Admiral Mies, Admiral Stanley, Admiral Connor, Admiral Padgett, Naval Submarine League, and Corporate Benefactors, thank you for all you do to support the Naval Submarine League and the Submarine Force.
You’ve heard that phrase-this person needs no introduction-I am not that guy. Thank you, Admiral Padgett, for the very kind introduction, but what is missing from my bio is that I am here in a large part because of all of you and the personal influence that so many of you have had on my wife Dana and me. Many have been very kind educating me about the complexities of their businesses and the challenges that they face. Many, both on active duty and from the private sector have been very patient in mentoring me throughout my career, and giving me chances to succeed.
I’m proud to be a product of all your influences. For Pete Scala and the rest of the signal processors in the room, if you did a FourierTransfonn on me, you’d get a weighted sum of all of you.
I would argue that it’s a community where the people and the operational challenges combine in a crucible that forms a culture, a binding energy, and an asymmetric influence that few groups in history have had-I’m reminded of the U.S. Marine Corps and maybe even more so, the Jesuits-where there are no retirees on the roster, but those who “pray for the church and the society.” I’ll have more to say about that later.
Last night you heard about the Strategic Environment in Admiral Donald’s terrific speech. He laid out the challenge in clear terms and outlined broad areas where the Submarine Force will continue to contribute-to meet our responsibilities to the Navy and the Nation in the future. The picture he painted was one of opportunities and constraints, of obligations and obstacles. As I listened to Admiral Donald’s talk, I started to feel more and more comfortable, and towards the end I was downright hopeful! For these are precisely the conditions where our competitive advantages and our unique contributions shine brightest-our competitive advantage becomes more clear. We do best under adversity-it’s our nature. Our ships are designed for it, and our people are trained for it and our force thrives in it.
And you don’t have to believe me just look to our history.
In 1941 at the beginning of WW II, the Submarine Force was the first to take the fight to the enemy after Pearl Harbor as Jumpin’ Joe Grenfell on GUDGEON got underway on Dec 11, 1941 to execute unrestricted submarine warfare. Those were dark days-certainly from a military perspective and also financial hardship as we were still recovering from the Great Depression. There was a tremendous amount of adaptation from a peace-time Navy to a war time footing-changes in operational boldness, initiative, as well as technology. 203 ships were built and operating during the war-at peak, building a submarine per week.
During the Cold War, again we responded with agility both at sea and in business. Last Saturday night I was in King’s Bay at a dining-in celebrating the SO-year anniversary of the first patrol of the GEORGE WASHINGTON-the Georgefislz. Think about those amazing times-faced with the existential challenge posed by the Soviet Union. In 1942, Enrico Fermi took the first reactor critical under the bleachers at the University of Chicago. Barely a decade later, in 1955 USS NAUTILUS sailed to sea on nuclear power. Five years after that, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, a converted Scorpion class submarine, was commissioned in 1959 and put to sea in 1960. At that time, we did not even have the Polaris missile built! In July 1960, the first Polaris test shot was conducted. By 1967, we had commissioned 41 SSBNs-the “41 for Freedom.” Now THAT’S speed to market! Forty-one strategic deterrent submarines in eight years. The current environment requires the same flexibility, creativity, optimism (or resilience to pessimism) and speed to market.
Since 1991, we’ve shown the same agility. The world has again changed, from a bi-polar structure back to the way the world historically has been-more multipolar, more complex. And the U.S. Military, and our Submarine Force, have also transformed from a bi-polar mission set against a highly mechanized threat, to the multiple missions against a host of threats that we again see today. In time, the Cold War will be seen as an historical anomaly. But throughout, our operational agility has served as a testament to the flexibility and adaptability of the force-a tremendous achievement to design, build, and put to sea an entirely new submarine class-Virginia-designed from the ground up for a new strategic environment.
Our Submarine Force history is a testament to strategic, operational and tactical agility while overcoming adversity. And we’ve been at the high stakes table the whole time-national survival. We’re all in.
A key question that we have to ask ourselves right now is what is the true nature of the situation that faces us now? Is the picture that Admiral Donald painted an existential one, demanding the urgent response that served us so well before?
A question worth asking, because it shapes our approach-both in magnitude and direction. As Admiral Donald made clear, we are continuing in an era that’s characterized by increasing worldwide demands on the U.S. Navy in general and the Submarine Force in particular. Many nations are building significant undersea capability that can threaten sea-lanes, increasing the pressure to maintain access to the global commons. Anti-access/area-denial technologies and tactics will require the Submarine Force to be positioned forward, ready to seize the initiative if required. Our critical undersea infrastructure is becoming more vulnerable to disruption. The undersea strategic deterrent forces of other nations are becoming more active.
Coincident with these increasing challenges, in 2011 we are also entering an era that will very likely be characterized by reduced resources at all levels to meet these challenges. With the budget deficit exceeding 1.3 trillion dollars, the national debt growing, and the interest on that debt consuming more of the budget, there will be tremendous pressure to do more with less. We have little experience in the ranks for managing requirements in an environment of declining resources-the defense budget has steadily grown for more than a decade, so we have LCDRs and CDRs with no real experience operating in an environment of doing with less.
We will be expected to rise to the challenge and we will. But the only way to reconcile the diverging trends of increasing requirements and responsibilities versus diminishing resources is through a thoughtful, balanced approach that strives to succeed better at doing what is essential, understand where we need to make necessary changes and discover and eliminate what is superficial and has been dragged along.
We’re giving this strategic environment a lot of thought, and have started to design a campaign that will help us navigate in this complex and uncertain future. I’d like to take a few minutes to describe the emerging lines of effort of this Undersea Warfare Design.
As I said, last night Admiral Donald provided the strategic underpinnings of this effort.
Admiral Frank Caldwell and the team out in COMSUBPAC are working hard to describe the line of effort that ensures that the Submarine Force is living up to all of its responsibilities to the Combatant Commanders, as we operate in peacetime and maintain our readiness for war. Admiral Mike Connor and his team at N87 have done some stunning work regarding the line of effort that describes how we will continue to meet our responsibilities in the future and he will describe that in the next talk. Then to close out the series, Admiral Dave Johnson and Admiral Terry Benedict will provide you a tactical update of the programs in progress that will make this future become real.
But before I get started on the emerging lines of effort, I’d like to spend some time talking about the design characteristics or nature of this strategy, and importantly, where we are in the process.
A critical feature is that it must be a unifying effort for the whole sub community. There can be no daylight between the many facets of the team. Clausewitz is very clear about the vulnerability of seams in command structure, and any chinks in our armor will be exploited to our disadvantage.
Next, you must know that it is currently just taking shape. Nothing about this is final, and I am asking you to challenge these ideas, starting with the question and answer period after I stop talking. I firmly believe that in many ways, our fates are bound together-the commercial industrial base and the active duty Submarine Force. And so to the greatest degree possible, I believe that our strategies must reinforce one another. So I’m bringing you in early to help shape this before the cement gets dry. The reason I spent some time geeking out about Fourier transforms before is not because I’m a geek (ok, maybe I am a geek), but so that I could make the point now that the path ahead will be a superposition of all of our inputs-a weighted sum. I need your perspective, because it’s a crucial part of the narrative. But we don’t have a moment to waste. Time is precious-always the most unforgiving dimension of strategy and so we’ll be moving quickly. More later on that.
Another feature is that it’s not just unity of command, but unity of effort. Look at who constitutes the team to move this forward-a terrific representation is in this room. Certainly there is the active duty Submarine Force, but even in the active ranks it’s not super clean. COMSUBPAC and COMSUBLANT and all of us must execute along our lines of authority. N87 is a completely different environment. PEO SUBS and his team, the labs, public shipyards are in still another different environment. I believe that we gain a critically important insight and perspective from the private sector, from people who may never have served in uniform, but who have so much experience and dedication to the Submarine Force. The emerging Design must provide commander’s guidance that is specific enough to define the mission and what success looks like, but it must also be flexible enough to allow each of us to tailor it to our specific environments and to enable initiative to take advantage of fleeting opportunities to achieve the aim.
It is commander celllric -top down from the Commander, president, or CEO, providing his or her guidance. This is not a staff product. Further, it must incorporate a sense of humility that recognizes that we will not get it perfect, and so we must be ready to adapt. Our plan must have organic sensing, feedback, and learning elements built in. As we execute, and thereby learn and adapt to the environment, we’ll need a robust, honest, and vigorous dialogue between commanders and leaders. Command and feedback will win the day. Stovepipes and lanes will keep us from reaching our potential. So we need to start talking a lot to each other-leader to leader.
While we’re on the topic of humility, we need to cast this strategy in terms of an honest assessment of our obligations -to one another and to the nation. Humility is the recognition of the truth. No braggadocio, no chest beating, but neither a dodge about the responsibilities, obligations and commitments we have. There are truly things out there that only a submarine can do effectively and we must fill those roles.
So having outlined the constraints of the strategy-what we must do let’s discuss some assumptions. Many of these were covered by Admiral Donald last night, but some are new.
- Survivable U.S. SSBNs will provide nuclear deterrence for the United States and many of our allies for the foreseeable future.
- Combatant Commanders will continue to value the unique capabilities that an SSN and SSGN can deliver.
- Unmanned underwater system technology will advance with increased endurance and capability.
- Information Assurance will continue to grow in importance and we must protect our information and our systems from attack
- The operational environment will become more complex, further stressing the human element in submarine operations and warfighting.
- Adaptive, determined and tenacious adversaries will exploit our weaknesses with little or no notice.
- Available financial resources will decrease due to budget pressures.
The campaign design is organized along three lines of effort, the first of which is to Provide Undersea Forces Ready for Operations and Wa1fighti11g. There was a question last night about how are we to maintain standards in this environment, and this line of effort addresses how we do that. In fact, in these times of reduced resources, we can be very glad that we have standards. Without standards, we are governed by good intentions, and in the end, good intentions alone will lead to disaster at sea.
We succeed when we deliver ready submarines to the Operational Commander. When they cross the line and chop to the forward COCOM on time, and remain on station as assigned, meet operational availability (Ao) requirements-fully manned, certified for their missions, and materially ready. Ao is necessary but not sufficient. We need to get ships underway without stealing parts and people from other ships. Can’t take parts from MARYLAND to get RHODE ISLAND to sea, and you can’t steal crew from USS NEW HAMPSHIRE to man USS HAW All. Our process must be sustainable.
We succeed when we maintain Submarine Forces ready for war. Our individual ships must understand the adversary and must be ready and proficient at delivering ordinance against the enemy. Additionally, we must maintain the force, as a whole, ready to fight a war. We must ensure we have sufficient ordnance and surge forces available to meet our war plans.
Training-there is lots of room for improvement here. If we agree that the situation will only get more complex, and that the human brain will not notably improve in its ability to process more information, then our training and equipment must strive to present information in a more understandable fashion. Layering on another flat screen, or another module in the existing system will not do the trick. I believe that there’s a Jot to be gained in the human-machine interface, and we must really challenge ourselves here-get out of our comfort zone.
One new area where we must broaden our thinking is in the arena of undersea warfare command. Our near future will include considerable numbers of Jong-range UUVs, fixed and distributed sensors, gliders, manned submersibles, ordnance, and a host of other undersea tools. We’re working to define the operational details of managing, de-conflicting and optimizing these tools in a holistic undersea warfare context. If it goes in the water, the area undersea warfare commander should know about it and it should be on the “UTO” -the Undersea Tasking Order. We need these tactics, techniques and procedures in place so when the technology comes, we’ll be ready for it.
The second line of effort is to Conduct Effective Undersea Operations and Warfighting Today. If line of effort one was building, maintaining, and modernizing the car, and training the drivers then line of effort two is racing the car. They are closely related, but different. We will succeed when we accomplish our mission while remaining safe and covert, and being ready for war. Our current operations must be conducted safely, securely, and effectively. We must have the persistence and self-reliance to remain on station. We need to understand the adversary, environment, capabilities and war plans. We need to know how many hours or days we are from entering the fight-the CO should know this!
We will succeed when the Fleet Commander assesses that we meet the requirements at the unit and force level. To get at this, we need a vigorous and meaningful dialogue between Operational Commander and TY COM on the ability of submarines to conduct operations and warfighting.
The third line of effort is to Prepare for F11t11re Undersea Operations and W01jighli11g. We succeed when we develop the required force structure, payload capacity, and ordnance to meet the missions in the future. Admiral Mike Connor and his team have done some stunning work in this area, and he ‘II flesh out this line of effort in the next talk.
The way ahead is to first refine the plan. Flesh out key strategies, consider assumptions, consider problems and opportunities, and barriers and enablers. We need to clarify execution roles. Cascade accountabilities to the group, squadron and unit levels.
ext we need to begin and sustain communications. Somebody asked about this last night, and this will be a team effort led by COMSUBFOR. This will be a decentralized effort, and I’m very grateful for the Submarine League for their willingness to help get this message out. We’ll have this largely done and approved by the Submarine Flags by April. It will be ready to roll out, in classified form, at SUBTECH in May, so if you want to hear it, get your tickets now. If you want to be part of it, you’re right on time … we want you aboard.
After we roll out the plan we need to monitor execution, which we will accomplish by regularly scheduled reviews of performance, adjust course when needed, communicate when the plan has changed, and make performance a matter of consequence. I’ve been at SUB FOR for three months now and have had the opportunity to visit several ships and many of the organizations that make up the Submarine Force. I am energized by the enthusiasm of the people that I have met and proud to be part of a great team that is charged with continuing the tradition of meeting our obligations that the Submarine Force has developed over the past 111 years. Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions that you have.