Greetings and amenities from the Pacific Fleet. This is usually the point where, after just leaving Hawaii, you make the obligatory comment that it’s great to be back in Washington-and your credibility immediately goes to hell. It’s wonderful to see so many friends and shipmates. Both the folks you grew up with in the Submarine Force and the folks that raised you.
I spent the last few days at the Current Strategy Forum at the Naval War College where the topic was “Future of U.S. Naval Forces in the Pacific”. The Secretary kicked it off-I was the wrap up speaker. I thought that was a pretty distinguished spot in the program until it crossed my mind-on the third day of any conference, you have to wonder what there is left to say, or even more important, left to remember. So I do appreciate the early tee time provided by Bill Smith here this morning.
So if you remember-say that we talked about the Pacific-I might claim this as a success. Actually, there is no fear that the Pacific is off your scope because Al Konetzni (Ed. Note: Rear Admiral Alben H. Konetzni, Jr., COMSUBPAC) has done a spectacular job. All you have to do is walk aboard any ship in the Pacific Submarine Force or bump into a submarine sailor from Hawaii or Bangor anywhere, and you recognize the pride he has generated in our outfit.
Winston Churchill used to say the three most difficult things to do in life are:
- Climb a wall leaning toward you
- Kiss a woman leaning away from you
- Or talk to an audience that knows more than you do.
So after listening to Skip yesterday and knowing what Al was going to say-let me correct that-that last statement is not achievable! Having seen Al’s slides, I thought my most valuable
contribution might be in relating the security concerns and military imperatives both present and future in the Pacific.
As we take a look at the Pacific theater I think you will come away with the same view I hold-the same that Denny Blair (Ed. Note: Admiral Dennis C. Blair, CINCPAC) holds: Submarines, in greater numbers than we have today, are necessary to secure our national security interests.
In my view, we have two compelling security interests in the Pacific:
- The first is maintaining a balance of power that will preclude the rise of a government-sponsored military competitor. There are probably a number of other ways to say this, but fundamentally it deals with managing what I would call the high-end security issue that would result from excessive armament of any number of countries that in the future will potentially have the political and fiscal resources to do so. China, Unified Korea, Japan or ultimately India-all were validated by the session we just finished in Newport.
- A second broad interest is providing the assurance that comes with U.S. presence. Assurance to Americans and allies to provide a level of peace and stability that will allow us to develop our shared interests and contribute to collective, economic prosperity.
- Many have questioned whether Japan and our alliance still remains our most important security arrangement. Answer-yes it is. It is the centerpiece and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
- The fact that despite economic problems, Japan still accounts for 60 percent of Asia’s GDP needs to be remembered.
- Our presence in Japan signals more than just support for the Defense of Japan. The entire Asia-Pacific region recognizes the significance of the Seventh Fleet, and the stabilizing influence it has in the region. Even nations who are not thrilled with the idea of our long term presence in the theater, and I mean China, will acknowledge this and accept Seventh Fleet’s routine visibility in the theater, right now.
- Our strategy encourages Japan to take a larger role in regional security-New Defense Guidelines facilitate this evolution. We would hope they would work with the Koreans. Joe Krol (Ed. Note: Rear Admiral Joseph J. Krol, Jr.Com SubGroup SEVEN) is working in precisely this direction.
- JMSDF is clearly ready. and there is a lot of evidence of that-nine ships plus a submarine were sent to RIMPAC. I recently heard a colleague intimate that he thought some pans of our U.S.-Japan relationship might be a little fragile. There is nothing fragile about the Navy to Navy relationship-the foundation of which is our two Submarine Forces. It is the bedrock of the alliance and has further potential.
- North Korea’s forward-deployed army remains a formidable force and still poses a threat to the region. The recent Winter Training Cycle was the most active ever.
- Seventy percent of all combat ready units (15 Division) are positioned within 60 miles of the DMZ. Farther forward today than say five years ago. Military continues to receive priority over civilian population in allotments of scarce resources (food, medical care).
- N.K. is suspected of the development and proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction such as 1998 TAEPO DONG1 launch, with a 800 + nm range that makes lots of folks nervous.
- Russia is in the midst of determining the depth of their relationship with us. I suspect they will be cautious as they navigate difficult political and even tougher fiscal issues.
- Russia’s ability to supply advanced conventional weapons to China and India is a matter of concern and has potential to influence the regional balance. ..What about the Kilos to China?” is the first question I get in every regional discussion.
- China is at an economic and political crossroad. Despite the ongoing economic transformation, Chinese military modernization continues. Budgets are up.
- We recognize China would have a tough go at an invasion of Taiwan and should unprovoked action occur, it is unlikely that U.S. forces would stand idly by. I see two possible futures for our relationship:
- Develop closer economic ties with a positive, mutually beneficial relationship.
- Or, in China’s mind, a zero-sum game (our disadvantage is their advantage)-you hear this a great deal when talking to Asia-Pacific leadership.
- Visiting Forces Agreement is signed, BALIKATAN was first exercise. Port calls to Cebu. Manila and ASHEVILLE most recently to Subic are happening at a moderate pace.
- Continuing internal unrest, particularly with the Muslim extremists in the South. has captured the bulk of the defense resources and focus.
- Two-thirds of the forces for CENTCOM are provided by PACOM
- Sub-continent have key partners with Gulf
- Muslin populations
- And economic ties are obvious.
- In contrast to what we knew about the Soviet Union, our understanding of the rest of the region is minuscule. We find this out everyday.
- Nobody is interested in waiting for intelligence. Consistent with our fast food culture, we want it now. Our efforts toward realtime reporting are in the right direction. Still not quite there yet, we need to press forward with realtime, covert, reliable comms. Where is Jay Cohen. (Ed. Note: Rear Admiral Jay M. Cohen, Chief of Naval Research.) Cohen-this is Fargo-Gertrude check, over?
- Does that mean Guam and tenders are even more important?
- Fact: HDW backlog of over 50 submarines to build in the next decade is a pretty clear signal.
- While striving to be a first rate power each of these nations feel compelled to build a quality submarine force.
- Today when Naval Components prepare OPLAN’s most difficult problem to deal with is submarine threat.
- PACOM submarine requirement is 35 as stated for last year’s budget, and although I can’t get into it here, the real world tasking to me has increased in the past two months.
- P-3s are over committed in surveillance
- Helos are equally tasked to the point where I’m worried we don’t have air frame life to either get
- through to re-manufacture or new platforms.
- Neither platform had updated their processing to the degree Submarine Force has.
- S-3s are out of the business.
- Mike Mullen (Ed. Note: Rear Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Diector, Surface Warfare Division, OPNAV) talked at the Clambake last September and spoke of the reality of surface ship investment.
- IUSS/ Acoustic cuing is much less than I would like.
- Ballistic missiles are a great growth industry. Pick One-SR/MR/LR-they will have them all. The good news is they are not a threat to the Submarine Force.
- Cruise missiles. We are in an era of the Mach 2.2 cruise missile that can be shot from a truck behind a sand dune. The Submarine Force is fortunate that our cross section to the cruise missile is about right.
- Mines. They aren’t going to go away. They are the cheapest possible leverage. I leave it to Mal (Ed. Note: Rear Admiral Malcolm I. Fages, Director, Submarine Warfare Division, OPNA V) and others to talk about our significant progress in this area but my guidance to you is don’t let go of this. We have to be able to operate in the contested littoral.
I’d like to take the broader implications of Naval Engagement in this region a step further and talk about my sense of how they play directly in terms of our strategy throughout the Pacific and also the Indian Ocean and the Gulf because I believe there to be key linkages here that need to be addressed.
Let me start with the Northeast Asia and work my way South to Cross-Straight Issues and then on to Southeast Asia. I’ll follow with India, Pakistan, and the Gulf.
We shouldn’t forget, this is the place where the stakes are highest-I’m talking about potential loss of life.
PACFLT and SEVENTHFLT support to our OPLANS gains greater fidelity each year in tenns of improved interoperability with the Korean military and support ashore for General Tom Swartz. our Combined Forces Commander. And their Navy is maturing. I recently toured a Korean 209 submarine which transited 4000 miles from Chinhae to Pearl Harbor. Their progress is simply astounding.
We often skip Russia in the Northeast Asia discussion. We shouldn’t.
It is important to remember the Russian Navy has historically been a submarine Navy. There was a period in the ’70s and ’80s where Gorshov attempted to build a Blue Water Surface and Naval Air Capability. But it is back to their roots with their front line nuclear submarines as their essential Naval Force. (I have invited the Russian Pacific Fleet Commander to Hawaii in August and sincerely hope he can make the visit.)
Bottom line on the North East. We will need to remain engaged in this area after peace is negotiated on the Korean Peninsula. Nobody’s crystal ball is particularly clear on this time line. But we watch the current talks with great interest.
There will be a debate concerning bow or whether we should transform our presence in the Western Pacific. But “We can react or get out ahead of it.” Submarine stability may be an advantage in this debate.
Obviously, we maintain a very careful relationship with China. It’s a major regional power: 1/5 the world’s population, third largest country in terms of area and it is growing by 18 million people per year.
Not only are we concerned with the tension between China and Taiwan. So are our friends. In Hong Kong four weeks ago, I put this question to the American Chamber of Commerce: “What is the impact?” Their response was that it is a key ingredient in most investment decisions we make. I also note folks on every side in Hong Kong working hard to make the two systems work. PLA is essentially out of sight.
We have no intention of demonizing China. In fact we will continue to pursue a policy of military-to-military engagement. Ship visits with the Chinese Navy, professional exchanges, port visits-of course appear back on track. We hope to develop a degree of transparency on both sides. Our strategy is a little like the Islamic parable where the shepherd goes to Mohammed and asks, “If I tie up my camel does it mean I lack faith in God?” Mohammed responds, “Trust in God but tie up your camel too.”
Southeast Asia-Important Relationships
My first impression is of the growing acceptance of Naval Presence as a positive force within Southeast Asia. Nuclear power warships visits to Singapore and now Malaysia as a result of Archie’s (Ed. Note: Retired Admiral Archie Clemins, former CINCPACFLT) initiatives, are routine.
There are lots of other examples:
We have a measured approach. Like with a number of countries. our strategy should be to help with their valid security needs-in some cases that starts with developing a Coast Guard-like capability.
Obviously a very positive relationship. Thais’ greatly appreciate opportunity to train with U.S. forces. They very much want our submarine to play in CARAT but that is a shortfall in our SubPac resources versus tasks balance-we just can’t do it. They have built a first rate shipyard that I expect us to use.
We should recognize that drugs, the huge synthetic production from Burma, are the principle threat to their security. We will gear up to help here
We have very close ties. Singapore has made wise investment. and have both quality forces and proficient operators. They are building a submarine force, as is Malaysia.
They are in the final stages of building a pier at Changhi. which will be able to support the dockside needs of any ship in our inventory. This will greatly enhance the level of naval support and presence in the region.
Remember. this is a country with more people than Russia. It is a tremendously diverse country with a huge range of issues-a key to stability in this region. We often talk about regional concerns like piracy but a much bigger issue-and a naval
one if Indonesia comes apanis the potential migrant problem; you can understand their neighbors’ concern.
Very special partnership. We both recognize the value of our bi-lateral exercise program. TANDEM THRUST was conducted in Guam last year and next year will be in Australia. They really worry about this. Bi-lats are important because they can train against their numbers count.
Australia did the heavy lifting in East Timor. They took on the leadership role, and not without some cost. And we appreciate it.
Summary Southeast Asia
There is a perception in the region that we conduct “only transit deployments to Southeast Asia” and that we have “a pretense of a security commitnent”. From a U.S. Navy vantage we understand the critical importance of Southeast Asia. We are spending additional time in the area and we are attempting to spend even more time. Let me explain. USS KITTY HA WK Battlegroup just completed a two month deployment to Southeast Asia from her homeport in Yokosuka, Japan and CARAT, which stands for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, was set up specifically to engage the nations of Southeast Asia. At PACFLT we are petitioning to change the operational patterns to include less time in the Gulf, more time in regions like Southeast Asia. However, the demand for Naval forces remains high.
I have broken this discussion into sub-regions for convenience but in actuality most of what happens in Asia is intertwined to a large degree (look at economic crisis). Southeast Asia is the vortex of the Asia future. The strategic ambitions of both China and India may overlap in Southeast Asia.
India and Pakistan
We are well aware of the nuclear character of India and Pakistan.
Recent India guidance has allowed resumption of selective military-to-military engagement to include high level visits and conferences .
India appears on the path of economic reform. Its economy is growing strongly (5.8 percent growth GDP). Military balance on the sub-continent now favors India, and with each year that passes, India’s superior economic performance will improve its military advantage.
From a strategic standpoint it would be a mistake to forsake the balance we have always promoted in our approach to India-Pakistan or to forget the long standing relationship with the Pak Navy and their moderate views.
A real future unknown is China’s relationship with India. As China’s influence in Asia grows, India, which wants to be accepted as a major power, may seek to compete with China.
I mentioned linkage. Energy is that link. The Gulf and the Middle East will increasingly look South and East to Asia-Pacific. By 2010 70 percent of Asia’s energy will be imported, with 93 percent from the Gulf. Both China and Japan will be more dependent on the Gulf and sea lines through Southeast Asia.
It is most important to understand linkage from the Central to the Pacific Command:
Our lesson-naval strategy has to shed the distinction of theaters and lines in the water, in terms of our presence.
So what are the implications for the Submarine Force? Answer: lots-but let me leave you with just four.
1. We don’t have nearly enough intelligence to deal with our top security interest-the balance of power in the Pacific.
2. We ought to think about the implications of future changes in the Pacific, like peace on the Korean Peninsula or the Tom Ricks article in The Washington Post which talks to the growing recognition that our military interests are shifting to Asia and the Pacific.
3. We will need a greater ASW capability than we have today.
Because of the current demand for naval forces, the only folks in the Pacific that are really doing ASW on any kind of regular basis is the Submarine Force:
When we craft Operating Plans for any kind of regional contingency I need everything Al has in the cupboard. This is not a mission we can outsource to any part of the joint community-it is distinctly naval.
4. The price to enter the contested littoral will be your degree of survivability. Theater of today is one of mines, missiles, and submarines. It will be even more so in the future. They remain the enduring challenge.
I’d like to add my thanks to the Naval Submarine League for their magnificent work bringing the Submarine Centennial to the American people. Skip (Ed. Note: Admiral Frank Bowman L . Bowman, Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program) yesterday addressed many of the events, all of which were clear feats in their own right.
Most of us have been to a lot of Birthday Balls but nothing that compared to this year. Pearl Harbor, where I spoke, was like very place in the country-whatever the Fire Marshall would allow-1600 folks that radiated a sense of belonging. It is awfully good to be a part of it.