I’ll let you hash it out in comments.
Finally, a bit of irony that I know you will get - but I’m not sure was fully appreciated by the individuals involved;
During the ceremony guest speaker, Capt. Daniel Reiher, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Training Facility Atlantic, wished the crew of Sioux City fair winds and following seas as they bid farewell to their ship.
“Though our ship’s service ends today, her legacy does not. For years to come the Sailors who served onboard will carry forth lessons learned and career experiences gained,” said Capt. Daniel Reiher, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Training Facility Atlantic. “As those lessons and experiences are used to forge those that follow us, the legacy of SIOUX CITY will strengthen our Navy for generations to come.”
Yes, quite the legacy. Lots of lessons learned. The career experiences should be great for retention.
The only way SIOUX CITY will strengthen our Navy would be in line with the opening to this post.