Mark Collins – US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind

Further to these posts,

RAND on War Between the Dragon and the Eagle
[note links at start]

War Between the Dragon and the Eagle: USN Carriers up to It?

some recommendations for the USN’s future ships (USMC, USAF and US Army also considered):

Why America Must Overhaul its Military

…Given America’s asymmetric advantage undersea, we aggressively expanded the Navy’s undersea warfare capabilities, increasing submarines from 58 to 74 and expanding undersea strike capacity by 680 cruise missile tubes. We funded these investments by terminating the Ford- and America-class carrier production lines in light of their costs and vulnerability to anti-access/area denial (/AD) threats. This does not mean that we eliminated aircraft carriers from the force, but rather set up a process of steadily riding the carrier inventory downward over the next 50 years as existing carriers retire [very good for engaging second or third rate opponents and projecting power generally against non-peers] . We also curtailed the current amphibious fleet (/LSD) in light the challenging environment in the littorals. We preserved Marine expeditionary and crisis response missions by shifting to cheaper commercial-derivative (“black hull”) expeditionary sea bases, resulting in a larger overall expeditionary lift capacity…

But even if the USN had some 2,000 or more conventionally-armed cruise missiles–1,000 lb. warhead–on subs could they effect any decisive damage on China? Or Russia? How many would be at sea in position to fire at the onset of hostilities? And just think how long it would take to reload those boats once they had shot their, er, bolts.

So to “win” in a serious war a need to end up nuclear? Help.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


3 thoughts on “Mark Collins – US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind”

  1. A friend well-acquainted with strategic nuclear matters responds:

    “Inflicting serious damage on China (or Russia) would take many more conventionally-armed cruise missiles than a couple of thousand. Moreover, what might start as an initial skirmish, could very well end up going nuclear fairly early if the conflict escalated given current Russian nuclear doctrine (escalation dominance with precision nuclear-armed cruise missiles [see below]). The US for its part would have had their nuclear decision conference very early on in a Russia or China engagement and might well pre-empt since first use has always been one US option.

    So the question becomes conflict termination with the blood up. And an opportunistic power (Russia or China depending on who was in the original fight) seeking to give the US a lesson. Tempting for either Moscow or Beijing. Good luck everyone.”

    See “nuclear de-escalation”

    In other words, to use a phrase from my childhood, “Double-dog dare you”:

    One wonders if there are Russian or Chinese equivalents.

    Mark Collins

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