Hello everybody. How are you doing today? It’s great to be back. Thanks for inviting me. I’ve been trying to get an invitation to this darn thing for three years, and I’m almost not the CNO anymore. I figure that it’s probably my dues, Rich. John Padgett, thank you John. Thanks so much for what you do for the Submarine League. I think it’s a great professional organization. I’ve had interfaces with all of our Navy organizations, and this one is very squared away. I think it has a lot to do with your leadership as the president. So let’s give a hand for John. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the invitation and thanks for your mentorship and your service through many, many years. I’ve seen that you’ve gotten a lot of presentations, so it’s risky to get up and say, “Well, let me tell you about the undersea warfare and all the programs.” You could say, wait a minute, that’s not what we heard yesterday. I’ll try to avoid that. Connor’s looking at me like don’t you dare start about where we’re going with the undersea plan. I won’t do that, Mike. But I do want to kind of summarize where I see the undersea issues.
It’s really all about the Ohio Replacement and where we go. So one of my themes for this year, and I’ve actually been grinding on this for a while, has been sustaining undersea dominance. I mean, we have it today, I get a post-deployment debrief at least quarterly. Somebody rolls in there, and I’ve got to tell you, it doesn’t matter if the ship is two years old or 25 years old, and some of them are. They are out there going wherever we need them to go, where it matters, when it matters. We can pretty much go anywhere we need to go out there, and we have empirical data. So I’ll leave it at that. We are ahead by every category that I measure, but we have to get going because things are moving in a different direction. We have competitors pursuing us. We know about China. That’s really well spelled out. Not as many people know what the Russians are up to. I can’t go into detail obviously about it today, but they’re spending a lot of money, and as I look around this room, and I too have grey hair and a lack of it to prove the time in the Navy, that when they set their mind to things they can get going. So the Russians have been working on a sea-based strategic deterrent, undersea reconnaissance program, and an SSN, and put the first slide up. They know we have Navy Seals. And so in typical fashion, they said, “Well, you got Seals, I’ll go bigger.” (See Figure One) All right? But there’s an interesting symbolic thing here. You know how when people send you these things, you usually hit delete right away. I said, “hey, this is pretty cute.” Taken obviously from a deck of a submarine, you know when that big guy wakes up there are going to be issues, and likewise, there’s a little bit of a symbolic nature here that when they wake up and they’re getting ready to stretch, we will have issues. So it’s something that I look at out there in the future.
Let me talk a little bit about context on our budget, where I put things. So as folks before me have talked about what’s going on, I thought I would share with you my view of how we do things. Go ahead and put the budget thing up. It’s pretty simple (See Figure Two). My folks call it the swoosh because I said, look, as we go through these trying times we have got to figure out what’s most important in a strategic manner. And what are the categories in which we need to invest. Then we’ve got to figure out what is the appropriate amount of investment to put in there. Then we’ve got to keep going back around there and make sure we got the balance right. As I look around the room. I see there are lots of flag officers here that help me do that. Principal among them is Adm. Joe Mulloy. Joe and Rick Breckenridge, are clearly two people in that group, and we have others of course. But here’s the deal. Where you see Maintain Sea-Based Strategic Deterrent, I don’t fill all these up and then say, okay, now move onto the next until we run out of money. That’s not what we do, except for that one. We put the resources in here which we call Echelon One, the headquarters, until we say, do we have enough to get what you all need to get done. Now the enterprise for that, the leaders, and we’ve reviewed the nuclear enterprise—I’m just going to assume you all talked about that—but in simplistic fashion, John Richardson and I got together with our Director of the Staff, with the Vice Chief, with Secretary Mabus, and we say, look, let’s simplify this whole thing. I am the one responsible to Secretary Mabus and Secretary Hagel for the nuclear enterprise. Let’s simplify it. It’s either Terry Benedict or it’s John Richardson or it’s Mike Connor, and the four of us get down and meet and get this thing right. So we’ve had a review. We’re making some adjustments here and there, but I would tell you our issue in that is getting a little bit of training right, getting the throughput in our shipyards right. You’re going to hear about shipyards a lot, and I think Willy Hilarides talked about it yesterday. It’s a real challenge for us in nuclear shipyards. We’ve got to get that right. And we’ve got to make sure that our strategic weapons programs, that our weapons facilities are clear and ready to go. And then there’s the big dog, the Ohio Replacement Program. I’ll talk about that in just a little bit. I really look forward to not calling it the Ohio Replacement. You all agree with me, right? Yeah, I approached it once for a name. I said, get out of here until we get this thing sorted further.
Forward Presence would be number two. For me, I say the term “where it matters, when it matters.” To me, this is where we provide this nation better than anything else. It’s the presence out there in and around the world. So for many of you who say, “Oh, he’s not going to put that world globe [slide] up where the ships are …”, you’re thinking that aren’t you? I won’t do that to you, but I’ll tell you, today we have 104 of the 289 ships out and about around the world. 20 years ago we had over 400 ships. We were going from 460 down to about 410 in just a short amount of time. We had about 105 out there and about. So I think we’re getting a pretty reasonable deal with the ships and the forces that we now have.
Well, how do you do that, Greenert? Well, we have a way of preparing our ships and our units to deploy, it’s called the Fleet Response Plan. This plan was instigated over a decade ago, and it’s still the way that we do it. We’ve been tweaking this thing, trying to make it the best it can be, and then produce those units in a manner so that our folks are organized, trained, equipped to go out and do the job. But the second part, we forward deploy. We have the forward deployed naval forces in Japan, in Bahrain, in Rota. We have forward stations, some ships in Singapore in the not too distant future, and this is a big payback that we have. We’ve got to have the right infrastructure in place. We’ve got to have the right training in place so that when we rotate our people and we get those ships over there they stay well-maintained and they can react. But we get a good plus from that.
The operations going on today against ISIL, which is the topic around town in a big way as we move forward in that campaign, as you probably know, but in case some of you were sleeping that day, it was the ARLEIGH BURKE and the PHILIPPINE SEA that kicked this off. The ARLEIGH BURKE was in the Red Sea, on her way home, and they said, “Hold on here a minute. We need to enter some targeting data,” and about 30 missiles later, she was a little lighter as she proceeded through the Suez Canal, and went on to a port visit. She’s back in Norfolk now. PHILIPPINE SEA is reloaded and back on station. The GEORGE H. W. BUSH nuclear aircraft carrier is doing something between 10 and 20 sorties a day, missions into Iraq or Syria—either one—and what is missing sometimes in the conversation, is everybody thinks it’s all about dropping bombs, but they have the last of the Prowlers, which are the old jamming aircraft, like the A6. The EA6B, that’s the last squadron out and about. Matt Moffit, you’re the only AV I see in the back. Give me a thumbs up for the Prowlers, if you will. Okay, we’ll replace that with Growlers, but my point is that electronic attack mission is also a big deal going out today. Everything else we do here, War fighting, that’s meeting the operational plans. That’s making sure that we can do the best we can do in those operational plans. That’s a tremendous balance because there’s more need than there are resources.
Readiness and personnel, that is getting the fleet response training right. You’ve got to get the maintenance done right so that you get out of the shipyard in time so that you can do the blocking and tackling so that you can go to integrated training so that you can go on deployment and be ready to surge if you need to. And the phases are: simply put, maintenance, basic, integrated, and then sustainment.
We got out of whack a little bit on these things through no one’s real specific fault, but through a Continuing Resolution, through a sequestration period, through a furlough, a hiring freeze, and the inability to do overtime. We got behind in the nuclear shipyards. And we were also rebalancing them and going through a metamorphosis in there. We’re starting to get out of that now. It’s a long outward crawl. The output of this is longer deployments, frankly put. People think, “Well, it’s just the real world demanding more things.” Yeah, that’s there, but it’s really because we stopped working on the REAGAN. We stopped working on the VINSON.
And we did little work on the GEORGE H. W. BUSH who just finished the nine month deployment because by the time she got out there, it was her turn, and there was a longer deployment. We’re almost out of that, and we should be back at about what I think is a sweet spot, a seven month deployment by 2016. Asymmetric capabilities, the undersea domain is a major part of that, and there’s a lot of investment in that. But it’s also cyber. It’s also, as I mentioned, electronic attack, defeating cruise missiles, defeating ballistic missiles. It’s also advanced air to air. Okay. Stealth is not going to answer all the problems of the future. You’ve got to look at all means of detection instead of trying to fly everything in close and do it. It’s standoff weapons, standoff sensors, and the coordination of all of those things that bring that together.
If we don’t have a relevant and decent Industrial Base, our future is really mortgaged out there. So it’s our partners, many of you do that, and I thank you for that, out and about getting things out. Because of our Industrial Base we have the sea power that we have today. John Richardson, I’m sure, Terry, Mike Connor, Willy, all of them talked about the Ohio Replacement and made the points that need to be made on that. But I will reiterate as I point up there, that is our number one program. That is the one that we have to get right. It’s not just a Navy issue in my view. It’s a Department of Defense and probably a national issue. We’ve figured out how to do this in the past. There are ways to fund it. There are lots of ways to fund it. If we try to fund it in the Navy, simply put, we get together at best about $15 billion of shipbuilding money. The first one of these Ohio’s is going to cost about nine. Then we wait two years and we bring it in (the second OHIO Replacement), and that’s about six and a half. Am I close, Rick? Okay. You could do the simple ratio. You’re all nukes or exnukes. And then if we’re lucky, we hold it at five, 1/3 of the shipbuilding budget. So take it from there. It’s going to happen. So those of you that work on this program, that’s all of us that wear the uniform, we don’t get a bye. I’m not telling you, oh, well we’re going to build it anyway so relax. What I’m telling you is there’s a tremendous pressure here, and if you love your Navy, and you do, or you wouldn’t be in there. We have got to work on building the most efficient and effective Ohio Replacement. But we’re going to build it.
Some folks kind of wonder, and I even get questions at all hands call, people wring their hands. On the KEARSARGE yesterday, on the BAINBRIDGE yesterday. So our sailors are thinking about this in a broader scheme, and it’s not that they’re thinking selfishly. So what I’m here to tell you I guess in a nutshell is we’re going to do that and we’ve got to do it right. The pressure is on the other programs out there, the other shipbuilding programs.
So we have got to bring the next type of amphibious ship in, and it’s coming in and it’s wonderful, what this next decade is going to be about. 2020, we’ll bring in what’s called the LXR, which will replace the LSD. If any of you have done your midshipmen cruise or otherwise on that, you know what that was like. We very much would like to build the same hull, use the same hull shape. Use the LPD17. It makes sense, same system, same training, same maintenance scheme, almost all we can do, and de-scope that down. But we’ve got to bridge over from what we’re building today in Ingalls Shipyard in Gulfport over to that.
So the pressure will be on that program. We’ve got to evolve the large surface combat. I don’t think we can take this tremendous revolutionary jump and create a totally new cruiser just like that. We’ve tried to do that a number of times, and it started with DDX, and we called it the arsenal ship. You remember that, and then this, and then that.
We have to evolve over time as we get more power, more cooling, more aperture and the radar that we’re going to use, better weapons, and we’ve got to think modular. We’ve got to think payloads that are going to go in there. Not an integrated beautiful ship that puts us in the place we are today where we’ve got to put our cruisers and our destroyers in for two years, so that we can upgrade them with the new systems that we need today. That can’t be in the future, so we’ve got to think in that regard.
We’ve got to control the cost of the forward aircraft carrier. We have got to control the cost. That’s on me and my ideas about oh, I’ve got to have this, I’ve got to have that, and it’s on our shipbuilding partners. And it’s not just the prime, it’s everyone else. We have to do all that, and we have to compete every class of ship we possibly can. We get better value, we get better output from the shipbuilder. They don’t seem to like it at first, but my guru, Sean Stackley, tells me it’s all better, and if he says it’s all better I’m in, if you know Sean Stackley.
So I leave you with this, and it gets me back to the Ohio Replacement. I went out and visited Electric Boat, had a wonderful visit, and I am convinced they’re doing the best they can to bring this baby in. We were up there with Senator Blumenthal, and he said, “You know what? The essence of this boat is that it will be the strongest, stealthiest, most sustainable of any in the history of the world. And it will be that way for the remainder of the century,” without exaggerating. So I know this institution, this group understands that, and that’s pretty much true of the Virginia class, and God bless all of you that build that thing as we bring the NORTH DAKOTA in here Saturday. Early, under budget so people make some money, and ready to go to sea faster than probably any SSNs we’ve put out there. So we’re in a good place. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I look forward to working with all of you. God bless you all for doing what you do out there, and let’s take your questions.
John Padgett: Questions. Tim?
Jon Greenert: Tim?
Tim: Admiral, you’ve talked to a lot of people. Who are the groups that you think don’t really understand the importance of the Ohio Replacement? Is it the people in the Midwest? Is it the press? Who are the folks that we can engage with?
Jon Greenert: I think we need to educate the essence of what it takes to do such a complicated thing, certainly on the Hill. Okay? I think you’ve got about that many people, and by no fault of their own … you go up to New England and they’re pretty good. They sort of understand it. And so folks, I think the concept that many have is, “Why don’t you just build another Ohio?” I said, okay, that’s a good question, and I would love to do that. So you know where that goes. You say, “Let me tell you when we started designing that thing,” then you take it to today. And they go oh. So then you tell them what you’re doing and how modular it is, and it’s just a lot of it is Virginia blown up into a bigger size. Do you see what I’m saying? So the Hill for sure because we’ll have people who are advocates who will say, “Listen, we’ve got to get this thing going.” Others are saying, “Why would I want to do that?” So I’ve got some work there when they reconvene, I’ve got some folks who are helping me gather some members together. But I think we need to educate them. In the Pentagon they understand that it’s got to be. They understand that’s job one and this recent nuclear enterprise kind of thing that Secretary Hagel led, we’ve got that. It will be interesting on us, the department, to get down to brass tacks on what’s the funding plan, what’s the strategy, I should say, and then we’ll get a plan out of that.
John Padgett: Other questions? Oh, come on, guys.
Jon Greenert: Fred?
John Padgett: Fred.
Fred: Admiral, I was wondering if you could just give us your thoughts on manned and unmanned autonomous vehicles.
Jon Greenert: Okay. I don’t think we’ll ever … shouldn’t say ever. I think we are a couple of decades away from an unmanned aerial vehicle strike fighter. The decisional process that goes into delivering ordinance, assuming it’ll still deliver ordinance, is so complicated as I watched things here today. But we can do a whole ton more, if you know what I’m saying. I’m saying exclusively unmanned strike fighter. Are you with me there? But undersea, I think I’d love to say the sky is the limit if you get my point. The whole undersea is the limit, and I think we have to go there. We can’t build enough submarines. You all understand that. And even if we had billions and billions and billions more. So every time I go into the black world and I go into the compartmented world, and I see where we are, there is so much potential to pull things that are a little exquisite and bring them more into the general purpose force that we can get going. So I really think, and Mike Connor and I worked on this, we all work on it, that by the end of this decade we ought to be sending an autonomous unmanned large diameter UUV on mission. Now you say, “Okay, so you’re talking about IOC?” And I say, I don’t know. Maybe not necessarily. And maybe not in the most complex area of the world. But we’ve got to get it out there and see how it’ll break down. Huge, huge opening there. Lastly, I would say in the surface world, we just did a demo down on the Hampton Roads. I don’t know if any of you saw that. The video is out and around YouTube. I see midshipmen shaking … Did you see that video? Did you think it was pretty cool? I thought it was pretty cool. Whether you do or not is up to you. But we are kind of going the other way on swarm. Why can’t we do a swarm? And it didn’t take much to turn it around. We got a lot of Boston whalers. Putting a gun on it and putting a sensor on it is no big deal, and then being able to control a dozen of them remotely, they demonstrated it down in the Hampton Roads. And lastly, we got to get out of rotary wing dragging sleds for counter-mine. First of all, the 53 does it, but it’s just incredibly expensive, and they’re getting too old. And to build a 60, an SH-60, I don’t know if anybody builds them here—sorry—but it just doesn’t have the capacity. So unmanned surface vehicles towing the sleds. Get the man out of the loop.
Unnamed Speaker: Admiral, we’ve all read about the Army taking big cuts out of the Army. How is the Navy doing with the constraints and sequestration and so on as far as the impact on people in voluntary separations?
Jon Greenert: We’re just fine, and as long as I’m the Chief, we won’t do what the Army had to do. And it’s not about the Army. It was put on them to reduce troop strength a huge amount. And so, officer and enlisted. We build equipment and we man it. They get personnel and they equip them. We man equipment, they equip manning. And the importance of that difference is our force structure, the amount of end strength, the people in the Navy will depend on how many ships and aircraft that we have. And you can’t retire and reduce the number of end strength you need than say six, seven, eight to 10,000 max a year without laying people off, because the economy is not getting them out that quickly, and you can’t process them out that quickly through the VA and all of the things that you need to do. So what you’re reading is perhaps true, but if you follow the tags on everybody’s back and say, when are they actually off the payroll, it’s an extraordinary story of how people, still on the books if you will, but not counting into the end strength. So my point would be you can only do this so fast. They have a tremendous challenge. We’re fortunate. We did a one percent adjustment about four years ago. Does that sound about right? About four years, three years ago called Enlisted Retention Board, which was a peculiar name because it didn’t have anything to do with retaining people. We laid them off. And we didn’t do a very good job bringing it out, and hey, I was the vice chief, I was in the room when we made the decision. We got by that, and a lot of our folks said, “Hey, I kind of think I lost trust in you.” So we’ve been buying that back ever since, if you would. Not literally with money, but we’ve been getting that back. So my point is we’re good. The number of people per unit, we’re good. And that’s where I’m standing. We have the budgetary means to do that.