I would like to start today’s presentations with a few remarks, in my role as the submarine community sponsor and primary spokesman, on my view of what the Submarine Force needs to do, and organizations such as NSIA, need to do in this post-Cold War era. This will not be a running status report of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force. This will be a description of what I hope we all may accomplish over the next couple of years.
Secretary Aspin, at a 2 September press conference in which he reported the results of the Bottom-Up Review, described the dangers that the United States faces in the post-Soviet Union world. Our defense policy will focus on four main dangers to our security:
- The spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction
- Regional conflict-there are a number of regional bad guys that can threaten our interests
- The failure of democracy in the developing world, where reversals in the tenuous movement towards democracy in a number of countries could change our national security situation
- A weak economy-in the short term, our security is protected by a strong military, but in the long run, the country ‘s national security is best protected by a strong economy.
Everything in the Bottom-Up Review had to relate to these four dangers, and they will continue to influence the size and shape of our military forces in the years to come.
The Bottom-up Review recommends a force size of 45-55 attack submarines and 18 Trident SSBNs, but these numbers are not cast in stone. They will continue to be reviewed in the future and could go lower, especially under severe budget pressures. The question of how many submarines we need is a very complex one, dependent on many diverse factors, such as warfighting requirements, forward presence, and shipbuilding requirements to name a few. There are no simple answers. As taxpayers, we clearly don’t want to buy any more defense than we really need. But what we must avoid are inappropriate reductions in our force structure due to a perception that submarines have no mission and are not needed in this post-Cold War environment. Too low a force level could leave us unable to meet our future national security requirements in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world.
Can we in the fleet actually influence the decisions on how many submarines are needed in the future? I believe the answer to this question is an emphatic yes! If we’re going to remain an effective force in terms of resources and size, we must continue to be indispensable to the Navy leadership. And in addition to the Navy leadership, our leaders in the administration, the Joint Staff, and the Congress, must understand how the Submarine Force contributes to our security. They must understand that submarines are an essential part of our maritime forces, and that it’s worth the expense to own, operate and maintain them. And, of course, we must have the support of the American people. So, how can we get this message across?
I believe that a key part of keeping strong support for submarines lies in how we operate with the various joint and Navy task groups, now and in the future. The requirements for the size and the employment of our forces are specified by the Joint Staff, which received inputs from the services and the unified CINCs, who in tum receive inputs from the fleet CINCs and so on down the chain of command. At the most elemental level, it is the task group commanders-carrier groups, amphibious ready groups, maritime action groups, counter-drug operations groups, joint action groups, etc.-who will define the number of submarines in the future Navy. Because of their ability to influence the require-ments process, it is these officers in tactical command whose support is critical to our long term future. And to get their support, we need to be indispensable to them as integral parts of their task groups and be key players in their ability to execute the Navy’s …From the Sea concept.
How can the Submarine Force contribute more to the Navy’s … From the Sea strategy? We must expand our contributions in the joint arena, and with naval task groups. And we must continue to expand our roles and missions in yet to be imagined areas where the unique qualities of submarines can help ensure the effectiveness of the Navy’s contribution to the nation’s security. When I relieved Hank Chiles I said I was committed to a Submarine Force whose watch word is versatility, and whose contribution to the nation’s defense is second to none. I still am. These are the key precepts for how I want the Submarine Force to run.
- Our strategic submarines must be the indispensable comer-stone of our deterrent forces. The historical reliability, effectiveness, and survivability of the SSBN system must not be degraded. Any changes in that system that could impact on proven SSBN capability must be brought to the appropriate level of authority for review and approval. Our nation is proceeding on a path which leads to increased reliance on our inwlnerable seabased leg of the triad. Our SSBNs will carry more of the day-to-day deterrence responsibility as we reduce our land based missiles and strategic bomber forces . All this while the original 41 for Freedom rapidly becomes an 18 Trident force. We’re putting more of our eggs in fewer baskets, so we must ensure that these baskets remain secure and reliable. Although I agree that the world situation now is much different than during the Cold War, in the area of strategic deterrence there has been no major change in the nature of our mission-we still need to keep our SSBNs at sea, survivable, undetected, and ready to respond on a moment’s notice, just as we have done so well for over three decades.
- As I indicated a moment ago, our attack submarines must be integral elements of Navy and joint task groups; full members of the team. We must continue to evolve in our operations with the battle group until we are completely and seamlessly integrated, indispensable and inseparable. We want the entire chain of command from the President down to the battle group commanders to ask “Where are the submarines?” when a crisis emerges. To make this happen, we need to make it easier for task groups to operate with submarines by eliminating the feeling among some task group commanders and staffs that working with submarines s too hard and not worth the effort.
- We must be proficient and flawless at strike warfare. I know it’s complex with all the variants of missiles on our submarines today, each with its own limitations. But each commanding officer and strike-capable SSN crew must be ready to launch a strike whenever tasked, and completely understand the capabilities of each missile and its applicability to potential missions and targets. Submarines must be interchangeable with surface ships for missions in which the launch platform type is not critical, and we must have lots of striking punch when a covert launch platform is necessary.
- We want to be known as the Force that cooperates with the rest of the Navy and helps guide the way to get the job done. In general, we will say yes! to each opportunity to contribute to joint operations and operations with other Navy organizations. If there is a need for a submarine somewhere, we’ll do our darndest to fill that need.
- The missions that our submarines perform today are much more complex and diverse than in the past. In order to be at maximum readiness for deployments with the battle groups and our most demanding surveillance missions, it takes a dedicated, tailored predeployment training period. While every submarine must be proficient in the core capabilities of basic submarining and firing torpedoes and missiles, there is room for selective employment such as surveillance, CVBG operations, mining, and special warfare.
- And of course, all the fancy hardware and advanced technology are nothing without the right people manning our ships, shore stations, and supporting organizations. We must take care of our people. The fastest way to become a hollow force is to neglect our sailors. Our task is to ensure we have the motivated and superbly trained personnel we need to man our ships and shore facilities. This could be our biggest challenge as the Navy is downsized consistent with perceived national defense needs.
So, what are we doing to move in the direction I’ve just described?
- We’re looking at our operating schedules for opportunities to increase our operations with task groups. In some cases we don’t have to look far because task group commanders are asking us for increased submarine involvement. If there is a choice between conducting underway operations that are strictly submarine related or operating with a joint or surface task group, we’re trying very hard to make sure that we give precedence to operations with the most benefit to the Navy as a whole.
- We’re changing the Support Submarine Manual to stream-line the process of operating submarines with the rest of the task groups. We want the task group commander to feel a sense of ownership of his submarines, and we want to give him more tactical freedom and control. We want to make it easier for the task group commanders to operate with submarines . And we want to keep the submarines with the task groups as much as possible rather than splitting off for other independent operations.
- We want to increase the flexibility of the fleet commanders by increasing the amount of firepower we bring to the theater and by improving our strike warfare capability. We’ re working on a plan to accelerate the deployment of the Tomahawk block 01 GPS missile on submarines by early next year. We’re also working to simplify the Tomahawk mission planning process so that submarine missions and surface missions are interchangeable. The biggest step in this process is to replace all partially fueled Tomahawks missiles with fully fueled missiles. This process is currently in progress but will take a couple of years to complete.
- We’ve written a new preoverseas movement (POM) instruction specifically tailored for our most demanding surveillance missions with more specialized training and workup guidance to help the squadron and the commanding officer better prepare for deployment. We’re also revising the old POM instruction to include updated specific information for each type of deployment such as with the battle groups, counter-drug operations, arctic operations, and open ocean ASW operations. This revision should be on the street by next month.
- We are tailoring our tactical readiness evaluations, as well as POM workups and certifications, to the ship’s intended deployment schedule and anticipated operations. By focusing our efforts to maximize the ship’s proficiency for operations expected in the relatively near term, we should improve their overall deployed readiness .
What I’ve just described is what forces afloat are doing to get closer to our task group commanders and focus our efforts to get the best possible results with our deployed ships. There are also ways in which our supporting organizations can help. Clearly the area in which you in the NSIA, and your parent companies and organizations, can contribute most effectively is in figuring how to meet our needs through new technology. There are a few areas that I want to cover specifically today because I feel that they are among our most pressing needs in the Submarine Force.
- Leading the list is communications. We won’t be able to accomplish our missions and operate with other forces unless we can talk with them-effortlessly and frequent-ly-not only with the Navy task groups but also with joint organizations like the Army and Air Force, and with our Allies. The way we communicate now is perhaps the biggest paradigm shift for us since the days when our focus was on independent operations under radio silence. Today we deploy each submarine with all the communications gear we think they’ll need-an alphabet soup of acronyms like BGIXS, OCTIXS, DAMA, JOTS II, TADIX-A, and ELF. We’ve made big progress in the area of communications over the last two years, but the future is clearly going to be a challenge as the rest of the Navy and joint forces move to SHF and higher data rates. We need to be compatible! I know that many of you in the NSIA have been working on the submarine communications study to help develop a blueprint for where we need to go in the future. I cannot over emphasize how important this work is. We really appreciate your hard work and innovative ideas.
- We need a torpedo that performs reliably and predictably in shallow water. Operating in the littoral regions, in shallow water and with a growing number of Third World nations with modern diesel submarines, is clearly a big challenge to our capabilities. We’re working hard to improve the software for the Mk 48 advanced capability torpedo for improved performance in this environment. And we’re working to develop a shallow water fleet training range where we can train our Air, Surface, and Submarine Forces, and test our systems in that environment.
- Better mine detection and avoidance systems are clearly areas where we need new hardware and software to enhance the submarines capability in littoral warfare. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it There is no current system I know of capable of mapping a minefield and providing that information to the amphibious task force commander. We need one!
- Strike warfare is one of the theater CINC’s biggest concerns for contingency planning and regional conflicts. We need simpler and faster methods to retarget our Tomahawk cruise missile strikes, and we need the ability to make more missiles available to the theater CINC on fewer platforms. Last week I listened to a presentation by one of our subma-rine shipbuilding companies on a concept to put up to 100 cruise missiles on a first flight Los Angeles Class attack submarine. We need this kind of innovation and I com-mend their efforts.
- The demand for tactical imagery is escalating dai-ly-everything from exchanging photos of arms smugglers, to providing near-real time intelligence for special opera-tions missions and strike mission planning, to teleconferencing between key members of forces afloat and shore command centers. The Submarine Force needs to progress in step with the rest of the Navy and other joint forces in its ability to share imagery.
- The question is not “Do we need these innovations?”; the question is “Can we afford them?” There is a limited amount of money available to solve our problems, and it’s getting smaller all the time. We’ve got to make submarines affordable to build, operate and maintain or they will not be resourced. I’d like to close with the following points:
- Submarine roles and missions are expanding at the same time that the force is becoming smaller. That means in the future we’ll be spread more thinly around the globe, and each submarine we have will need to be more versatile and more capable. The challenge is to do more with less. We must continue to be proactive and explore every area where submarines have a substantial capability to contribute to the Navy’s missions. Our future will be determined by our value in meeting the defense needs of the country, not simply to preserve submarines or the industrial base for their own sake.
- The United States must maintain technological superiority over all potential adversaries. Organizations such as the NSIA play a key role in keeping us in that position. Your challenge is to find innovative ways to exploit technology to help us, while keeping a sharp eye on costs to keep them affordable. I look forward to your ideas and suggestions on how to make a better Submarine Force and a better Navy .