Thank you all for the warm welcome to New London. I am very glad to have the honor of being a part of your annual Submarine Seminar. This is my first New England clambake. However, as a Southerner I must point out that most New Englanders have never quite got the hang of catfish and hush puppies.
Now, the main reason I’m pleased I could escape Washington and be here with you today is that I recognize how crucial the products and skills of the members of the National Security Industrial Association are to the United States Navy. The submarine, the most revolutionary naval weapon developed and perfected in this century was not developed by the Navy. It was developed by private industry. It was perfected by a cooperative, productive partnership between the Navy and private industry.
As a former submariner and private businessman now in government, I really like the image of this partnership. And I know this partnership is vital for the health of the Navy. Without the ship construction, systems engineering, and other materials and services you provide, there would be no fleet. On the other hand, I know that the financial well-being of your companies are intimately linked to the Navy’s plans for the future. As Secretary, and as a citizen who is very concerned about the economic well-being of our country and its businesses, this situation is not something I take lightly.
Because I take our partnership seriously, I would like to share with you my thoughts concerning future plans and priorities for the Navy. You have heard or will be hearing from the very architects of our submarine plans, such as Rear Admirals Tom Ryan, Bill Houley, Frank Lacroix, and Rear Admiral(sel} Rick Buchanan, and our type commanders and operators, such as Vice Admiral George Emery, and Rear Admiral Mike Barr. Rather than repeat their thunder from below, my remarks will be broader.
First, I’ll discuss my view of naval power today, along with my priorities for the process of down-sizing-or rather, what I view &S right sizing. And I will say this up front: I am committed to achieving the capabilities necessary for our … From the Sea strategy. Submarines play a significant role in this strategy. I know that you recognize this. Indeed, it is the very theme of your seminar.
Second, I will touch briefly on some of the conclusions of the Department of Defense Bottom-Up Review. Again, I must tell you up front that I think the Bottom-Up Review is one of the early success stories of President Clinton’s administration. The President directed Secretary Aspin to conduct a thorough, nothing sacred, start-from-scratch, zero based, bottom-up review of our defense plans-exactly what we needed to do after the collapse of the Soviet threat. As we develop a defense budget, sized for the post-Cold War threats that we face, the Bottom-up Review will be the reference from which we will be building our force structure.
Today, the United States Navy is not just the world’s most powerful-it is, in a sense, the only global Navy. Yes, other nations possess respectable maritime capability and many are expanding and getting better everyday. But no other nation can deploy sizable task groups from home waters and project power ashore in a sustained, concentrated fashion. No other nation can fire a simultaneous salvo of land-attack missiles from three different seas-from both surface ships and submarines-and strike targets precise enough to avoid significant collateral damage. I know many of your members played a role in creating these capabilities.
With other navies pretty much obsolete as contenders for seapower-our focus has changed. The Soviet replacement, the Russian Navy, appears currently unable to deploy relatively few ships. And even if it is successful in re-acquiring all of the Black Seas fleet, the Russian Navy would be hard pressed to challenge Western command of the seas far into the future. They are still building submarines-and we will keep our eyes on that-but with the decline of communist ideology and collapse of its overseas influence, there would appear little reason for attempting such a challenge. There’s just no threat in the open ocean anymore.
The absence of an ocean-going threat means two things: one, we can maintain mastery of the seas with a smaller fleet; and two, we can concentrate on the missions of forward presence and power projection in the turbulent regions that concern us without tailoring our responses to the reaction of another military superpower. The result is a superiority at sea that allows us to use naval capabilities to their fullest extent to influence events on land . This is the premise behind our …From the Sea strategy.
What sort of events are we talking about? Deterring Sadam Hussein from further misadventure is one. Defeating terrorists is another. Supporting United Nations efforts to bring peace and human relief in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia is a third. Helping to maintain the new peace in the Middle East is an important one. I don’t pretend to be a great strategist. I’m a businessman, although one whose education is strongly rooted in the naval tradition. I know the Navy from the deckplates as a division officer in charge of sailors. But, without having to reserve the bulk of our forces for preventing possible superpower confrontation, it seems to me that as a nation we need to make the best use of our precious resources-the tax dollars you and I contribute yet without sacrificing the superiority we have at sea. And that is a challenge.
To accomplish this we need to do three things: maintain the quality of our people; reduce our infrastructure; and replace decommissioned ships with fewer, but much more capable vessels. Such is indeed our plan.
I am dedicated to maintaining the quality of sailors and Marines currently serving, even at reduced numbers. I recently visited the fleets on our three coasts and let me tell you, our sailors and Marines are the finest, most highly trained, most professional we have ever had. President CIYnton told me when he offered me this job that we had the finest Navy and Marine Corps in our country’s history in quality of people. I knew he was right then, but having gone and seen them in operation, I am more than convinced-I am proud as an American, and as a taxpayer, I know that what we invested in people has paid unbelievable dividends. I am proud to be their Secretary.
We will continue to invest in people. We will be shrinking the overall number of personnel to balance the reduced size of our fleet. But President Clinton and I are dedicated to ensuring that there will not be a hollow force . The personnel we retain-and these will be smart, dedicated, career personnel-will remain superbly trained and well supplied.
Our second objective of reducing infrastructure is necessary in order to streamline overhead and reduce overall costs. It makes no sen~e to operate a base and depot infrastructure designed for a 600 to 800 ship Navy when we have a much smaller fleet. We cannot afford it and maintain the current level of readiness of our operating force.
Our efforts in this regard are spearheaded by the Base Re-alignment and Closures Commission, otherwise known as the BRAC Commission. My perception of the BRAC is that it is fair-and it is the mechanism that Congress wanted. I know the BRAC can seem pretty fearsome to any community hosting a military installation. I will admit that, as a process, it may not be a thing of great beauty. But I do believe that it is a means by which everyone, both the Navy and the affected communities, can have their day in coun. Like Winston Churchill said about democracy, BRAC is the worst system except for all others.
Our third commitment is to maintaining our technological advantage. By replacing older ships and aircraft with much more capable platforms-stealthier, more reliable and armed with precision weapons-we will retain our margin of superiority at sea into the future. This will be done through a continued investment in, and encouragement of, new technologies. Although the fleet will be smaller in size, it will be more capable overall. As Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Bill Perry said in a recent speech, we will be focussing on maintaining an unfair competitive advantage over all potentially hostile opponents.
To maintain this unfair competitive advantage, we are im-proving our land attack capabilities, such as the Tomahawk missile, by increasing our targeting precision. We are expanding our AEGIS weapons system so it can provide an area defense against attack by ballistic missiles, such as the SCUD. We will be upgrading our strike aircraft from the F/A-18C/D to the F/A-18E/F, and enhancing the attack capabilities of the F-14. Of particular note is that we are cost-consciously building new capabilities into existing weapons systems. Along with such quality enhancements, we are working jointly with the Air Force on the Joint Advanced Strike Technology Program for next generation aircraft. And we will pursue the New Attack Submarine Program. The fleet will be smaller, but stronger, and with greater reach.
The point is not to down-size for its own sake. What we are doing is right-sizing. We are sizing our forces to the threat. We are shaping our forces to support the National Military Strategy and the Navy’s … From the Sea concept. We are also committed to jointness throughout our programming efforts. We are not simply operating our ships and aircraft in full integration with our sister Services; we are designing our weapons systems so that they have joint capabilities and provide unique advantages to our unified commands. Exercises like Tandem Thrust and Ocean Venture give us the training required to build the potential of Maritime Joint Task Forces.
The role of the submarine has long been closely linked to combatting the Soviet threat. But this role has changed and will continue to change in order to bring our new concepts into operation. It is important for us to articulate how submarines are critical to our new emphasis on power projection from the sea. We need to continue to refine our public message concerning the unique joint capabilities submarines bring to the unified command-er even when there are no enemy fleets to fight. You and I know the reasons, but the big attention-getter is the overall cost of submarine construction. We need to educate the public on those joint capabilities and drive down the costs if we want a balanced sub force.
I view the role of submarines in our … From the Sea vision as both elements of, and prerequisites for, the strategy. What I mean by prerequisite is that without a modern, capable Submarine Force we cannot even start the power projection mission as envisioned . The first prerequisite is, of course, strategic deterrence. SSBNs will have the prime role in this joint mission. The second prerequisite is command of the sea; our attack subs play the major role.
The element of portion consists of new roles and operations, such as described in the brief this morning by Commander Gove and Commander Lenci. When I was first briefed on the Battle Group operations conducted by HOUSTON and LOUISVILLE, I was amazed by the changes that have happened since my days in the Submarine Force-changes much for the better. When I served in submarines I think the only conversations I ever had with surface warfare officers were conducted in the 0 Club.
Now, I may be preaching to the choir on this. But I’m not always facing the submarine choir. My challenge-and one I’m hoping your association will help me with-is to articulate the specific joint missions that submarines can optimally perform to accomplish the …From the Sea presence and power projection missions. Such roles as intelligence and warning, strike, inter-diction, local sea control, and dealing with the mine and diesel sub threats are what we are looking at for the New Attack Submarine Program that Rear Admiral Dugan Shipway will discuss. These are the roles I hope you will ponder throughout this seminar. I know these roles were recognized in developing the Bottom Up Review-but we’re going to need the help of the NSIA and other experts in sustaining the argument outsde the Department of Defense.
Many say that the Navy made out well in the Bottom-Up Review since Secretary Aspin came to the right conclusion on carriers, attack submarines, ships, and the size of the Marine Corps. The Bottom-Up Review concluded that the nation needs a modem, highly capable Submarine Force. Specifically, it was agreed that we would maintain a force level of 45-55 attack submarines and would preserve our submarine industrial base with slow, long term production. Meanwhile, strategic forces will be addressed in a follow-up review, with the exact number of Trident submarines to be determined-hopefully around 18.
Well, I don’t agree that there are winners and losers in the Bottom-Up Review; I think our country was well served overall. But let me tell you-although the Department of the Navy’s force structure proposals were accepted in this joint process, we still need bold ideas that clarify how the Submarine Force fits best in the changes in defense requirements and the new realities of the world. Also, how it delivers a payoff in joint operations and true value to the taxpayer. And that’s what I intend to focus on during my tenure as Secretary-providing true value in a quality defense from the sea.
As to the prerequisites for our strategy, I know that the importance of the Submarine Force to our nation is at least as great today as it has ever been since the Second World War. I was reminded by Rear Admiral Larry Marsh before I came up here today that 1993 is the 50th anniversary of our 6rst real successes in the submarine campaign against Japan-our legacy as submariners. The role of subs through the Cold War was recently recognized by Chairman Powell at a ceremony in Kings Bay, GA for the 3000th SSBN patrol. He said: No one-No one has done more to prevent conflict-no one made a greater sacrifice for the cause of peace-than you, America’s proud submarine family.
You stand tall among all our heroes of the Cold War.
Well, we need to articulate why submarines stand tall among the forces necessary for the post-Cold War world . We need some revolutionary thinking. And we need to do it in partnership with those who invented the submarine-private industry. I know such thinking is the whole purpose of this seminar. I hope you generate many new thoughts. I’ll be waiting to hear them.
Thank you for inviting me to your discussions and for the opportunity to give you a bit of a call to action. God bless you and our Submarine Force. And God bless America.