The Iowa (IM-61)-class battleships with their 16-inch main battery are national assets when it comes to littoral warfare—but the Navy is not interested. What do you do when one of the U.S. armed services decides to deep-six in asset another armed service considers essential?
Citing the Navy's continuing reluctance to maintain any of the Iowa-class battleships in active service, Tracy A. Ralphs, program director of the U.S. Naval Fire Support Association, thinks the answer is a Joint Weapons Program Office charged with protecting such "national assets."
Ralphs is not alone in this approach to protecting certain weapon systems. In his June 1999 confirmation hearing prior to assuming his duties as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, then-Lieutenant General James L. Jones identified EA-613 electronic warfare aircraft as " . . . truly a national asset.... I believe the time has come to source the commanders-in-chiefs' requirements on a straight prioritization basis irrespective of whether those requirements are for land-based or sea-based commitments."