The Littoral Combat Ship is, in a word, a challenge. A challenge to understand, a challenge to develop, a challenge to build. The program is a challenge to manage, to defend, to get to sea. To train for and crew, to support, to maintain. To develop mission modules for, to perfect and operate dozens of new technologies in those modules, to control those technologies in an operational environment. A challenge to develop a concept of operations for, to convey to the fleet what it should be used for, to keep from being misused.
After listening to the strategy of Afghanistan unfold a few years ago, with terms like COIN, inkspots, and ratios (like 1 solder for every 50 civilians) it’s not hard to get a handle on the strategy of the LCS.
The LCS are the ink-spots, and the strategy is one of connecting those ink-spot through collaboration and maneuver, in an ocean that is getting smaller due to globalization.
The ships were designed with a main battery unlike anything ever carried by a combatant ship: empty space. Big, empty mission bays ready to accept large containers of equipment and systems, along with flight decks much larger in proportion to other surface fighting ships.
The thing is, these ships (LCS), like the F35s are designed to fight networks through collaboration and manuverbility, not through force. In a network war, the one who has the most collaboration and is able to maneuver the force to its greatest advantage, without actually making the force go kinetic “wins”. Kinetic energy mostly destroys networks, and the battle of networks is one of connections, not disconnections.
What really needs to happen, is for a discussion to take place about who the enemy is. I believe war is about economic considerations, and fought by people with little economic considerations. In the case of economic consideration then, China is the enemy. China has taken the position, once occupied by Japan, as the second greatest economy in the world, with the USA as number one.
The difference between the USA and China then is that the USA is the wealthiest, while China is the country of greatest growth. In physics, the USA would have the greatest potential energy, while China would have the greatest kinetic energy. When it comes to force, potential energy has it over kinetic, but when you add all the potential and kinetic energy in a system together, it adds up to zero. So while the USA has more force, China has more velocity (moves in more areas), but together they cancel each other out. And that is what would happen in a real war.
China, in the South China Sea, Africa, and South America, has taken-up a strategy that I call build, replace, and hold, as it moves through-out the world. It has been a winning strategy that continues its growth, even as China experiences a recession, much like the rest of the world.
China builds the infrastructure resource-rich nations need, replaces the way needed to extract those resources with her own ways, then holds the resources as her own, to do with as she wishes. China’s way that it moves its kinetic energy is quick and dirty, and the way it is able to hold the connections it makes together is by throwing dollars at it.
The LCS was created to “work” those connections. The ” Big, empty mission bays ready to accept large containers of equipment and systems,” won’t be accepting US modules (unless those in the USA who fight wars for little economic consideration step-in) but from other countries.
The reason the modules will not be US, as China continues to buy the US government debt and hold resources, it will want to replace ships in the US fleet with its own, such as the carriers and submarines she just built, and would expect them to replace US carriers and submarines eventually, considering.
like the F35, the LCS where built in opposition to those considerations.