In a Proceedings article with the same title almost 50 years ago, then-Commander Elmo Zumwalt outlined the case for a destroyer that would field advanced defensive capabilities and a state-of-the-art propulsion system. He wrote when the threat was seen as requiring large numbers and many classes of surface combatants. Today a class of ships named for him is nearing completion—but has been criticized and truncated in the name of economy.
Then–Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates argued in 2010 for a smaller Navy and a less-expensive surface-combatant force, citing an anti-access threat in the Pacific. Clearly the challenges to which he referred are not met by Littoral Combat Ships. In the Navy’s original concept of operations, Zumwalt (DDG-1000) destroyers provided the area antiair and antimissile cover for the LCS. In short, we have a misplaced investment for ships that will contribute very little in the threat scenarios postulated.