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SPEECHES – COMSUBLANT at SUBGRU SIX Change of Command, 13 July 1990


SUBGRUSIX Change of Command, Charleston, S.C.
on 13 July 1990.

Our nation needs a powerful and efficient Navy to guarantee the peace. And the credibility of the United States Submarine Service is one of the key reasons why we’re seeing the many positive changes in other comers of the world. The submarine’s inherent and unique strengths of stealth, mobility, endurance, firepower, cost-effectiveness and multi-mission capability will continue to serve our nation and our allies well into the next century.

Two weeks ago today, at the Chief of Naval Operations change of command ceremony, Secretary of Defense Cheney acknowledged that we have seen some landmark shifts in world affairs and in the assumptions on which our defense is based. But, at the same time, he warned that, Regional conflicts and terrorism remain real threats to U.S. and Allied security; (that) dangers of this kind of conflict are magnified by the spread of chemical and nuclear weapons; (that) Soviet military capabilities remain signi[tcant; (and that) the Soviet Navy is still bringing new, advanced vessels on line — creating a smaller but more advanced force, designed for potential out of area operations.

The Soviets themselves are acknowledging their intentions and direction. In fact, during the recent visit of a Soviet surface action group to Cuba, the first such out-of-area deployment to Cuba in two years, Soviet Rear Admiral Alexander Gorbunov publicly confirmed that quote, we’re reducing the quantity but raising the quality, unquote.

Therefore, the prudent posture, as Secretary Cheney emphasized, in this global environment — U.S. military power, including naval superiority, remains a prerequisite to peace. Our strength provides stability at a time of turbulence and change. We can’t afford to let Soviet intentions substitute for American capability in guaranteeing U.S. security. That guarantee is our job.

In 1990 and in the years ahead, to ensure we can keep that guarantee and capability to deter conflict, or to prevail if deterrence fails, we have to keep qualitatively ahead of the potential competition. The ships and submarines of Group Six and Ten are the best in the Navy. But the best today, will obviously face stiffer competition in a year or two especially in view of the continuing Soviet commitment to the modernization of its submarine fleet.

The world indeed may be a safer place than a year ago, but the sweeping changes we are seeing will make the world and global interrelationships less stable rather than more stable, at least for the foreseeable future. As we hear talk of what program to cut and where to spend the peace dividend, we should remember that our national security is not an either/or proposition.

The “peace dividend” is freedom. It is our values and way of life today. But where will it be tomorrow without the strength that brought fundamental changes to the world?

Deterrence — whether strategic or conventional – has been described in many ways, but Mark Twain best illustrated it with a short story that goes like this: The other day two bull dogs meL They circled each other, snarling and growling. But both of them were bluffmg, so nothing happened. And they were about to walk off when one of them opened his mouth. He had no teeth so the other dog tore him to pieces.

Although dramatic reforms have taken place in the world, the maritime component of our national military strategy, which is fundamentally based on our dependence as an island nation, has not changed. Each month 1500 ships leave or enter U.S. ports to sustain our way of life. That maritime dependence must be protected now and in the future.

Although the threat of nuclear war and the invasion of Europe may have decreased, the threat from the Soviets rapidly modernizing and increasingly capable submarine force has not. Recent intelligence reaffirms that the Soviets are firmly committed to attack submarine development and production.

As an operator for the past four years, in operational command of the best submarines in the world today, I can tell you we will need the SSN-21, the SEAWOLF, to sustain our superiority and ability to maintain freedom of the seas to support this nation.

  • current classes of submarines cannot incorporate the improvements necessary to meet the projected threat.
  • the SSN-21 program is eight years into execution, is on schedule and has met all requirements.
  • there is no reasonable alternative to the SSN-21.
  • delaying authorization of follow-on ships will increase program cost.
  • delaying authorization will also erode the already fragile submarine industrial base, and

again, as an operator, a submarine sailor out at sea with my boats on a continuing basis for the past four years, I can assure the American public that delaying authorization of follow-on SSN-21, SEA WOLF submarines will eventually forfeit United States undersea superiority. I am confident that our elected leadership will not let that happen.

As the national debate on “how much defense” continues, we should not lose sight of the essential element of our readiness – ships – and trained people to take those ships to sea.

With the TRIDENT n and SEA WOLF submarines we will have the ability — the teeth of deterrence – to stay ahead of Soviet improvements and growing Third World capabilities. And with a trained corps of professionals, like the dedicated people of Submarine Groups Six and Ten, we will have an unbeatable combination that will enable us to fulfill the guarantee of which Secretary Cheney spoke.


In the July 1990 issue of The SUBMARINE REVIEW, NSL inadvertently credited the discussion on page 84, Soviet Views or the U. S. Submarine Role In Carrier Groups, to Lt. Paul W. Siegrist, USN. The author, in fact, was Dr. Harold W. Gale, PE. We regret any inconvenience caused by our editorial oversight.

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