A recent report that the Office of the Secretary of Defense has “taken over” planning for the future of the U.S. Navy is hardly good news for the naval service as an institution. But neither is it necessarily good news for the long-term national security of the United States.
Two conditions set the stage. First, OSD and the Joint Staff are “focused like a laser beam” on planning for war against the People’s Republic of China (actually, against the Chinese Communist Party, to which the People’s Liberation Army is pledged). Second, their thinking is stultified by the emergence of an “ideology of jointness,” in which all services and domains must be treated equally in every scenario and in every force structure analysis, and (essentially) have veto power over other services’ programs.
The problem is not that the current OSD leadership is Army-centric (which it is), but that it appears not to understand that armies and navies are vastly, repeat vastly, different tools with much different long-term roles in U.S. territorial and economic security.