Dr. Foster is one of the nation’s pre-eminent scientists in the field of National Security. He is a former Director of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and as Director of Defense Research and Development (DDR&E) was the third-highest office in the Pentagon.
I think you should know that I really am excited about being able to talk to you and ifs for two reasons. The first reason isn’t obvious. Seven weeks ago I was skiing in Park City, Utah, and was blindsided by a snowboarder. His head hit a mine and it broke my jaw. After they wired my mouth shut, I received a message from Admiral Dave Jeremiah which said, •it’s good to be tight jawed but you are carrying it too far.” Now, the wires are off so I’m able to talk. But I suspect that some of my friends actually preferred my recent silence.
The second reason stems from my sense of the challenge we face at this symposium. This symposium follows on the public-on Joint Vision 2010 by General Shalikashvili, and the Chiefs of our armed forces. Their document, which has their unanimous consensus and is supported by Secretary of Defense Cohen, calls for the U.S. to field forces by 2010 that will dominate an adversary
over the full range of missions and conflicts. Not the marginal superiority we strove for during the Cold War, but dominance as exemplified by the outcome of Desert Storm. That dominance
must be the result of the unique military capabilities of our forces, because for many scenarios we can’t expect to do it by sheer numbers.
This call for dominance is a call on everyone associated with our military operations. And in particular, it is a call on the submarine community. It is a care to identify the requirements for operational capabilities which would result from a combination of new or different systems. strategies and tactics that would dominate an adversary. It is also a call for the development and application of technologies that would underwrite such capabilities. To give us the best chance of success in this objective we must pursue both! 27these new requirements for capabilities and the technologies in the parade.
The achievement of dominance requires the deployment of capabilities that deter the adversary from aggression, or take him by surprise, and completely overwhelm him.
By 2010, many potential adversaries will have had the opportunity to have developed or purchased state-of-the-art equipment, so we are not likely to achieve dominant capabilities just by the
pursuit of evolutionary upgrades. We will need those upgrades, but to be dominant we must reach for some revolutionary capabilities.
Now Jet’s ask ourselves two questions. First, of all the capabilities that we are funding and planning to field by 2010, which ones are expected to provide dominance? Second, of the technologies, we are pursuing, which ones are expected to under-write a dominating capability? My sense is that there are not very many in either category. But I’m excited by the fact that there are some possibilities that come to mind, admittedly they are either receiving too little support or are not yet funded. But this is not surprising.
It’s not surprising because, in this period of reduced budgets and downsizing, major efforts are required just to upgrade a few of the present systems. And when technology developments are proposed which, if successful, would provide revolutionary capabilities, too often the finding is that funds are not available to provide the required support.
It seems to me that one reason why we have this situation is that the process by which we decide what technologies to pursue and what capabilities to provide does not yet reflect the requirements for dominance described in Joint Vision 2010. Perhaps we have not yet packaged our proposals as being responsive to the JV 2010 call for dominance. Perhaps we’re not yet taking JV 2010 as a requirement. Perhaps we’re just too involved in fighting the budget battle.
Whatever the reasons, I think that we have no choice but to give this requirement for dominance our highest priority. And we should expect that if we can objectively identify proposals that have a reasonable chance of providing dominance, they will be given priority support by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman, and the Chiefs. So, as I see it, the challenge to us at this symposium is to identify a few proposals for their consideration. We must accept this challenge; we must bear the burden of the initiative.
I am reminded of a submarine symposium in 1957 led by Ivan Getting called Project Nobska. It was held at the Whitney Estate at Woods Hole. The U. S. had already deployed the world’s first nuclear submarine, NAUTILUS, and the issue before the conference was, should we develop a nuclear-propelled submarine that would carry intermediate-range missiles armed with nuclear warheads. Towards the end of the session, the debate centered on whether to use an available liquid propelled missile which raised safety concerns but which could carry the weight of a warhead with the requisite nuclear yield, or to develop a new solid propelled missile that offered additional safety but with a reduced nuclear yield.
Two things happened. One of the AEC’s nuclear laboratories committed to delivering the required nuclear yield at a reduced weight. And a young man from the David Taylor Model Basin, I think it was Dennis St. John, went to the Whitney Library and returned to read the following from The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 0680-1783) by Admiral Alfred Mahan:
“Changes in tactics have not only taken place after changes in weapons. which is necessarily the case, but the interval between such changes has been unduly long. This doubtless arises from the fact that an improvement in weapons is due to the energy of one or two men, while changes in tactics have to overcome the inertia of a conservative class; but it is a great evil. It can be remedied only by a candid recognition of each change. by careful study of the powers and limitations of the new ship or weapon, and by a consequent adaptation of the method of using it to the qualities it possesses, which constitutes its tactics.
“History shows that it is vain to hope that military men generally will be at the pains to do this. but that the one who does will go into battle with a great advantage-a lesson in itself of no mean value.”
In my mind. those two things provided the stimulus for initiative and consensus that launched the Polaris program. To this date, the Polaris concept, followed by the Poseidon and now the 29Trident, has been a dominant element of our strategic deterrent during the Cold War.
At this symposium, we must create an air of expectation. We must expect that by this Friday, we will have provided to members of the Round table, concepts for capabilities that would dominate an enemy and technologies which if developed would underwrite dominating capabilities of our submarines in the period 2010 and beyond.
In looking to 2010 and beyond, it is useful to identify some things that will remain the same and some that will change. For example, what will remain the same is the need for the U.S. to maintain a strategic nuclear deterrent and to provide assured protection of the world’s sea lanes and sealift. Also, we will need to be able to transport most of our forces and their logistics by surface ships, at least for the larger engagements. And most of those forces and logistics must be able to pass through the littoral region to reach land. We should expect budgets to remain tight and the public has little tolerance for casualties.
What we must change is our ability to deny or destroy such littoral capabilities. The U.S. has and is developing several different kinds of weapon systems to destroy those enemy capabilities so that our forces and logistics can come from the sea. But among them, the nuclear submarine is unique. Its uniqueness derives from its stealth, which permits its sustained presence, and its capability to perform missions such as intelligence, surveillance, blue water operations, countermine, SEAL insertion, ASW and precision shore attack. While it is a real challenge to obtain these capabilities, it is of paramount importance that we be able to do so in littoral regions without losing the submarine’s stealthiness. If stealthiness is lost, we then would have to depend more on other platforms which are not stealthy and will result in even heavier casualties against a formidable opponent.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to talk with Chuck Home, and he was kind enough to give me a copy of his article in the January issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings. He has some recommendations on how to improve our littoral capacities. Please read it. The Defense Science Board’s Task Force on Submarine of the Future chaired by John Stenbit and being briefed at this symposium by Dave Stanford is an outstanding effort that deserves the Navy’s most serious attention.
The New SSN is certainly a step in the right direction, with its simpler power plant, modular design and construction, COTS software and hardware, and more stealth. However, it’s clear that the supporting R&D lags the ship construction. The things we wanted in the first submarine won’t be available until the fourth and at present, most of those features are not yet fully funded. Fortunately, the strategy of using a modular design approach permits less expensive upgrades.
My sense is that the challenge we are likely to face and must surmount will demand more capability and flexibility than it will be practical to retrofit into the New SSN. It is now nine years since we started to design the New SSN, so it’s time to take a clean sheet of paper and begin to think through just what kind of submarine we will require to provide dominance in the littoral regions in 2015 and beyond.
I think the Navy should start now, as a matter of urgency working with DARPA, industry, and the universities, to initiate the second step toward a submarine that is even more capable of joint operations in blue and brown water.
The first mission that I believe needs more attention is intelligence. Intelligence is the leading edge of our national security.
Intelligence gathered during peacetime as well as hostilities can be a crucial determinant of dominance. It is fortunate that most of the time we enjoy the peace and so most of the time our submarines can be on intelligence missions particularly in the littoral regions. And, in my opinion, it is the intelligence missions during peacetime that set the number of submarines required in the force. Our current plans for capabilities in 2010 will not provide submarine capabilities that are optimized for the intelligence mission. The littoral intelligence mission against a well-equipped coastal defense calls for special collection capabilities which we believe could be made available. In particular, to enhance stealthiness we need to accelerate the pursuit of several approaches to the submarine’s intercept antennas and remote vehicles to probe the littoral regions and their defenses. So in this example, I am challenging our investment strategy in the area of intelligence.
To be even more useful in joint operations, our future SSNs must be able to communicate with more bandwidth and much less chance of being detected, more payload space for more UUVs, more precision attack missiles, more room for more seals and marines, more space for more data processing and more room for more people to control external operations and act on the increased information. And surely it must be possible for us to design a submarine and develop the associated support and CONOPS so that more than one submarine can be on station for five that are not. In short, the new requirements of the littoral mission place new demands on the front end of the submarine. Furthermore, I doubt that in the future we will afford to build new attack submarines designed for one or two special missions. Rather, most of the time our SSNs must be configured and ready to take on most of their missions.
Clearly, to provide these increased capabilities we must find ways to operate with fewer people and less space elsewhere. We know that many more functions on our submarines can be auto- mated to make room for the information systems operators. The 32volume required for the propulsion system must be reduced, perhaps by going to electric drive, to provide increased volume for payloads.
You ‘II recall how we often talk about the intelligence community and all its stovepipes. Well, it seems to me that our submarines have inherited more than their share of historical stovepipes. Surely we don’t need separate rooms for the radiomen, propulsion control, torpedoes, missiles, etc.
So I am challenging the navy’s priority and investment strategy in responding to the challenge of littoral operations, and in particular the development of capabilities to enhance the submarine as the enabler of choice.
With the availability of precision munitions and the importance of shore bombardment, the navy and DARPA examined the possibility of a stealth arsenal ship. But we failed to achieve the consensus necessary to launch the program. Now, there seems to be more general agreement that, as Trident submarines are released from the strategic deterrent force, they could be converted so that each could hold a few hundred precision non-nuclear missiles. In my view, this is a great concept!
But as I see it, the challenge is not really in the conversion of Tridents to SSGNs. The challenge is to maintain the stealthiness of the SSGN while also providing the necessary communications for joint operations and in particular, to maintain stealthiness even during the firing of the precision missiles. I believe we must examine several options and select one which will provide the necessary stealthy capability.
During a crisis, a future adversary will have to recognize that, which such a capability, two or three SSGNs with perhaps a 1000 precision missiles are off their coast ready to attack targets at any minute. That kind of capability could be our most responsive deterrent system and for some scenarios, it could be the dominant U.S. military element to deter, and if necessary to attack.
With the announcement this week that India detonated five underground nuclear explosives we are reminded of the roles that nuclear weapons have played in the last 53 years. I believe they have served us well. This chart shows the percent of the world’s population that were casualties during wars from 1600 to the present. This data seems to support what many people have known all along about the value of strategic nuclear systems to deter large 33conflicts.
So, what kind of strategic ballistic missile submarine should we have in the future? Our first was the Polaris, which had 16 missiles and 16 warheads, and today the Trident has 24 missiles and up to 240 warheads. The Russian SSBN is even larger. We’ve been there and done that. Those developments during the Cold War have left us with a deterrent system that, in my view, is not appropriate for this post-Cold War period. We do need an SSBN deterrent capability, but we should take steps to deter others from pursuing the Cold Warpath.
I understand that the Navy is considering the use of the New SSN hull and inserting a plug for ballistic missiles. That approach should be considered, but I would urge the Navy to also examine a more revolutionary concept. Use this opportunity and the time, to examine a smaller submarine that could go much deeper, have even smaller signatures with superior awareness and active defense capabilities, perhaps with ballistic missiles outside and a crew of on1y, say 20. The deployment of such a capability might not only provide a more secure lower cost deterrent but it could be a dominant influence on the character and course of future strategic deterrent systems internationally.
I urge the navy to make a more robust investment in SSBN and SSN security technologies and focused technology investments that support design options for the ultimate cost-effective successors to the Trident and its SLBMs. These are more than the Navy requirements-they are Navy responsibilities in a world where international anarchy and nuclear proliferation remain facts of life.
Finally, the most important message I wanted to leave with is the charge from JV 2010 to identify submarine capabilities that could provide us with dominance in the period 2010 and beyond. I thank the Submarine League for the opportunity to attend this symposium because from the presentations I have learned of a number of capabilities that might provide dominance, and a number of technologies that could underwrite such capabilities. But I know that in the minds of those who are present, there are even more candidates. The challenge to members of the Round table is to get those candidates on the table and select the ones we should pursue.
Thank you and good luck!