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Declining Strategic Mobility:  A Tread We Must Reverse Now
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Strategic Issues
			EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  Declining Strategic Mobility:  A Tread We Must Reverse Now
Author:  Major Alan K. Baker, United States Air Force
Thesis:  Recent wars in the Falkland Islands and Persian Gulf
very clearly demonstrate that transportation and logistical
support are the Foundation of successful military capability
today.  Unfortunately, the United States is growing dangerously
short of airlift and sealift:  a worsening strategic mobility
problem that must be resolved now to assure effective U.S.
military responsiveness.
Background:  According to the 1981 Congressionally Mandated
Mobility Study, today's army has far more divisions than the Air
Force can rapidly deploy overseas with existing C-5 and C-141
assets.  Addressing this airlift shortfall, numerous mobility
studies over the past two decades have concluded the C-17
aircraft is the solution for today's airlift crisis.  This new
airlifter can fly long ranges, carry outsize cargo, and provide
the tactical performance and agility to operate into virtually
any airfield in the world.  Like airlift, sealift is also
becoming an increasingly important element in America's national
security strategy.  Congress'  Commission on Merchant Marine and
Defense reached the conclusion that the United States possesses
insufficient ships and merchant marine manpower to rapidly
deploy required forces to a distant theater such as Southwest
Asia.  The Commission also concluded that, without decisive
action, the situation will worsen substantially by the year
2000.  Short-term enhancements within the Navy's Ready Reserve
Fleet and various other sealift work-arounds cannot replace the
capability lost by the U.S. merchant marine over the last 40
years.  If the United States is to continue as the world's
military and economic leader, the majority of its sealift
capability should reside in a strong U.S.-Flag commercial
shipping industry.  Furthermore, we must possess a merchant
marine capable of supporting the nation's considerable peacetime
needs and wartime obligations.
Conclusion:  Although the C-17 acquisition and the Ready Reserve
Fleet improvements will provide much needed enhancements to our
airlift and sealift fleets, these programs fall far short as
long-term remedies for our declining strategic mobility.
UnFortunately, the prognosis for any improvement of the
magnitude required to overcome our mobility shortfall is not
encouraging.  If the United States is to maintain its superpower
status and continue commanding the leadership role of the Free
World, then as a nation we must recognize and accept the
responsibility of ensuring that sufficient strategic mobility
exists to meet the challenges of an uncertain world.
                                    OUTLINE
Thesis:  Recent wars in the Falkland Islands and Persian Gulf
very clearly demonstrate that transportation and logistical
support are the Foundation of successful military capability
today.  Unfortunately, the United States is growing dangerously
short of airlift and sealift:  a worsening strategic mobility
problem that must be resolved now to assure effective U.S.
military responsiveness
I.	Strategic Mobility
	A.	Secretary of Defense Weinberger's definition
	B.	Historical significance
	C.	Relevance today
	D.	Future importance
II.	The Airlift Perspective
	A.	General Vuono's view
	B.	1882 Congressionally Mandated Mobility Study
	C.	Current shortfall example
	D.	C-17 aircraft as a solution
		1.	Comparison to other options
		2.	"Direct delivery", capability
		3.	Improved design features
		4.	Mission versatility
		5.	Cost effectiveness
		6.	Procurement status
III.	The Sealift Perspective
	A.	Admiral Crowe's view
	B.	Commission on Merchant Marine and Defense findings
	C.	Declining merchant marine manpower pool
	D.	Diminishing U.S.-flag commercial fleet
	E.	Military Sealift Command's reaction
		1.	Increasing inventory of Navy's Ready Reserve Force
		2.	Improving usefulness of Ready Reserve Force
		3.	Acquiring Fast Sealift Ships
	F.	Recommended sealift solutions
		1.	Revitalizing commercial maritime industry
		2.	Restoring merchant marine manpower pool
		3.	Rejuvenating U.S.-flag commercial fleet
		4.	Promoting advanced sealift technologies
IV.	Concluding Observations
	A.	National security greatly dependent on quantitative
		and qualitative sufficiency of strategic mobility
	B.	Mobility requirements must be balanced with capability
	C.	Only short-term remedies exist for declining capability
	D.	Strategic mobility must become a higher priority
		national objective to ensure sufficient capability
		exists to meet challenges of an uncertain world
                         DECLINING STRATEGIC MOBILITY:
                        A TREND WE MUST REVERSE NOW
     When Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was asked to
comment on the mobility of America's fighting forces, he
remarked that waging war requires the ability to move, shoot,
and communicate.  Furthermore, he explained that the order of
these three requirements is not accidental.  Shooting is what
most people focus on since weapons are the most significant
items in the defense budget.  Communication, which today
involves such innovative systems and technologies as satellites
and fiber optics, is essential to almost every aspect of
defense.  But the ability to move forces and equipment--our
strategic mobility--is first on the list. (11:12)
     Recent wars in the Falkland Islands and Persian Gulf very
clearly support Secretary Weinberger's view that transportation
and logistical support are the foundation of successful military
capability today.  Unfortunately, the United States is growing
dangerously short of airlift and sealift:  a worsening strategic
mobility problem that must be resolved now to assure effective
military responsiveness.  It is clearly pointless to have the
best-trained, best-equipped military forces in the world if we
cannot transport and support them where and when they are
needed.  The problem requires coordinated action from the
Executive branch, the Congress, the Department of Defense, and
the private sector.  These organizations must act while there is
still a chance to achieve the necessary results at a reasonable
cost.  If they delay, our current capability may disappear, and
there may be no alternative but radical action at prohibitively
high cost.
     Strategic mobility is especially critical in today's world,
where the interests of all nations extend far beyond their
individual borders, and where interdependency among nations has
reached such proportions that it is taken for granted.  The
protection of America's vital national interests and the
security of our allies demand an ability to project decisive
military power wherever circumstances may dictate.  Since the
United States has neither the economic resources, nor the
political latitude to station forces everywhere they may be
needed, we depend upon our capability to rapidly deploy and
sustain military forces anywhere in the world.
     Service departments have ensured our armed forces are
equipped with the systems they need to perform their vital
defense functions.  The world's best fighter aircraft, tanks,
and warships, new communications gear, and renewed stocks of
spare parts and munitions are now being employed by well-
trained, combat-ready American forces.  Our defense rebuilding
effort has renewed the promise of greater security through
stronger and more capable forces.  But that will be an empty
promise if our forces cannot arrive when and where they are
needed; if fuel, parts, and munitions remain stateside or in
depots awaiting transport; or if follow-on forces cannot arrive
promptly with sufficient firepower to reinforce our rapid
deployment forces.
     General Carl E. Vuono, former Army Chief of Staff,
commented that his major concern in the event of conventional
war is the army's biggest vulnerability:  lack of sufficient
strategic lift. (12:66)  According to the 1981 Congressionally
Mandated Mobility Study and subsequent updates, the Army can't
get to war on time today, won't be able to in the foreseeable
future, and is becoming harder to move, not easier.  The Army
has worked hard to improve its strategic deployability by
creating new light infantry divisions.  But since mechanized
divisions are 40 percent heavier than in 1980, the Army requires
over a third more airlift to move its stateside- based forces
into battle than it did just 12 years ago. (12:68)
     For example, it takes 29,591 C-141 and 4,361 C-5 sorties to
move all the Army's stateside-based active and reserve divisions
overseas.  Today, Air Mobility Command has only 245 C-141s and
114 C-5s. (2:5)  Given a hypothetical contingency in which no
airlift is required for deployment of tactical air squadrons or
Marines; in which the airlift force flies around-the-clock,
back-to-back sorties; and in which all the planes are loaded and
unloaded instantaneously; it would take 84 days to get the Army
to war by C-141 and 26 days to move all its outsize cargo in
C-5s.  Compounding the situation, Army forces typically account
for only about half the initial lift requirement. (12:68)  It's
apparent from these calculations that the Army has far more
assets than the Air Force can rapidly deploy overseas with the
existing airlift fleet.
     Addressing this shortfall, numerous mobility studies over
the past two decades have reached a single, consistent
conclusion:  the C-17 aircraft is the solution for today's
airlift crisis.  All these studies called for a new U.S.
airlifter that can fly long ranges, carry outsize cargo, and
provide the tactical performance and agility to operate into
virtually any airfield in the world.  The most recent of these
analyses was conducted at the request of former Secretary of
Defense Dick Cheney.  The study looked at a wide array of
options in comparison to the C-17 program, including
refurbishment of the C-141 force and procurement of other
aircraft such as the  C-5 or civil transports.  Secretary Cheney
summarized the results in his annual report to the President and
the Congress when he said, "The C-17 offered the most capability
at the least cost in every case." (7:102)
     The C-17 combines current technologies to create a
revolutionary capability the Air Force calls "direct delivery."
(1:13)  Using this new strategy, cargo and personnel can be
flown from the United States or elsewhere directly to where they
are needed, eliminating the current necessity for transshipment
at an intermediate location.  In effect, the C-17 integrates the
advantages of a strategic airlifter like the C-5--range, speed,
aerial refueling, and payload (including outsize cargo)--with
those of a tactical airlifter like the C-130--survivability,
ability to operate into unimproved airfields, maneuverability in
the air and on the ground, and the ability to employ different
parachute delivery methods.  The C-17's highly flexible design
enables it to efficiently meet the nation's airlift needs across
the entire range of potential scenarios.  This multi-role
capability is particularly valuable when considering the
increasing uncertainty of future operating environments.
     The C-17's increased capability is the result of the
interrelated technologies and design criteria incorporated in
the new aircraft.  The aircraft features a wide, high cargo box
inside an airframe with roughly the same external dimensions as
a C-141.  This results in an aircraft that can carry the same
types of cargo as a C-5 but in a much more compact vehicle.
The C-17's capability to operate into underdeveloped airfields
is enhanced by the use of powered lift, enabling the aircraft to
approach runways at much lower speeds and steeper glide paths
than conventional airlifters.  It can thus land within very
short distances with very heavy cargo loads--less than 3,000
feet with over 187,000 pounds of cargo.  Another of the critical
features of the C-17 is that it will be the first operational
jet airlifter capable of backing up without the assistance of
ground tugs.  These features would open up three times as many
airfields worldwide to the C-17 as are currently useable by the
C-5 and C-141. (1:15-16)
     The ability of the C-17 to perform a full range of aerial
delivery missions also adds to its value.  It can airdrop
paratroopers, equipment, and supplies; employ the Low Altitude
Parachute Extraction System; and airdrop and extract outsize
equipment.  It will be able to airdrop with precision, over long
ranges, at night, and in reduced visibility conditions.  The
C-17's capabilities are unmatched by any other airlifter today.
     Enhanced survivability and reduced life cycle cost are
other important aspects oF the C-17's design.  Its reinforced
airframe was engineered to easily withstand the rugged military
flight environment.  The aircraft features separated and
redundant systems and self-inerting fuel tanks.  The C-17 was
also designed from the outset to operate more efficiently and
cost-effectively than any airlifter in the force.  It will be
able to deliver approximately double the cargo of a C-14l for
approximately the same operating cost.  The cost-effectiveness
is largely the result of improved fuel efficiency.  It is also
the product of advanced design, which enables a crew of three to
fly the aircraft, and from significant improvements in
reliability and maintainability, which produce a substantial
reduction in the number of maintenance man-hours per flight
hour. (1:19)  The C-17 is also the first aircraft acquisition to
include a manufacturer's warranty, which guarantees this
investment in airlift capability well into the future.
     The C-17 procurement program is underway.  The aircraft is
being built by McDonnell Douglas at its Long Beach facility.
The program will replace the aging C-141 fleet with new C-17s to
maintain cargo capacity at approximately today's level through
the end of the century.  The first four aircraft are currently
undergoing rigorous validation testing and evaluation.  The test
phase is ahead of schedule and initial results are very
encouraging.  The first operational aircraft is scheduled for
delivery to Charleston Air Force Base in late 1993.  Recent
Department of Defense budget reductions have slowed production
and reduced the 1993 delivery schedule from eight to six
aircraft.  Eight additional aircraft are planned for delivery in
1994, with 12 per year after that until a total inventory of 120
aircraft is reached. (7:102)
     If all we wanted to do was turn around our current airlift
shortfall, the C-17 would be the most cost-effective solution.
However,  the C-17 offers much more.  It offers the potential to
increase U.S. airlift capability at a greatly reduced life cycle
cost.  Investment to date in the C-17 has been significant, and
future investment requirements will be even more substantial.
Still, the return on investment in terms of national security
benefit more than justifies the expense.  General Duane H.
Cassidy, Commander in Chief of the Military Airlift Command,
summarized the case for the C-17 during his testimony to
Congress when he stated:
     I am confident the C-17 is the most cost effective
     solution to meeting this country's airlift require-
     ments.  From cost and manpower savings to military
     utility, the C-17 is the key to providing our
     theater commanders the airlift support they need.   (5:4)
     Like airlift, sealift is also becoming an increasingly
important element in America's national security strategy.  The
shortage of strategic sealift is not a new development.  Its
growing seriousness has been recognized by Congress as well as
the nation's defense leaders.  Admiral William J. Crowe, former
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarked, "...in this
country, the capacity of our merchant marine...is dismal.  It is
a disaster. The maritime industry.. needs an infusion.  It
needs help.  It needs resurrecting.  It is a national problem."
(4:70)
     Under the Reagan Administration, more than $7-billion was
invested in sealift assets controlled by both the Navy and the
Maritime Administration.  Despite those efforts, the situation
worsened since the increased number of government-controlled
ships was insufficient to offset the continuing decline in the
oceangoing commercial fleet.  From 2,114 ships in 1947, the
active merchant marine fleet shrank to 543 in 1980, and to 420
in 1992.  Only 168 of those 420 ships are militarily useful
cargo vessels, and this total is forecasted to drop to 119 in
1995, and to 35 in 2005. (10:1-1)
     Congress established a Commission on Merchant Marine and
Defense to examine sealift capability.  Even using a "best case"
analysis with the most favorable assumptions, the Commission
reached the conclusion that the United States possessed
insufficient ships to execute a major deployment in a contin-
gency operation to a single distant theater such as Southwest
Asia.  This conclusion was startling because there had been a
widespread assumption that, although the United States could not
itself meet all the strategic sealift requirements for a global
war, it did have the resources needed for a single-theater
conventional conflict.  The Commission also concluded that,
without decisive action, the situation will worsen substantially
by the year 2000. (4:71)
     More worrisome, perhaps, is the declining availability of
the manpower needed to activate and operate the ships of our
reserve fleets.  The presumption has been that manpower would
come from the portion of the merchant marine workforce not
actively sailing at the time.  However, as the size of the
commercial fleet shrinks, so does the size of the workforce that
it supports.  The merchant marine has declined by more than 60
percent since 1970 and, if current trends continue, will have a
shortfall in the year 2000 of more than 12,000 personnel from
the 22,000 necessary to man all the strategic sealift ships
required during war or national emergency. (4:72)
     The steadily eroding capability of the U.S. merchant marine
has not been ignored by the Department of Defense.  In response
to the diminishing size of the U.S.-flag commercial fleet, the
Navy has begun to increase the number and capability of organic
sealift assets owned and controlled by the Military Sealift
Command (MSC).
     MSC shipping comes primarily from two sources:  the MSC
nucleus fleet of government-owned and long-term chartered
vessels currently operating in support of peacetime military
operations; and the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) of
ships maintained in reserve for contingencies.  Included in the
latter category is the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), ships which
are maintained in an upgraded material condition permitting them
to be activated in a  5, 10, or 20-day period.
     The most significant upgrade to MSC capability involves
increasing lift capacity and improving the readiness status of
the RRF.  In 1987, this force contained 77 dry cargo ships,
8 tankers, and 1 schoolship that could be used as a troopship.
Realizing the need to compensate for the decreasing number of
U.S.-flag commercial vessels, the Navy intends to expand the RRF
from the current 97 ships to a goal of 104 dry cargo ships, 36
tankers, and 2 troopships by 1987. (6:94)
     Improvements in MSC capability have not been limited just
to increasing numbers of ships.  Equally important have been
improvements in the types of vessels as well as their associated
lift and operating characteristics.   Receiving the most recent
attention have been the acquisition and subsequent conversion of
eight SeaLand SL-7 container vessels into Fast Sealift Ships.
These ships, formerly the largest container vessels in the
world, were converted to a predominantly roll-on, roll-off
configuration, each capable of carrying the equipment of an
entire Army mechanized division.  With speeds in excess of 30
knots, they are far less susceptible to enemy attack, and can
sail from the east coast to Europe in 96 hours. (9:144)  Having
scrapped or salvaged many older and deteriorated assets, the
majority of ships remaining in the RRF represent the more modern
and most militarily useful vessels in the American inventory.
They include roll-on, roll-off vessels, barge carriers,
breakbulk ships, specially modified tankers, and crane ships to
unload containerships and facilitate logistics-over-the-shore
operations. (8:29)
     What's the verdict on the trend to expand the Navy's organic
sealift capability and rely less heavily on our commercial
merchant marine?  The answer is both good and bad.   In the next
Few years, the United States must take measures to insure we
have the sealift needed to support our national strategy, and to
be able to deliver the required amounts of fighting forces to
overseas theaters.  In the wake of the precipitous decline in
the U.S. merchant marine and the absence of a viable national
maritime policy to reverse this situation, the Department of
Defense would be remiss not to develop alternate sources for
sealift.  But, if the decline in the U.S. merchant marine can be
reversed and this industry restored to a position of strength, a
U.S. commercial fleet would prove a far more cost-effective and
reliable sealift source than an attempt to procure, maintain,
and upon mobilization, activate organic Navy vessels in support
of national defense.
     Federal maritime policy must establish a prudent balance
between the Navy's organic and U.S. commercial sealift.  The
efforts of the military to reduce the sealift shortfall are
laudatory.  However, short-term enhancements within MSC's
organic fleet and various other sealift work-arounds such as
expanded use of foreign-flag carriers, while important to our
overall sealift effort, cannot replace the capability lost by
the U.S. merchant marine over the last 40 years.  Likewise,
organic military shipping cannot equal the potential offered by
a restored and rejuvenated U.S.-flag fleet.  There will always
be a requirement for some specialized organic military sealift;
however, the Department of Defense and Congress must realize
that the majority of our sealift capability should be drawn from
U.S.-flag commercial shipping.  Such a policy promotes the
economic well-being of the country and avoids duplicating in the
military a capability that can be provided by private industry.
     Furthermore, the United States should fully promote
advanced sealift technologies such as that offered by surface
effects shipping.  This newest form of sealift uses self-
generating, air-cushioning techniques to achieve high speeds and
low draft conditions.  These innovations offer the potential to
carry increasing amounts of breakbulk cargoes at speeds
approaching 60 knots.  When viewed from the perspective of
productivity, as measured in numbers of ship sailings and cargo
delivered during a set period of time, this high priced
technology may well prove cost effective and the best means to
expedite sealift shipments, decrease transportation costs, and
reduce sealift attrition. (3:116)
     If the United States is to continue as the world's military
and economic leader, we must possess a merchant marine capable
oF supporting the nation's considerable peacetime needs and
wartime obligations.  Yet today, more than 96 percent of U.S.
oceanborne trade is carried on foreign vessels, and the
execution of our conventional military strategy and associated
war plans is heavily dependent on considerable allied support
and additional augmentation from unproven and unreliable "flags
of convenience" shipping. (14:98)  This need not be the case.
The U.S. merchant marine can and should be restored to a
position of strength.  The Department of Defense, Congress, and
maritime industry must coordinate their efforts to achieve this
end.
     During this century, the United States assumed the
leadership role of the Free World and learned that the ability
to project military power in a timely manner is an essential
element of our effectiveness in that role.  Most recently,
Operation Desert Shield/Storm proved that the ability to deploy
forces to the far corners of the earth and sustain those forces
in combat is the keystone of America's ability to project power
and to protect its vital interests.  Our national security
strategy remains greatly dependent on the quantitative and
qualitative sufficiency of our strategic mobility.
     There must be a balance between available strategic lift
capability and the requirements for that lift which are used in
planning contingency operations.  Ideally, strategic lift should
be sized to meet contingency objectives.  If that is not
possible, then the operation plan should be adjusted accordingly
to compensate for the shortfall in lift capability.  Currently,
there seems to be a growing tendency by defense planners to
accept a strategic lift shortfall as a planning risk while
continuing to plan for the use of combat forces that simply
cannot be deployed in a timely manner or sustained once in
place.  Such an irrational approach to contingency planning does
not reflect prudent risk; it reflects pure folly.
     As this paper revealed, because of worsening airlift and
sealift shortfalls, the United States may no longer be capable
of deploying its forces to areas of vital interest in the
numbers or in the time frame essential for success.  Only
recently did decisionmakers recognize this trend and begin
making corrections to improve immediate airlift and sealift
capabilities.  If these undertakings materialize, the next
several years will provide much needed enhancements to our
airlift and sealift fleets.  Yet, if our leaders are at all
cognizant of the threats still facing this country, it is
apparent that the C-17 acquisition and the Ready Reserve Fleet
improvements fall far short as long-term remedies for our
inadequate strategic mobility.  Shrinking Department of Defense
budgets threaten the continuation of these short-term efforts,
and programs planned for the next decade at best serve only as a
bandaid to our chronic strategic lift ailment.  A quote made
almost 30 years ago by General David Shoup, then Commandant of
the Marine Corps, is still valid as, "Today we actually have
more fight than ferry in the armed forces." (13:987)
     As was highlighted in this paper, there is valid concern
that the strategic lift capability of the United States is not
sufficient to meet its global commitments.  We must either
reconsider the requirements or develop the necessary airlift and
sealift capability.  The former is unlikely in the post-Cold War
environment, and the latter promises to be a long and costly
task; but if we are going to deploy our forces where they are
needed and sustain them once they are in place, we need to make
strategic mobility a higher priority national objective than it
is now.  Unfortunately, the prognosis for any improvement,
especially sealift, of the magnitude required to overcome our
capabilities-versus-requirements imbalance is not encouraging.
     Should the nation make the conscious decision not to
increase its strategic lift capability, then among the
alternatives to consider is one very sobering thought:  the
United States may, through default, be forced to scale down its
global commitments below the threshold of its national
interests.  There is a cost associated with superpower status
and in commanding the leadership role of the Free World.  If the
United States is to maintain that status and continue in that
role, then as a nation, we must recognize and accept the
responsibility of ensuring that sufficient strategic mobility
exists to meet the challenges of an uncertain world.
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