Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


It is an honor for me to address the Naval Submarine League. I feel a special kinship with the Navy because I come from a strong Navy tradition. After all, I grew up on a great body of water-the Missouri River. My father misrepresented his age and left high school to join the Navy during World War I. He was a fireman, shoveling coal, aboard the World War I version of the battleship named for his home state-USS MISSOURI. Although he returned to school, and became a prominent Missouri attorney, he was always most proud of his service in the U.S. Navy.

I also feel a strong kinship with this organization. As you may know, my wife, Susie, is the sponsor of USS JEFFERSON CITY, a Los Angeles class attack submarine currently serving with our Pacific fleet. When JEFFERSON CITY was christened at Newport News Shipyard on March 24, 1990, Susie told me that it was the most memorable event in her life, except for her wedding day and the birth of our three sons. Since that time we have been blessed with three delightful grandchildren. So, those of you who are grandparents will understand this-JEFFERSON CITY may no longer be in fourth place on Susie’s most memorable events list. However, the ship and the crew should not feel badly, I’ve probably slipped down a notch or two also.

The events of September 11 made Americans acutely aware that spending on national security needs to be increased. The truth is, however, that those needs were apparent even before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On September 4, I presented my version of a National Military Strategy in a speech given in Washington. Homeland Security was a major element of my strategy. But there are other threats in addition to terrorism, and other defense issues Congress will have to deal with this year. These have not diminished in the wake of September 11. Indeed, it is now more essential than ever that we have a National Military Strategy that enables us to confront and defeat a broad range of threats, and a military force structure organized and equipped to carry out that strategy. This strategy should have two elements-prevention and response.

Protecting the U.S. Homeland

The first preventive element of our military strategy is the protection of the U.S. homeland. September 11 demonstrated that there are non-state actors, as well as states, that will seek to counter U.S. conventional strength through non-conventional attacks. In the future, these attacks may involve weapons of mass destruction.

To counter these threats, the United States needs a comprehensive homeland security strategy. This should include greater resources for intelligence, coordinated response mechanisms among a range of government agencies, robust capabilities to deal with information warfare targeted at our military communications or at domestic critical infrastructure, and national missile defense. Moreover, homeland security must include continued support for nonproliferation programs, including cooperative threat reduction programs with states of the former Soviet Union.


The second preventive element of our strategy is shaping the global environment through active U.S. military engagement. It is one of the best means of maintaining alliance relationships, deterring adversaries, encouraging civilian control of foreign militaries, and gathering vital intelligence throughout the world. If we want to decrease the number of contingencies to which the United States is asked to send troops, we must aggressively pursue engagement as a means of preventing such conflicts before they happen.

Engagement takes two forms. First, it requires presence-both through permanent basing and temporary deployments and port calls. Second, it involves continued military-to-military exchanges.

Response: Warfighting and Deterrence

If our strategy takes these preventive actions-for the homeland through global presence-it must then focus on required military capabilities if prevention fails. Without a credible, overwhelming warfighting capability, the United States cannot deter would-be aggressors and cannot maintain global leadership. We must maintain a multi-theater capability and retain enough deterrent capability to discourage an attack of opportunity when we are engaged in a major theater war.

This capability should include the ability to:

  • Fight and win decisively at low risk a major regional conflict.
  • Conduct serious military actions in at least two other regions simultaneously to deter those who would take advantage of our distraction in a major conflict.
  • Undertake at least three small-scale contingencies throughout the world at the same time.

Size and Structure of U.S. Forces

This strategy requires significant forces-in some cases more than we have today. However, we must give the services the tools they need to maintain readiness and to fight and win decisively within low to moderate levels of risk. Mitigating these risks by modestly increasing the size of the force is the best way to provide the stability in U.S. forces so that we are prepared to meet any challenge that confronts us.

  • The Army went on record in August that they needed 40,000 additional soldiers to meet the requirements of its missions. Certainly an increase in the size of the active duty Army is needed now more than ever.
  • The scope of our commitments argues for a 400 ship Navy rather than the current 315. At a minimum, however, we should build toward the Navy’s articulated requirement of 360 ships, reversing the current decline in the replacement shipbuilding rate. It has been reported that the Navy asked for 3000 additional sailors in the FY03 budget.
  • The Air Force will need to recapitalize its aging fleet, and in addition, add greater airlift and more long-range capabilities. There are reports that the Air Force requested an increase in end strength of 8000
  • The Commandant of the Marine Corps has stated publicly that a modest increase in end-strength of the Marine Corps of around 2400 would allow fuller manning of existing units and relief to some of the demands on its personnel.

Budgetary concerns alone should not determine our national military strategy. However, we must acknowledge the difficulty of simultaneously paying for current operations in the War Against Terrorism, modernizing and transforming our forces to ensure that they have the capabilities needed to fight on any 2P’ century battlefield, and increasing force structure. Now more than ever, the military truly requires and deserves a greater budgetary top-line and a larger percentage of discretionary spending. Therefore, I am pleased by the President’s request for a $48 billion increase in defense spending. However, there is both good and bad in this proposal. Additional funding in the areas of procurement, research and development, and quality of life is welcome but a number of areas are getting short shrift.

One red flag is the request for a $10 billion contingency fund for unspecified needs. Instead of giving the Pentagon a blank check, Congress should exercise its responsibility under the Constitution and address a number of high priority needs. The proposal to reduce military construction accounts by $1. 7 billion is penny wise and pound foolish. We must continue our efforts to improve the quality of service for military families if we expect to retain and recruit the best and the brightest. In addition, I would boost the President’s proposed 4.1 percent military pay raise to 4.6 percent.

Without the end strength increases requested by the services, we run the risk of wearing out our men and women in uniform as the pace of operations in the War on Terrorism accelerates. Yet, the Defense Department only approved an increase of 2000 for the Marine Corps, rejecting the requests of all of the other services. Certainly some of the $10 billion contingency fund can be used for a down payment on the most critical areas of end strength.

The President calls for five new ships, but at this rate we will eventually end up with a 250 ship Navy, which is totally inadequate to perform the required missions. We need to build seven ships in FY03 and nine ships in FY04 to reverse the downward trend and get us moving toward the minimum requirement I mentioned earlier.

As our military forces enter the 2111 century, the Navy’s Submarine Force enters its second century. It began on April 11, 1900, when the submarine USS HOLLAND (SS 1) was accepted by the Navy after demonstration trials. HOLLAND was primitive by today’s standards, but it included principles upon which today’s sophisticated technology is based. Nevertheless, the growth of the Submarine Force was slow. The United States entered World War I with only 24 diesel powered submarines. They did not see a great deal of action, and were unable to confirm a single victory. The vital role of the submarine in any future conflict was demonstrated conclusively, however, by the success of the German U-boats. This prompted us to build up our Submarine Force in the years after the war. The first all-welded hull was developed which allowed the submarine to go much deeper, while at the same time providing greater protection against depth-charge attacks.

Although the U.S. Navy still had a relatively small number of submarines when World War II broke out, the Submarine Force boldly carried the war to the enemy in his home waters and held the line in the Pacific, providing the time to repair the fleet losses incurred at Pearl Harbor. As the war in the Pacific progressed, American submarines devastated Japanese shipping, drastically impeding Japan’s ability to sustain the war and feed its people. At the beginning of the war, Japan had a merchant fleet of 6 million tons. From 1941 through 1945, U.S. submarines sank almost 4.9 million tons-1,113 vessels. Japan, heavily dependent on imports for food and raw materials for industry, was doomed by the loss of this shipping. Moreover, U.S. submarines sank 214 Japanese warships totaling 577,626 tons during the war. Thus, the U.S. Submarine Force, composed of only 1.6 percent of the U.S. Navy, accounted for a staggering 55 percent of Japan’s maritime losses. Another significant submarine mission was life guarding for U.S. airmen. Former President George Bush was one of the 504 fliers rescued from the waters of the Pacific.

It should be remembered that the success of the Submarine Force in World War II was not achieved solely because of the technology of the submarine, and it was not achieved without cost. It was mostly the result of the courage, determination, skill, and sacrifice of those who served in the Submarine Force. Fifty-two submarines and the 3500 men who manned them were lost during the conflict. Seven submariners earned the nation’s highest award for valor-the Medal of Honor.

The submarine came of age during World War II, with advancements such as sonar, radar, and the snorkel. The biggest advancement came after the war with the introduction of nuclear power, which made the submarine a true submersible-a ship with greater endurance than the humans who operated it.

During the Cold War, the Submarine Force made a significant contribution to the U.S. victory. During those years, the Soviets deployed a formidable submarine force-the centerpiece of their post-World War II naval expansion. But our Submarine Force bettered each Soviet attempt to attain technological superiority. When they made their submarines quieter, we made our even more quiet, and improved our sonar detection capabilities. When they developed submarines that went deeper and faster, we improved our torpedoes in response. They built their force to outnumber us 2-to-l, but they never achieved the superiority they sought. The full story of U.S. submarine operations during this period has yet to be told. But when it is, we will be as much impressed by the courage, skill, and determination of these Cold War submariners as by those who served during other wars.

The Cold War also saw the development of another important mission for the submarine-the ballistic missile submarine. The submarine launched ballistic missile remains the most survivable arm of our strategic triad. In recent years, our attack submarines, like USS JEFFERSON CITY, have expanded their capabilities to include the launching of cruise missiles, intelligence gathering, and special operations.

As we move into the 21’1 century, some have questioned the future of the submarine. They believe it is a Cold War Relic, no longer relevant in a world of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare. Let me put this to rest. The missions may change, but the stealthy submarine is essential to intelligence gathering, controlling the sea lanes, and special operations. The Submarine Force is and will remain a significant part of a flexible and balanced Navy in the 21st century.


CDR Richard Compton-Hall, RN(Ret.)
Mr. Joseph J. Fallon
Mr. Carl J. Klumb
RADM John E. Lee, USN(Ret.)
RADM John R. McKnight, Jr., USN(Ret.)
LT John H. Mullin, USN(Ret.)
RADM Chester A. Nimitz, Jr., USN(Ret.)
RADM William S. Post, Jr., USN(Ret.)
EMCM(SS) Martin F. Schaeffer, USNR

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League