Remarks at the Annual Symposium June 5, 1996
It is an honor and pleasure for me to be here today. I’ve been here many times before, but this is my first on this side of the lectern. I hope I can convey why I and the N87 staff are optimistic about the future.
You just heard Jerry Ellis talk about the Pacific Submarine Force and the many challenges he faces. While I don’t have any operational submarines under my direction-of course, I’m not counting my fleet of desk models in the Pentagon-I do have three more days in my job than he does. So, I will try to use that additional experience in sharing my perspective from inside the beltway on the future of your submarines.
I’m not going to just give you a laundry list of programs today, except to tell you that we have had to do some restructuring-make some tough choices,including cancellations and, basically, we had to find money where it didn’t exist. And believe me, my young guys, and those on the TYCOM staffs, did a great job of finding money.
This morning rm going to talk about several areas. First, while the nature of the challenge has changed in the last 5 years, control of the seas-or in our parlance, sea control-remains as fundamental to national security as it was when the Phoenicians introduced the first fighting ships in 700 BC. Second, the future security environment demands expeditionary response, which places a higher premium on naval forces; third, to improve our margin of acoustic superiority, we must modernize our 688s; and fourth, the value of stealth has never been higher. Finally, I’ll try to tie these concepts to some of our program initiatives designed to enhance our capabilities in today’s security environment and that of tomorrow.
One could argue that the end of the Cold War has really been a return to history. The rigidity of bi-polarity and nuclear deterrence during the cold war brought stability, whether intended or not, and stifled regional hegemony. But that was more of an aberration than a norm when viewed in the context of conflict throughout history. Consider the roots of the war in Bosnia which dates back at least 500 years to the Ottoman Empire.
Let me discuss the nature of today’s challenge, and why sea control is so essential. As Admiral Mike Cramer, the Director of Naval Intelligence, stated in his latest publication of worldwide submarine challenges, these challenges come in three categories. First is the technological pacing of Russia’s submarine force; second is the investments by China in new submarine capabilities for the next century; and third, other countries of concern which are acquiring submarines and capable weapons systems at a remarkable rate. These countries want to obtain relatively low cost, high leverage solutions like mines, anti-ship cruise missiles, diesel submarines, or weapons of mass destruction.
World demographics continuously evolve; today’s neutrals may be tomorrow’s adversaries. Although each group is motivated differently, one constant remains-we still have and will always have nations which seek to gain access to the sea. There will always be those who want to impose regional sea denial. With about three quarters of the earth’s surface covered with water, and 90 percent of the material required to support any U.S. led military campaign arriving by sea, the fundamental truth remains that the seas are a lifeline through which prosperity flows. Our status as a world leader dictates that we must continue to bold a clear advantage in sea control. We cannot abrogate this responsibility.
Nations with advanced capability diesel submarines, available on the open market, whether originally intended for defensive measure or not, can restrict commerce in a strategic choke point by the mere perception of their presence. With at least two dozen of these choke points around the world, threats of closure of one or more would have an adverse effect on the global economy.
More and more nations realize the value of a submarine’s undetected presence. Their ability to conduct anti-shipping missions, both actively and passively is well understood and has been proven in combat time and again. An advanced capability submarine operated by a nation with hostile intent is a serious threat to U.S. and Allied naval forces, so undersea superiority remains key to our nation’s security.
When a crisis erupts and the President asks .. Where’s the nearest carrier?”, a submarine is already on station and probably has been for sometime. Most of you recognize the contributions
forward deployed submarines make in the clandestine collection of intelligence and surveillance of potential adversaries. Their ability to respond rapidly-undetected, and to operate for long periods without a logistics tail in hostile areas-discriminate them from all other platforms.
We have submarines around the globe, around the clock. Today, of the 78 SSNs, 33 are underway-18 of which are forward deployed-and they are covertly collecting where the action is-ready to respond if a crisis is brewing or erupts.
As you know, the last several years have seen continued tasking of these forces around the globe. The realities of lowering defense budgets have forced us to do more with less.
Our force structure is declining at the same rate as the rest of the Navy but declining none the less; and while the new attack submarine will bring enormous capabilities, it will not enter the force in sufficient numbers until well into the next century.
In fact the 688 class attack submarine will still comprise 60 percent of the force in 2015. The argument that we need to do more with less really boils down to the fact that we need to do better with less, and that’s why modernizing the 688 is one of our highest priorities.
The introduction of commercial off-the-shelf technologies (COTS) into submarine systems-sonar, fire control and communications being most noteworthy-has provided the opportunity to change the way we approach modernization. We must get capability to the fleet as fast as the commercial sector gets it to your home!
Last year we began an effort to study how we could improve our margin of acoustic superiority. As many of you know, you can make gains in two areas: acoustic stealth, which is expensive and very hard to change once the design is locked in, and sensors and processing in the sonar area.
SEA WOLF and the NSSN improve the stealth part of the equation. SEA WOLF will become the quietest submarine in the world when it goes to sea for the first time. And, for the first time in our submarine development history with the new attack submarine, we have maintained acoustic quieting in a smaller hull. This is a big deal. We are on the right track with our new platforms, but that does not help the 688. Here, you have to work on the electronics side.
We are working very hard to regain dB or improve our
detection capability of other platforms through improvements in processing and new algorithms. We reviewed the problem in detail and are developing a commercial solution. The Submarine Force requirements are dear affordable systems that stay ahead of the threat.
We will need that improved margin of superiority as we move into the future security environment. Why? Because the value of stealth is so much greater. The trend in almost all of the services’ weapons delivery systems is to stealthy or unmanned platforms. The Army wants the Comanche helicopter, and the Air Force is even looking at a future unmanned combat aircraft. In fact, radar cross sections and infrared signatures are for today’s ship designers what armor was to yesterday’s. Other services are making huge investments to achieve what is inherent in a submarine-stealth. Stealth leverages the soft kill and alters the attack equation.
The first bomb dropped ·on Baghdad was from an F-117 A stealth fighter which was well inside Iraqi radar coverage. Simultaneously Tomahawk cruise missile strikes were taking place. The F-117s and Tomahawks systematically created gaps in the Iraqi radar coverage and in the command and control network to pave the way for non-stealthy aircraft. The first wave of attacks included 30 F-117s and 54 TLAMs. Within the first S minutes, nearly 20 air defense, C3, electrical and leadership nodes had been struck in Baghdad. All of this was done to create a less dangerous environment for the non-stealthy aircraft which still only flew to the outskirts of the city but they would be used to deliver the bulk of the ordnance on the ground forces.
Achieving undersea superiority is a much more complex and challenging problem-stealthy, mobile targets veiled in the oceans’ shadow require significant investment in time and resources to eliminate. The consequences of failure in achieving undersea superiority are disastrous and not as well understood nor appreciated by those outside the Submarine Force and the Navy. They are assumed away.
But threats from undersea are not the only challenge that our expeditionary naval forces will face in the future. The threat to naval forces from land based weapons systems, linked to space based and air breathing sensors, is real. In fact, Mr. Andy Marshall, the Director of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, has commissioned a review of how a future adversary might attempt to deny the U.S. Navy access to the sea-from ashore. He calls this the Anti-Navy.
The Anti-Navy is a predominantly land based response to a classically-styled surface combatant force, capable of denying an enemy use of wide sea areas. A successful Anti-Navy is a force which has solved today’s targeting problem: identifying and tracking mobile platforms from over-the-horizon, in a potentially high background clutter environment. It is land based because that is cheaper than procuring and maintaining a sea-going force capable of controlling the same size area.
So why is Andy Marshall studying the Anti-Navy? Because he is not a friend of ours? No, Andy has a long history of being a supporter of the Navy. He is studying it, because future trends in sensors, weapons, communications, and computing power, of technologies which can be purchased on the open market, are leading to an environment where, if I can sense you, I can kill you.
Technology is making life on the ocean more difficult. In this environment, stealth is the enabler; and submarines become the enabler for the enabling force, our Navy and Marine Corps team. In this future, stealthy platforms will prepare and dominate the battlespace.
We have many initiatives in this area, and I will talk briefly about several of them. We are working hard to enhance our core competencies by extending our battlespace horizon under the sea and in the air.
But first, let me recount a lesson from history, back to the battle of Midway 54 years ago today-a battle where submarines were remarkably ineffectual.
Of the 25 submarines in the area between Hawaii and Midway, only 12 got into a position to intercept any Japanese forces. And of those 12, only one, USS NAUTILUS, managed to get a score. It sank an aircraft carrier which had been slowed to 2 knots by dive bombers. But Midway served as a pivotal point in the evolution of submarine success in the war. It was determined that the primary reason for submarine frustration at Midway was the lack of a search radar for night tracking. The SJ radar, the first directional radar used by the undersea force, was installed on most of the submarines within a few months. In fact in August of 1942, just two months after Midway, USS HADDOCK sank two merchants through a new tactic: night time radar approach.
HADDOCK’s first patrol may be remembered as an historic episode in submarine and an important turning point in the Pacific war. Search radar expanded the horizon of submarine warfare by many leagues, and its successful introduction dated the beginning of the end for thousands of tons of Japanese shipping which, in pre-radar days, might have reached their intended destination.
So, as radar brought a new dimension of warfare to the World War Il boats, unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned undersea vehicles introduce a new dimension into today’s submarines: a clandestine reach through the surf zone into the enemy’s backyard. These modem versions of the telescoping spyglass will deliver precision information to the submarine commander, which can in tum be relayed to the battle-group and joint task force commanders; and these new systems are not just pie in the sky.
In fact, just this past weekend, in the Southern California operating areas, USS CHICAGO controlled a Predator UAV and used its video downlink to deploy and direct special operations forces to destroy a high value target. Major General Ken Israel, Director of the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, flew out to ride CHICAGO, so he could see this with his own eyes.
This was his first exposure to a submarine, and he’s in on the ground floor of this powerful future capability. The Submarine Force is in the 21st century.
Let me describe the scenario, the submarine, with SEALs embarked, is conducting all-sensor surveillance off an adversary’s coastal island. Onboard sensors indicate the presence of a target of high interest to the joint task force commander, COMTHIRDFLT, located 3000 miles away. The submarine commander requests operational control of a Predator UA V to support realtime planning and execution of a SOP mission against the newly discovered Silkworm missile site. The tasking is to monitor the site and support precision aircraft strike should the missile battery be prepared for launch.
In this demonstration, the submarine had control of Predator for 26 hours, 9 hours continuously at one point, out to a range of 104 miles. The theoretical range, based on signal strength, is considerably further. Truly this is the world’s tallest periscope.
The future looks bright for the unmanned undersea vehicles. We are developing a self-propelled vehicle that can be launched and recovered from a torpedo tube. It will be fiber optically connected to the ship and able to pass data from forward and side looking sonars, providing a real time display miles ahead of the ship.
Initially, we looked at using this system for mine reconnaissance, but advances in power sources for longer dwell times outside of the submarine and potential for autonomous operation with pre-programmed mission packages, provide the gateway for the UUV to be of immense assistance in other submarine operations.
We are currently working with the Surface Warfare Division to adapt the Army’s Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, for use aboard both surface combatants and submarines. ATACMS does not compete with Tomahawk; they are completely complementary. Used for different target sets, AT A CMS adds a different kind of arrow to our quiver. We are also pursuing the prosecution and elimination of the deep and hardened target set. This is a real challenge, and we are meeting it head on. Fielding this capability will enable us to engage a well entrenched enemy, and may even be of use as we attempt to devalue weapons of mass destruction. We will be pursuing this through an advanced concept technology demonstration led by the Strategic Systems Program Office, in concert with the Army.
While at times, inside the beltway, the future looks grim with the budget deliberations we face, I am excited about the future. There is reason for optimism about where we are going. We have great Submarine Force people inside the beltway. There are some advanced technology demonstration proposals that look like they will make the cut-one of them will attempt to demonstrate a towed array design that will provide an order of magnitude reduction in production costs and at least a 50 percent or more reduction in volume compared to conventional thin line array technology. That is just a snapshot of some initiatives we have going on.
I do want to leave you with a few thoughts. Remember that sea control is an essential element to our national security. Although I did not spend much time discussing ASW, that is still the primary mission of our submarines. Submarine success in that area is critical to keeping the sea lanes open.
Secondly, the key to improving our margin of acoustic superiority through modernization of our 688 fleet is a near term priority, while moving forward with SEAWOLF and the new attack submarine. Finally, remember that the future security requirements demand that expeditionary forces and submarines use stealth to defeat the Anti-Navy.
A memorial is being designed and built for those lost at sea as a result of the accidents aboard USS THRESHER and USS SCORPION. The U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1950 has contracted to construct this memorial which will be located in Nimitz Library at the Naval Academy. The memorial will be a compliment to the Dr. Thomas 0. Paine Memorial Collection of submarine literature which will be housed in the Special Collections portion of the Library. The Paine Collection is reputed to be the largest collection of its type in the world and is finding its rightful home at the U.S. Naval Academy. The memorial is a glass relief depicting the oceans’ depth with silhouettes of the two vessels on perpetual patrol. This will be supplemented by displays related to each ship. Donations to this memorial will be gratefully accepted by the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, P.O. Box 64978, Baltimore, MD 21264-4978.