A riposte to Ian Parker’s comment on naval force development

Ian Parker's response above is well intentioned I'm sure, but he simply seems to be a bit hurt by the truth. It may disappoint him to discover that the comment "the navy... usually acquires a platform and then designs capabilities for it" is not of my own making but was in fact how the process was described to me by members of the Directorate of Maritime Strategy when attending a recent maritime strategic planning session. And like it or not this is the tradition of the navy.

Richard O. Mayne's recent work on naval development in the 1960s (and the paper he gave at WLU military history conference this past summer) further demonstrates the historical foundation of this trend (whether it is a consistent trend or an ebb and flow activity I do not know). Without going into a lot of detail, as the army rep to the naval strategic planning sessions I have a very good understanding of where the navy is at and where it would like to go. There is very encouraging progress being made, but this does not disqualify its past or present process. As for a well developed process of its own, that is debatable, but I would welcome any official or academic reference that lays it out (and Leadmark or Securing Canada's Ocean Frontiers does not do this so please choose something else).

I was, however, very flattered by the considerable interest the navy has recently taken in the army's capability development process. Based on my observations and involvement, the navy is entering a difficult phase in determining its future. That said there is also tremendous opportunity to move towards an interim naval force structure to give it an opportunity to set the conditions for the development of the navy of the future. What will the navy look like in 2011, 2016, or 2021? Where is the roadmap? The army's roadmap is not only published but the design has also already begun. And the intellectual debate about how to shape that evolution carries on in its professional in-house journal. Even the airforce is getting its act together with the recent publication of a new airforce capstone doctrine manual and the stand up of the Aerospace Warfare Centre. They also just completed a comprehensive historical analysis of their strategic visioning covering the period 1994-2004. What is the navy doing in this department? I've been to CFMWC and D Mar Strat. I would still encourage scholars interested in naval affairs to complete similar analyses if they don't already exist (if they do I'd like to know about them). If you sense the army has lost its way, I encourage you to read my article in CMJ that explains both past and present army capability development, as well as the plan for the future. You could also look at the army capability development process, or the newly released Army Force Employment Concept. A dedicated effort since 1999 to transform the army doesn't come off as the army somehow having lost its way. Unforeseen operational requirements (i.e. buying kit for a specific theatre) has happened since the dawn of warfare and does not suggest in any way a lack of an overall plan. Most importantly, the army is winning its battles in Afghanistan. There is no better measurement for knowing if the army is getting it right somewhere.

'A lack of understanding of situational awareness'? Examples please.

Thank you for the push back, it's this type of debate, in my opinion, that the navy desperately needs to encourage in its strategic think tanks.