Presence in the littorals: the Corvette Solution?
Smith, Richard D.
Breemer, Jan S.
Hughes, Wayne P.
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Forward deployed naval forces are expected to remain the principal military option for underscoring U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad. But as the numbers of deployable ships decline, keeping the forward deployment of adequate numbers of U.S. Navy forces will become increasingly difficult. Since no nation possesses unlimited resources, determining the correct number, capability, and mix of warships is extremely difficult, if not impossible. As large numbers of expensive combatants become less affordable and, in a sense perhaps, irreplaceable, their liabilities can outweigh their unparalleled capabilities. Small, 1,500 ton corvettes can offer a solution by way of their ability to apply appropriate naval force at the decisive point, at the decisive moment. Although small combatants are not part of present American naval strategy, this thesis concludes that small corvettes can reliably contribute to several of the roles and forward presence missions of the future. This conclusion is based on three interrelated factors: national strategy, fiscal constraints, and emerging or anticipated technologies. The flotilla, as postulated, presents a complementary and necessary balance to the combatant fleet of 2010, without sacrificing American military tactical advantage or strategic commitment as a world leader. The penalty of building only large and expensive warships could prove inadequate numbers for success in war or availability in peace
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