Some bits and pieces of e-mail messages sent to me by reader ILSM, cut and pasted with his permission.
A common irony related to me in early 1990’s attributed to Norm Augustine,
former chairman of Lockheed Martin, one of the top 5 defense coroporations, edited for brevity and from memory:
‘As we design more expensive stuff, eventually we will be able to afford just one airplane. This super airplane will be available to the Navy one day a week, the Air Force one day a week and the marines one day every other week.
But we will have the best and most advanced airplane in the world’.
The come back is, more money for the airplane, we do not need to have health care for anyone.
You have asked about one of several significant myths about “national security” capacity.
That is that we: “We don’t need the ships or planes now, but we have an “efficient” (Lemma: the industrial base is not efficient) defense industrial base, (which we do not) that creates needs to spend money on unneeded stuff to stay effcient (Lemma: the industrial base is not efficient), in case we ever need it.”
A myth but it sells unneeded stuff. Making the military budget a jobs and profit program.
Corrollary: To keep the industrial base we choose the most expensive and wasteful way to fight: you have a hammer (US high tech industrail warfare state output) every enemy looks like a nail (Nazi).
The real issue is what do we need? To decide this we need to define our enemies, their intentions, their capabilities and how we fix on the threat posed by
intentions and capabilities and how we counter them.
We have nukes for deterent and I am in favor of Mutual Assured Destruction. It has prevented many silly forays.
The myth of maintaining a good (which we do not have now) industrial bases denies debate about real needs.
If we do not need any more nuclear subs then we will not need them if, exceptionally unlikely anyone will tilt at us in the nuclear sub realm, and diesels are
much more effective than the WW II ones who had to surface each night, the balloon goes up.
That myth is deliberate obfuscation, to get you to spend money on things not needed.
You ask: “If it (a mix of Navy and Private Shipyards, the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, NH, the private in Norfolk, Va and maybe one on the west coast) stopped
building, it could lose the capability of building.”
The myth is we have any where near an efficient capability to build nuclear subs now.
The motive is transferring money collected mostly from payrolls taxpayers to the shipyards.
If it is a national priority to be able to make nuclear subs, and there is no vital need for the end item now, then the Navy yard in NH wins.
That priority is then a national security issue and that becomes an inherently governmental function.
But, the myth of keeping the warfare state in work is common.
Suppose we did not have a nuclear submarine building capability? What would it take to get one?
When I was a less mature (read young, although I am still a kid) supply officer I did an inventory optimization study on useful things that had scarce resources and also a large amount of work to make those resources into a product.
It was the mid 1970’s I was stationed in (removed by cactus), lots of time and my new bride worked odd shift.
My youthful conclusion was you ‘stockpiled the hard to get things, and kept the machinery ready but you waited until actual need to put it all together.’
This avoided wasting the labor input as well as the costs to store the fully built thing.
Also if we build nuclear subs or anything else we have to add new technology as it comes up. COntinuing work on unneeded stuff. I think of wate here.
Now in the case of nuclear subs: there is a class of wielder they worry about, but guess what. The same guys weld and fix welds on nuclear plants. I know one
person who has mesothieliomoa, the asbestos thing.
You do not need navy shipyards to keep wielders around who can meet spec for the reactors, nor the depth hulls.
You may look at during mobilization bringing these men and women to work in Portsmouth.
Finally, the Nuc reactor issue. Do you know, that it costs 2 Billion dollars to rebuild the reactor on a Nimitz class aircraft carrier?
There is a movement that gets shouted down that says nucs are no good at sea.
The great container ships and tankers which are tonnage far bigger than carriers do not use nuclear power.
Further, the issue with carriers is not boiler fuel it is being tied to oilers to bring up aviation fuel.
Being an Air Force guy, I can state, with no service bias, the truth that if air bases are nearby I can run 18 F-16s and deliver more bombs than a $10-15 billion
carrier Battle group, and the Navy cannot put one in a sea where the Air Force and Marines cannot cover them with land air.
So, do we need carriers? No! Do we need nuclear subs, no.
The illusion of keeping the industrial base just in case stops people short of asking about the basic need question.
Look at the F-22, not needed. A week or two ago I was in a hotel on a business trip, talking to a retired AF pilot, now a contractor he agreed the F-22 was not needed. I did not share my radical views and we had not met before.
What happened? The need was non existent, the thing sold to keep money going to Lockheed, for the above mythology. Now there is a huge amount of scrap and rework.
Aside from that: congress limited the total costs to deliver the airplane to $38B in a constant year money. The program started with 750 airplanes for that
ceiling cost. Now the Air Force gets 180.
That kind of wonderful industrial base will kill the US Air Force.
Some reason to keep that industrial base going.