Navy to Select New Ship Designs on July 17
The Navy plans to select up to three contractors on July 17 for the next phase
of the Littoral Combat Ship program.
Each will receive a $10 million, seven-month contract to refine their designs
and concepts. The Navy stipulated that each LCS should cost between $150 million
and $220 million. Including the mission systems, the total cost should not exceed
In the proposals the Navy received in April from several industry teams, the
average price is about $180 million for the hull and about $70 million to $80
million for the mission systems, said Rear Adm. Charles Hamilton, the Navy’s
program executive officer for ships.
Hamilton said the first LCS ship will be in operation by fiscal year 2005.
“The schedule is aggressive but attainable.”
In a meeting with congressional staffers and contractors, Hamilton commented
that he was pleased to see that “all the bidders” had international
partners. He noted that naval engineers from countries such as Israel, Sweden,
Norway, Australia and New Zealand have more experience in designing the small
LCS-type combatants that the U.S. Navy wants. U.S. shipyards, he said, “don’t
have that kind of experience.”
Congressional staffers and budget analysts, however, question whether the Navy
can afford both the Littoral Combat Ship and a new destroyer, the DD-X. The
two are scheduled to go into production simultaneously, possibly draining away
dollars from other programs. The Navy will not cancel either ship, even in a
budget crunch, said Hamilton. If money gets tight, the strategy is to seek “efficiencies
and force structure reductions” Navy-wide, he said.
The Navy plans to save money by adopting systems that will be applicable to
both LCS and DD-X, said Hamilton. Examples include a embarkation and debarkation
mechanism, and a common control system to operate unmanned vehicles.
Marine Corps Working to Restore Readiness
The much-discussed “reconstitution” of U.S. military forces after
the war in Iraq needs to be viewed under a different light this time around,
said Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps.
The Defense Department’s emphasis on transformation should prompt the
services to carefully decide how they should restore the readiness of their
forces and upgrade their equipment, Hagee noted.
“We don’t necessarily want to go back to where we were before Operation
Iraqi Freedom,” he told a meeting of defense reporters. It’s not
just a matter of “refilling old bins,” he said. “In many cases
we will. But in some cases, we don’t want to fill those old bins.”
Marine leaders will have a tough job trying to practically reconstitute the
entire Corps. Most of the 65,000 Marines who participated in Operation Iraqi
Freedom should be returning in August, but that is not a certainty, Hagee said.
Since last fall, about 68 percent of the Marine Corps has been forward deployed
in Iraq and Okinawa, Japan. That includes 80 percent of the infantry battalions,
100 percent of the tank battalions, 100 percent of the light armored vehicle
battalions, 100 percent of the amphibious assault vehicle battalions, 100 percent
of the Harrier squadrons and 70 percent of the Hornet squadrons.
The war in Iraq reinforced the Marine Corps’ concepts of operations,
which focus on “speed and agility,” Hagee said. Areas that need
to improve are combat identification, mobilization procedures for reserve forces
and intelligence sharing with allies, he explained. Occurrences of “blue
on blue” friendly fire are a problem “we need to grasp,” said
The mobilization of reserves is too bureaucratic and slows down deployments,
he said. “Our reserve mobilization procedures were set up during the Cold
War, with the idea to mobilize the entire nation. … We should be able
to mobilize differently.”
National Guard Monitors Pace of Deployments
The National Guard is keeping a close eye on the pace of deployments being
assigned to its personnel, said Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National
A total of 147,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel are deployed in 44
nations around the world, Blum told a Pentagon news briefing. Their missions
range from close combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, peacekeeping in the Balkans
and Sinai, homeland security and responding to natural disasters within the
“We are watching that very, very closely,” he said. “We have
to be very careful that we don’t go beyond the elasticity that [these
soldiers] will tolerate.”
Blum said he is most worried about the patience of those who employ Guard personnel.
“How many times can they tolerate the interruption? …
Despite the frequent deployments, Blum said, the Guard is “doing pretty
well” in meeting its recruitment and retention goals.
Rumsfeld Vocal About Personnel Reform
Seeking to bolster his case for a broad overhaul of the Pentagon’s personnel
system, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the current civil-service
structure severely hampers efforts to recruit and retain talented young workers.
“Some would say [the system] is broken,” he said during a June
briefing at the National Press Club.
Rumsfeld was responding to a Brookings Institute survey of 1,002 graduating
college seniors that found many of those students would avoid government jobs,
because the hiring process is cumbersome and lengthy.
Rumsfeld said the Defense Department is ill equipped to compete with corporate
recruiters who can offer students jobs, tell them what the bonuses are and when
and where they can start. The government can only offer paperwork and “a
promise to get back to them” in three to five months, he added.
At Rumsfeld’s urging, the Bush administration has asked Congress to transform
the civil service system and is proposing the creation of a new national security
personnel system to manage the Pentagon’s nearly 700,000 civilian employees.
Labor unions and other advocacy groups claim that doing away with decades-old
civil service rules could undermine public employees by taking away workers’
rights and making the system more vulnerable to cronyism.
Rumsfeld dismissed the criticism. Further, he stressed that reform is essential
to the Pentagon’s efforts to become more efficient by outsourcing to contractors
many civilian jobs that today are performed by military personnel.
Approximately 320,000 civilian tasks today are performed by military service
members, Rumsfeld said. “We are wasting the skills of military personnel
on tasks civilian workers could handle.”
Civil service regulations also have stymied efforts to prosecute fraud; most
notably credit card abuse. The government can garnish the wages of uniformed
personnel in order to collect on credit card abuse. But it can’t do so
with civilian workers.