The big question the Air Force must now answer is whether the legacy JSTARS has enough service life to give the Air Force time to develop a systems-of-systems approach for doing the ground surveillance mission, said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The technology is ready, he said, but it will take a big shift in thinking for the service to move from considering platforms to a concept of operations.
Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said entering the cruisers into a SLEP is the right idea, but along with that would have to come more careful use of the aging hulls.
“Bath has a history of building frigates in the past and could do so again in the future depending on the naval characteristics the Navy wants on this frigate and then what it looks like in terms of pricing and the capacity of the shipyard to build them while they are also building destroyers,” said Bryan Clark, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
The person on whose shoulders the fallout from the staffing shortage rests most heavily is Brian Hook, the head of the department’s office of policy planning. A former adviser to Mitt Romney, Hook was a founder of the John Hay Initiative, a hawkish foreign-policy think tank whose other two founders, Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman, were (and still are) among Trump’s most vociferous critics. Cohen and Edelman put their names on anti-Trump letters during the 2016 election; Hook didn’t.
Actually, it is very close to one that I speculated about in a report I coauthored 20 years ago, back when I was working for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Basically, China would likely begin with a naval and air blockade of Taiwan, followed up by missile strikes on key island infrastructures, including airfields, ports, command and control centers, etc. (for this reason, China has stationed up to 1,500 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in Fujian province, directly across the straits from Taiwan). A new wrinkle on the 1990s-era invasion scenario entails the use nontraditional attacks, such cyber-strikes and electronic warfare designed to take out Taiwan’s computer, early-warning, and communications networks, as well as psychological warfare conducted against the Taiwanese people.
The report, titled “The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare,” says the technological margin of difference separating the U.S from potential rivals is expected to get much smaller. This is requiring the U.S. to re-think the role of manned submarines and prioritize innovation in the realm of undersea warfare, the study says.