Second Prize—Arleigh Burke Essay Contest
"A country can, or will, pay only so much for its war fleet…Will you have a few very big ships, or more numerous medium ships? Where will you strike your mean between numbers and individual size? You cannot have both unless your purse is unlimited." –Alfred Thayer Mahan, 1899
Mahan's question of naval force structure is the same essential query posed exactly 100 years later by Vice Admiral Art Cebrowski and Captain Wayne Hughes in their article "Rebalancing the Fleet," which still stands as the prime intellectual argument for the streetfighter/littoral combat ship (LCS) program. It is also the current question concerning naval transformation. But given that resources and budgets always are limited, is construction of a new type of small, potentially specialized but networked combatant the answer to naval transformation? Or is transformation to be found through modifications to the large-hull, multipurpose combatants that constituted the striking power of the post-Cold War Navy?