Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Admiral Reynolds for the introduction and for letting me be a part of the convention. I’ve heard some great things from those that were here yesterday and from the CNO who kicked it off. From our perspective at Navy Irregular Warfare, we are seeing first hand the CNO’s excitement and enthusiasm for SSGN during our bi-weekly updates with him.
We’re going to focus today on the Counter-terrorism (CT) capabilities of SSGN. We will delve into a Jot of generalities but if you let your imagination roam, if you read the newspapers and understand where the threat is, that’s where we’re sending these ships. It’s that simple. These ships are the Navy’s premier CT tools. No doubt about it.
Those are not just my words. The praises are coming back from those that lead this fight and those in the intelligence community. Our nation is fortunate that through bold leadership (both military and civilian) we now possess four SSGNs: operational and in the war. If you recall, we got approval to convert these ships right after 9/11. Through great leadership and professionalism by our acquisition community, we delivered these ships on time and on budget. These ships are truly the right platform for the right time. Fitted out for special operations, information operations, and irregular warfare they are going directly into the fight. The first two deployments, OHIO and FLORIDA, were ground-breaking. The ships worked as advertised; they brought home the bacon.
Navy Irregular Warfare
I will take the next few moments to discuss the role of our command, the Navy Irregular Warfare Office. After 3 years of working mainly submarine and special operations force integration, in 2008 we broadened our focus to full Navy engagement in counter-terrorism operations. In recognition of this broader scope, the CNO formally established our command on his staff last summer. Our charter is to synchronize, liaison and institutionalize Navy’s Irregular Warfare contribution with the Combatant Commanders, Special Operations Command, the Intelligence Community and within other government agencies and departments. The areas of Irregular Warfare that we focus on arc: Counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, intelligence collection, information operations, foreign internal defense, and unconventional warfare. We have assembled a top-notch team of active duty, reservists, contractors and details from other organizations. CNO has tasked us to avoid the layered bureaucracy and staffing so prevalent within the defense department and to deal directly with the warfighters forward and the fleet in delivering IW capability in the near term; 6 months to a year timeframe.
CNO has directed us to replicate much of the construct the Submarine Force uses and apply it across the rest of the fleet. Since its inception in 1900, the Submarine Force has been able to rapidly adapt new technologies and capabilities, while at the same time keeping high standards of engineering and operational excellence. The persistence and clandestinity of the Submarine Force are a perfect match with the SOF and intelligence community in our nation’s pursuit of terrorist threats around the globe. Using the SUB FOR model as an example, the goal is to have a Navy that can prevent and prevail in a future conflict against a China, North Korea or Iran while simultaneously fighting today’s war against the Islamist terrorist threat. Our surface brethren have risen to the challenge and today are conducting unheralded, yet high end, CT operations in a number of theaters.
The Network over Their Network
Our team concentrates on building a sensor network over the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Our network consists of ISR sensors onboard unmanned air, surface and underwater sensors combined with manned systems at sea and ashore. Of course ships, submarines and aircraft have their organic sensors trained on the terrorist networks as well. This network is the foundation of the US government’s effort to Find, Fix, and Finish the High Value Terrorist argets. The metrics are clear; terrorists killed or captured by US forces, our coalition partners or host nation forces.
SSGN IW Fusion Cell Concept
Crucial to our network over their network arc the Fusion Cells that exist today in our SSGN Battle Management Centers (BMC). These Fusion Cells are modeled after similar Fusion Cells created by the Special Operations Forces and the Intelligence Community in Afghanistan and Iraq. Onboard FLORIDA, the Fusion Cell is the Processing, Exploitation, Dissemination backbone that enables rapid targeting of the actionable intelligence exploited by our sensor network. SSGN extends its organic, periscope view, field of regard with unmanned sensors while simultaneously reaching back to the Intelligence Community to form the clearest, most timely picture of the threat. SSGNs arc also linked to the warfighter ashore and with the country teams forward.
More importantly, SSGN can do something with the information exploited from our sensor network. Whether it is the warhead at the tip of a Tomahawk or a .556 round from an embarked Seal team member, SSGN can deliver the full range of kinetic and electronic attack effects. SSGN is also working in collaboration with our surface and aviation warfighters who bring their unique capabilities to bear in the fight.
Details of the capability and manning of these fusion cells cannot be discussed in an open forum. The commanding officer of FLORIDA and former CO of both a VIRGINIA and 688 class SSN, CAPT John Litherland, commented after completing his recent CT mission that never had he served on a more connected, responsive, full spectrum ISR collector and deadly platform than SSGN. Team FLORIDA, as the SOF community refers to her, has revolutionized Irregular Warfare. John and his fellow SSGN skippers have only written the opening chapter of SSGN contribution in this long war.
IW Command and Control Challenges
Most of you here today have conducted or supported submarine operations against conventional threats, whether during the Cold War or against today’s maritime competitors. The game is to collect intelligence, archive it onboard, and deliver it to analysts ashore upon return to port. Occasionally the value of a piece of intelligence was deemed important enough that you would report it back to headquarters. For a number of operational reasons, transmitting from a submarine during conventional missions, was and still is, rare. That construct docs not work for CT and IW missions. Our COs and their crews must have a different mindset.
In the hunt for terrorists, information more than a day old may be completely irrelevant and useless. Therefore our SSGNs and SSN s conducting c/ose-i11 IW missions are often continuously transmitting and passing near real time actionable intelligence to the warfighter. In many of the areas we conduct IW missions we don’t encounter high end anti-submarine or collection capability against our submarines, giving the CO more flexibility in communicating while maintaining his stealth. But as we operate in more contested areas, it is a heck of a balance for our COs to maintain between collection and stealth. This requires a tailored pre-deployment training and certification process and improved bandwidth, data mining and data compression technologies. SSGN and her Fusion Cells arc writing the book for future employment by LCS and other surface combatants conducting IW ops.
Combat Demo Concept
Navy IW utilizes combat demonstrations to get capability rapidly into the hands of the warfighter. This process has two goals; first, get capability into the fight quickly, second, permit the warfighter to evaluate the military utility of the capability for possible transition into a formal program. This process works outside the normal acquisition process, although the acquisition community lends their technical and managerial expertise throughout the effort. Funding and support also comes from non-traditional sources.
One of the challenges we have is institutionalizing this process. We have to transition from a one-of-a-kind UA V, sensor, etc., into some type of program to deploy across the fleet. That is a challenge especially in the extreme budget environment we will face in the future. We’ve been fortunate to be able to leverage cost of war money, rapid technology funding, SOCOM, and other special funding. We have a decent baseline Navy ve11t11re capital funding line for technology development and integration efforts. This approach does not sit well with the program and budgeting ommunity in the Pentagon. There is no resource sponsor or platform advocate.
Using inputs from liaison officers forward and our frequent interaction with the warfighters we evaluate the threat, identify gaps that the Navy can fill, identify capabilities to rapidly counter the threat. When we’re challenged to lay out a five-year programming and budget plan, the so called POM, our retort is that we will… when Al Qaeda gives us their five year plan! The threat rapidly changes their tactics and methods, such as changing communication regimen, which requires a rapid change in our tactics, training and procedures as well as technical capability enhancements. Our response cannot wait 5 years, 3 years or the next POM cycle. We need to turn inside their cycle to counter their asymmetric threats. Speed and agility are the bywords of this process.
Examples of Combat Demos
SSGN has deployed the full gamut of sensor technology from the hand launched tactical UA V, BUSTER, to the Reaper MQ-9 Predator variant. Admiral Donnelly has covered BUSTER in other forums. The Reaper effort, or project Saber Focus, is a major Navy/SOCOM project with SSGN as its centerpiece. The Reaper is a Predator on steroids with seven times the payload and twice the endurance. It will extend SSG N’s reach hundreds of miles inland. Due to a unique WIFI network, SSGN will receive a factor of one hundred times the collection of the current Air Force Predator model. You can sec now why the Fusion Cell effort is of vital importance to SSGN’s mission. The capability is eye watering but unfortunately cannot be elaborated upon in this forum. Both FLORIDA and GEORGIA have been fully fitted out to control this capability, again, funded from outside of the Submarine Force. In addition to BUSTER and SABRE FOCUS UAVs we arc modifying SCAN EAGLE UAVs for launch from the SSGN and eventually the VIRGINIA Payload tubes. SCAN EAGLE is currently being deployed from surface ships in the fight. The SSGN CONOP consists of surface launch and recovery of this asset in the cover of darkness. The endurance and payload of SCAN EAGLE allow for video, SIGINT and even weaponized payloads.
Much of our project successes are achieved by taking what is available and adapting it for the fight. SEA STALKER Large Diameter Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) is an example of this approach. Many of you are familiar with Penn State’s SEA HORSE UUV from the Giant Shadow series of experiments. This effort is funded largely outside the Submarine Force by NAVOCEANO/NA VY/DIA/OSD. We are converting three vehicles to conduct long dwell SIGINT collection near shore. Tom Nutter is leading our team’s effort with an incredible sense of urgency to get it out to the fight. It will deploy from both surface ships and SSGN.
SEA STALKER is part of the incremental approach to deploying UUV capability. As mentioned previously, we’re doing this first of all in response to a warfighter need for close in clandestine SIGINT, but also to get UUVs into the fight. Many of you have seen various UUV programs rise and fall mainly due to technical problems, funding overruns and the lack of a coherent operational requirement. SEA STALKER is our response to a valid operational need in AFRICOM, as is our follow on effort with SEA MAVER-ICK, a larger more capable UUV being developed for counternarcotics and CT ops in SOUTHCOM. We’re excited about these UUV efforts. We know we’ll get them into the fight and they are going to show their mettle.
The Balance between Conventional and Irregular Warfare
We have hit only the wave tops of Navy’s Irregular Warfare efforts and SSGN’s leading role in the war. This effort is fully coordinated with and supported by leadership in the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.
Secretary Gates has spoken often and forcibly about the need for the services to realign and better balance their conventional and irregular capabilities. He has directed the services to fight and win the war we arc actually fighting instead of focusing on a threat we are unlikely to face.
That ultimately means an adjustment of resources towards irregular warfare.
This fight has been called the Long War. The threat desires to inflict mass causalities against our interests overseas and indeed upon our very homeland. The threat is unlikely to be deterred. Unlike the China-Taiwan scenario that forms the basis of much of our budgeting decisions, Al Qaeda will not respond to cross straits dialogue or military to military cooperation such as we sec occurring today in East Asia. As Secretary Gates recently stated, we are unlikely to fight a China, who has more to lose economically than we do in a Taiwan crises scenario, and therefore we can take acceptable risk in this unlikely scenario.
But the fight against radical Islamist terrorism is ongoing, deadly, and will continue perhaps for a generation. There is no analysis that Al Qaeda is anywhere near calling it quits. In fact as President Bush has said over and over again, we’re more at the beginning of this conflict then we are close to the end.
The Submarine Force and especially SSGN arc well positioned for an increasing role in this war. Skippers such as Chris Ratliff, John Litherland, and Bill Traub have taken their crews in harm’s way on SSGNs’ maiden voyages in PACOM and CENTCOM/AFRICOM. Their exploits are just the opening salvos from these national treasures. Thank you, both those in and out of uniform, who did so much to bring these SSGNs from concept into reality. God protect those who sail on SSGN and God Bless America.