It’s my pleasure to be here. This is the third year in a row now for me and this will be my last briefing here as Force Com-mander. A lot of you know Rear Admiral Kirk Donald will be relieving me on the first of August. I’m very pleased to have it be Kirk. He’s an exceptional officer and a great guy. I couldn’t have picked a better person to relieve me. I can’t imagine a better job in which to finish a career in the Naval Service than being a Submarine Force Commander. I was thinking about it the other day. It comes the closest to being the Commanding Officer of a submarine than any other job I’ve ever had. It’s been a privilege to have this job.
I have to tell you, over three years I’ve grown to understand better the importance of the Naval Submarine League and the industry people, interested supporters and retired submarine leaders that the Naval Submarine League brings together for us. Thank you all for what you’ve done, what you continue to do, and what you wilt do in support of our Navy and specifically our Submarine Force in the future.
I’ve always viewed this presentation as a State of the Union address, of sorts, for the Submarine Force and that’s what I’ll try to do here today. The force is doing great work. The people are performing very well, and as always the future is not without challenges. I’ll try to talk to some of those.
Today’s Submarine force
Operationally the force did extremely well last year and we’re poised to continue to do so. On a typical day, on an average day, this is what you would see in terms of our boats: ten of 54 attack submarines (SSNs) deployed, seven of 16 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) at sea, and for the next five to six years or so, six to ten submarines in the shipyard.
Of course, Operation Iraqi Freedom was not a typical series of days. We deployed 16 submarines to support the effort. We extended six submarines beyond six-month deployments, with USS CHEYENNE being the longest at almost nine months. We also deployed two submarines several weeks early and surged two submarines, USS BOISE and USS TOLEDO, out of cycle. They both deployed after having been home about two months from previous deployments. I can’t say enough about the performance of the ships and their crews; the material condition; how the crews handled themselves. I couldn’t have been prouder. It was wonderful to watch. They really didn’t need much help.
Our first two OHIO-class guided missile submarines (SSGNs) USS OHIO and USS FLORIDA have entered the shipyard for overhaul and conversion.
Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force Focus
When we look at the world from the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force, our focus includes the Arctic, North Atlantic and Russia. And I’ll say that Russia is and must remain a concern of ours. She is the highest end technological competitor.the U.S. has in Undersea Warfare, and is also a country that increasingly exports sophisticated Undersea Warfare technology to China, India and others.
Included in our focus are the Baltic countries and those of Northern Europe, who are the leaders in conventional submarine technologies and enormously experienced and influential world leaders in this business, the Undersea Warfare business, around the world. It’s good to remember that the German Type 209 really is the Volkswagen of the undersea world. The North Atlantic waters are of course the only area in the world where two close allies, the United Kingdom and France, as well as the United States, operate SSBNs, a matter of some sensitivity, and SSNs every day in numbers.
The Mediterranean is a busy place with submarines from Israel, Egypt, Serbia and Algeria as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NA TO) Alliance and of course we have concern with and are focused on terrorist activity in Libya, Syria.
In the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, as Jong as we have access through Suez, submarine needs anywhere west of India ere most efficiently provided from the East Coast and we provide those submarines in conjunction with Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet. Our operations in the Global War on Terrorism are centered here in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility (AOR) as well as the Mediterranean.
South America with 30 diesel submarines is increasingly important to us. Our South American friends, particularly Peru, Columbia and Chile, are ski11ed operators of modem conventional submarines and extremely important to us for our mutual training and tactical development. And of course, any contribution we make to the war against narco-trafficking also occurs here.
And last but not least, Canada will bring her three Victoria-class submarines online soon. We’re very excited about that. They’ll split them between the Atlantic and the Pacific. We look forward to some great mutually beneficial work together.
I haven’t mentioned the Arctic yet, but I’ll be talking in a minute about some of our activities there.
Atlantic Fleet Forward Deployed Submarines
USS SEA WOLF is off on her second deployment. Also deployed are USS AUGUSTA, USS ALEXANDRIA, USS MONTPELIER and USS PROVIDENCE.
Fleet Response Plan
I suspect some of you have heard or read about the Fleet Response Plan. What this plan says, fundamentally, is that our ability to surge a large portion of our Navy as we did in Operation Iraqi Freedom is more important than maintaining a steady state, routine forward deployed presence. Our Navy plan to execute this calls for more efficient and more optimally planned maintenance and training. This plan will probably manifest itself in slightly reduced carrier forward presence, and a slightly extended interval between carrier deployments in order to give us more carriers available day-to-day to surge if we need them.
The plan for our attack submarines is to remain on about a 24-month cycle. Obviously from ship to ship there will be some variation in that. But, six months deployed, 18 months in maintenance and operations out of homeport before the next deployment. Our models, our existing models, for maintenance and training minimize the readiness decline between deployments for our ships.
I foresee no decline in the number of SSNs we have deployed day-to-day. The demand for deployed attack submarines is based on critical operations in the Global War on Terrorism and pre-confli ct activities that prepare the battlespace for the next war, and the war after next. In addition to engagement with our allies, we have to ensure operational familiarity and proficiency in all the ocean environments of the world.
In my opinion, we are operating the attack submarine force today about as efficiently as we can and doing all we can to minimize the impact of our force structure shortfall. I think every one in this room is familiar with this. We have 54 attack submarines and we really need about 70. At this low number, operational commanders are not getting all they need and we struggle to allocate the shortfall. We struggle to support tactical development, provide for operational testing and other critical long-term self-investments that are a lot easier when you have a larger number of ships. We compensate for these non-deployed shortfalls, submarines that we don’t have in the inter-deployment training cycle (IDTC), by recruiting allies like our South American friends to provide submarines as opposition force in training and exercises and we use our SSBNs as substitutes for attack submarines. [Rear Admiral] John Padgett and I closely monitor how hard we’re running the ships, what the fuel expenditure is, and short of wartime demands, wartime surges, if necessary we will reduce their operations in order to prevent depletion of their reactor cores and having to retire those ships early. We’re walking that fine line now. Again, I think we’re getting about as much as we can out of the Force and running at the fastest pace we can sustain over time, maintain long term readiness, and as well have something in the bank for surges.
Our submarine Fleet Response Plan we think is a good one. A notional 24-month SSN schedule has the submarine return from a 6-month deployment and go into a 1-month stand down period. Following stand down are 17 months of training and maintenance, which can include a 3-month Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) period for shipyard maintenance or a modernization period, which is also longer than a standard five-week upkeep. Six months before the next deployment the submarine will begin the Pre-Overseas Movement (POM) period which consists of specialized training and maintenance. In the 18 months following return from deployment, the SSN is considered “Emergency Surge Ready” except for a “Not Ready” period consisting of the SRA or modernization period and a month prior to and after. This plan will result in, if we set aside those submarines that are in depot availability, over 80% of our attack submarines being “Emergency Surge Ready” or better day-to-day. For example, applying this model to the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force today results in 17 SSNs available to surge. I think that’s exceptional operational availability. We also need little or no reconstitution time as was demonstrated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our planners were able to handle the requirements so as to not interrupt any depot availability schedules, which are really the anchors in our schedules, and as a result what we needed to reconstitute the Force was more Tomahawks. That’s all we needed. So, no reconstitution time and where our deployment timing is out of synch with Carrier Strike Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups, we will work up, join up, plug and fight with full effect as we did in Operation Iraqi Freedom and have done so many times before.
The costs of maintaining this surge capability will be the full funding of our maintenance accounts and ensuring that we remain fully manned.
Atlantic Fleet SSN Highlights
In the past 12 months, nine SSNs departed on “normal” deployments, 2 SSNs surged from the IDTC for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and our SSNs conducted a total of 27 classified missions. A significant amount of their time was focused on the Global War on Terrorism.
Submarine Roles vs. Global Terrorism
The kind of contributions our submarines are making and can make in the Global War on Terrorism include intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); information warfare; strike warfare; special warfare; and homeland defense. We’ve done some extensive experimentation to develop and refine our Special Operations Forces (SOF) and information operations (IO) capabilities and our ability to serve as an undersea base of operations for employing SOF and IO tools.
We sent USS CONNECTICUT to the Arctic to conduct ICEX 1-03, complete underice testing of the SEA WOLF class and perform extensive weapons testing. Our force structure shortfall makes this hard but we are committed to working in the Arctic and must remain so as long as our country has interests in that important body of water. USS CONNECTICUT steamed for 29 days and almost 6,000 miles underice and surfaced 5 times. To conduct weapons testing we set up an ice camp that supported a portable tracking range. The camp was located about 200 nautical miles North of Prudhoe Bay and was there for about 7 weeks. It housed 65 people and also supported 3 weeks of Arctic scientific research that was unrelated to the military tests.
We also conducted a survival exercise. We continue our efforts to experiment and perform real world tests in the areas of submarine survivability, escape and rescue.
We did it aboard USS DALLAS in March with a scenario in which we simulated that Engine Room flooding resulted in the submarine on the bottom below escape depth with no AC power in the forward compartment and 94 survivors awaiting rescue. We tested a lot of things and we learned a great deal. You always do when you really test it. For example, we collected a lot of good data on the rate of pressure increase in the boat when we put everybody in EABs. We tested some new C02 removal devices, they’re called Battelle Curtains. You fill them up with Lithium Hydroxide, and we found them to be extremely effective. We also found that they generate more heat than we had anticipated, up to 90 to 110°F. We were surprised to see that the temperature in the boat actually increased. We expected it to get cold, but we also hadn’t accounted for whatever the R factor is associated with the external hull coating we put on the boats. We discovered other things and we will continue our exploration and experimentation. These exercises are important to us and we need to do them as long as we keep learning important things.
On the SSBNs side of the house we were very busy this year. We transferred USS PENNSYLVANIA and USS KENTUCKY to the Pacific as part of the move to an all TRIDENT II D-5 missile force. In addition to our patrols we also provided important fleet services, exercised our Homeland Security I Homeland Defense role and offset in part our attack submarine shortfall with SSBNs in Tactical Development Exercises and other areas of what I call critical self-investment. We continued our invaluable end-to-end testing of the TRIDENT Missile system with Follow-on Commander Evaluation Test (FCET) missile launches. USS ALASKA and USS NEV ADA have completed conversion to DS with USS NEV ADA completing her Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) missile launch. With the conversion of USS HENRY M. JACKSON in 2007 and USS ALASKA in 2008 we will be an all 05 missile force.
Giant Shadow Experiment
You’ve heard a lot about Giant Shadow. It was an absolute home run. It even made 60 Minutes II. I wasn’t sure in the beginning if that was good or bad, but I think it turned out pretty well.
I think it was exceptionally successful. Certainly launching Tomahawk missiles and launching a large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle from a TRIDENT missile tube was unprecedented. But an extremely important part of this was demonstrating a concept of operations that other people either hadn’t thought about, or weren’t willing to accept. We used a submarine with SOF to do intrusive ISR with people on the beach, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the air, and Unattended Ground Sensors all in a Counter-Terrorism I Counter-Proliferation scenario. I think it was very powerful.
Giant Shadow’s Local Tactical Data Nets
The other aspect of this that we, at least initially, underestimated the importance of was the employment of Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) transponders and transmitters on virtually anything that moved, any person, any vehicle, any aircraft, and sensor to create our own local network without reliance on satellites. The UHF tools provided by the Freewave Company, Army/Marine Corps gear like the VRC-99 radio, the UAV from Boeing/Insitu and a High Frequency (HF) groundwave antenna, based on very interesting technology, that ARL University of Texas provided, all those things in combination were a great example of how a platform like an SSGN can provide FORCEnet locally, and do it today.
Mighty Guardian V
Another effort of great significance this year was Mighty Guardian V, a Nuclear Weapons Security exercise that was conducted at Submarine Base in Kings Bay by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). It was a big deal with hundreds, literally hundreds, of Anny and Air Force drill monitors, controllers, and other personnel. We ran topside and below deck scenarios in the most realistic and practical test of security measures that I’ve ever seen. It was exceptionally useful and will have a significant impact on how we provide security for our SSBN facilities and all our submarines. We’ll be implementing some of the lessons learned here for quite a while.
Status of the Force -People
And now the status of the force, my State of the Union comments.
First, People. We are making recruiting and accession goals, officer and enlisted, nuclear trained and non-nuclear trained. We continue to have the best enlisted retention in the Navy and our officer retention improves and is to the point where we can control Department Head tour length about where we want it to be.
Our enlisted attrition is the lowest in the Navy. Currently 18.5% of those who graduate from Basic Enlisted Submarine School don’t complete their first tour. The whole Navy number is about 35%. We’re still not satisfied that it’s as low as it can be, as it needs to be. The key issue for us is that by the time we get them through Submarine School, every single one of those submarine Sailors is precious. We keep asking ourselves .. How do we reduce attrition further?” We’re working on it.
Our key challenges remain:
First, managing increased officer joint requirements in an already jam packed, full career path
Second, determining what kind of operators we need for our increasingly complex and interrelated tactical systems. This is a big issue; a core issue. How will we train enlisted operators to handle these complex interrelated systems that we can now change rapidly? Do we need more officers on the boats? Do we need more officers because of the educational background and broader perspective they can bring to a task? We’re off to figure this out.
Third, disparate events and well-intentioned policies have reduced the tactical experience level of our people. How much is enough? What is the minimum experience level required and how do we know that we have it?
Fourth, the demands on our crews in the area of tactical proficiency continue to increase. They’ve expanded a great deal since l had command of a submarine. What can we do in terms of shipboard training efficiency to give our submarine crews more time? We’re working on that as well.
Status of the Force -Operations
In the area of operations–we provide the best anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability our Navy has today and we’re making good progress in being able to handle our responsibilities in the ASW challenge of tomorrow, which is principally the Air Independent Propulsion diesel submarine. The Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 12 led ASW Tactics Improvement Program (TIP) is working and will get us where we need to go if we stick with it.
Our ability to detect and avoid mines, particularly bottom and buried mines, remains inadequate. Our mainstreaming of mine warfare in the Submarine Force and the work of our Submarine Mine Action Team are producing measurable results. They are improving performance and can help us meet this difficult, extremely difficult, but not insurmountable challenge. Again, we need to stay focused and to stick to it.
Information operations today are, in my opinion, where communications intelligence was in the I 930’s and I 940’s. There are major policy issues yet to be addressed and the technologists are well ahead of where the operators and policy makers are. With superb support from the Navy Information Warfare Activity (NIWA). we’ve done extensive experimentation in this area. We’ve developed and tested a unique antenna, and we’ve deployed our first 10 equipped submarine.
We are making progress in demonstrating that tracking and identifying the 1,000 or so merchant ships that are approaching the East, West, and Gulf coasts of the United States is a lesser included case of ASW and that our Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems (IUSS), both fixed and mobile, along with our existing ASW organizations are well suited to make a substantial contribution to homeland security and homeland defense.
We’ve made great strides in employing our boats to help find and eliminate terrorists. We’ve gone places we’ve never been before and we’re interactive with other forces, our bosses, and technical experts in our actions and reporting. These are not like Cold War submarine operations. They’re not like them at all. We’re poised to take the next steps, some of which were illustrated in Giant Shadow.
Today our submarines operate in the littorals like never before, yet the submarine role with other Naval forces in littoral combat is largely undefined in terms of doctrine, tactics, technology, techniques, and procedures. The use of submarine stealth, not to hide our presence, but solely as a defensive shield that makes us immune to threats such as cruise missile attack is a different mindset within our Navy and one that needs promotion, discussion and thorough consideration.
The principal challenges to our continued progress in these operational areas are discipline in the case of ASW and MINE WARF ARE, acceptance and practical demonstration for Information Operations, the use of IUSS in homeland security and homeland defense and submarine employment in the Global War on Terrorism, and submarine employment in littoral combat deserves broadened discussion within our Navy.
Status of the Force -Maintenance
When it comes to maintenance, changes in the plan for major submarine depot availabilities, delays in overhauls and overhaul cancellations and buybacks all driven by funding instability are causing us considerable inefficient chum. This chum reduces our buying power. Delaying overhauls, for example, requires operating cycle extension by performing an interim drydock maintenance period. These drydocking periods are stopgap measures, useful in the short term because they keep our submarines operating, but ultimately they’re not the most efficient way to deliver Lifecycle maintenance and increase our lifecycle maintenance costs. Moreover, submarine depot level maintenance is a business where advanced planning and learning curve efficiencies are important, very important, to cost and schedule control. We want, we absolutely need, to keep every attack submarine we can overhaul and refuel, but the current cycle we’re in that takes them out of the plan at one level of authority and puts them back in at the ultimate point of decision is not helping us succeed in these complex industrial enterprises.
As I said earlier, for about the next five years we will have six to ten submarines in depot maintenance each year. This effort is stretching the capacity of our public shipyards and we need to better coordinate with our private sector capacity to maximize our potential for success and get these submarines back to sea where we need them and need them desperately.
Finally, already completed and proposed reductions in Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA} manning raise the question of the adequacy of the technical authority that oversees submarine modernization and repair. This is a serious issue. The near loss of USS DOLPHIN in 2002, in large measure was due to inadequate technical oversight of work done on that submarine. That should be an alarm bell to all of us. We need to watch this issue very carefully and we have a responsibility to ensure we have adequate numbers of competent engineers to oversee and provide discipline in submarine maintenance and modernization work.
Status of the Force -Resources
In terms of resourcing the Submarine Force these are our current and future priorities:
In the short term, operational safety and security measures, and survivability, escape, and rescue are, by and large, not big consumers of resources, but they demand our highest attention and they need our best program management. Paying for what I call the “Cost of Doing Business” and sustaining a “Minimum Rate of Modernization” are today resource limited. For example today we shoot about six exercise torpedoes per crew per year to maintain proficiency, about six. In my judgment we need to be shooting twelve, but it will still take us several years with our current resource limitations until we have the wherewithal to get there. I think it’s taking too long. Additionally, modernization that today is frequently delayed and dragged out presents significant configuration control and training challenges to us.
For the long term, attack submarine force structure is key. As I said before, we need about 70 and we won’t be on a path to satisfy that need until we get to a build rate of two VIRGINIA class per year.
Status of the Force -Technology
Technology. Thanks to the Submarine League, John Padgett and I had ample opportunity to address our technology needs at the Submarine Technology Symposium last month. I do want to bring attention to two issues that we discussed.
First is the answer to “What limits our ability to operationally employ submarines?” It’s the ability to communicate with the submarine at any time, in any regime of speed and depth. The issue here is not only the obvious operational advantages it presents, but we have to remember the unique issues of submarine waterspace management (WSM) and prevention of mutual interference (PMI). Not being able to talk to the submarine whenever you want to makes those issues harder.
The second question, “How do we more closely connect the operators with the Tactical Systems developers to deliver capability we want and need faster and more efficiently?”, has resulted in the Type Commanders establishing Tactical Systems Development and Installation Teams. These organizations are part of our Tactical Readiness Evaluation (TRE) teams so they are closely connected to today’s real world performance and as well with what we judge to be satisfactory operational performance standards. It is crystal clear to us that we cannot achieve the full potential of the Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion (ARCI) program, and ARCI Engineered Measurement Program (EMP) concept as applied to Combat Systems, Communications, Navigation, all our Tactical Systems, without wt effort like this. We need the operators to be more closely coupled with the developers than they’ve ever been before.
Status of the Force -Organization
Organisationally, I think the Naval Submarine Force organization is working well. To a great extent, quite frankly, it formalizes what existed previously and informally. We’ve done a lot of work. We’ve rationalized our paperwork so that there aren’t individual Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet and Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet instructions any more. They’re Commander, Naval Submarine Forces (COMNA VSUBFOR)instructions unless there is a reason to have unique and different instructions in an area. We’ve also made the TYCOM staffs look the same way, no small task, with the exception of where there are functional differences.
We still have things to do. Rationalize unique staffs like our development squadrons and deployed squadrons and groups. Technology has created an opportunity for us in the command, control and communications area and we’re off to take advantage of it and eliminate some unnecessary redundancy in terms of where we have 24/7 watch floors and how we handle communications.
In all of this, let me say this now, I can’t say enough about John Padgett Through John’s leadership we’ve shown that COMNA VSUBFOR is not a dictatorship from Norfolk, it really is a team and a team effort. The truth is that sometimes I lead and sometimes I follow John and that’s the best way for the Submarine Force to work. It works that way today. I would like to take this time to recognize John’s efforts in improving the coordination and cooperation of the force. Quite frankly the role is easier when you’re the 3-star. John will be leaving the Submarine Force and the Navy this year about a week after I do and I’d just like to take a second to acknowledge John’s great career and what he’s given to our Submarine Force. Thanks, John.
Organi7.ationally, we still need to benchmark the efficiency of some of our Submarine Force functional units against like civilian operations where appropriate, and compete some of our functional units against one another so we have metrics to ensure we’ve maximized efficiency and effectiveness.
N77 of course works for N7 in the OPNA V chain of command. N7 signs his Fitness Report. But N77 is also the banker, investment broker, and the executive agent in Washington for the Submarine Force. It’s a bigjob. I rely on [Rear Admiral] Mike [Fracy] to scrub our programs with a wire brush, every single one of them, and ensure we are spending every dollar wisely. I have to say that I am concerned that OPNA V process changes will result in N77 being fully occupied with numerous high level integration processes that deal with aggregation, conglomeration and homogeni7.ation of issues to an extent that the basic jobs of program oversight and ensuring that we submariners remain smart buyers are being squeezed out. There are only 24 hours in a day. l am also concerned that removal of resources, some resources, from N77’s control reduces his authority and his ability to execute those banker/broker responsibilities that have been critical, absolutely critical, to the success of the Submarine Force in the past. You know I’m sometimes asked within the Navy “What is the Submarine Force secret? Why do you guys seem to do this more effectively?”. What I think it comes down to is that we’re usually pretty good at assigning responsibility, figuring out what authority is necessary to execute those responsibilities, and making a reasonable attempt to ensure that the guy with the responsibility gets those kind of authorities. Make no mistake, control over resources is one of the most powerful authorities you can have. Then we hold him accountable. It seems to work.
I’m also concerned with our representation. I’m concerned that before the end of this year the Submarine Force will lose 7 Unrestricted Line (URL) Flag Officers to retirement. That will reduce Submarine Flag representation from 3 7 URLs to 30. Additionally, while we are fortunate to have the submarine perspective injected at the Deputy Commander level in the Pacific Fleet and at Fleet Forces Command, the absence of a submariner at the 3-star level on the Washington Navy Staff for several years now is not healthy for the Submarine Force and not healthy for our Navy.
Status of the Force -Transformation
The Submarine Force is well on the road to transformation, and remember that transformation is not about keeping up with others. It is exploiting our competitive advantage in Undersea Warfare, one where few countries can deal with the price of entry and barriers to competition with us. Transformation is using that competitive advantage to confuse, confound, disrupt, disarm, discourage and, if that’s not enough, defeat our adversaries. That’s what it means. The ARCI -EMP concept, as I said, expanded to all Tactical Systems offers the opportunity for significant performance improvement and a real understanding of the difference between the limitations of the machines and the limitations of the operators. It will also help bring us much more discipline in the development cycle.
The SSGN payload revolution, SSN-like concepts of operations, as well as those demonstrated in Giant Shadow and continuous experimentation, particularly with unmanned vehicles of all kinds, are going to bring us significant transformational change.
USS JIMMY CARTER and USS VIRGINIA are amazing new submarines, absolutely amazing, and will soon be operational.
We are well poised to exploit the advantage we have in Undersea Warfare and all we need is additional support inside and outside the Navy to provide our country with the added flexibility, responsiveness and ultimately, the security this unique competitive advantage can provide.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in going through my files I found that three years ago I told you that “Today -America’s Submariners and Submarines are the Best in the World.” I told you then I believed it’s true. I believe it’s true today.
I also told you that “Challenges have always faced our Submarine Force. We got to be the Best by recognizing, attacking and overcoming challenges with talented people, technical discipline, innovation, smart risk taking and experimentation, hard work and tenacity. To remain the Best, we must continue to do so.” And I’ll tell you that looking around at the wonderful people we have on those ships, looking at their accomplishments in many operations including Iraqi Freedom; my judgment is that it’s more true than it was three years ago.
It’s a great pleasure to talk to you. It’s always a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much.