The world has changed and is continuing to change even as I speak. Like many others species, we in the submarine business will either adapt or perish. I am here today to challenge you to change your paradigms, refocus your outlooks, and to be bold and innovative in your thinking and actions. If you don’t, many of you will not be present at the symposium held 5 years from now-and I am saying this as a friend, a submariner, and ASW advocate-but the situation is serious and I think we need to be as honest as possible with each other and to work together to ensure our Navy has the technology and forces it needs to prevail in the future.
Until now, the Submarine Force has always been up at the front of the pack-the clear Navy leader in innovation and the application of technology. As a result, today’s submarines are the very hallmark of twentieth century technology; capable of high speeds, long endurance, and of striking suddenly from a position of stealth with an impressive variety of modem weaponry. Today I’m concerned that we are falling into a reactionary, vice pro-active, mode of thinking-letting events and changes drive us-instead of us driving the changes with new and innovative thinking. Instead of leading, we are in danger of falling behind and we need to do something about it right now, before we are completely overtaken by events.
You all know that the budget pressures on the Navy are very severe. The demands of potential regional conflicts dictate that we maintain strong presence and power projection forces centered on carrier battle groups. The cost of modernization and recapitalization of these forces leaves little left over for the rest of the Navy, including submarines and ASW. There is essentially no flexibility left in the procurement accounts.
This is the every day reality faced by Navy planners. Many in the submarine community have not felt the full impact of this as they have been living on previously authorized work. In 1992, the Defense backlog was about $241 billion. Today that backlog stands at about $116 billion and is still shrinking. We have not yet reached an equilibrium level. Let me frame the problem from a Navy viewpoint. In 1990, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (RD&A), as the Navy’s procurement executive. had about $43 billion in his procurement and R&D accounts-$35 billion for procurement alone. In 1993, all of DoD had $43 billion in its procurement accounts.
As a result, the Navy is being forced to make very difficult decisions that require the sacrifice of current force structure and capability to aJlow for some degree of modernization and recapitaJ-ization. All this while sustaining the readiness of today’s forces in an operational environment whose tempo has not substantially lessened, even with the end of the Cold War. Some of these decisions will have a direct impact on our submarine and ASW programs.
Funding for ASW programs has taken major hits and has been significantly reduced from levels expected even a few years ago.
- Priority has been reduced significantly-there is little advocacy in the Pentagon or Congress .
- The submarine threat to our forces is not perceived as credible.
- There is a “What have you done for me today? .. attitude
- Many people discount the diesel-electric threat due to the training and material conditions of potential third world and regional adversaries.
Few people are worried about the potential threat posed by the large, modern, in-being Russian submarine force.
- Intentions, not capabilities, are being stressed when ASW budgets are being considered.
- The fact remains that Russia is maintaining a large force of modern submarines at a time when we are rapidly downsiz-ing our submarine and other ASW forces.
- Some analysts believe the Russians will construct and deploy even more modern submarines with greatly im-proved quieting features and new, more powerful weapons.
- While the current political situation favors the “intention .. point of view, the situation is still volatile and could change almost overnight.
- Since our submarine and ASW force structure is being reduced, we need to ensure that the forces we retain are as modem and technologically capable as possible. This is a job for all of us.
Funding and support for submarine programs has also been under considerable pressure. We are not purchasing new SSNs at a rate necessary to sustain the present or projected force size. Purchases of equipment, torpedoes, towed arrays, etc. , are tailing off rapidly. The problem is driven by decision makers who are unsure of SSN roles in future littoral warfare scenarios.
- The net result is a much smaller submarine force, down to the 40-50 level and perhaps even lower.
It is unlikely that either the funding situation or the perception of need for ASW and submarine forces is likely to change in the foreseeable future.
You have heard this before and I don’t think the prognosis will change no matter what our personal views and wishes may be, so we will have to figure out how to retain as much ASW and submarine capability as we can, while maintaining the ability to surge or expand if we have to within the funding constraints we are presented with. This isn’t an easy task.
Indeed the very title of this symposium, “Submarine Technology,” illustrates the difficulty we will have in changing our ways of thought because we really should be focusing on submarine capabilities-not individual technologies-for it is these capabilities or their lack that will determine whether or not submarines remain viable players in the future-capabilities which transcend the sum of their individual component technologies through innovative combinations and employment concepts.
Affordability is always a major issue when resources are scarce. Like it or not, we must develop platforms, systems, and technologies which are affordable in terms of what the Navy can pay. If we do not, we simply won’t have the new systems we need to modernize our forces or the wherewithal to maintain a force structure of sufficient size to meet our needs. This is a real challenge to our ingenuity and resourcefulness.
To meet it, both we and you need to change the way we do business. For our part, I believe the Navy needs to buy systems that rely more heavily on COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) equipment and to use MILSPECs ror procurements only where commercial standards are either non-existent or clearly inadequate to meet our needs. While some progress has been made in this area, much. much more remains to be done. We need to change our mindsets about the way we specify things and do business.
- We also need to look at simplifying the contracting process. The Vice President and the Secretary of Defense clearly have the right idea here. While many of our current practices were brought about to solve particular problems or to achieve particular social goals- and may be admirable when taken individually- collectively they stifle the procurement process and greatly increase the time and cost of doing business, often with no real effect on the resultant product. This subject is before the Congress now and I hope we will see some reform before much more time passes.
- We need to look harder at cost and manuracturability issues early in the R&D process. I have instructed my staff to do so and we have reorganized to foster a more vertically integrated effort and to help eliminate any artificial barriers which may have grown up over the years.
- We need to look at the whole process of life-cycle maintenance in a cars environment and one in which the pact of techno-logical change is still accelerating, and we need to plan for its equipment replacement and modernization at the outset of any development.
- We need to attain the necessary degree of reliability, provide for supply support, and plan for replacement in a COTS environment. This may require increased redundancy or higher levels of sparing or different concepts of maintenance, but going the COTS route still may be cheaper than going with a full-up MILSPEC My point here is that both you and we must be ready to look at alternative means of getting the job done which are cheaper and more cost effective.
You need to look hard at your programs to survive these difficult times. It requires boldness and imagination to convert submarine and ASW-related technologies for use in commercial applications. Let me give you some examples of what I mean:
- Fiber optic sensors might have use in smart buildings and
- UUV technology might find application in remote environmental
- Acoustic processing and miniaturized sensors might be helpful in medical imaging and diagnostic applications.
- Advanced signal processing technologies might lead to improved methods for polygraph detectors and medical scanning technologies.
- In some areas such as C3 and computers, transition to civilian applications will be relatively easy. In others, such as con-struction of quiet submarine propellers and pressure hulls, it will be more difficult. In the former, we have transitioned from an era where defense was the primary driver and customer to an era where defense takes only a small part of the output and certainly does not drive the mass market in any meaningful sense. In the latter, we may be the only game in
- You also need to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by initiatives such as the Dual-Use and Technology Reinvestment Programs that can help ease the transition to a world with a lower level of funding for defense purposes. But these programs, helpful as they may be, will not substitute for your own efforts and ingenuity in attacking the problem.
I also recognize that decreases in procurement money means that less will be available for IRAD in submarine and other areas which are unique and critical to the Navy. We will do our best within our available resources to help maintain a critical mass in those areas which are truly Navy unique and for which there are no ready civilian applications.
There are some other things that you must do as well . First, get your overhead costs down-we need to get more product for the money.
- This is the 90s. Glitz is out-solid, affordable systems that make significant improvements to long-term Fleet capability are in.
- In short, it is no longer business as usual and we will have to adapt, and I am speaking to those of you from the in-house laboratory community as well.
I really don’t have any pat answers or sure-fire prescriptions for success except to say that we need to be flexible, innovative, and cooperative-in-house laboratories and industry and acade-mia-industry players between themselves through teaming or other arrangements to provide a full spectrum response when each player only maintains in-depth expertise in limited areas-and through the frank and open discussion of our mutual problems and requirements.
We need to be innovative in the operational area as well. During the Cold War, our attack submarine force was our most important open ocean warfighting capability and provided the foundation for the sea control necessary to both reinfurce our allies and counter Soviet submarines and surface ships, including holding parts of their seaborne deterrent forces at risk.
Today the Navy doctrine espoused in …from The Sea requires the development of Naval Expeditionary Forces shaped for joint operations, operating forward from the sea, and tailored for national needs. Battlespace dominance; power projection; command, control, and surveillance; and force sustainment are the key operational capabilities necessary to successfully execute this doctrine. I believe our SSNs can make a valuable contribution to the attainment of all these capabilities, even force sustainment.
- The modem SSN is perhaps the ultimate instrument of surface and subsurface battlespace dominance. Striking without warning with either torpedoes or missiles, it has the capability to clear the ocean areas in advance of other battle group, amphibious, and logistic support forces.
- The advent of precision guided missiles such as the Tomahawk give it an impressive conventional power projection capability to complement the strategic nuclear capability inherent in our SSBNs. The ability to lie undetected off enemy coasts and to strike key installations successfully with little or no prior warning is a most valuable commodity. Future improvements to our submarine launched missiles will make them even more accurate and lethal than they are today.
- Surveillance missions requiring stealth, endurance, and a high degree of professional skill have long been the hallmark of our submarine force. SSNs are the ideal platforms for such missions, being virtually undetectable and yet possessing the endurance, equipment, and trained professionals necessary to carry out these demanding missions successfully, as they have done so often in the past.
While some pundits have questioned the value represented by our modem SSNs in regional warfare scenarios, it is clear that today’s submarines are critical to our ability to dominate the littoral battle-space. Their operations can facilitate the follow-on entry of joint forces including surface combatant and amphibious landing forces. Just some of their impressive capabilities include:
- Inherent stealth
- The ability to arrive early, with or without notice–depending on the message we wish to send-and to stay late
- Sudden and unexpected strike
- Relative invulnerability to current third world ASW
- Anti-surface warfare, anti-shipping warfare, and power projection
- Covert I&W
- Covert insertion and extraction of Special Forces Personnel
Submarines represent an unknown quantity in the problems that must be considered by potential adversaries.
- Are they there or not?
- Are my surface and merchant ships safe from attack if I sail them?
- Are my communications and air surveillance networks being monitored?
- How much information is my opponent getting?
- Even though there is nothing on the horizon, are my key facilities safe from cruise missile attack?
These and many other questions like them cause great uneasiness, and, by their very nature, help deter aggressive actions counter to our interests and do so without placing our valuable surface and air platforms at undue risk to air or missile attack.
In considering the successes of the past and present submarine capabilities, we need to be very careful not to limit our horizons unnecessarily as we think about the future. We are currently in a transition period between an age where manufacturing capability dominated warfare, and an age where real time information of the battle situation will be a dominant, if not the most dominant factor. As the battleship dominated naval warfare in World War I, the aircraft carrier in World War n, and the nuclear submarine in the Cold War-all part of the age of manufacturing-what will be the dominant naval platfonn of the infonnation age? Given its stealth, relative invulnerability to conventional attack, and impressive surveillance and strike capabilities, the nuclear submarine could well be this platfonn. But this is certainly not clear at this time, and I challenge you to apply your imagination to look at the means which will be required for the submarine to continue its dominant role into the future.
We in the Office of Naval Research are searching hard ourselves to determine those new technological developments that will truly make a difference to the future success of our naval forces-technologies that will serve our forces well in a future where a high premium is placed on real-time information of the enemy and a clear picture of the battlefield which eliminates the fog of war.
Some areas we believe will be important include:
- Time Critical Strike: the ability to attack targets when windows of opportunity are brief. These targets can be either fixed or mobile, but success requires real-time surveillance, targeting, mission planning, strike, and battle damage assessment capabilities. Obviously, real-time connectivity between the surveiller and the shooter is a must.
- Information Dominance: basically this requires that our warfighters make better decisions more rapidly than their adversaries. Automated, intelligent decision aids will assist our forces and serve as repositories of warfighting knowledge.
- Environmental Dominance: this is essentially ownership of the battlespace environment so that we can exploit it to its full potential while denying the enemy its use.
The real question is what role can submarines play in these and other areas? Will they prove as flexible, useful, and dominant in the future as they are now? It is a challenge for all of us to determine how they best fit into the future of warfare.
There are lots of possibilities. They are limited only by our own imagination and willingness to innovate and try new concepts.
- We need to think now about better ways of doing the littoral mission-if we had some of the items previously noted, how would we use them? What tactics would we employ?
- What other changes could be made to enhance our capabilities?
- What new ideas and concepts should we be including in this year’s war games? How can we best show the value of the significant submarine contribution to battlespace dominance in the littoral warfare scenario?
- And speaking in regard to war games, we really need to put our best foot forward there. War games offer the opportunity to try out new technologies and operational concepts and to obtain some idea of their value to fighting forces before we go to the expense of developing and fielding a system. They are great to look at large numbers of what ifs.
- They also serve to educate the players and the senior officials who review their results on the exceptional value represented by the modem SSN across a wide variety of potential mission scenarios and applications, including those associated with operations in the littoral regions of the world, so we really need to work hard to do a good job in the games.
My main concern is· not about the value of our SSNs or the great contribution they can make to meeting our warfare goals and objectives, but rather:
- Will there be enough of them?
- If Russian intentions change, can we support the Battle Groups, seek out and destroy opposing SSNs before they become a threat to our replenishment and logistic forces, and hold a portion of their seaborne nuclear deterrent force at risk-all at the same time?
I am also concerned because of the cutbacks that have occurred in other supporting forces such as the Undersea SurveiJJance System and ASW aircraft squadrons. ASW is a team sport and reductions in these areas will limit our capability to respond as successfully as we have done in the past.
The questions I just posed and many other issues require serious thought and an open mind. We in the Submarine Force need to build upon the truly impressive successes we have achieved over the past 40 years and to move forth in to the future with confidence in our ships, ourselves, and our ability to carry out our mission in the changing world of the future. We need to be flexible, adaptable, and ready to meet the challenges of a changing world.
We need to develop new paradigms both ashore and at sea to seize the opportunities afforded us. I am not saying this will be easy-change is difficult-but it offers opportunity and challenge as well as the pain of adjusting to a new environment.
New ideas, tactics, and equipment will be required to carry out these demanding tasks. For example, joint operations will require a greater degree of connectivity than we in the submarine business have been used to in the past. This may require:
- SHF/EHF satellite links
- Greater use of imagery
- Real time communications
- New types of antennas
Another example is the total combat system engineering of a submarine. In the past one contractor developed the sonar, another the fire control system, another the hull design, and yet another the propulsion plant-and the ship was often built by still another party. The result was sometimes a collection of components optimized at the system level, but, which taken together, may not have optimized the capability of the submarine as a whole. Would it be possible to have a single integrated design and construction process that truly integrates the combat system with the hull envelope and the propulsion plant in an optimum manner?
Other equipment and design innovations might also prove useful:
- Non-lethal disabling devices for use against surface ships
- UUVs!UAVs to extend surveillance and targeting capabilities
- Off-board mine detection sensors
- Low-cost, deployable sensors and arrays that could be monitored from standoff distances while providing 24-hour coverage of areas of interest
- Half-length torpedoes with the same characteristics as the MK 48 ADCAP to provide more total firepower in the same torpedo room footprint-could we use MK 50s as submarine launched ASW weapons? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such a course of action?
In summary, I challenge you to be bold and to be innovative, for if you are not, you will surely be gone. Thank you.