Fellow submariners and members of the Submarine League, it’s great to be here. I would like to thank the Submarine League for hosting this symposium-an energetic forum that allows us all to talk about where the Submarine Force has been and where we are going.
At lunch I sat with Frank Miller (who was Assistant Secretary of Defense), Sergei Makhovnev (Naval Attache for Russia), and Chris Groves (the submarine staff officer for the British Embassy) and we talked about topics ranging from Trafalgar Night to nuclear deterrence.
Congratulations to the commanding officers that were recognized today for their outstanding leadership-Mike Stevens, Craig Blakely, and Jim Waters.
And now, I would like to look ahead to 2040. I have four major issues that I want to discuss today and round out this year’s symposium.
1. Nuclear Deterrence
2. Operating in an Anti-Access Environment
3. Submarine Force Structure
4. Coordination of the Undersea Battle Space
Nuclear Deterrence in Transition
As a result of the consistent, superior performance of the SSBN force, the Department of Defense has expected us to take on a greater proportion of the strategic deterrence mission in the future. The Nuclear Posture Review is complete and has strongly re-affinned the importance of the survivable submarine leg of the triad. Our national leadership clearly understands what former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger said in an interview last year in the Washington Post [July 11 2009, pA9], “Nuclear weapons are used every day to deter our potential foes and to provide reassurance to the allies to whom we offer protection.” I for one, did not fully understand the degree to which countries around the world depend on our nuclear deterrent forces to maintain the peace until I attended an international deterrence conference hosted by STRA TCOM earlier this summer and saw how many countries rely heavily on the credibility of the US nuclear capability.
The transition in nuclear deterrence results in fewer weapons overall, but a higher percentage of those weapons will be deployed by the Navy.
Against this highly dynamic background, we are developing the plan for the OHIO Replacement SSBN. This SSBN will start construction in 2019, deliver in 2026, and start patrolling in 2029. It is planned to operate until about 2080, so we must equip it with the required capabilities and stealth to pace the threat that will come from the future’s more capable submarines, distributed systems, and emerging sensors. I need your help ensuring that we are ready in 2029. We are leveraging everything we have learned in lowering the cost of Virginia SSNs to help ensure we design the Ohio Replacement for affordability- both in acquisition and in life cycle maintenance. We will also design for even better operational availability than the OHIO class.
To lower development costs and leverage the proven reliability of the TRIDENT II (DS) Strategic Weapon System, the OHIO Replacement will re-host the same system carried on the OHIO. This weapons system has evolved to an open architecture that will make it easy to adapt over decades. The OHIO Replacement is now a formal program and has moved from strategic systems oversight with the Strategic Systems Program (SSP) to submarine development with Program Executive Office for Submarines (PEO SUBS).
This is a big program with a big budget and, like Ohio, it will draw a lot of scrutiny. We are ready for that scrutiny. This program received positive comments from Secretaries Gates and Carter for our concerted effort to reach a more affordable service cost position by getting the top level requirements right.
This program is on track, and we are confident as we take the first program of this magnitude to a Defense Acquisition Board Milestone “A” decision.
Next, I would like to discuss “Operations in an Anti-Access Environment.”
The Anti-access problem
The president’s National Security Strategy-released this past May-and the Cooperative Maritime Strategy for the 2111 Century emphasize that deterrence is about more than nuclear weapons.
To credibly deter conventional aggression among competitors requires proportional conventional tools. For the past two decades, the US leaned on ground forces, strike aircraft from our carriers and the Air Force, and Tomahawk cruise missiles to deter potential adversaries by holding them at risk.
A major objective in conventional warfare has now become gaining and maintaining access in a denied area to carry out the mission. Our adversaries understand that success hinges on denying access to our high-end forces.
With their significant level of effort, we face the challenge that when we have access, are we bringing enough tools to the table?
There are two distinct tracks emerging to deny access:
One example uses low-to-medium capability technology to threaten coalition and neutral forces in a region constrained by geographic chokepoints. This is well-suited to the circumstances of their geography. This track invests in defense modestly with less capable platforms that nonetheless still have adequate reach across a body of water like the Arabian Gulf and certainly can complicate operations in the Strait of Hormuz.
Another example uses high tech, cutting edge capability designed to asymmetrically defeat our forces. Countries with the resources and know-how will develop military technology with the sophistication needed to tilt the battle space in their favor. This type of challenge characterizes the looming threat to regional order and stability that will persist indefinitely.
In particular, anti-access systems are being developed with the purpose of undermining our deterrent influence by denying us access to critical theaters and areas of global interest. Among these anti-access systems are quiet modem submarines that are capable of holding both combatant and support ships at risk with torpedoes or cruise missiles. Putting emphasis on the importance of this submarine role as an element of reducing the influence of other nations in the global commons is becoming more prevalent. Similar things can be done in areas that have geographic advantages such as chokepoints and straits for regional competitors.
Coastal based cruise missiles and ballistic missiles could have significant impact in areas that are vital to the commerce on which many of our partners depend. Taken together, these anti-access systems are intended to constrain the ability of traditional power projection systems to operate against future threats.
In addition to land based systems, competitor surface combat-ants with the newly increased range and effectiveness of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles are emerging challengers to existing forces.
Undersea platforms, however, are not vulnerable to these anti-access systems. The assured access that we gain through stealth makes our role in naval warfare increasingly valuable.
We are becoming the essential key-that opens the door to let the surface and air forces, with higher volumes of fire power, move in.
While undersea forces are not at risk from emerging anti-access technologies, I am not sure we are doing all that we can to leverage our capability in support of larger naval and national objectives.
We need to fully support the sea control and sea denial missions. For the last twenty years, all of our Nation’ s wars have involved adversaries with no significant maritime capability. This has meant that we have been able to skip the Sea Denial part and get right to work exploiting our Control of the Sea. As a result of this recent experience, we as a Nation have a diminished appreciation of the criticality of Sea Denial as an essential precursor to our ability to exploit Sea Control.
It is clear that we will not get a free pass like this anymore. Sea Denial is back as an essential Navy mission that will need to be done early in any campaign. And what is important for us in this room to recognize is that this Sea Denial mission falls largely on the shoulders of the undersea forces.
Sea Denial includes eliminating the threat from adversary submarines. It includes taking out long-range SAM shooters. It includes sinking Amphibs, interdicting maritime commerce, holding adversary SSBNs at risk, and sealing ports.
In the future, it will have to include defeating adversary UUVs, or denying the adversary the ability to exploit undersea energy resources or other infrastructure.
What are the implications for the role played by submarines in the return of the Navy’s Sea Denial for the Navy undersea forces? Well, there are at least two very important consequences that we need to get our heads around.
First, we need to rethink our undersea weapons suite. During the Cold War, when we last thought of undersea forces as blue-water Sea Denial forces, the tactical weapons carried by our submarines were Mk48 torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack missiles, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. When the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Navy returned to port, our maritime strategy ever since has been focused on the littorals-“From the Sea,” “Forward … From the Sea,” and most recently our Cooperative Maritime Strategy for the 2151 Century. But what weapons are we carrying twenty years later? They are the same! We still carry torpedoes and Tomahawks. Of course, both of these weapons are greatly improved in terms of performance, but they remain basically the same weapons performing the same jobs modeled for the same target set.
As we take this new look at our weapons portfolio we need to include weapons that we need to operate forward, potentially far away from the carrier strike groups, and perform Sea Denial missions against the littoral target set of the future.
What is the best way to attack mini-subs or UUVs? We have had to put together with urgency a program that ensures that we are properly addressing the rapid proliferation of mini-subs … but we also need a longer view.
What about shallow draft, high speed craft that are today every bit as lethal as major combatants during modem Naval history?
For example, we have great capability against high-end war-ships.
But how do we do against some asymmetric threats like light patrol craft which is a high speed, shallow draft combatant?
Are we doing all we can; or at least alt we should to adapt our weapons and concepts of operations to pace this type of threat?
I believe we need to expand our horizons in this area, look at the range of contributions that we can make, and aggressively pursue those that show the most promise.
When you look at our contribution to the land attack problem, it is a combination of capability and strategy.
The influence of anti-access centers of gravity ashore on friendly forces should be minimized. We have a role in precluding attacks on friendly forces.
Our leaders understand that submarines are uniquely suited with a demonstrated capability to operate with impunity in these access-denied areas and have concerns about our ability to conduct deep strike when the hulls on our SSGNs start to reach end of hull life in 2026.
Stretching Virginia class SSNs could help address the potential need for strike payloads. We could take their Tomahawk capability from 12 to 40 TLAMs using the launcher system currently used by SSGN. In the longer term, they could host a new generation of munitions.
While we follow these studies, and lend support to them where appropriate, I want to make sure everyone understands that our big issue is force structure.
While we are happy that we are moving to the delivery of two Virginia class submarines per year, we must also be cognizant of the fact that our most recent 30-year Shipbuilding Plan removed 10 SSNs of the 54 SSNs previously planned (a staggering 20%). We cannot withstand any further reductions in SSN force structure-and really need to work on getting some of those cuts back.
Every SSN removed from service, removes 150 talented Sailors highly skilled at undersea warfare. It means 15 fewer deployments of SSNs operating in forward waters. Their absence will prevent other Naval Forces from gaining access when they need it and will affect the credibility of conventional deterrence.
Again, we need the help of the Submarine League in carrying the message that the Submarine Force does not compete against the rest of the fleet. The Submarine Force is a key enabler for fleet success across the range of missions.
Coordination and Alignment
I’d like to finish with some observations about coordination and alignment.
Today the elements of undersea warfare are scattered across many commands and resource sponsors. However, we need to make sure that the fleet requirements for these capabilities are driven by those who best understand the undersea environment.
For the undersea domain, there are the fundamental skills for exploiting the undersea stealth and ambiguity that are the tools of the trade for submariners. Dealing with uncertain position information in the development of the common undersea picture, is challenging-unless it is where you have always lived.
And we have to remember, before we can succeed at the war-fighting tasks, we have to get the basics right: deconflicting mutual interference, preventing Blue on Blue prosecution, and avoiding fratricide. These are not things that are solved without diligent management. Just as we integrate Tomahawk missile strikes into an Air Tasking Order managed by the Joint Force Air Component Commander, we need to ensure that the various entities developing undersea capabilities, such as UUVs, develop them with the understanding that they must fold into an undersea picture-managed by the Undersea Warfare Commander. And therefore, it is imperative that the Submarine Force establish the control nodes and promulgate the architecture that will enable seamless integration and intelligent autonomy!
If we, the Navy, are to deploy a UUV for extended missions, the Submarine Force, the subject matter experts, should define what those requirements should be, so that this UUV with legs can be effectively integrated into the USW environment.
There are certainly other tools in development which will allow the Undersea Commander to control and integrate the operations and hence the effects of submarines, IUSS, MPRA, and surface ASW forces. We need to start now to ensure we have the concept of operations and the command and control in place to ensure this comes out right. This is our domain. When we implement these tools in the fleet, implementation should be at submarine headquarters in Norfolk, Naples, Yokosuka, and Pearl Harbor.
So, I have discussed four important areas where big changes are underway and we need to take a good lead angle to intercept. By making the right decisions now, we can ensure that in 2040, we will like where we are.
• We will be fielding an effective, affordable nuclear deter-rent.
• We will have the perspective and technical agility to pace the threat in an anti-access environment.
• We will have created the required undersea force structure.
• And finally we will have organized ourselves to ensure that our complex spectrum of activities in the undersea domain is well-coordinated and cost-efficiently aligned.
Thank you and I look forward to any questions you may have.