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^ Soviet destroyer dips her colors to the U. S.
8U*ded-missile destroyer Waddell (DDG-24) as enters the harbor at Massawa, Ethiopia.
”ere once the U. S. Navy stood preeminent in te^hnology) ships, and personnel, the Soviets ave caught or surpassed us in many areas. ^nd, even though bluejackets continue to °utnumher their Soviet counterparts, this «tlstic, too, is alarming. For, by the U. S. avy spending almost twice as much on 1>lanpower costs as does the Soviet Naiy, we are not likely to close the hardware gap unless and until the American taxpayer fully Understands what is happening and resolves to ei>erse the trend.
At a recent Navy-industry symposium nearly all the speakers were career officers, mostly captains and admirals. For the first time in my 20-year association with the Navy, I detected an undercurrent of gloom. Each officer spoke to his subject with what he probably believed was optimism and enthusiasm. They talked of new U. S. plans and accomplishments. But, as each speaker compared our accomplishments and plans with those of the Soviets in similar areas, he also told of the narrowing gap between our technology and capabilities and theirs. Speaker after speaker had that point of view. Several spoke of our "catching up” with what the Soviets have already accomplished.
The same sense of pessimism was evident in the remarks of Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., in his valedictory as Chief of Naval Operations. Admiral Zumwalt warned:
"... because of drastic reductions in naval forces and personnel, our Navy has reached a point where it no longer can, with certainty, guarantee free use of the ocean lifelines to U. S. and allied forces in the face of a new, powerful, and growing Soviet fleet.”
Admiral Zumwalt’s words seem to be an acknowledgement of a situation that Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergei Gorshkov predicted some years ago when he said, "Sooner or later the United States will have to understand that it no longer has mastery of the seas.”
The picture is not all bleak. The Soviets are
Russian industry. Interestingly, much of the
internal transport is by water. The U.S.S.R. has a
Let us review where we are, how we got there, and what might be done about it. The following are illustrations of the trend in seven selected areas:
► Defense Technology: Every year at budget hearing time, Navy and Department of Defense officials present a comparative picture of U. S. and Soviet relative strength in armed forces and related technology. During one such presentation in 1973, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, Dr. Malcolm Currie, listed 167 comparative technology areas. In 26 of these the United States had a major lead; in 11 the U.S.S.R. had a major lead. The United States had some lead in 47 and the Soviets in 28. The remaining 55 were about equal. This compared with previous years when the United States had overwhelming technological superiority. The situation has worsened since 1973.
In 1972 there were 640,000 working engineers and scientists in the U.S.S.R., compared to 560,000 in the United States. The Soviets now have a 2:1 advantage in the number of engineers and scientists graduating annually.
This country has dismantled large parts of its research and development and its engineering development capability. One result is the declining engineering and science enrollment in U. S. colleges and universities.
► Quantity of Naval Forces (1975): The following table tells the story:
_______________________ U. S. U.S.S.R.__________
Manpower 540,000 475,000 (Estimated)
Active Ships 502 *2,000
New Construction (1962-72) 263 911
Submarines 116 250
► Ship Speed: The average "modern” U. S. destroyer or frigate can make 31 knots. The Soviets have been building 36-knot destroyers since before 1957. Examples are the Kildin and SAM Kotlin-class destroyers.
► Propulsion Technology: The Soviets have one cruiser class (Kara) and two classes of gas turbine-powered guided-missile destroyers in being, the Krivak and Kashin. The first Kashins were completed in 1962. Our first DD-size class equipped with gas turbine propulsion is the Spruance (DD-963).
► Antiship Missiles: As a result of the 1967 sinking of the Israeli destroyer Elath, nearly every citizen knows that the Soviets have developed an effective antiship cruise missile. It was deployed years earlier. The missiles that sank the Elath were hand-me-downs given to Egypt. The Soviets keep the latest and best for themselves. Their cruise missile designs are maturing ♦About 1,200 of these are small coastal escorts, missile patrol boats, and mine warfare ships.
through second and third generations and are a cau# of major concern in our Navy.
In 1971 the U. S. antiship missile, now evolving sS Harpoon, began development. Surface-launched Ha(' poon has yet to be deployed. Encapsulated Harpo°n for launch from submarines is still farther away.
► Command and Control: The Soviets have an elaborate secure, real-time, worldwide naval command-an^ control network in operation. The Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS) is installed in key U. S. ships, but are only now beginning to plan and widely introdu# secure fleet command-and-control links with suffice111 real-time capability for tactical voice.
► Submarine Technology: This area where the Unite States once held an overpowering lead—particularly10 nuclear propulsion and submarine-launched ballistlC missiles—is changing rapidly. Not only have the S° viets now exceeded our nuclear construction (110 sU^ marines to 105 for the United States), but they U'C launched the new Delta-class strategic SSBN carrying the SS-N-8 missile with a 4,200-mile range that surpass5 the range of anything we have. According to Janl1 Fighting Ships, the Soviet Delta-class ballistic miss* submarines are the largest in the world.
Admittedly, these are selected areas. It is also truC that the number of ships in a fleet and tonnage al°ne are not enough to measure naval power. CapabifitieS of the fleets must be considered in the light of shcl< missions and their ability to perform them.
deficient in antisubmarine warfare and have been ^ in logistic support of a blue-water fleet. We have conventional aircraft carriers compared to none for ^ Soviets. Our naval strike air power has no Soviet & based equivalent. The F-14 has no parallel. The SovietS’ however, have Moskva-class helicopter carriers, v,r‘11 are a beginning. And their new 35-40,000-ton class V/STOL carriers are about the displacement os 0 ^ Essex class. The first has been launched, and a seC°^ is under construction. Soviets have more than 7 aircraft equipped with antiship missiles in their lan based naval air force. These can be supported by S°v aviation within range of land bases. f
The dependence of the United States on the sea critical materials is much greater than that of the Sov Union. The Soviets historically have been a land P0^ The Soviet-controlled land mass has vast material 1 sources that do not require overseas shipment to rea
and elaborate network of inland waterways based 0 rivers and lakes with canals interlinking them. ^ The United States must be more than equal in na . power if it is to have adequate security of its sea supr -
°ur present force reductions is to allow funds for
Routes. Yet the U. S. Navy has reduced the number of *ts ships by 49% and aircraft by 23% since 1968. That eduction came about because fleet operating costs had t0 be reduced in order to remain within the budget while paying for new ships and other weapons.
The time may well be fast coming when the Soviets can put all or most major U. S. surface combatants ||nder direct surveillance and threat. Each ship would e_ so clearly at immediate peril to missiles that a limited” U. S. response would not be possible. Such a Situation would substantially reduce the "options” ^at our Secretaries of Defense have been seeking.
What will be the outcome of such trends? Can we reasonably project any final result? The stated reason rebuilding and modernization of our fleet. Never- ^eless, many believe that our present path cannot reverse the trend.
. The Navy has new programs under way that are lntended to steadily build up both the numbers and Capabilities of naval forces from our present low point.
. reductions in ships and manpower were accepted 'n order to permit these programs. They include the T4 Tomcat, the S-3A Viking, the Spruance-class de- sre°yer, the Los Angeles-class (SSN-688) attack submarine, be Pegasus-class (PHM-i) patrol combatant missile (hydrofoil), the Virginia-class (CGN-38) nuclear cruiser, e Tarawa-class (LHA-i) amphibious assault ship, Har- P0on, Trident, guided-missile frigate (FFG-7) class, and Perhaps a small SSBN. The antiship missile defense Pr°gram, Vulcan Phalanx, close-in weapon system, eSls, and design-to-cost electronic warfare programs afe intended to help solve the antiship missile and fleet 3lr defense problems.
All were undertaken with the expectation that, once ^repleted, they would put us at least on a par with e Soviets. These are impressive, well-thought-out °grams and perhaps would have done the job had j0t. the Soviets started even more ambitious enterprises.
Is by no means clear that the planned U. S. pro- t^arns—-coupled with rising costs—permit us to narrow ,^e gap within the nearly constant Navy budget. Little the past five years leads one to the conclusion that rrnal steps will solve the problem. We have underes- ated Soviet naval intentions and capabilities in the at- Current predictions by some of our leaders show eveling off in Soviet introduction of new naval j aP°n systems and new construction. Presumably this Ming off, combined with our present initiatives, will S[ ^t us to regain leadership or at least maintain the Us Wo. The trend of the last five years, however, t °es not suggest that the Soviets are losing any resolu- ^ . lr> their push for naval supremacy. What the 0viets do has a critical effect on our relative strengths.
They continue to develop, build, and deploy ships and weapon systems at a rate that by most measures exceeds our future planned rate. Our highest naval leaders consider the training and professionalism of the Soviet Navy to be close to the level of that in our own Navy.
Let us examine two main differences between the Soviet approach to naval power and ours:
► Continuity of approach
► Allocation of resources
The Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy and First Deputy Minister of Defense is Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergei Gorshkov. He is the Soviet equivalent of our CNO and Secretary of the Navy combined. Since 1956 he has rebuilt the Soviet Fleet and revised naval policy so that the Soviets can now project their power anywhere in the world. The Soviet humiliation caused by the U. S. naval blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis helped accelerate the process.
In contrast to Admiral Gorshkov’s career, we have a policy of rotating most of our leaders, no matter how capable, every two to four years. During Admiral Gorshkov’s tenure we have had six CNOs and nine Secretaries of the Navy. A notable exception to this rapid turnover at decision-making levels is Admiral H. G. Rickover. Perhaps the notable results he has obtained tell us something. How can we have adequate continuity of direction if we change leaders in less time than it takes to bring any new weapon system or ship much past the planning and early development stages? There is now a move toward longer tenure in office for major weapon system program managers. It is a step in the right direction, but not nearly enough.
One consequence of the rapid changes in direction, not only in the Navy, but in DoD as well, is that different and not necessarily compatible directives and policies have been put forth.
When Robert S. McNamara was Secretary of Defense, "total package procurement,” "commonality,” and "cost-effectiveness” were watchwords. Results were mixed. Long-term, inflexible, fixed-price contracts in a period of severe inflation were made before proving out the initial hardware. These proved impractical in some well-known cases. For example, the F-lllB did not meet the Navy’s desired objectives. Thus, the attempt at commonality failed.
Next came a push for "quality” in weapon systems, since we couldn’t hope to outdo the Soviets in quantity while maintaining austere budgets. The idea was to "think smart” and thereby cut costs. In some cases we got "quality.” The F-14 is an example but at a price of $18.5 million per aircraft. We will probably get "quality” in Trident at $800 million per submarine fully
armed. It is not so clear what happened to the 46 Knox-class frigates. Critics say these 46 ships were clearly inferior to Soviet new construction of similar class (Kashin) before they came off the ways. So "quality” was not obtained at $28 million per ship, and today the equivalent ship would cost much more.
We got the "fly before buy” and "milestone” concepts that are still with us. These doubtless reduce waste but do not sufficiently close gaps in naval power. Now the key words are "design to cost.” Under this concept, we select in advance a cost that a particular function or weapon system is worth and then design hardware which will cost no more than that. The idea is to reduce capability, if necessary, until the cost goal is met. That method is akin to what a commercial manufacturer must do in pricing his goods for the competitive market.
"Balanced force” means that we will have a mix of a few high-quality systems and ships and a larger number of moderately capable systems. Examples of the high end include the F-14, Trident, and DD-963. The low end would include the new FFG-7 class and the lightweight fighter.
Each administration pushes the approach which seems most promising at the time. Surely greater continuity of leadership could overcome some of the zigs and zags. The possibility exists to achieve superiority in neither quality nor quantity. To some we appear to be following that path now.
Selective development in several critical areas in which we excel or can hope to excel suggests itself as one approach. Germany, a land power waging war against sea powers, twice nearly brought her opponents down through selective excellence in a single area- submarine warfare. Submarine warfare is an area in which the United States still has some technological advantages and suggests itself for even more intensive development.
Let us move to the comparative allocation of resources. The publicly announced Soviet defense budgets do not include research and development and are estimated to leave out about 68% of the true costs. The Soviets piously compare their announced expenditures against ours to prove their peacelike intentions. As of fiscal year 1973 the Soviets were spending an estimate^ $80 billion on armed forces against our $74 billi°n’ They allocate what is estimated to be 12-20% of their smaller gross national product to defense, compared to our 6%. Of the U. S. fiscal year 1976 proposed defers budget of $104.7 billion, the Navy’s share is $3^ billion. Of that about 47% goes for manpower. Th£ Soviets, with their much lower standard of living arld a per capita national income that is one-third of oufS’ pay only 25% of their defense budget for manpo^'er' That much more is left for ships and weapon system- increases in our efficiency do not offset differences that large in fundamental approach.
Our present level of defense spending of more tNn $100 billion is about 6% of our GNP of $1.6 trilli°°' Individual income taxes provide about 42% of (be federal income and corporate taxes, about 14%. ^ increase in the Navy’s proposed fiscal year 1976 budget of $34 billion by $8.5 billion or 25% would average $90 per taxpayer. Such an increase would begin to bu? parity with Soviet sea power. Continued annually. 11 would amount to research and development of additional major new weapon system programs per y£it plus new construction and manning of ten more maj°r combatant ships or their equivalent in aircraft per ycaf' This assumes $500 million per R&D program or ship including an allowance for operations during the b* of the ship. It would go a long way toward changi^ the trend.
If the trend is to be reversed, we are simply g°Tjj to have to do all we have been doing and allocate s£1 more resources. In short we are going to have to spetl more on the Navy. That means convincing DoD, executive, Congress, and the public that there is } problem and that it must be solved.
The United States—with her open society and competitive economy—must obtain agreement from the ^°ter and taxpayer to a much larger degree than the °viets with their controlled economy. Navy budgets are open to inspection and approval by the Congress and the people who elected them, which is as it should e- Priorities are not decided by a small, relatively c°ntinuous ruling group. Every new program that ects the amount of taxes paid or diverts funds from ner non-military federal programs must eventually be facts must take an even more positive and aggressive stance than is evident. They must present more convincing evidence before the President, DoD, and Congress. The message must be gotten to the American people. Who says Americans won’t agree to sacrifices if convinced of the worth of the objective? The significance of present trends and the critical importance of naval power must be brought out more strongly in the media and through other communication routes.
The country with one of the best and highest per
Sent policy of chronic insufficiency will lead to a second to the Russians, we must be prepared to ^ ^ the consequences, or the policy must be radically ailged. por tp;s change to happen the following must about.
'aval leaders and others in a position to know the
°ught by the public. The budget cycle—including a^nual approval—contributes to the lack of continuity p Erection because DoD cannot depend on funding. Crhaps a two or four-year approval would make more
. Another factor must be considered—the principle of to ttla Lar«e obiects require 2 i°t of force and time j §et them moving. If already moving, they take a q force and time to change direction. The U. S. Ih'^rnmcnt budget and our Navy are large objects. ^ ey take time to change. Speaking of our chance of £ ntaining overall qualitative superiority over the . °viets in the submarine area, Admiral Rickover said 1970 "I think it is too late even now. I think if
w°rk hard we can try to catch up.” jt ^ downward trend in naval power is hard to reverse.
takes lead time. Technology does not spring instantly ■ tQ being. Neither do modern ships. The time to start s low.
ni^bat large programs are costly must be faced. Sig- y^Cant programs usually do cost significant money.
at our leaders are forced to understate projected . able costs of programs in order to get them ap- pte is wrong. If, as many indications suggest, our capita living standards in the world (and the most to lose) can surely afford the Navy it needs. The public must be convinced of the benefits of increased naval strength and the proper balance of social and economic programs that also compete for funds. If increased taxation or federal budget reallocation is the only solution, it must be instituted.
To the degree controllable by the Navy, we must provide a mechanism for greater continuity of policy and leadership. It is true that CNOs are appointed and that the administrations who appoint them change. But there are also many other policymaking leadership jobs entirely within the control of the Navy where continuity could be maintained as is not generally done now.
It is not without reason that one of the most famous and ridiculed phrases in recent history illustrates the futility of negotiating from weakness. Neville Chamberlain’s statement after Munich, "There will be peace in our time,” heralded a war that resulted in more than 25 million deaths. How often must we relearn what history has taught?
A graduate of Lehigh University, Mr. Stone earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and an M.S. in Applied Physics from Adelphi University. He has spent much of his career in association with U. S. Navy development programs. He served with the U. S. Air Force as radar maintenance and communications officer and was General Manager of Ocean Systems Division with Sanders Associates in Nashua, New Hampshire. He is now Director of Reconnaissance and Surveillance, AIL Division of Cutler- Hammer, Deer Park, N.Y.