Leadership: The Chinese Navy Has Allies In America


December 8, 2015:   Senior U.S. Navy officers are going public with some of the real reasons why the navy is having such a difficult time developing and building (especially on budget and on time) innovative and more effective ships and weapons. The key problem is political interference and media criticism. The media heckling is usually more political than real and finds plenty of risky development efforts and new system performance problems to make headlines. The political interference in ship building has been around for a long time. The few companies that build warships figured out decades ago that they could make more money using more lobbyists and playing politics than by concentrating on quality control and giving the best (or at least adequate) value for the money spent. This form of corruption has been getting worse over the last few decades to the point that admirals will denounce it openly and even while appearing before Congress. The politicians dance around the well documented accusations safe in the knowledge that the angry sailors will never muster sufficient political and media support to force changes.

The admirals are now making their case about how the headline hungry (and self-serving) media ignore the lessons of history and portray the normal trial and effort involved in developing new ship and weapons designs as wasteful and somehow avoidable. As a result the navy is being forced to avoid doing anything that might yield embarrassing headlines. That means no new tech and the admirals point that in a world where the Chinese are still able and willing to take changes, the U.S. Navy will lose its technology edge as a result.



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