On the first day of his presidency, Barack Obama promised to reconfigure the Navy to include “smaller, more capable ships, providing the agility to operate close to shore.” But how should the Navy organize these new near-shore forces?
In so-called “Influence Squadrons,” according to Navy Commander Henry Hendrix, writing in Proceedings. He proposes the Navy maintain a three-tier force composed of: nine or 10 large-deck aircraft carriers and their escorts; 10 assault ships doubling as light carriers, with escorts; and 16 Influence Squadrons. Each Influence Squadron would include:
* An LPD-17 or “cheaper commercial ship with similar capabilities,” presumably for command and control, logistics, and to support a company of Marines in a “raid profile”
* A destroyer for air, surface, ballistic-missile and submarine defense
* A Littoral Combat Ship, pictured, for mine warfare
* A PC-type coastal patrol boat
* One each Joint High-Speed Vessel and M-80 Stiletto to connect the amphibious ship to shore
Influence Squadrons would be used to “build the basic communal building blocks of productive life” in developing countries, in order to win hearts and minds, similar to what the Navy’s Africa Partnership Station is doing today with a single amphibious ship.