Bill, many thanks for the kind introduction and early tee time this morning; I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the U.S. Open starts today. Here is an interesting fact that I learned in the car on the way home from the reception last night from my driver; every time Tiger Woods wins a golf tournament the stock market has gone up. So there is hope for all of us today.
It is a great privilege to see so many old friends, mentors and shipmates of the submarine force. I was fortunate to see Admiral Bob Long earlier this week, and in fact, had lunch with him in Annapolis on Tuesday. He looked really good and sends his regards.
My talk today has been billed as a Pacific Update and you will have one. As you can imagine, I spend quite a bit of time talking about our Navy’s history in the Pacific. In fact, commemorations of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway always dominate the months of May and June. And of course, the premiere of the movie PEARL HARBOR in Hawaii gave me an opportunity to speak about the Navy to 3000 of my closest friends as well. I mean it; if you really want to know how many old friends and distant relatives you have, just hold a premiere.
How many folks have seen the movie? There is a great line in it where President Roosevelt says, “I like those submariners, there’s no B.S.” The CNO called me the very next day and said, “Where did they get that from?” I attributed it to the good work of the Naval Submarine League.
So, let’s get on with the business at hand. I’d like to spend my time discussing two areas:
- An update on our interest and interaction in the Asia Pacific region, including some of the challenges we face in the Pacific today,
- And then, the naval capabilities I think we will find important to the Pacific Fleet’s future.
I’ll conclude with a couple of thoughts on readiness and people and then I’ll be happy to take some of your questions. Skip Bowman addressed GREENEVILLE straight off and I’ll elaborate after-wards, as you desire.
I’m sure many of you have read of the strategic reviews underway at the direction of the Secretary of Defense. And while these are a work in progress, the emphasis and priority on the Pacific and Asia in my estimation are good ones and maybe overdue. The implications are also clear that most of the scenarios under discussion are maritime in nature. The reasons why are equally clear. The region is now our largest trading partner in the world. If you were to visit Singapore, Hong Kong or Taiwan, you would see that there is unprecedented growth in containerized shipping, the need for imported oil and gas from the Persian Gulf, and the production and consumption of manufactured goods.
And while the new globalized world economy may be triggered by the push of a button on a computer keyboard, more than 99 percent of its products move by sea-a vast portion of which transits through the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea and throughout the Pacific. This fact alone leads us to one undeniable truth; the economic health of the U.S. and all of our friends and partners in the Pacific depends on the ability to ensure the freedom of the seas in the region.
You have to be there to get this job done. The Pacific Fleet guarantees the free flow of commerce and encourages economic prosperity, not just for us, but for all nations, while at the same time dissuading regional competitors from seeking military advantage. We provide combat-ready forces for crisis response and if necessary, these forward forces can fight and win at a time and place of our own choosing, away from our own shores, and away from our own home. So I think our current direction recognizes this capability.
Now, usually at this point, I like to say that it is a busy time in the Pacific these days. But that seems to strike some folks as somewhat of an understatement. Last year I went to some length to discuss our strategy in the Pacific and our relationships. Rather than cover that same ground, I’ll try to pick up where I left off and update the most recent issues.
Northeast Asia and Japan
Our alliance with Japan is our most important in the Pacific. The new administration has made this point with great clarity. The strength of any relationship is its ability to endure the most difficult situations and the GREENEVILLE-EHIME MARU collision was certainly that. In the aftermath, our relationship with the Japanese government and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force is absolutely rock solid. We will announce the final plan for the recovery of the missing EHIME MARU crewmembers here shortly, and I can tell you we have been working closely on the recovery effort from the very beginning as we have with every aspect of this tragic accident-from the immediate notification, to the Court of Inquiry and on through the care and compensation of the families. Once again, the JMSDF will be a valued partner in this recovery effort.
There is always lots of chatter about our force posture in Japan and the future. So it is healthy to review the facts. It would take three to five times the number of ships homeported in the United States to replace both the 1.0 presence and the similar crisis response capability the KITTYHA WK BG and the ESSEX ARG provide in the Western Pacific. Japan provides $5.6 billion dollars in host nation support to our forward-deployed naval forces in Japan. Enough said.
The Japanese plainly recognize the enormous stabilizing influence our forward deployed forces have in the Western Pacific. And all those that think strategically about the region recognize the broad and enduring requirement for our presence.
I said last year that this was the place where the stakes are highest and that is the loss of life. That’s still the case today. Over the past year, there have been some advances in both the U.S. and Republic of Korea relationships with North Korea, but this is really slow going. We are on the lookout for the signals that would add confidence to the peace process-like North Korea’s repositioning of their combat ready units rearward. But we haven’t seen it yet.
I continue to be impressed with the readiness and enthusiasm of the ROK Navy. Their operations around the peninsula have been very professional and responsible. The Korean submarine force continues to amaze with the pace of their development. I toured the type 209 that made the 3000nm transit to Hawaii and operated in RIMPAC last year. It was clean, well operated and always tactically aggressive.
We maintain a very careful relationship with China and we have experienced both the highs and hopefully, the lows in the last twelve months. In August last year I visited China and had a chance to walk through a mod Ming class submarine. It reminded me a little bit of my weapons officer tour in SK.A TE. Most recently, China’s excessive sovereignty claims and interpretation of exclusive economic zone rights have resulted in the F-8/EP-3 collision and their challenge to the USNS BOWDITCH’s military survey in international waters in the Yellow Sea. We have issued a demarche in response to the BOWDITCH incident and have resumed our operations. We expect the EP-3 aircraft recovery to be completed in the near term, but it is obvious the PRC views the adjacent international space differently than the U.S. We have no desire to make China an enemy, but we also have no intention of ceding the freedom of the seas.
Their desire to be the principal influence throughout the region is real. They are working the region hard-diplomatically, in business and to an extent militarily as well. As always, we are concerned with the tension and rhetoric between China and Taiwan. Fortunately, it appears the rhetoric on both sides is within limits right now.
Of course, Southeast Asia sits astride the most important sea-Janes on the globe and there are lots of players in this area. These are important relationships. There is growing acceptance of our U.S . Naval presence there and we are viewed as a positive force for stability. This is also where we see some of the ill effects of globalization: transnational concerns like high seas piracy, international drug smuggling, environmental degradation, humanitarian assistance needs, ongoing peacekeeping operations, the potential mass exodus of refugees and the need for cooperative search and rescue. But we have truly good friends and allies in Southeast Asia.
Singapore is a key supporter of the Pacific Fleet’s presence and just this spring, opened with our CNO in attendance, a pier at their naval base at Changi both designed for, and now capable of having a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier alongside for visits and maintenance. Pretty amazing. They are also a leader in facilitating multi-national exercises and conferences for regional naval cooperation. EXERCISE Pacific Reach-the first-ever multi-national submarine rescue exercise with many Pacific Rim navies participating including China and Russia, was facilitated by SUBGRU SEVEN and was a great success last fall. They are hosting the first multi-national Western Pacific Mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise this month as well. Joe Enright and Joe Krol before him are fully engaged with the development of their submarine force. Singapore will be a great partner in the region for years to come.
Our bond with Australia remains solid. Not surprisingly, this bond is centered on our Submarine Force. We are conducting joint submarine Prospective Commanding Officer training and our submarine type commander relationship is the foundation on which we are building a larger Navy-to-Navy cooperative structure. The COLLINS class performed well in both RIMPAC and TANDEM THRUST, and that is due in large part to help from many of you in this room.
The more one learns about Indonesia, the more intrigued and concerned one becomes. This is a country with more people than Russia. They are spread over 17,000 islands and span more than 3000 miles in the region; further evidence of the maritime context of the Pacific theater. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and there is no better example of the importance and critical link between economic prosperity and the security equation. When the economy collapsed, so did the internal stability and given the size of the country, the impact on Southeast Asia is potentially very high. Now, we have a difficult period of political turmoil in front of us. A refugee crisis would strain the resources of most of the region-we are watching this one closely.
South Asia, and by this I mean India and Pakistan, is also a very dynamic area and we understand our relations have an effect on all the nations of the region. We are well aware of the nuclear character of the ongoing dispute between Pakistan and India. At the same time, Pakistan is grappling with democracy and corruption while India is on a path of economic reform.
We did manage to send Jim Metzger to India to get a dialogue working once again. It is pretty clear they are looking forward to building a much closer and more substantial bilateral relationship. USS COWPENS’ visit to Mumbai at the International Fleet Review in February was very successful and of course, India has a substantial and professional submarine force. It would however be a mistake in my view to forget the long-standing relationship we’ve had with the Pakistani Navy and their moderate views. I could talk more … Papua New Guinea and the Solomons were imploding late last year. Russia is clearly riddled with economic and security challenges. The Philippines continues to have domestic political and security concerns. New Zealand has legislated their way out of a meaningful bi-lateral relationship, and Iran is still tremendously complex, with President Khatami earning a landslide victory for his moderate regime just this past weekend. I could go on, but as you can see, the Pacific Region will capture our attention and most of these remain essentially maritime issues.
The focus of Pacific Fleet forces is on serving the nation’s interests that I talked about at the beginning: to operate to the far corners of the earth to protect American interests and our citizens. That is what we do each and every day. While I don’t have time to discuss our operational focus this morning, I do want to mention one area. In the past nine months I have probably spent more time on Force Protection than any other single issue and rightfully so. I won’t go into this in depth in an unclassified forum other than to say it has required a philosophical shift to instill an operational focus and is at the top of my priorities for resources. We all need to understand that it is here to stay.
Naval Capabilities Cor the Future
To maintain the viability of our naval forces, I see four over-arching capabilities the U.S. Navy will require as we look toward the future. That is, the ability to:
- influence events ashore
- project defense
- achieve knowledge superiority, and
- adapt the manner in which we employ our people.
Now, we can call these priorities, requirements or capabilities, but I think fundamentally what they spell out is the kind of transformational change we require to operate effectively in the 21st century. Skip Bowman talked to this yesterday. Although the words may be slightly different, they deal with what we will need to be able to do in the immediate future.
Fundamentally the first two, influencing events ashore and projecting defense, means ensuring our access to the battlespace and setting the conditions that enable the entry of other joint forces into the theater or area of operations. In the simplest terms-and you have heard me say this before, this means dealing with mines, missiles and submarines to do the first. We’ll have to provide credible precision strikes and conduct new missions like Theater Missile Defense to do the latter as well.
It would appear to me that the investments we have made in designing a truly survivable submarine weapon system that can contribute across a spectrum of operations will be well recognized in the different studies supporting the ongoing defense review. We will continue to build tough ships that can fight effectively and sustain themselves in any environment. Ships that not only take advantage of our stealth and endurance, but also extend our fire-power and ISR reach with offboard sensors and the ability to communicate rapidly.
That last point brings me to achieving knowledge superiority. This means leveraging and capitalizing on our information technology edge to translate our information advantage, that is to say our robust ISR systems, into an operational advantage and hence, derive power from robust networking and the improved command and control of well informed, geographically dispersed forces.
Adapting the manner in which we employ our people is also critically important. Our future systems must rely on less people to man, maintain and fight them. I’m sure our charge to our wardrooms hasn’t changed and won’t change in the future. We need a naval officer to be a good leader and then, a good nuc and a tactical wizard. But we need to find ways through automated systems to allow our personnel to concentrate on the awesome warfighting capabilities they guide.
Along these lines I thought I would put a marker down on three important, near and mid-term programmatic needs. They stand out in my mind because of the unique strategic implications of the Pacific.
First and foremost, we will need greater ASW capability than we have today. At the top of my tactical problems in the Pacific is dealing with other submarines. And dealing with them is imperative to both our naval forces and our ability to enable the joint force’s entry into the battlespace. I think the homeporting of three SSNs in Guam is an important first step in this regard. Fully funding the five unfunded SSN engineering refueling overhauls is the next programmatic step. These boats will help close the gap on our mission shortfall in the Western Pacific. Increased production of TB-29 arrays is also a critical near-tenn requirement needed to continue to exploit our technological superiority.
ASW improvements shouldn’t be limited to the submarine force either. We need periscope detection systems on our ships and aircraft and better coverage from cueing systems. A multi-static receive and passive narrowband replacement for the SQR-19B array is required. At the risk of repeating myself, a commercially based, multi-mission maritime patrol airframe to replace the P-3 with roll-on/roll-off ASW and ISR capability is overdue.
Second, we need a sustained and robust logistics capability in the Pacific. Not every ship has the advantage of our endurance and self-sustainment.
Third, we need to pursue better and faster knowledge superiority technologies. The U.S. Navy has always been able to leverage critical and time-sensitive information into battle success-the Battle at Midway is just the first example. We should start by accelerating the IT-21 installations on our submarines. We are behind where we need to be. We must facilitate the netting of the full range of national and theater sensors while remembering that organic sensors may be all we have at a given point in time.
People and readiness. Finally, I’d like to leave you with one more thought, a bottom-line if you’ll let me. And that is, despite everything I’ve said today on the situation in the Pacific, our programmatic needs for the future, and our operational focus, the capability and future of the fleet boils down to some pretty simple basics. And in our case, the basics haven’t changed much over the years.
Twenty months ago when I sent my first message to the Pacific Fleet, I said we had two overarching priorities as leaders:
- our readiness to fight to protect our nation’s interests to the far comers of the earth, and
- to ensure the personal as well as the professional development of each man and woman on board.
These are the same words I issued as my command philosophy as CO of SALT LAKE CITY. I know that Admiral Archie Clemins said in advance of me at Pacific Fleet that these were his priorities. They are fundamental to our success and I’m positive the CNO would tell you the same thing if he were standing here right now.
Our people are the important bridge to our future. And you can’t help but admire this new and present generation. They work hard, they take pride in what they are doing and they understand the importance of their mission. As leaders, it is important to recognize that our readiness and our retention of our skilled men and women are mutually supporting efforts. Nothing breeds high morale like doing a difficult job well. An organization that attracts and retains a trained workforce reaps the benefits of its own efforts and investment. And readiness is about ships that can fight and perform to a high standard.
I for one, am convinced we can have both good retention and solid readiness. We are looking for the complete athlete that can do both as Commanding Officers. Our real legacy as leaders has always been the people we train and motivate to lead our ships and our Navy in the important days ahead.
I look forward to those days. The Pacific Fleet faces a bright, but challenging future. The legacy our predecessors have left us-good men and women dedicated to the development of their people, to the readiness of their ships and to the future innovations that will allow us to succeed, will serve us well as they represent America’s interests-once again-to the far comers of the earth. As always, they will exceed our expectations. Thank you.
Editor’s Note: After his speech, Admiral Fargo answered the following question.
Q. Why wasn’t the Commanding Officer of USS GREENEVIUE referred to a General Court Martial?
A. I think it is important to note that the Court of Inquiry unanimously recommended Admiral’s Mast for the Commanding Officer of GREENEVILLE because they found no evidence of willful misconduct or criminal intent on his behalf. In addition, I also viewed my decision through a ‘three-test’ rationale.
The first test was: ‘ Could any additional information pertinent to this incident be gained from a court martial? Would we learn anything new?’ I felt the answer was no. The Court Of Inquiry provided a full, open and fair hearing of all tile circumstances and evidence available. All of the facts were laid out. We understood why this happened and could apply the lessons. Additionally, I reviewed the transcripts that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had obtained from the civilians to make sure there was no conflict with the evidence produced by the Court. There was none.
The second test was: ‘Did we want to incarcerate the Com-manding Officer? Did we want to lock him up as a result of this tragic but avoidable accident?’ It was clear to me that the Com-manding Officer had taken full responsibility for this accident Additionally, I had to consider the impact on the good order and morale (discipline) of the fleet and our Commanding Officers. The answer once again was no. I did not think this was a message we wanted to send to the fleet.
The third test was: ‘Can we hold the Commanding Officer accountable at Admiral’s Mast?’ That answer is clearly yes. We have a history and tradition of being able to do so. He was dealt with in a punitive manner. Every aspect of this case was examined in the full view of our American citizens. He was detached from command and his career effectively terminated. That is accountability.