I get a lot of honors as Secretary of the Navy, and certainly a lot of invitations. But I think the opportunity to address this group of distinguished submariners is one of the greatest pleasures, because it reminds me of my roots within the naval community.
Roots are always the strongest when they grow deep below the surface-and that is true of my experience as a Division Officer aboard submarines. I know that what I have accomplished in my life has been shaped by the leadership experience I gained as an officer in our Submarine Force, and I will always be grateful for that opportunity.
As important as the education and inspiration I received at the Naval Academy have been on my outlook on life, the experiences I had in learning to lead sailors in BLUEBACK and JOHN C. CALHOUN were even more important in my understanding of people-an understanding critical to success.
Although both BLUEBACK and JOHN C. CALHOUN are decommissioned now, the spirit of those boats still remains in the hearts of the officers and sailors who served aboard them. It is a valiant spirit-the spirit of courage common to the entire submarine community.
I keep a number of submarine mementoes in my office, not so much as to remind myself of this spirit, bu t to announce it proudly to everyone who visits me. Among these symbols are pictures of BLUEBACK and metal and wood from the fridge and battery compartment of JOHN C. CALHOUN. They indeed represent the fact that though those boats are deactivated, the spirit remains active and alive.
During my efforts at convincing individual Congressmen to support SSN 23-an effort that necessitates a lot of very long phone calls, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to gaze at these rel-ics-and I’ve decided when SSN 23 is constructed, I’d like to put some pieces of our decommissioned subs-the boats that won· the Cold War-aboard to remind new submariners of their heritage.
You noticed that I said when SSN 23 is constructed, not if. I am very committed to the preservation of the submarine industrial base for more than sentimental reasons. Our submarine industrial is a nation treasure. As I told members of Congress at a breakfast held this morning, today’s nuclear submarines are not overnight products. The companies involved in nuclear submarine construction developed today’s technical base through steady evolutionary progress beginning in 1946-48 years of evolution.
To allow this investment to dissolve, to starve, to dissipate is to throw away a national resource that simply cannot be recreated when a crisis arrives.
I am not going to allow the abandonment of this investment because of false economy. Even as I work with Defense Secretary Perry and Deputy Secretary Deutch to finalize the requirements for the New Attack Submarine and ensure its affordability, I intend to ensure the Congress is reminded that affordability requires, as a prerequisite, the capability to produce. Squandering that capability is not the way to affordability. Like the commercial says, you can pay some money now or a lot of money later.
I think one of the most important roles I have as Secretary of the Navy is to remind Congress about the nature of this investment-and how it has paid off time and again for our national security. It is imperative that we continue to state the case for maintaining a modem, capable Submarine Force. Obviously, I rely on and greatly appreciate your efforts as members of the Naval Submarine League in helping me get the public message across.
One of the ironies of our efforts to make the case for a balanced, Oexible Submarine Force is that many who have accepted the industrial base argument seemed to have forgotten about the role of the submarine and its continuing importance in the post-Cold War world. Critics have gone as far as to claim that nuclear attack submarines are Cold War relics and are not vital to New World requirements. That charge is complete and utter nonsense.
The SEAWOLF Class is being built to preserve the nuclear submarine industrial base, but it also adds considerable strategic value to a recapitalized Submarine Force. Both the submarine’s capabilities and the industrial base are critical reasons for acquir-ing the SEA WOLFs, including SSN 23, and both are my major considerations.
What is the role of the submarine in a world of regional threats? Let me tell you one scenario that I’ve thought about.
A regional power ruled by a military dictatorship embarks on the conquest of territory belonging to another nation. The aggressor-possessing capable naval, air, and land forces by regional standards-mobilizes to consolidate its gains and refuses the entreaties of the world community to peacefully withdraw. A global power decides to intervene and sorties its forces . First to arrive on the scene-or perhaps they were already present-are the global power’s nuclear powered submarines. A submarine torpedoes and sinks one of the aggressor’s major surface combat-ants. As the result of this action, the aggressor surface fleet does not make a single sortie for the rest of the war. Over one-third of its effective military force has been neutralized, and through joint operations its forces are eventually dislodged.
This is not a fantasy, it is an actual occurrence. After the British nuclear attack submarine HMS CONQUEROR sank the GENERAL BELGRANO, Argentina’s naval surface force never made another sortie and the Argentinean ground forces in the Falklands were cut off from resupply by sea. Today the Falkland Islanders still have the government they prefer, and Argentina has a democratic government.
Future crises may not be exactly like this scenario, but the role of the submarine in hastening their resolution is quite evident. When we look at the potential regional threats of today, I am convinced that a capable Submarine Force is necessary for victory in regional conflicts-a capability that, in itself, is a considerable deterrent.
And I am convinced that a balanced, capable Submarine Force would include 688 Class, SEA WOLF, and New Attack Submarines. The 688 Class represents our current multi-purpose capabilities. SEAWOLF represents a level of quieting that would be critical if we were to once again face an ocean-going naval threat. Constructing three SEAWOLFs is a prudent strategic hedge against that possibility, as well as being a key bridge strategy for preserving our submarine industrial base. And the New Attack Submarine will be the affordable alternative that is optimized for near-shore, littoral warfare and special operations. Like the overall Navy program, this is prudent defense in depth.
To maintain such a force, we need to build an average of 1.5 boats per year. If we do not construct SSN 23 there will be a seven years gap between the start of SSN 22 and the start of the New Attack Submarine in 1998. I don’ t think that the industrial base can survive that gap. Nor might our strategy.
So as you can see, I think there is considerable justification for a submarine program that balances the flexibility needed for new world requirements, such as capabilities for special warfare, countermine warfare, and near-shore ASW, with the requirements needed to respond to a resurgent open-ocean threat. Although we have great hopes for the future of democracy in Russia, the Russian Navy has continued to build an extremely quiet fourth generation of nuclear submarines.
Mastering the littorals .. .from the sea requires capabilities different than those required by a global conflict- but, like before, there is no single formula, no one solution. Putting all eggs in one basket is neither sound financial planning nor sound national security planning. As Secretary of the Navy, I am responsible for ensuring that we maintain a prudent hedge towards future potentials.
Thinking about the future .. .from the sea is a continuous requirement for the entire Department. While embracing the concept outlined in …From the Sea, and applauding the direction that it has taken the post-Cold War naval service, we must recognize the continued need for a formal strategy to support these concepts-a strategy that addresses the changes in the world, and reflects the technological advances taking place today. We must be vibrant and innovative in crafting a strategy that provides for the Navy after next.
That is why, in this past week, I directed the CNO and the Commandant, in consonance with the Undersecretary, to begin work on the framework for expanding …From the Sea into a new maritime strategy. This framework will provide the strategic bridge between our doctrine for warfighting and the objectives of our peacetime operations. It will examine the relationship between forward presence and crisis prevention, and detail the transition of naval forces across the entire spectrum of conflict, from peacetime presence to crisis response operations. I anticipate the completion of this revised maritime strategy by early next year. One o£ the goals of this strategic framework is to more fully discuss the role of our Submarine Force in littoral operations and forward presence.
… From the Sea is our foundation. I see it as a starting point for what lies beyond. The Navy and Marine Corps leadership need to tell the rest of the story t including the importance of our Submarine Force.
Reminding all Americans of the epic history of our Submarine Force is just as important. And I know that is something the Naval Submarine League does very well. History is the only real laboratory for international politicst the source of our understanding on the importance of national defense. That is why I have come to view the incorporation of the mementoes of this past with out new construction as so symbolic.
Recently I had the opportunity to dedicate BLUEBACK as a pennanent display at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. As I spoke to an audience that included submarine veterans-many of whom were silently destroying the commerce of Imperial Japan while the nation’s eyes were fixed on the heroic landings on Nonnandy half a world away-1 recognized how important it is for us to let the younger generation know of the courage of the Silent Service.
We assume that they realize the critical contribution that our Submarine Force made in winning World War lit and that they remember how operations similar to those described in The Hunt for Red October helped to end the Cold War. But memory has a short half-life if we don’t remind others. And it is tough for our young people to envision a history that is receding and that they did not experience.
I am concerned about this because I am concerned about retaining a quality naval service in the face of a public perception that in our era of right-sizing, the Navy is no longer hiring. Our Navy today is made up of the highest quality people in the history of our service. We need to continue this legacy by recruiting over 56t000 quality sailors this year, next year and the year after that. In this number will be the future of our Submarine Force, and I rely on everyone in this room to get the word out that there is room in the Navy and the Submarine Force for our young people to continue the heritage of courage and service forged in war and peace by their fathers and grandfathers. Many people have the mistaken impression that a naval career is a thing of the past. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Although our future Submarine Force may have roles and missions different than the past, the gold and silver dolphins will mark sailors who are a breed apart-those who sail with courage short half-life if we don’t remind others. And it is tough for our young people to envision a history that is receding and that they did not experience.
I am concerned about this because I am concerned about retaining a quality naval service in the face of a public perception that, in our era of right-sizing, the Navy is no longer hiring. Our Navy today is made up of the highest quality people in the history of our service. We need to continue this legacy by recruiting over 56,000 quality sailors this year, next year and the year after that. In this number will be the future of our Submarine Force, and I rely on everyone in this room to get the word out that there is room in the Navy and the Submarine Force for our young people to continue the heritage of courage and service forged in war and peace by their fathers and grandfathers. Many people have the mistaken impression that a naval career is a thing of the past. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Although our future Submarine Force may have roles and missions different than the past, the gold and silver dolphins will mark sailors who are a breed apart-those who sail with courage beneath the distant seas. We will continue to build the most capable submarines in the world and crew them with the most capable sailors. As Secretary, I can assure you that fact is one thing that will not change.
Thank you for your efforts in support of our Submarine Force and the naval service. Margaret and I have enjoyed your wonder-ful banquet. God bless you. God bless the Unites States Navy and our heroic Submarine Force. And God bless America . .