Admiral Gilday probably won his bet for the sizing of the American fleet

The medium and long term planning of the US Navy has been, for the past 15 years, a subject to say the least chaotic, with the presentation of many contradictory plans depending on whether the White House and Congress favored budgetary savings or military reconstruction. . These hesitations and successive backtracking, as well as risky and excessively expensive programs such as LCS and the Zumwalt destroyers, have led to a difficult situation now, as budgetary and industrial capacities will struggle to absorb in due time the planned withdrawal of the many buildings and aircraft that have reached their age limit. Beyond the complex annual arbitrations which give rise, each year, to a fierce showdown between the US Navy and Congress, in particular concerning the withdrawal of ineffective ships such as the LCS corvettes, the command of the US Navy had to propose a new multi-year plan for the sizing of the fleet. What he did in April 2022. But rather than proposing a single plan that would give rise to a new showdown with Congress, between the supporters of a massive fleet and those of smaller investments, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday opted for an original strategy in this context.

Indeed, the US Navy presented not 1 but 3 planning options, so as to allow American senators and representatives to project themselves in the medium term into the reality of the future of American naval power in the face of the investments made. Thus, the third option, the most ambitious, proposed to increase the investments devoted to naval construction by $4 billion per year, making it possible to reach, in 2045, a format of 11 nuclear aircraft carriers, 80 destroyers, 49 frigates and LCS, 59 nuclear attack submarines, 59 amphibious ships, 50 logistics ships and 42 support ships, i.e. 363 ships. The other two, less expensive hypotheses alternately favored the surface fleet or the submarine fleet to the detriment of the other, so as to reach only 332 ships in 2045. However, and as we wrote in April , the architecture of the proposals made to Congress, seemed to rely on a well-known marketing strategy, the asymmetric dominance effect.

Thus presented, in fact, the American parliamentarians had to deal not with the benefits linked to the investment, but with the renunciations that the choice of one of the first two hypotheses would generate, either in the field of the surface fleet, or in that of the submarine fleet, making the additional cost of the third hypothesis, moreover more ambitious than the simple synthesis of the first two scenarios, an acceptable cost in view of the renunciations avoided. In fact, the CNO's strategy seemed to be based on a bold bet based on a marketing theory, more designed to sell cars, televisions and watches than to preside over the destiny of the world's leading naval force. However, this bet has obviously been crowned with success, in the opinion of Admiral Gilday himself.

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