Vice Admiral Reynolds is President of the Naval Submarine League. He had a distinguished career in both operational and acquisition sides of the Submarine Force and held high office in the Intelligence Community. Since retirement from uniformed service he has been active in industry and government as both a consultant and as chairman or member of governing boards and special panels.
The program indicates you are about to hear from Admiral Donald. I am not Admiral Kirkland Donald. He is on TEXAS SSN 775 sea trials. TEXAS is the second Virginia Class Submarine. As much as I enjoy being here this morning, I would rather be with Admiral Donald.
With the next seven graphics, I will discuss the importance of Undersea Superiority and what is necessary for the USA to establish and maintain a Formidable Navy.
First, why should you listen to me? Mature, and good looking but, most important, I have either made or observed lots of mistakes – you should strive not to repeat those mistakes. My naval career can best be described as unusual. Operationally, I commanded submarines and surface ships, a squadron and eventually was Commander Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet. In the intelligence world I was director of Collections at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Although not an acquisition professional, I spent seven years in acquisition including five as a flag officer. Since leaving active duty I split my time between working with the government, the private sector and pro bono activity.
In the early 17’h century, Sweden was building an empire around the Baltic Sea. They understood a strong Navy was essential to a world power. By 1620 Sweden was at war with Poland. In 1625 King Gustavus Adolphus ordered new warships. He already had the most powerful Navy in the world; he wanted to make it more formidable. One of the ships ordered was the 64 gun VASA.
On 10 August 1628, VASA set sail on her maiden voyage. She fired a salute honoring the king, and hundreds of spectators and foreign diplomats on hand for the event; then rolled over and sank in Stockholm harbor. At the time Sweden was the center of the world economic system and was recognized as the most powerful Naval Force in the world. The loss of VASA started the decline of the Swedish Navy and subsequent loss of economic power. I contend the two events are related. The dimensions of the ship were according to plan a King Gustav 11 authorized. No one was held responsible for the loss.
I am not giving you a history lesson. I am answering my own first question. Why Maritime Superiority?
The lesson is, to be a world power and the economic leader of the world, a country must possess the most formidable Navy in the world.
Sweden learned that lesson too late. Sweden was followed by Spain, France and then the United Kingdom by 1900 as the world economic leader supported by a formidable Navy. In the 20th century, the UK was replaced by the USA.
If the USA is to remain the economic King of the Hill, it must maintain superiority on and below the sea.
Now to the second question. How do you establish a formidable Navy and maintain Maritime Superiority?
The answer is, to have a formidable Navy you must have a combination of people, training and equipment. I will focus on equipment. The Cold War taught us that others have access to fine people and good training. Figure l shows the progression of technology and how it leads to superiority. It also shows the transient nature of technology based superiority. On or before there is replication or a counter, you must have developed the next technology or you are no longer superior. This is not a trivial matter.
Figure 2 summarizes the briefing to this point. Having a formidable Navy is not enough to be the world economic leader. You must enjoy Maritime Superiority. That means you must have capability that an enemy does not have and cannot counter. This tasks us to the crux of the matter. Superiority cannot be bought. The best you can be with acquired technology is on a par with the developer or others who buy the technology. Decision makers must decide if parity is good enough for America. I am on the side that says America must be superior, particularly in a maritime sense. That means America must devote the resources to develop the technology necessary to be superior. As shown on the previous figure, Superiority is temporary.
America won the Cold War in large measure because of US Undersea Superiority. That Superiority was carried by the prowess of the nuclear Submarine Force. Our SSBNs held the Former Soviet Union mainland at risk and our SSN neutralized their SSBN Force.
The Former Soviet Union continued to improve its submarines for five decades. Through continuous research, development, design and construction, the US improved every class of submarines; the US advantage was maintained.
The rest is history.
I began this presentation saying this was not a history lesson. More correctly, it is a lesson in economic strength. History has borne out that Maritime Superiority is key to a country’s economic strength. What defines Maritime Superiority changes with the evolution of technology. Hulls went from wood to steel, weapons went from picks and clubs to smooth bores to large caliber guns and missiles. Submarines introduced a new dimension to warfare. When USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571) went to sea, Undersea Dominance became a key element of Maritime Superiority. If you take anything away from this presentation, I hope it is the realization that the three legs to Superiority are:
1. Superiority cannot be bought, it must be developed.
2. Superiority is Perishable.
3. Superiority requires continuous R&D followed by design and construction.
The connection between Maritime Superiority and economic strength is not well understood. Acceptance of that connection would go a long way in convincing our elected officials they need to support the maritime design industrial base and number and type ships needed for superiority.
Part of the equation must be an understanding of what constitutes Capability; Endurance, Payload, and Signature are all important and require volume.
So, where is VASA today?
She is in a museum in Stockholm, a footnote in history. Sweden has gone from the most formidable Navy in the world to a much lesser position; her economic position in the world matches her naval prowess. The real question is “Where will the USA be on the naval and economic stage in 2100?”
What defines a Formidable Navy?
Vide Admiral Reynolds: A navy comprised of capital ships. Ships that by the nature of their capability cause potential adversaries to either pause or change intended courses of action. Adversaries must be unwilling to confront your capital ships.
What constitutes a capital ship?
Vice Admiral Reynolds: Ships with reactors! Seriously, CVN and SSBN are capital ships in the eyes of the world. SSGN, with its awesome payload, stealth and endurance is the new capital ship. SSN s are capital ships because they put other countries’ capital ships at risk. Major surface combatants are capital ships to the degree they protect the Battle Group and support the land war.
It is my opinion that in the next decade platforms that provide robust Ballistic Missile Defense will make the capital ship list