4. An accelerated shipbuilding program
Let's face it, the Navy at present has a grand total of 279 ships. This has primarily been due to the "peace dividend," from the end of the Cold War. In 1987, the United States Navy had 594 ships. This included a force of 14 carriers to today's 11, 102 submarines back then as opposed to 52 today, and 115 frigates compared to eight Littoral Combat Ships. The Navy wants to reach 355 ships by 2037. That's a long time. This is something that should go high on the list of things to be corrected.
The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. (U.S. Navy photo)
3. Help pilots breathe in flight
Some Navy pilots (notably those flying the T-45 Goshawk and F/A-18 Hornet) have been experiencing what the DOD calls "physiological events" (hypoxia) while in flight. The Heritage Foundation noted that the first six months of 2017 saw 52 such incidents, while 114 took place in 2016. If pilots can't breathe, they have a hard time fighting. Getting to the bottom of why pilots aren't getting enough oxygen needs to happen, stat.
Student pilots prepare to exit a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zach Sleeper)
2. Buy enough Lightnings
The Navy needs to replace 546 A to D model Hornets. The plan is to buy 327 F-25Cs. Now, while the F-35 is a good airplane, the fact of the matter is that it has not mastered the art of being in two places at once. Replacing the legacy Hornets on a one-for-one basis seems like a much better bet.
An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert "Champ" Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe)
1. Give the SEALs a break
While units like the Navy SEALs have been responsible for some of the biggest successes in the War on Terror (like killing Osama bin Laden), what isn't know is that they have been running hard. A commentary by the Heritage Foundation stated that some of these operators have had a dozen deployments – or more. That is a lot in the 16 years since 9/11. There are two ways to fix this: First is to take a hard look at the missions SEALs are asked to perform. The second is to expand the size of the force. Navy leadership needs to do both.
First Phase Basic Underwater Demolition- SEALs (BUD-S) candidates use teamwork to perform physical training exercises. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
What do you think the Navy needs to work on in 2018?