Ladies and gentlemen, fellow members, and friends of the Naval Submarine League. I’m honored to be here with you this afternoon, and to have the opportunity to share some thoughts with you which we’ve been discussing within our Submarine family lately.
Thanks to the Naval Submarine League. Your efforts are crucial to the success of today’s Submarine Force. In fact, the collective efforts of this wonderful organization have been very much front and center this year. The leadership and direction provided by the Naval Submarine League have led the way, in this, our Centennial year.
And indeed, here we are the year 2000, the Year of the Submarine.
Let me tell you, this year is special! The Centennial Celebration, the one·hundredth birthday of the Submarine Force. A lot has happened already:
- The keel-laying of our first new attack submarine, VIRGINIA, in September 1999. The ceremony included Senator Warner, Senator Robb and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jay Johnson.
- The postage stamp unveiling at historic Dealey Center, commemorating our 100th anniversary and supported by your great organization.
- The Smithsonian exhibit and its gala opening on the 11th of April. The birthday of the Submarine Force.
- The dedication of a new wing at the NAUTILUS Museum at Subase New London.
- A flurry of Submarine Balls all over the country attended by record numbers.
- U-571 and RADM Big Al Konetzni on CNN with Larry King. If you watched it, then you know what a great public relations coup it was for the Submarine Force.
Perhaps the most important cause for celebration is the fact that the tide is shifting, people are recognizing the overwhelming advantage our country has in our submarine fleet and are beginning to understand what this elite force has done, is doing and will do for our country.
And that’s what I’d like to talk about this afternoon. I’ll suggest to you that this groundswell of recognition and support for our Submarine Force has a lot more to it than being a well-deserved Centennial salute. In fact, I’d propose:
That people are realizing-perhaps more than ever before that the submarine fills a critical role of irreplaceable value, and will continue to be a necessary element of our nation’s military force structure.
At the risk of repeating pieces of what you’ve heard in this symposium or in last month’s Technical Symposium at Johns Hopkins, today I want to bring together those pieces of the submarine course that has been charted into the 21″ century and the technological improvements we’re after.
But to tell this story, let’s begin with a flashback, to ten years or so ago, when the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union flew apart. Those people I call “the misty-eyed wanderers” began voicing their fervent belief in a new era of peace and tranquility, and began demanding a “peace dividend.” People with lots of ink but no responsibility.
Well, as we all know, it just hasn’t come to pass quite as they’d hoped. We face some significant security challenges today, from a lot of different places, all over the world, and there’s likely more to come.
But the bleatings of the misty-eyed nonetheless have taken their toll:
- All services down by about a third. Today we have a Navy of 315 ships and an attack submarine force of 56 SSNs. Until recently, we were headed toward a 50 SSN force in 2003: the result of the 1997 QDR.
- We know now that no analytical rigor was used to arrive at this number.
- 50 SSNs were resource driven. We got the number of submarines that resources allowed after we bought 12 Carriers, 12 Amphibious Ready Groups and 116 Surface Combatants.
- Beginning around 1994, the Navy has consistently validated a fleet requirement for about 72 SSNs. We have 56 today. In the Pacific, USCINCPAC, Admiral Dennis Blair, has stated in his Integrated Priority List that he needs 35 attack submarines-he has 25 !
- So the Quadrennial Defense Review ignored the needs of the warfighters in the submarine area …
- The Quadrennial Defense Review did hedge the bet by footnoting that the specified level of 50 SSNs was contingent on a reevaluation of peacetime overseas presence requirements.
But then, the 1998 Defense Science Board Summer Study rang an important bell; declaring the submarine the “crown jewel” of our defense arsenal and calling for more not fewer.
Then of course the more recent validation, the reevaluation asked for in the Quadrennial Defense Review, the 1999 CJCS study, confirmed that 50 SSNs are inadequate.
- The study determined that 68 SSNs are required in 2015, and by extension today.
- It went on to say 76 SSNs are required in 2025.
- The reopon also stated a level below 55 SSNs would leave the ClNCs insufficient capability to respond to urgent contingencies without gapping other requirements of high national interest.
As an aside, some people not knowledgeable of this Study have read this to say that a range of 55-68 SSNs is OK.
Read more carefully. This is not the case. As the CNO has stated, it’s a risk management problem. Any number below 68 represents increased risk, with 55 simply being the level at which the cumulative risk is so great, it is unacceptable.
I do not believe, nor should anyone pretend, that submarines are a sufficient element of our Navy’s, or our nation’s, military force structure in and of themselves. But I do firmly believe what I said earlier, that U.S. Navy attack submarines have served critical roles of irreplaceable value, and will continue to be a necessary, although not sufficient, element of our nation’s force structure, in numbers larger than today.
The have served pan is becoming more and more known, and if you’ve heard me speak at one of our Submarine Birthday Balls, you’ve heard me talk a lot about our early beginnings. And how:
- We began life in 1900 with both a limited submarine and a limited vision for that submarine. Of short-range submarines, principally assigned harbor and coastal protection duties.
- Then in WWI, we made some forays into the open ocean, against German naval and merchant shipping during the latter months of that war, but they were generally ineffective.
- But we learned from those first, limited wartime experiences, and we learned from the German U-boat success. We recognized the tremendous potential of these new platforms and we improved them to become longer range, offensively oriented.
- We gave them new, more reliable, diesel engines, more fuel, and more payload volume. To capitalize on their inherent stealth to gain access into areas our other forces couldn’t go and to take the fight to the enemy.
- Those new, long-range fleet boats began appearing in the late 1930s.
- Just in the nick of time to step up to a WWII mission that surpassed anything anyone expected, when our heroic submariners held the line in the Pacific. In fact, our submarines “were the only force to hold the line while the nation repaired its wounds” following Pearl Harbor (in F ADM Nimitz’s words).
- WW II was the crucible that forged our character, a culture that now is playing big as our country contemplates the uncertain 21 11 century. Because it was then that our submariners were presented, virtually overnight, with a new mission and said simply, “We can do that.”
- So, after WWII, we added the snorkel and improved on our tactical sensors. Periscopes and sonars and antennas that evolved into yet another mission: the so-called Indications and Warning mission of the Cold War.
- And then, nuclear propulsion-finally taking us from submersible surface ships to true submarines and providing 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week, covert access to places other platforms couldn’t go.
- Another radical development of this post-WWII era, the submarine launched ballistic missiles of our SSBN force, the boomer.
- Our boomers provided the nation’s only truly survivable deterrence, playing a key role in coming to grips with that grave threat to our national security.
- And of course, the Cold War presented us with yet another new mission, the Blind Man’s Bluff ASW mission you’re hearing more and more about lately, our SSNs locked-in with their SSBNs.
- And with each of these new missions our Cold War submariners simply said, “We can do that,” just like in WW II.
- To a significant degree, more and more recognized by the public, the Cold War was won under the seas. Our attack boats could find their boomers and they couldn’t find our boomers. And they knew it.
- We know in this post-Cold War era, the Submarine Force has been called upon once again to come to grips with new missions, just like those WWII and Cold War heroes.
- And the Submarine Force is again saying, “We can do this.” Out of necessity once again, to respond to the nation’s need, just like they did.
- Our guys are tasked with worldwide Intelligence/Surveillance/ Reconnaissance (ISR) missions that have doubled, over the same decade that saw our SSN numbers dwindle by almost half.
- We’ve added covert precision land attack to our kit, and more importantly, to the kit of the Theater Commander.
- We’ve added operations under direct Battle Group Command and Joint Task Force Tactical Command to our longstanding proficiency in independent operations.
- Bluntly stated, some are so convinced of their predispositions that they don’t need any facts.
- Some complain that their questions, really not questions at all, of course, but opinionated comments almost in the form of a question, haven’t been acknowledged yet.
- Futurists warn us to prepare for a very different set of national security challenges in the 21″ Century than we saw throughout the last 100 years.
- The coming challenges are likely to be a lot less about massing overwhelming firepower at the Fulda Gap.
- And, more about employing stealth and agility and endurance in a number of places, without the expectation of forward friendly bases.
- It will be about dealing efficiently, not just in full-scale wars, but in the vagaries of ever-consuming missions with labels like peacekeeping, intervention, humanitarian aid, and non-combatant evacuations (NEOs).
- And they warn us about area denial, the ability of some nations or rogue powers, even with limited means, to deny (at least, temporarily) access to areas of the world to many of our forces.
Stealth, endurance, agility, self-sufficiency, sounds like they’re calling for an even greater need for submarines in the future and a Jot of people are agreeing with that line of thought.
- Last November, Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig stated his view of a future Navy force structure with greater reliance on the (attack) submarine. He noted the relative invulnerability of submarines to satellite detection and land-launched missiles, and other cheap means of denying access.
- And now this strong validation from the Unified Commanders-the CJCS Study released just three months ago.
- Sanitizing the waterspace, mapping out, clearing out and keeping out mines, diesel submarines, and other threats.
- Submarines’ stealth can also create uncertainty, fear and a disproportionate diversion of resources on the part of our adversary, if we will truly start operating: “covert when required, overt when desired.”
- In a covert, continuous and (again when and if desired) nonprovocative manner.
- Negating the bad guy’s attempts at deception, by being there with him 24 hours/day and 7 days/week. Not just with periscopes and antennas but well over the horizon with deployable off-board vehicles that swim, crawl, drive or fly and deploying sensors that can see, hear, taste, and smell.
- And sharing this information, in real time, with our Battle Group and Joint Forces nicked safely over the next horizon, and even sharing real time with the National Command Authority back home.
- Getting inside the other guy’s decision loop, living with him as his invisible shadow, understanding motivations, obtaining proof of his actions, knowing what he values, sometimes letting him know that we know. Placing him on the defensive, maybe even winning the war before it starts, a familiar theme to us who have done that.
- If objectives 1 and 2 fail to deter, to so unnerve him that he quits we can jack it up a notch.
- Fill the needed enabler role as an essential complement to other power projection forces in theater and probably as the opening salvo to suppress enemy defenses.
- Prepare the battlespace especially to minimize risk to our other forces, destroying anti-ship cruise missile launchers, monitoring and neutralizing Weapons of Mass Destruction sites, and severing links to overhead satellites.
- And continue to sanitize the waterspace, maintaining control of the seas.
- But this objective goes beyond the pure deterrence of yesterday. It includes monitoring, targeting, and when clear evidence is built, and with National Command Authority direction, destroying his capability where they are manufactured, stored and launched.
- Provides an effective means to tum the tables and terrorize the terrorists.
- It’s going to get far uglier and more demanding than today for sure.
- Stealth superiority is a must. Both acoustic and non-acoustic improvements will be needed.
- Today, in our Virginia class we are adding a more sophisticated electromagnetic silencing system to improve resistance to mines. And specifying other, classified, non-acoustic stealth requirements for the first time.
- Tomorrow, the Get Electric piece will weigh-in heavily for acoustic stealth and thus will be an essential part of assured access.
- Because, mechanical drive is at a dead end technically. a At high speed, we can’t squeeze any more blood out of this mechanical-drive turnip to support propulsor improvements for the next level of stealth.
- And low to moderate speed operations in the littorals will demand continued improvements in propulsion plant machinery quieting.
- Access also involves Getting Payload. This time the non-explosive kind of payload.
- Greatly expanding our off-board capabilities to extend out tactical sensor reach in depth and breadth, over the nearshore horizon. That is:
- Coven, off-board vehicles, underwater and aerial, manned and urunanned, which can in tum deliver their own networks of sensors, in the undersea battlespace and over the horizon.
- Today’s Advanced Swimmer Delivery System submersible.
- Tomorrow’s Long-range Mine Reconnaissance System for mine reconnaissance.
- And the next generation of sman sensors, nanoscale or micro-electronic machines-MEMS.
- Such as in telecommunications and information systems.
- For example in microprocessors:
- If Moore’s Law continues, the one that says computational power doubles every 18 months to 2 years, that’s about another 1,000-fold increase by 2020.
- The significance to us is the ability to conduct onboard processing and assessment to develop dominant knowledge from a plethora of information. Because, we must provide timely answers, not just a data stream, to those who must act.
- We need to tighten the sense, decide, act decision loop through this processing improvement.
So in WW II with technology, and with a small, elite, can do Submarine Force, we began our reputation of stepping up to new mission requirements in response to new world situations. From that limited vision of harbor defense, to forward scout, to ASUW, to mining, to a smattering of ASW.
But of course we didn’t stop when WW II ended. Our Navy and the nation, really, recognized that our Submarine Force gave us a unique advantage among nations of the world, a national treasure.
New missions appeared, because we knew we could count on this growing legacy of can-do spirit, of adaptation, of innovation, that had carried us through WWII and had enabled our WWII Submarine Force to survive and prevail against overwhelming odds.
Submarine technical superiority was the muscle in that victory but our submariners’ can-do spirit was the heart; simply overwhelming the Soviets’ simple calculus of numerical superiority.
Let’s look at what submarines are doing today and since the end of the Cold War:
But once again, they’re simply saying “We can do that.” And in this same decade,
In spite of the significant contribution that our submarines are making day in and day out around the world in every stage of conflict, in spite of the constant drumbeat for more attack submarines by our Unified CINCs, in spite of so many independent studies calling for the submarine, we still have a few naysayers.
Well let me answer these so called questions with a few of my own, and the associated factual answers. Ask the guy next to you:
1. How many submarine reconnaissance days, tasked out of the highest levels of our government, were not executed in CY 1999 due to competing requirements for these multi-mission submarines and unplanned contingencies? [Pause … ask him … what’d he say?]
Answer: 365 submarine days-about 10 submarines’ worth.
2. For CY 2000, how many requested submarine reconnaissance days could not even be scheduled due to competing requirements, and how many scheduled mission days have been missed due to unplanned contingencies in the first six months of 2000?
Answer: 200 days couldn’t even be scheduled (5-6 SSNs worth); another 74 days that have been scheduled couldn’t be executed YTD (2 more SSNs worth .. .isn’t it marvelous how all these studies and read-world metrics keep adding to the need for 68-72 submarines.
3. How much democratization, allied engagement and allied exercises in submarine days are included in the 68 SSN force level requirement for 2015 in the crucial Asian-Pacific Theater?
4. How many Arctic/under ice dual purpose missions, supporting global-warming/oceanic-feature science while maintaining a U.S. ability to operate there, are scheduled or anticipated in the out years?
Answer: One more-this year as USS L. MENDEL RIVERS transits to her inactivation at Puget Sound … after that, none.
5. How often is significant foreign activity obscured from submarine ISR by a) cloud cover, b) timing calculated to avoid covert SSN presence, or c) delays designed to exceed SSN dwell time.
6. How often does significant foreign activity stop due to the presence of a covert SSN conducting ISR?
7. How can a person who fails the above quiz pretend to speak with authority or knowledge on this multi-validated issue?
To get back to where we were, we’ve agreed that U.S. attack submarines have served critical roles of irreplaceable value and we’ve proposed these nuclear boats will continue to be a necessary part of our Navy. What about the will continue part?
What about tomorrow? Well, we remind ourselves of this legacy of adapting to constantly changing worlds and missions because that’s precisely what lies ahead.
Case presented, case made, case won.
So let’s move on. From these studies, the Submarine Force is articulating four strategic objectives for nuclear powered attack submarines and their deployable vehicles, payloads and sensors, in this new century of ours. They boil down to four simple thoughts: guaranteed access, dominant knowledge, power projection and deterrence.
Maybe we should think about these four strategic objectives as unique, irreplaceable, attack submarine contributions and really recognize the importance of the guaranteed access objective. Vice Admiral Art Cebrowski, President of our Naval War College, has recently defined military relevance mathematically as:
Relevance = Access x Combat Power
The first of these future strategic objectives (now called submarine contributions) then is this key one …
Number 1 – Gain and sustain access for the battleforce.
Specifically, not just for the submarine itself, but for other
Naval and other U.S. forces, in politically denied and/or militarily contested littoral regions, as well as the open oceans’ sea-lanes. Increasingly in the future, the submarine will be uniquely suited to being the first in, sustained, and last out.
Don’t forget that both our WWII and Cold War heroes have already proven that for submariners, there’s no such thing as enemy controlled waters. Yes, we will be there!
Number 2 – With this guaranteed access, develop and share a dominant knowledge of the battlespace.
Number 3 – Project power covertly, with surprise and from close in.
And Number 4- Deter and counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
This objective takes advantage of the access, knowledge and power projection contributions I just described.
By extending our proven strategic nuclear deterrence capability to serve as a potent offensive, asymmetric deterrent for chemical, biological and other similar activities.
As and aside, the national debate spools up over the right kind of National Missile Defense architecture, let’s not forget we have a Trident Submarine Force that’s been in the business of NMD for a long time and they’re still out there!
So to recap, these unique, irreplaceable, contributions, which we’ve called strategic objectives, are
1) Access-gaining it, sustaining it, guaranteeing it.
2) Knowledge-developing and sharing it.
3) Power projection-with surprise and up close.
4) WMD-deter and counter in a preemptive or responsive manner.
Now, you may recall we’ve talked a lot of the technical need to do more to:
1) Get Connected
2) Get Payload
3) Get Modular
4) Get Electric
Let me wrap up by illustrating how I see these development thrusts, these/our Gets, relate to the four strategic objectives.
First again-access, stealth in the battlefields of tomorrow. We’ve got to get in, survive and operate there.
• We must invest in the more capable and versatile offsprings of:
Second, Knowledge is all about Getting Connected and the Get Payload developments I just discussed.
• In short we must leverage the disruptive technologies that others are developing here, and pay more attention to developments outside the defense industry.
Third, Power Projection is all about Getting Payload and Getting Modular.
• Getting payload is an obvious pan of power projection.
o It’s about those deployed off-board knowledge widgets I mentioned earlier. They don’t explode, but they can prevent or win wars.
o It’s also about catering to the special ops guys and their gear to tag, monitor and target the enemy’s offense.
• But, ultimately it’s about putting ordnance on target from the submarine.
o We need more of it and more types of it, of all shapes and sizes.
o And we need to deploy it with great precision, to ensure each one counts.
• And Getting Modular addresses one of the few certain things about tomorrow in this power projection role we play. That is:
o The absolute need for rapid and affordable adaptability.
– Despite our tremendous technical prowess, our adversaries will be able to acquire many of the same new technologies driven by the demand of today’s global marketplace.
– So if technical preeminence is not guaranteed, then as in nature, survival will go to those who are most able and quickest to adapt to their practical uses. That’s what a modular payload submarine will do for us.
o Another dimension of payload and platform modularity is that it enables not just a multi-mission submarine, but a re-configurable Submarine Force. In theater if we do it right.
– The modular mentality has a good start in the Virginia class construction and some of its design features. We must press on in this area.
• And for completeness, I’ll note that Get Electric plays here too.
o First in helping to achieve modularity, it is a lot easier to plug cables together then to cut and weld pipe.
o And then, we need to make available the power output of the reactor for propulsion or for payload. To:
o Recharge these off-board payloads, maybe even using the water we sail in to generate the fuel.
o Reduce, and maybe even eliminate, payload propellant to make best use of the space available.
And lastly, countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.
• This strategic objective takes advantage of the other three:
o With close in access, having attained a knowledge of the other guy’s thoughts, and being in position to act under his defensive umbrella. We can preemptively remove his capability to deploy any WMD.
o Or make him damn sorry he did.
So let me stop here.
As Rear Admiral Fages said earlier today, the Submarine Force has been the poster child for disruptive technologies in the 20th century. And we are now positioning ourselves to continue this legacy, by delivering to our operators those disruptive technologies and approaches that enable:
• Disruptive ideas of distributed re-configurable sensor networks, delivered by the submarine or submarine surrogates, versus a sustaining emphasis on better stuff mounted to masts attached to the submarine.
• Numerous covert, off-board, multi-mission, unmanned vehicles, versus simply large covert capital ships in reduced numbers.
• Timely, affordable and integrated hardware/software technology refresh, versus time consuming expensive ripouts of entire single purpose legacy systems.
• Modularity, variety, flexibility and increased volume of payload toward a submarine force whose capabilities can be rapidly reconfigured, versus waiting until the next ship class to come along.
• And connectivity in real time with many customers versus days, weeks, or months for a limited number of customers. And to answer one of Secretary Danzig’s challenges of one year ago, we listened, we acted and I see no evidence of narcissism in this vision, although we are a pretty damn good looking group!