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Changing the program is the first step. To ensure proper management and oversight, the Navy must also rebuild its in-house civilian technical capability which in the past played major roles in bridging the gap between combat commanders’ stated requirements and the contract specifications given to industry in the procurement of ships, aircraft and weapon systems.

A recent study concluded that the Navy’s in-house technical capability (civilian and naval officer) has been greatly diminished and is rapidly losing capability and capacity. The disciplines involved in building a commercial ship in no way translate to building a warship. There are no short cuts.

The Navy needs to rebuild the civilian technologist community by providing a clear career path. The Navy also needs to rebuild the Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) community. The two-year Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering Master’s program at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was canceled two years ago, should be reinstated.

There is no question that numbers of ship matter, but combat capability and survivability should be the governing criteria. The notion that somehow “little” combatants are expendable is nonsense. Certainly the crews are not, nor are the ships. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time to redesign a small combatant. Until we do, we should embrace the European-Norwegian Aegis-type Frigate, which was principally designed for “littoral combat.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.