I, too, would like to thank all of you for coming here today. You are a huge part of the voice of the Submarine Force. Because we have meetings like this, you know what we’re thinking. You know where we’re going. You should be able to draw a line between what Admiral Richardson said last night, what I say, what Joe Tofalo says and what Dave Johnson says. And that is—for one reason, it’s because we talk to each other. But also, we talk to you, and we do that for a couple of reasons: one, so that when you do your business planning, you know where we’re going; also, so that when you talk to people that we can’t talk to, that the message they hear from you is somewhat consistent with the message they hear when they come around to a forum in which we can talk to them.
You’re sort of like the board of directors of thought for the Submarine Force; and then you branch out. You do your industrial base meetings, and you spread the word there. And that’s how I think we circle back and get these guys like Congressman Wittman, who’s already on board; and Congressman Courtney’s on board. But we help make sure that other policy makers’ constituencies touch them with words that sound more or less the same.
So with that in mind, I’d like to talk to this government-industry team about some of the bigger things on my mind today.
I want to start by saying that the Force is doing very, very well. We talk often in terms of how many ships we produce per year and the fact that they’re on time and they’re on budget, and that’s all good. But I want to talk a little bit about to what end we do that. I want to tell you that, as we speak here today, there are about 17 submarines on front-line missions. And I define a front-line mission as their weapon can hit its intended target, should there be a crisis. Their sensor is in a position to collect what they’re getting paid to collect this day, and that varies from mission to mission. But there are about 17 of them out there right now, and that number stays about constant with slight variation.
That sounds like a lot of submarines. The truth is there are other battles that rage in Washington outside of the budget arena. There’s this whole process we call the Global Force Management Process, and that’s when all the geographic and functional combatant commanders put in their requirements for how many brigades, aviation wings, et cetera, that they need. We’re part of that and they put in for about three times as many submarines as we have. That’s almost a given; but that turns into a really tactical fight these days, because there are some incredible seams in where things are going on in the world where these submarines are needed. The big seams are the crossroads of Eastern Mediterra-nean, Southwest Asia, Africa and the Arabian Gulf. I’m just telling you this is a problem for me, because we did this wonderful thing we call the pivotto the Pacific, which says we’re going to put 60 percent of our forces in the Pacific. This was for very good reasons, but the truth is that leaves me with the other 40 percent in the Atlantic, servicing EUCOM, AFRICOM and CENTCOM. There are significant things going on every day in every one of those arenas.
What does that mean to us? Well, it means that many of our SSN deployments these days are seven months, some longer. I’m looking around the room here, and there are actually a couple of people older than me in the room. I think about how we all grew up, with our three and-a-half-month spec-op type deployment or our arduous, six-month Mediterranean deployment. Remember that? Remember that involved a three-week upkeep alongside the tender in La Maddelana where you could sort of reset and fix everything, go to the beach—you know, all that good stuff?
That is not what it’s like to deploy right now. We’re talking seven-plus months, 85 percent op tempo. Your port visit typically involves picking up a couple of parts and maybe a new sailor in one of these resort places, like Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates or, if you’re really lucky, Diego Garcia. I wasn’t actually joking, because people say, “Can we please go to Diego Garcia?”
When they’re on these missions—some of you remember going to some relatively quiet place in the world so you could learn the exotic thing that goes on there. Today, it is more like we go to some of the busiest places in the world and learn about the exotic things that go on there, and that’s pretty taxing for the crew. So, we’re trying to carefully manage deployment length, deployment intensity—how intense the specific periods are. How long can you function effectively when you’re in one of those busy places doing hard things? Have we delivered the right tools in the form of training, systems and mentorship? So, we can go from the world where the measurement of success was, “Does the entire combat control team get to the right answer?” to one where we’re saying, “Does every leg of that stool that holds up the proper operation of the ship on deployment work independently when you pull out the others?”
Just because the captain saved the day, or the XO saved the day, or the CDO saved the day, just coming out okay in training is not good enough. We want to make sure each one of those subordinate stations has the knowledge, has the willingness to stand up and be counted if his picture doesn’t match what he knows or should know makes sense, and that they all feel empowered to do that. That’s been a big focus. I think it’s helping us approach these challenging missions in the right way.
I was here a year ago, telling about some stuff that hadn’t gone so well a few months before that. So we’ve looked at things like what I just talked about. How do people actually interact underway? What is that model? How do we evaluate it? But the other piece is we’ve done a little more looking, given the intensity of these operations, into how does the human body perform over an extended deployment in challenging situations. We’re evolving to a different cycle of standing watch underway, where we stand longer watches overall; but, in general, barring unique events, the sailors get to actually sleep at about the same time every day. And just having interviewed a whole bunch of guys coming off a long deployment of seven-plus months, this has made a huge difference. And I don’t know why we didn’t think about it before. You know, we’re pretty good at figuring out when the bearing’s going to go bad, but we need to think about under what conditions does the individual person lose their effectiveness. Then when we find the answer, just like we do in the engineering world, we have to have the courage to make changes when they’re called for. So we’ve done some of that. So far, so good.
I’ve only gotten as far as the SSN so far, so let me jump to the SSGN. As you know, we have four of them, and generally two of them-plus are deployed. And they deploy for about 15 months, and they’ll do crew swaps at the three-to-four month point, as needed. These crews do their entire certification for their deployments, which involves some pretty tough missions, in trainers, in King’s Bay, Georgia, and in Bangor, Washington—a very efficient model. In fact, it’s gone so well, that we’ve decided, when we figured out we weren’t stressing the SSN crews hard enough on their pre-deployment training, we would finish all the at-sea stuff we could do. We would play in the busiest traffic we could find within a couple days’ sail of their home port which, if you’re on the East Coast is not too bad. If you’re in Hawaii, you’ve got to go pretty far to find traffic to play in. So, we bring them back to the trainer to get their truly varsity-level certification so we know that there are no weak legs in that stool. We really learned that by going through the pre-deployment process we were doing on the SSGNs.
So, for those of you looking at the future of high-quality simulation to produce effective crews at sea with the ship, I think we’re setting the standard, but there’s probably more we can do. But that piece of the business is going pretty well.
Those SSGNs are in great demand, with lots of people competing for them. The Special Forces want them. The Combatant Commanders want their Tomahawks, and those aren’t often in the same place. So. We work that carefully. If you look at the chain of command in the military and in government, I feel like I’m pretty high because I’m a three-star, but the truth is I’m way down there. I’m amazed, because of these SSGNs, how much I exchange personal email with the Director of National Intelligence. That guy and the people who work with him are so focused on the incredible, unique things that those ships can do, and they’re doing good work for the country.
Okay. About the SSBN world-absolutely our number one priority. In the ops world, we’re getting back to something that many of you will find very familiar. It’s called the 70-day patrol. We’re tempering our need; our desire, maybe, to look at the ships to make sure everything’s okay with the fact that they do their best work when no one has seen them for a long time and they just show up at the appointed place at the appointed hour. And, again, we have probably the world-class deployment certification process going in the SSBN world. It’s very mature. Some of you here built it. I think Joe Tofalo took it to a higher level down there in King’s Bay, and it’s really a finely tuned machine. So, it’s all good news.
I want to talk about people for a while. It’s come up in a couple of conversations with Admiral Richardson and Congressman Wittman. And, of course, there’s been a lot of news about the quality of the people who the nation entrusts with its most important work. There are a couple of outside looks going on right now. You’ve seen it in the press. The Department of Defense is going to take a look at anyone who carries nuclear weapons, or is capable of doing that. The Navy is taking an internal look, which basically we do every two years anyway, so someone’s going to see the thing we just did and maybe do some follow-up. That’s probably a good process. I am not worried about what we will find because I think our process, by design, has us knowing how we’re doing, where our strong points are and where we have to do some work. What I expect will happen is this study will take place, and we won’t learn much. If we do, I’ll be happy to learn something, but I think we’re in good shape. And there’s a reason that we’re in good shape, and maybe there’s a reason that we’re in better shape than other people who are in the same business.
Let me just review why it is that I think that’s the case. For starters, we recruit quality people. I think Admiral Richardson talked about how some other parts of the government entrusted with high-level missions were sort of picking from the bottom of the class. We pick from the top. Many of us went out to the Naval Academy this week, and we met 135 young men and women who were just selected for submarines, and these are some sharp people. In fact, I’m glad I’m not competing against those people today. They might be up here instead.
Then we invest in their training, and we invest a lot. We invest a year of their lives. We have consciously taken our upper-level people coming off the submarines and put them in the school-houses to pass their knowledge on to those who follow behind. And that wasn’t a fashionable decision when we did it. The idea was, no, you need to be grooming those people for, you know, making slides in D.C. and all those other things we do with our smart folks. I said, “No, we need to pass our knowledge from person to person in the schoolhouses, and we need to invest in the training devices for high-quality simulation and training, to really stress the people.” I think that’s come up a couple of times.
You have to have a thoughtful curriculum, and look at all the people you’re training—officer and enlisted. I’ll tell you there’s one that I’m kind of scratching my head on right now, and maybe some of you folks here today put us there; but I’ll just give you the example anyway. In the forward end of the submarine, we used to have quartermasters and ESM electronics technicians and radiomen, and so it was pretty clear what they were supposed to do based on their name. Now what we have are electronics technicians, and they’re sort of good at using the radios, and they’re sort of good at electronics surveillance, and they’re sort of good at navigation. The problem is you can’t be sort of good at navigation.
It turns out in the world we’re going into, you can’t be sort of good at electronics surveillance, because it’s a very fast-moving field as the things that you go up against change very quickly. There’s this whole new thing called the low-power broadband radar, which is a very different animal from these crystal-driven things that we used to go up against when we were young, when it was very clear always what ship class and maybe even what ship. It’s a different world out there, and we have to have people who are deeply expert in some of these critical fields so that, even over the course of one of their sea tours, as the technology evolves, they can evolve with it. And so we’re going to start by getting the people in the right places and making sure that the training supports excellence in their primary mission, even if it makes them a little bit less broad, because we have to have that depth and knowledge.
In the other area of managing people, let’s talk about problems. Our mantra here is we celebrate small problems. So, when you find a small problem, you can either ignore it because it’s small, or you can go after it because small problems are the leading indicators of big problems. Just like Admiral Richardson said, when they found an issue with the prototype, they’re on it, quick to investigate, quick to inform. And when they have all the facts, they’ll be quick to act, as required. There was something not unlike that three or four years ago in one of our submarines, and that’s what we did. It was very similar, and we jumped on it. We bounded it. We eliminated it. I’m as certain as I can be that we don’t have a wider-spread problem, because when little problems come up, someone comes forward, as they did in Charleston and said, “Hey, I just saw this. It’s not right.” And we say “thanks,” and we go figure it out. That’s how we’re achieving results; it’s with the high-quality products you give us, the high-quality people that we train and that we incentivize to stay in our business, because it’s a good business to be in.
But we have some challenges, and I want to spend the rest of my time talking about things we need to fix, as opposed to things that are going pretty well. So, our first problem is our force structure and the side effects of the way we got that force structure and the rate at which we’re recapitalizing it.
I think you probably all know we delivered our last Los Angeles-class submarine in 1996. We delivered our first Virginia class in 2004, and we built three submarines in the interim. We’re now in this world where we are meeting the demand that I talked about before with a declining number of ships because the build rate—even though we’re thrilled about this two ships per year—does not match the retirement rate of the force as the ships that we built during the Reagan buildup go away. So, when people like Admiral Richardson talk about not compromising your standard, one of the standards that I can’t compromise is doing business right with the number of ships we have and not attempting to deliver more forward presence than possible. So, maybe we’ll just have to start saying, “The number is this,” and let the Joint Staff figure out where they go.
But it’s not just the numbers; age matters. We’re going through a process. We have extended the lives of some of our ships; in the case of the Tridents, by a flat 12 years. In the cases of the Los Angeles class, by some smaller increments. It varies a little bit ship to ship. We’ve done it carefully; I’m not saying we cut any corners. Also, based on data, we have extended the interval between some of the major availabilities—the depot availabilities—so we can get more forward-deployed time out of those ships. Again, good thing, right idea, data-driven. I’ll add one more thing. We have a maintenance plan which is geared to make sure that we find any problems we have before they become limiting or dangerous for the ship. All good.
What the difference is now as ships get older is that when you do the periodic inspection to make sure the wall thickness in this tank is greater than X, sometimes it’s not. In fact, a lot more times than in the past, it’s not. I think the piece we didn’t fully realize is the amount of work needed to get it back to the standard it has to be so that you know before the next extended inspection interval everything will be okay, we’re having to do a lot of work. And that leads to one of the fundamental facts that I want all of you—especially you in the shipbuilding or maintaining business—to walk away with, and that is we do most of our depot maintenance in the public shipyards—the Naval shipyards.
If you were to take the notional amount of work that is required to turn those ships around and get them back in the predicted time, they flat-out don’t have the manpower in their shipyard to do that work. They don’t have it. Then add to that the fact that the delta between the notional and the as-found condition when they show up is widening a little bit, which adds churn. So, we have a capacity issue.
It’s frustrating for me when I see a shipyard that I need to use, that has a capacity issue. And a capacity issue always turns into a priority issue. Just put yourself in a situation where you’re an attack submarine competing for limited resources against an aircraft carrier and a ballistic missile submarine. It doesn’t take too much to figure out where you stand in that scheme—for lots of good reasons, but that’s where you stand. The shipyards—the public shipyards—need more capacity. They need that at a time when it appears to me some of the private shipyards, as they go through their ebb and swell, are hiring or they’re laying off because they have to balance a workforce to maintain their industrial capacity. There seems to be a need to figure out how to make all this come together. And if people sit on the side and say, “Well, I can’t do anything about it from here because of this rule” and “I can’t because of that rule” I just want you to know, the guy that loses is me. Okay? And the types of things that I lose are important. I put an SSN in a naval shipyard for an 18-month, notional depot maintenance period; and it will probably come out 28 months later, and there’s nothing that the ship or I can do about that. But there are some people in this room that could.
So, when you do talk to someone like your congressman who’s on the Readiness Subcommittee about what could they do to get more value out of these very good submarines they have, they could do that. They need to help us have the resources to get that last tactical mile of a ship they spent a lot of money building. And it’s also a way to ensure our long-term industrial base is viable.
Okay. On to the SSBN world. As you know, we’ve taken a ship with a 30-year life and a weapons system with a 25-year life, and we’ve extended the ship to 42-years. And then we’re modernizing the missile system—it’s just brilliant engineering going on there. But we’re doing that, and it’s tough, because we’re doing that while we’re maintaining the availability of the ships for their STRATCOM mission. It’s easier and more efficient to do the required upgrades to the combat system outside of a depot overhaul-type period—at least for the group that’s doing it. But I think we need to start looking at the net availability of these highly valuable ships. We may need to start pulling some of that stuff into the shipyard availabilities so that we have more days at sea when they’re underway.
If you look at the probable competition, while we’re getting older and working harder on maintenance, the adversary is evolving, too. They now have this Severodvinsk submarine. It’s the latest and greatest from Russia. You know it’s the latest and greatest. It is about 18 to 20 years in construction, but they’ve fixed that. Then they’ll go from 18 years, probably, to three years, to two years, and they’re going to build a lot of those things. They have all the appearances of a very well thought-out submarine that has a lot of cruise missiles that we’ll probably be seeing in an ocean near you sometime in the next couple of years. We expect it to be quiet. We expect it to have significant weapons capabilities. If we’re going to maintain our qualitative dominance head-to-head, this is probably the guy we need to maintain it against. So that will be a focus of our undersea superiority.
Similarly, there is the new Russian ballistic missile submarine. They’re in production. They’ve got two delivered right now with more on the way. They are back in business, and their concept for their strategic deterrent is very similar to ours, and they’re serious about it. They know that it is a vital part of their national security and their ability to have influence in the world. And it’s important for us to know that they know that. And it will be as important to us in the future as it was in the past to ensure that they never achieve the type of survivability that they seek with that system.
Then there is the new Chinese SSBN. They also have two delivered and many more in construction. I don’t think they’re going to be the most sophisticated submarines in the world, but they’re going to be out there on continuous patrol and will bear watching and will give us something else to look at.
My point is we can’t satisfy ourselves that we’re doing the right thing by simply maintaining the status quo or declining at a slower rate than the rest of the Department of Defense. The Department is putting a lot of eggs in this undersea superiority basket. We have the technical capability to continue to dominate. We have the people who will have the ability to dominate, given the right tools. And that’s kind of where we stand.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that we are doing all we can right now with what we have today. And what we do in the future will be a function of what we have to do it with. So, when we talk about recapitalizing the force, as we’re going to talk about for most of the rest of the day, I’m telling you that will have a direct bearing on whether we’re still talking about undersea superiority ten years from now.
Let’s start with the SSBN, unequivocally, the most important mission in the Department of Defense. And we ought to be able to talk about it in that simple term. That’s how I talk to my people. When I go down to King’s Bay, and I talk to the sailors on the BNs, I thank them for what they do. I explain in terms not quite as eloquently as Admiral Mies, perhaps, but how this platform, along with a couple of their Air Force counterparts, has been responsible for the fact that there’s been no major-power war for 69 years now and counting. It’s because of what these people do every day. And I tell them, “Don’t feel bad that you weren’t in on the Tomahawk strike, or the hostage rescue, or whatever it was that your neighbor’s been involved in. You’re doing the most important mission. And the fact that some of these small-scale things are even newsworthy—they’re only newsworthy because you’ve kept the background noise down from what you do every day.”
And we can’t let the public forget that. We can’t let the crews forget that. We had a little allusion to how the Air Force was motivating their people on the missiles. They’re doing the same thing. I don’t think they were talking to their people the same way. Then there are other things you do to show people how much you value what they do besides talking to them and maybe besides their reenlistment bonuses. It turns out that the younger guys who work for you read the budget, too. Okay? So, if you’re a missile guy, for example, and you say, “Well, you know, I just don’t see a lot of future in this,” and your boss says, “Oh, come on, son. You know we care about you. This is important work.” Then they say, “Well, I’m looking at the Air Force budget, and I just don’t see where this system exists after, you know, Year X.” Fortunately for us, we don’t have that problem, but we need to make sure we never have that problem. And we need to make sure that the nose of the camel doesn’t get under the tent on that problem for us, and it tries every year.
We lost a couple years of production on Ohio Replacement a couple of years ago because there was a good idea that said, “I think we’re going to be okay. Let’s just wait two years.” Those days are over. I’d like you to sort of look at that chart in the lower right. There are two charts. One is the demise of the existing Trident fleet as it times out for hull life. That chart is a guarantee. Those ships will go away. We’ve done everything we can. We’re out of tricks. There is no margin. In order to sustain the standards we must, we will not operate them past those dates. Done. The build-up slide is the track that we’re on for going on mission on Ohio Replacement, and we are—and you’ll hear more details about this later, but we are basically two blocked with all the things we have to do to design and build and test and get on that patrol. Therefore, the number of ships we have doing that mission is also depending on the buildup chart; and we will either make it, or we won’t. If we don’t, the credibility of our deterrent will be severely impacted, with all the bad things that follow. Mainly on the international stage; secondly, the belief by the people doing the mission and the mission that they’re doing. This is important stuff, and we can’t let it go.
It’s important to make sure that the Senators and the Congressmen know what the requirements are, and it’s important that the E-6s and the O-3s on our ships know that we’re preparing the way for their future.
We talked about maintaining undersea superiority against the qualitative threat—the Severodvinsk and what would follow her. Here’s the plan for that. I think we’re on that plan. One of these weeks, we’re going to hear about this ten-block buy that’s almost a done deal. We heard last year about how we’re going to make the Virginia class better starting in FY ’19. We’re also looking in that same time frame at taking the sonar systems to the next level so they will have more margin as the adversary gets better. Then at the bottom, we’re looking to make these ships more versatile, carrying a variety of payloads for those larger ocean interfaces they’ll get with those payload tubes, and just getting a little bit more creative about how we employ them.
The last area I’m going to talk about—and it’s not quite as suit cased as we have our shipbuilding programs. I want to talk about our weapons and our payload programs. I mentioned the D-5 life extension already. Again, SSP is doing a great job with that, but they depend upon a national infrastructure, and the weapons business and the rocket motor business—it is not real healthy. And so we need to look at that real hard. We’ll be good through the transition to Ohio Replacement, but we really need to look at what happens as we go on.
The industrial base has taken some major hits. You know, you’re probably aware that we kind of rode on the Space Shuttle’s solid rocket motor consumption, and they paid a lot of that overhead. And that’s gone, so now we pay most of the overhead for solid rocket motors in the country. There are also all kinds of things in the guidance area, where Terry Benedict and his guys are really working hard just to make sure we keep enough people who know how to do this incredibly difficult, unique work on the team.
On the right there, you see the venerable ADCAP torpedo. It’s a great torpedo, but it’s getting a little old. A couple of data points: I spent most of my career training for the auto fuel spill that never happened. I’ve had more auto fuel spills in my tour at SubLant than in my entire career prior. Maybe it’s just a leadership issue. I don’t know. But it does have to do with things like old fuel tanks and that sort of thing. The point here is we have done great things with this weapon. We’ve had this APB process to keep the front end fresh, but at some point you’ve got to get a new hull. So we’re starting down that path. Joe Tofalo will talk to you about that later. We’re going to go down that path so we can recapitalize our inventory, but also to use the fact that we’re back in production to get much more versatile on what we do with the weapon. There’s a lot of potential out there. Some of you guys know that. We want to turn this into a much more autonomous, much longer-range weapon in the future, and we’re putting together some teams to do that.
In the lower left, the Tomahawk. Again, a pretty good weapon, well-tested in war. We stopped using it at sea a long time ago because we didn’t have command and control at those 300-mile ranges to make sure we hit the right target. All we knew is that we would hit a target. But we’re much better than that now, and if you take the fact that we have this unique submarine ability to operate almost anywhere in the world, and you want us to turn that into the ability to influence almost anywhere in the world, we have very firm influence control with our aiming and torpedo range; but the country needs us because sometimes we will be the only U.S. military asset in a thousand miles that can stay there as long as they want. They need to extend the range at which we have effects, and to do that we need more missiles, and we need missiles that can attack targets at sea.
Lastly, there are a lot of things we can do in the road to war in the phase zero period that gain even more knowledge for our national decision makers than we gain today, that can have more influence as we interact with the electromagnetic spectrum of potential adversaries. We can do that better, longer, and we can do it even where we don’t have submarines, if we use our submarines to put other payloads in places where only we can get them. And I’m talking about unmanned, undersea vehicles. In some cases, I’m talking unmanned air vehicles.
In closing, I’d like to say the Submarine Force, in my humble opinion, is doing a very good job of pursuing the nation’s strategic priorities. The nation’s priorities are shifting to ones that line up very closely with our mission. I’ll also say, as I alluded to on the SSBN slide, you can say what your strategy is, and people will watch you; but I think Caspar Weinberger taught us a long time ago the world will recognize your actual strategy as being what you actually invest in—not what you say. It’s what you invest in and what you do. What we’re looking for is a commitment by ourcountry to invest in the strategy that they’re announcing, to pursue the things that we feel we can deliver better than anybody else.
And with that, I’ll take your questions.
Question: Admiral Conner, on Puget Sound, as you know, we have our SSGNs and SSBNs up there. The Virginia Payload Module is an exciting tool to help overcome the replacement of our Tomahawk capabilities on the SSGNs, but I’m curious. What are your plans, or what can you share with us? How can we help you on your future to replace and to extend that range from Tomahawk? What’s next?
Answer: We’re making a case to extend based on that Tomahawk capacity alone, and it’s a good case. But we’re building the system with the ability to carry a variety of payloads. It might be undersea vehicles. It might be a different type of missile. There’s a huge interest out there—it’s sort of defense policy/academic-level interest—in the impact of a conventional prompt-level strike weapon, which that ship could easily deploy. And what they’re looking for is the ability to conduct conventional strikes at ranges of a couple thousand miles in about 30 minutes. That is immi-nently doable, and that puts some significant power in the hands of the President to deter and dissuade people very quickly using a conventional weapon.
Question: Ron Morgan, from Raytheon. You’ve already answered part of my question, and it’s somewhat related to Guy’s. Investing in payloads and weapons is certainly one of your consistent priorities, so payload development is. You’ve identified some areas, like prompt global strike and others and ASUW, as very important. There are other areas where industry obviously has limited resources, like everybody else. There have been things like subsurface-to-air. At one time, it was called a Submarine Littoral Warfare Weapon and all that. If you can in your own mind, maybe, give us some priorities. Number one might be ASUW. Number two might be Prompt Global Strike. Number three might be unmanned vehicles. If you can give us a little bit more peeling of the onion, I would appreciate it. I think it might be helpful for us to figure out where to invest.
Answer: Sure. I would say number one is the ability for subma-rines to reach out further using the command-and-control and targeting tools that exist today. I would put in that category some type of multi-mission tomahawk and a longer-range torpedo. What we get out of that is the ability to influence directly the greater field around the ship. The other thing that I’m a big believer in is that we get a chance to leverage the adversary’s paranoia. You know, when you have that advantage where they know you’re there but they don’t know exactly where you are, they know that they don’t know where you are, and they know that you can attack them at any minute, that changes their whole concept of how they fight. And that requires them to invest heavily in defensive systems and data networks. It requires them to radiate on their sensors a lot. And sometimes when they do, we gain more from that than they do. And it requires them to commit a good portion of their weapons battery to self-defense missions. And then, when we get them really paranoid, that gives us the ability to, maybe with the right payloads, make them see submarines on their systems where they are not. That is a very cost-imposing strategy that we can put on them. And that’s really where I’d like to be – is to use things to sort of turn the table on who’s imposing cost on who.
That’s where I’d like to start. There are a bunch of other things we could do. You know, we can’t do all of them. I can’t complain too much about the fact that we put the short-range, surface-to-air missile on the sideline, because if I did, Dave Johnson would run up on the stage and say, “But he’s the guy who did it.” And we made that trade one year. It was on the margin. We had to do some other things, so we kind of stopped testing where it was.
But that leads to the other thing. What we really need and what I hope will come out of this blue-ribbon panel that Joe Tofalo’s putting together is we can’t hope to get to a robust weapons and payload machine, so to speak, unless we have year-to-year budgets that are big and that are like what they are for shipbuilding. When I look at you and, I think, you look at me, you probably say, “Okay. Hey, how big is the budget line going to be; and what are the chances that if I compete, I win?” I think that some of you, when you take your version of the decision paper to your CEO, say, “You know, I think we can win this. We’ve got a 30 percent chance of winning it.” And then they’ll say, “Yeah, but those guys haven’t put the money there yet, so I don’t want to spend money to win something that small.”
We are trying to change the calculus on that. This is not the most opportune time in history to be trying to do that, but we’re working on it, and the fact that the country’s trying to rely heavily on the undersea domain will help us make a better case. But that’s sort of what we’re doing.
Question: Admiral, since, arguably, the greatest existential threat situation for the U.S. is as naval conflict in the Western Pacific, would you envision over the next decade or so the writers of tactics and doctrine, like DEVRON or COMSUBFOR, or even Commander Fleet Forces moving to the Pacific?
Answer: I don’t think so. We’ve done a good deal with putting our forces in the Pacific, and we end up going to San Diego a lot so that the Pearl Harbor guys and the East Coast guys can get together when we need to meet face to face. I think there are problems with doing that. For example, I work out of Norfolk. There are six submarines in Norfolk and a bunch in construction and overhaul. But the value I get from being in Norfolk is I can walk across the street and talk to a fleet commander, which is very helpful. It’s helpful when you’re trying to make a point on something, and I do a lot better across his desk than I do on a telephone. It also helps to get up to this town, where we have to interface a lot to get things done.
A whole bunch of our intellectual capital in the undersea warfare business is on the east coast. We’ve got the construction yards here. The Navy Undersea Warfare Center is here. So, we have a pretty good center of gravity here. In my opinion, if we were to try and pick it up and move it based on the geographic threat of the day, we’d spend a lot of time moving. You know, I got up this morning and read about the massive, unannounced Russian exercise on the Ukraine boarder. I thought that was fascinating, because the last time I remember a large, unan-nounced military exercise was in 1990, and it was the Iraqis assuring us all “this is just a war game.” Some of you might remember that.
We’re a mobile force. We can go worldwide. I think there’s a lot of churn associated with moving headquarters and lives and that sort of thing, so I don’t see that happening.
RADM Padgett: Admiral, thank you very much. One of the points I took from that is a new metric for leadership. How do you tell a crew that they’re going to spend seven months deployed and make them happy about a liberty call in Diego Garcia? The fact that you pulled that off, Admiral – I’ve got to tell you, that’s leadership at its finest.