Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally ran on March 25, 2014.
The February issue of Proceedings
carries a very poor cover article by an
admiral that says that aircraft carriers are well worth their $15 billion
pricetag. Why? Well, pretty much because he says so, dammit. He makes no real
effort to engage the critics and respond to their spate of recent criticism.
Look, it is fine to argue in favor of carriers. I just think that
to be intellectually honest, you need to look at today's huge flattops in the
context of the advent of the UCAV and of global satellite coverage. The
headline on the cover of the magazine is "CARRIERS: Cost Effective and
Crucial." That strikes me as a direct repudiation of the article by Navy Capt.
Harry Hendrix that was published last year by CNAS. Hendrix
argued that the carrier as we know it is rapidly becoming the battleship of our
time, seen as powerful yet actually surprisingly irrelevant -- and quite
expensive. But the article doesn't mention Hendrix's work. So instead of being
a professional discussion -- the ostensible
role of Proceedings -- it falls into
the realm of service propaganda.
By leading with weak, uninformative articles like this, Proceedings runs the risk of further
marginalizing itself. In this budget environment, you can't simply ignore those
who make cost-based arguments, or attack them for doing so.
Hmm. Bob Work, who is nominated to become deputy secretary of defense,
was head of CNAS when Capt. Hendrix's article was published. I wonder if the
Navy did this to fire a shot across his bow.