In my past lives I used to spend a lot of my attention focused more or less exclusively on safe guarding the future of undersea dominance. Now, I am officially an undersea outsider and I therefore am thankful that the NDIA organizers were willing to throw me a bone and invite me to talk anyway.
In my current position as the Navy’s warfare integrator I have a larger perspective. But that different point of view has not changed my sense of what needs to be done in the undersea one bit. In many ways, it might be just the opposite.
Hopefully, I will be able to provide you with a few action items to consider as you who remain doers in the undersea community plan for the future.
At my new desk in the Pentagon, I have to be a macroscopic thinker — I have to view things from the point of view of the proverbial high look.
With that vantage point in mind, I have three goals this morning and I hope to leave you with three big ideas.
First, I want to help you cut through the fog of history and see what is going on with clearer eyes. I want to try to make some sense of these unsettled times we live in and what they mean for the future. I am a bit concerned that we are missing the signs of the times and, if we are not careful, very bad things will result. Mark Twain said that “History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” He was exactly right. So I will take a minute to look at the rapidly changing strategic environment and how it compares to the past to see if there aren’t some clarifying lessons for the Navy and the undersea community to find.
Second, as many of you know, I have a contrarian view of how to address our Nation’s fiscal future. It is clear to just about everyone that we are on an unsustainable path. What is not so clear is what we should do about it. I worry that we are thinking about the fiscal future in a way that is corrosive and can lead to defeatism and paralysis. I want to bust some myths that have us in an intellectual stranglehold and instead posture us in a way that prepares us for the right future, with particular emphasis on innovation.
Finally, Big Idea number three: I want to talk about the future of Sea-based strategic deterrence and why this is the pivotal year to work with Congress and gain top line relief to fund the OHIO Replacement SSBN.
“May you live in interesting times.”
There is certainly no shortage of challenge in the world we face today. As Deputy Secretary Work said last month, it is, of course, both a privilege and a burden to be in a position of responsibility when we are facing a national security environment that is as challenging as any of us can remember.
There are many different theaters of operations from the Ukraine to Iraq to Afghanistan to the Cyber domain to the South China Sea to North Korea to Africa. In each theater, events are moving quickly and there are many players wearing hats that aren’t white or black, but are instead shades of gray. And they are changing hats depending on the situation at hand. This is a very complex problem, and the world that our children will face depends on how we handle these churning trouble spots. In many way sit is hard to see what we should do.
There is a tendency when confronted with such complexity and such huge stakes to long for simpler times. I have heard people wish for greater clarity about good-guys and bad-guys. They disdain the sort of twilight conflict we have today. Some think back to World War II. Sure Nazi Germany was a horrific genocidal foe, but at least it was crystal clear at the end of the day it was clear who was who in that fight. Ah, those were the days of clarity.
But wait a minute. Sometimes when we read about the Greatest Generation, we think that everything back then was so clear about friends and foes.
That’s not really how it went. We have to remember that the clarity about good and bad only came with time. And, unfortunately, the clarity only came because we allowed the situation to degrade so dramatically that there was no longer any doubt about right and wrong, white and black, good and bad.
To those who were living it—to regular Americans—there were a number of years when the situation was not so clear. It is easy to forget those years from 1937 or so to our entry into World War II. During that time, we were struggling as a country for alignment and direction.
Japan had invaded Korea and China, was bombing cities, and had killed tens of thousands of civilians and we did virtually nothing. Germany was systematically taking German-speaking territories from their neighbors with the justification of ethnic consolidation. This should sound familiar. We looked on while Austria was coercively annexed, while Prime Minister Chamber-lain appeased, while the Czech Republic was carved up, while Poland was invaded, then Denmark and Norway, then the Low Countries and France. They all fell to Germany. Russia was invaded and the Wehrmacht was in the suburbs of Moscow.
But what about the Good Guys? What was the UK doing through all of this? More importantly, where was the United States?
In 1940 as France was falling to Hitler and the British Army was being evacuated from Dunkirk, there was a debate in Britain about how the UK should respond to German aggression. Should the UK make a treaty with Germany to stop further conflict and protect the Empire from a struggle that the UK could not win? Or should they resist?
What did public opinion say in the UK? Well, I can tell you that that there was no hint of ambiguity, but the answer may not be what you think. Something like 80 percent of Britons wanted the government to make a treaty with Hitler to prevent war.
When British Prime Minister Chamberlain came back from Munich after making a deal with Hitler, there was national giddiness that another terrible war had been averted. “Peace in our time,” the Prime Minister proudly claimed. But within weeks the enthusiasm had worn off.
By the middle of 1940, after most of Europe had fallen, the awful reality became clear to the U.K. Britain would have to fight. As Churchill said, Britain would fight in the air and on the sea and on the beaches and in the streets and in the hills. And notice that even in 1940, Churchill clearly distinguished between what Britain would do –“we will never surrender”–and what the “New World” could do: “[step] forth to the rescue and liberation” of Europe. He knew that the U.K. could resist evil, but only the U.S.could roll evil back.
And what was the U.S. response?
A full year later we were still engaged in a massive internal debate about whether this was our war or not. Shouldn’t we just mind our own business? Look at how our indecision was addressed at the time. FDR knew that we needed to intervene but the American people lacked the will to engage.
This was a painful part of our history, a time that most people were all too happy to forget about once Pearl Harbor had occurred and we were in the war for sure.
I review this little piece of history because I want to remind everyone here that history is not so clear when it is in the process of occurring. What to do and where to go is foggy and ambiguous. This has always been the case, especially for the United States, which by our geography has the option of sitting behind an ocean-sized moat and watching.
What we are going through today is the same sort of unsettled swirl that our grandparents faced in 1939 –and the stakes may be as high. Again, I am not saying that history is repeating itself, but doesn’t it seem like it rhymes? So, like our grandparents and the leaders of the United States back then, we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. If we want clarity, we need to look through the fog and see the patterns, the trends, and the major movements. We need to see the forest and stop worrying so much about this tree and that tree.
So, let’s fast forward to the present. What has happened over the past year?
Last September, if I had described for you the series of events that would happen in the next 12 months, you would have laughed me out of the room as some sort of alarmist.
Seriously—and I do mean this seriously—when you go through this timeline, it looks like the read-ahead for some sort of exercise war game or the plot outline of a paperback novel. It had better get your attention. We are not in Kansas anymore.
What has taken place?
The Russians have seized territory in the Ukraine…to protect the rights of Russian speaking people. Just like those German speakers in the Sudetenland were protected, by the way. The Russians laid down the keels of not one but three different nuclear submarines of three different classes on the same day. They conducted a single integrated nuclear exercise with the launch of ICBMs, SLBMs, ALCMs and defensive missiles all with Putin in the Command Center to observe. They have rejected the notion of further nuclear weapons reductions and have speculated publicly that perhaps they should formally make the US and NATO their enemy. Remember that the Russian government now controls the Russian media—there is no chance that such speculation gets released to the West by accident.
This time last year there was no such thing as ISIS. There were some especially radical Islamists that were too far out for Al Qaeda to embrace. Then they started calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But then this wasn’t grand enough. They changed the name to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (now adding Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan to the target set). That was ISIL. Then they became The Islamic State –clarifying their ambition for dominance of the Islamic world. Be headings—not just Americans, but also Brits and Kurds. And the captured Syrian soldiers they just lined up by the hundreds along a sand berm and shot them all dead en masse. Then they released the videotape.
A year ago, we had just given Syria a reprieve for being punished for their chemical weapons attack which killed hundreds of civilians. Now, we have finished destroying their declared chemical weapons, but the Syrians are still using chlorine weapons on civilians. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have started conducting air strikes in this conflict.
The Chinese continue a rapid naval build-up. They have had skirmishes with both Vietnam and the Philippines. They have resumed aggressive aerobatic flying when close to our surveillance aircraft. They have gone off script to use uncharacteristically hostile language against our leadership. They have been provocative to Japan.
We have made little progress with our nuclear negotiations with Iran. During this last year we made an agreement to talks, staving off fear of a US or a US-Israeli attack. Then, when the deadline was reached in July, an extension was granted to November. A few days ago the media reported that the parties are far apart.
The US has been victim of cyber attacks from Russia, from China and from Iran on a major scale, targeting both government and commercial interests.
In short, events are careening in a direction that is bad. It is more confrontational with more adversaries and across more fronts with more complex interactions. The heat on the global kettle has been turned up and it is starting to boil. I dare not speculate on what the next 12 months will hold.
A quick aside to emphasize one point. I mentioned briefly that the Russians had laid the keels of three nuclear submarines on the same day—Russians Navy Day last July.
This photo appeared in open source social media. Some guy named Ilya was able to buy the last three pens at the SEVMASH shipyard gift shop and tweeted this prized photo.
The blue pen on the bottom is Hull 5 of the Delta IV replacement, the Russian equivalent to the Successor class of SSBNs. If the Russians keep up this pace they will commission the 10th SSBN replacement by 2020, one year before we lay the keel for the first OHIO Replacement.
The red pen is Hull 4 of the SEVERODVINSK class. The four hulls that will follow—hulls 5 through 8—are also on path to be commissioned by 2020. I remind you that SEVERODVINSK is equivalent to a stretched SEAWOLF with not 4 but 8 large diameter missile tubes. So, they will have something like 8 SEVERODVINSK submarines in service with 8 large tubes each by 2020—and remember these are not SSBNs and are not part of any treaty restriction. By our current plan, if we are lucky, by the same year 2020 we will have started construction on our first submarine with the four-tube VIRGINIA Payload Module—it will not enter service until years later.
The white pen is a bit mysterious. Some say it is SEVERODVINSK Hull 5. However, if you look closely, you can clearly see that the silhouette is different. In any case, it is a third nuclear submarine, of a third class, being started in the same yard. Now, back to U.S. national will. Some in Washington are getting nervous at the impact that the VPM might have on our ability to successfully build the OHIO Replacement SSBN at the same time. They worry this will be too hard. They worry we don’t have the industrial capacity to do this without jeopardizing our number one priority. Meanwhile, with an economy the size of Italy’s, Russia has started three nuclear submarines on the same day.
So now is not the time for us to go wobbly-kneed. If we are intent on remaining the world’s dominant undersea force, then we ought to start getting moving.
While the rest of the country dithers in a public debate about war weariness, we need to take a lesson from history. We have seen this movie before and we know how it will end.
The work of the NDIA undersea community is more vital and more urgent than at any other time in history. We may be proud of 2-Sub Joe but we cannot forget 3-Sub Ilya.
So, unlike our grandparents back in the late 1930s, we have the benefit of experience. There is no question where the big arrow of history is pointing. We know what we must be able to do, even if it will take a while for the rest of the country to catch up. Remember, back in the late 1930s it took us time to get ourselves moving, too.
This need for a more assertive America has particular implications for our undersea forces.
This is a topic that has been addressed by others at this conference. I will not repeat the arguments in detail, but I will remind everyone here of the conclusion.
- The proliferation of A2AD systems and capable undersea forces has made it doubly important that our own undersea forces be prepared to assume an increased role.
- The pressure on our part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent is great and will be even greater.
- The importance of preserving our undersea dominance has become even greater as our dependence on the undersea has grown.
So, Big Idea Number One: The global security environment is rapidly changing, and it is changing in a way that will place increased demands on the United States, the Department of Defense, the Navy and on our Undersea Forces. It took us time to get ourselves moving in the late 1930s, but eventually we figured out that we had to walk less softly and start swinging the Big Stick.
Now, let’s move on to the Second Major Point –the Nation’s response to the fiscal challenge. This is an area that may present an even more formidable challenge than the threat itself.
We have fallen into a trap of wrong think about our economic health as a nation. Too many people for too long have argued that fiscal realities make it inevitable that our defense budget, and along with it, our Navy budget must shrink.
Let’s talk about it and make sure we get our facts and reasoning straight.
There is a loud chorus who make the case that even with a growing threat, an increase in defense or Navy spending is not in the cards. They argue that this trajectory is unaffordable.
They say that we as a country have a budget that is too tight and we have too many other fiscal burdens to permit increasing defense spending.They argue that we have “no choice but to plan for declining defense expenditures.”
I reject this notion.
This slide shows a recent example. CSIS recently put out a study called Building the 2021 Affordable Military. Now, this study says that we should have something like 60 attack submarines and a robust SSBN force and that we must place much more emphasis on a solid Navy. I love all of these conclusions. What I reject is their starting premise that the defense budget must be reduced.
CSIS is not alone. This idea that defense spending must be reduced has been repeated by so many for so long that it has become a kind of conventional wisdom or urban legend. Unfortunately, it is an incredibly destructive idea, and we have no choice but to figure out how to pull it out by the roots.
Happily, it does not require a very technical argument to prove that this fiscal reality argument is totally wrong.
Let’s quickly walk through the argument so you all are comfortable refuting the fiscal reality nonsense whenever you hear it. I have a simple three point case.
First point. The Navy budget is not part of the problem. I showed you this chart last year. In constant dollars, the defense budget has barely grown since 1970 and the Navy budget has not grown. On the other hand, the national economy is almost four times as large as it was, as is the federal budget.
When spending on everything else has gone up three or four or eight times, and your spending is unchanged, you are not at fault for the budget problem. In fact, you have been effectively helping to reduce the speed at which the budget has grown.
And remember, what have we the Navy-Industry team done with the flat budget? We have gone from synchromotors to digital systems to computer systems to networked warfare systems. We have introduced precision strike, GPS, and integrated space systems. We have transitioned to vertical launch systems. We have introduced unmanned systems and cyber warfare. We have undertaken counter-terrorism, techniques to enforce maritime sanctions on abusers, and transitioned from blue water operations to dynamic littoral operations in shallow, crowded water. The Persian Gulf used to be too shallow for submarines. Not any more.
All of this has been done on an essentially flat budget. This is a remarkable achievement. It is a credit to the cost-efficiency and leanness that is tightly integrated into today’s navy as compared to that of 1970.
Point number two: the national resources are there.
The US economy is bigger this year than it has ever been in history –and that is inconstant year dollars. In addition, the revenue collected by the federal government this past year was more than it has ever been in history. It is not an issue of whether we have the money. Teenagers are fond of saying that they “didn’t have time” but what parents know they really mean is that they did not choose to spend their time wisely.
We have the wealth as a nation to fund our current and future military at the right levels, there is no question. We have more money than ever. We don’t have to punish defense spending because we haven’t been able to figure out how to manage the resources of the wealthiest nation on the planet.
Point number three: You can do a simple test to prove that reducing the defense budget is not inevitable.
Here is a graph you will see in various forms again and again. This one is from the same CSIS report I mentioned above. It has a history of US federal spending and then projects the future based on these past trends. The 3.1 percent envelope at the top is an assumed economic growth in the future of 3.1 percent.
Notice that if all trends continue without interruption, by 2036 or 2037, our discretionary spending in the US will decline to zero. And before that, it will get smaller and smaller, year by year. This is why, these studies say, that realism requires reduced defense spending.
Now here is the test. Ask yourself if the defense budget were reduced to zero…not reduced, but eliminated –would it solve the fiscal problem we face? The answer is right on the graph. No. We can see from the trend lines that even if all defense spending and all other discretionary spending were zero, we still will be following a fiscally unsustainable path. The other parts of the budget will overwhelm our available resources. We will still fiscally collapse.
Well, if there is any trend that we can safely say will NOT be followed, it is this one. There is no chance discretionary spending is going to be driven to zero and there is no chance that this road will lead to fiscal success. So, if we know that this is the wrong road, why would anyone argue that it is essential for us to head down that road?
Why do otherwise thoughtful people repeat this fiction as if it is accepted wisdom, come down from the mountain in stone?
This future will not occur. Something is going to have to disrupt the trend to preserve discretionary spending at an appropriate level. Zeroing discretionary funding won’t fix the problem. Instead zeroing discretionary spending would create a host of new problems. So that’s not the answer.
Are there other options? Yes, there are. There are a variety of ways to hold discretionary spending at an appropriate level. What are some of the alternatives?
- We could reduce non-discretionary funding (entitlements)
- We could increase taxes
- We could grow the economy more quickly
- We could do some combination of these steps.
These choices are not hard to see. My place is not to choose which of these options are used, but I do think it is important to reject the notion that a Navy cut is inevitable over the mid to long term.
Indeed I see the opposite. And I think it is dangerous to con-fine our imagining of the future to exclude more robust defense options, especially since those may in fact be exactly what the nation will direly need.
So, Big Idea Number Two: Our flat Navy budget over the past four decades is not the source of our current national fiscal problems, and cutting it further is not the solution to those problems.
Reductions to the defense budget will not fix the problem.
Further cuts are more likely to cause additional problems by emboldening adversaries, disheartening allies and undermining international economic confidence.
I am not suggesting that the near-term outlook for Navy funding is solid. This is not so clear. We may have to weather another bumpy year or two, just as it took some time for the Greatest Generation to get their bearings. But we should not equate near-term uncertainties in Navy funding with long-term uncertainties. As the pressure from growing threats continues to accumulate and the true source of our fiscal problems becomes clearer, we can expect our heading to be adjusted appropriately.
That brings us to our next point –the importance of innovation.
While we as a nation are debating the degree to which we want to engage internationally and the degree to which we can afford to invest in the Navy, the challenge we are facing is only growing. While we wait for consensus to build, we are providing our adversaries the time to invest and learn and plan and test. All through that process they will be creating new challenges we will have to overcome when we awaken.
So, in the undersea forces we have to be aware of this dynamic and take steps to counteract it. The key is aggressive innovation. Admiral Connor’s Undersea Dominance Campaign Plan includes a systematic pursuit of innovation to kick-start undersea forces innovation in several key areas. This is necessary, but it is not sufficient.
We have a special duty over the near term to innovate so that over the mid to far term we are ready with the right technologies and capabilities.
Some would say that we always can come up with the essential innovations once we have that life-changing brush with mortality.
I reject this idea.
Who is to say that we will be able to recover quickly enough or that we will have the time to react? In September 1939, the Poles and the Norwegians and the French were all unable to innovate fast enough to keep German lighting warfare from over-running them.
And what about Apple? Do they wait for imminent business failure before they come up with a new idea? Is their approach to wait for a gap and then figure out how to fill it? Not a chance. Apple wants dominance, so they need to innovate on their own aggressive schedule. We want dominance, too, and therefore we must innovate aggressively. If we are standing still, we are being over-run.
Think about it this way: today we have time, but we don’t have enough money. But hopefully you can see a day coming where these restrictions will be lifted and then we will have money, but we will have no time. There sources will be there, and leadership will be asking for urgent action. Those who are ready with compelling and mature investment plans will get that money when it becomes available.
We have to take a page from our own history of doing incredible things with restricted resources and realize that there is something that we can do while we wait for the mid-term to far term to arrive.
Think of the general list I gave you earlier of the amazing innovations the Navy had made under conditions of a flat budget. Now, think of VADM Connor’s Undersea Dominance vision. Think of the video he showed about 2025. That future is not one that can be executed with existing technology. It depends on aggressive innovation. We have more work to do. Although we have a lot of rough ideas about what we want, we really haven’t done enough head work and testing to be sure of what to invest in.
We are still bumping around on a fiscal dirt road with ruts and potholes. But up ahead, we can see the smooth pavement. We want to get the R and D done now, so that when we reach the asphalt, we can floor the accelerator. We need to hurry in getting our thinking clear and lean forward with our innovation efforts in order to be ready.
Finally, number 3. We have to be crystal clear with ourselves and with others that the SSBN replacement MUST be our top priority as we grind through the plan to confront a challenging future. There is no room to waiver on the New SSBN.
Earlier, I stressed that we must be able to move forward on several different fronts at the same time. If the Russians can build a replacement SSBN, a double-wide SSGN and wickedly intimidating payloads all at the same time, then we should be able to do much better.
But make no mistake, the priority of ultimate first importance is getting OR design, construction and certification completed on time. The challenge we face is not simply colossal…it is the driving imperative of our ultimate security as a nation and the hinge upon which all other facets of our conventional power swings.
Some people hear words like this and treat them as mindless worship on the old discredited nuclear altar. I think such an attitude is dangerously unrealistic. We may wish it were not so, and it may be uncomfortable for us to think about, but the overwhelming evidence shows that there are many nations who depend on nuclear weapons today for their security and will depend upon nuclear coercion in the future for international influence. There are more than 30 nations that depend on our extended nuclear deterrent as justification for not pursuing their own nuclear weapons programs.
We must ensure that, even as the nuclear challenge intensifies from Russia, China, North Korea and potentially others, the effectiveness of our deterrent remains ironclad in the minds of our adversaries and allies.
Let me show you a quick series of slides that will illustrate the stress that will come with our SSBN future. We have, to some degree, chosen a path that has us cornered with only one way out –we must not only make our OHIO SSBNs last but we must also make our OHIO Replacement SSBNs show up on time, ready for their first patrol.
Fielding the Replacement SSBN is the largest challenge facing the undersea community, and the Navy-Industry team cannot fail in this mission.
As the Director of Naval Warfare Integration, I watch the age of our fleet closely. I have to ask “is the balance right? Where are the risks too high? Where can I assume greater risk?”
These next few charts depict the average age of major parts of our fleet expressed as a fraction of expected life. We use this approach because it lets us look at different ships with different lifespans using a common metric –it lets us normalize the data.
What does good look like on such a graph? The ideal steady state force is hovering at the right level with new ships matching retirements. In this ideal case, the average life of the force is steady at about 50 percent of service life.
Trending young might be good, such as in the LCS example, or it might be indicative of other problems, such as when we decommission old ships faster than we build new ships.
Trending older on the other hand, is basically never a good thing.
On this graph we show the average age of the carrier force with the last fifteen years in blue and the next 15 years in orange. We grow a little older, but the average CVN Fleet Age never exceeds 60 percent of service life. This is a good, tight, nearly ideal practical case.
For our Cruisers and Destroyers, the story is about the same. The gray in the background is from the carriers. This part of the Navy is basically good and stable with more variance around the mean than we saw with the carriers.
What about our SSNs?
For SSNs, 2015 is a key year. Our average SSN Fleet Age as a percentage of service life will top out at about 65 percent –the same as we saw with CRUDES –and then over the next 15 years it will decline.
What is the source of this trending younger? It is the result of aggressively retiring LOS ANGELES class SSNs at arate faster than we add new ships. Our force will be shrinking during the next 15 years and reach a low point around 2029, well below the Combatant Commander’s current requirements and below the SSN Force Level requirement of 48.
By the way, that requirement of 48 SSNs was set when the peer and near-peer threat were considered benign. In light of adversary trends, it is reasonable to expect SSN requirements to grow not shrink.
So, we can clump together Carriers and CRUDES and SSNs and see that normallooks like for the combatant parts of the Navy.
What about the SSBN force?
On this slide you can see that our SSBN force average age has been walking from left to right as our constant force level grows older year by year.
We are riding the Navy norm and in the good zone.
But here is the big takeaway as we move forward from 2014. In the future, we will bust through the upper limitas we move from 65 percent to 75 percent to 85 percent and all the way to near 90 percent.
We have never operated in this zone as a Navy.
We have no slack for introducing the new SSBN, and we have no slack in doing all we can to keep the SSBNs as they age reliable and survivable. This is going to be a task that will require attention –it is not going to happen all by itself.
Which brings us to our final question: Where is the money going to come from for the OHIO Replacement? Since we are building the first ship in 2021, that means it is showing up in full in the 2017 budget. No more talking about it being out there in the future. It will be here, in the room, for the 2017 budget discus-sions. It is time to get serious about topline relief.
Here are a couple key thoughts I emphasize in the Pentagon on this question.
First and most importantly, we cannot dodge the question by delaying the OHIO Replacement any further. We have squeezed all the blood we can from that stone and there is no more to be gained. In fact, if anything, we need to put blood back into the stone!
Second, we cannotturn our angst about funding the SSBN program into an unrealistic obsession to reduce the cost of each OHIO Replacement SSBN. We need to be as cost-conscious as possible but we have our major energies focused on the wrong fight. It is the same wrong thinkas fixating on the reduction of defense expenditures to correct a fiscal crisis due to non-defense expenditures. We need to raise this priority to the front of the line and make sure the nation understands how to resource it properly.
When the nation iscalled to put troops on the ground and fight two land wars in the Middle East, we don’t force the Army to fund that within a constant top line. We provide supplemental funding in the form of Overseas Contingency Operations and also increase the Army’s Manpower budget, their major TOA driver. Recapitalizing our SSBN force is very much the same idea. It is an episodic national requirement that should be cast in the same light.
One difference is that this is not a surprise. You can plan ahead for this contingency. We knew this one has been coming for years if not decades ahead of time. I find it reprehensible that we are treating this like an unfortunate surprise and closing our eyes and wishing it would go away.
If we fund the OR SSBN the way we should –with relief from above Navy’s topline –then we should be able to continue to procure the platforms that the rest of the Navy requires. By the way, this would include procuring our VIRGINIA-class SSNs at two per year to reduce the gap in force levels that are coming, and with the VIRGINIA Payload Module to compensate for SSGN retirement.
Which brings me to my final point of the morning –pushing back on the dreaded One Third Rule. Ah, that fearsome law of nature! That irresistible budgetary juggernaut: The “One Third Rule.”
This slide shows a 1/3 convention, but it makes clear that it may be a thumb rule but it is not a rigid, fixed law.
You can see clearly that the Army share of service expendi-tures has been well in excess of one third when we were fighting two land wars in the Middle East. Again, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that was the right thing to do. You can also see that back during the Reagan build-up the Navy had a share larger than normal. That made sense then, too.
And, by the way, this same time period is when the Navy last had to recapitalize the Nation’s SSBN force.
So, if we need topline relief in the Navy for the SSBN, is it right to say “it should come from the other services”? Maybe it should. Maybe not. Maybe it should come from Medicare or interest on the debt or tax increases. There are plenty of choices about where the SSBN funding should come from. But it can’t come from the Navy shipbuilding account.
The bottom line is this –under no circumstances should Navy shipbuilding funding be denied because “the one third rule” keeps us from getting the right funding. That bogus rule should not be used to get us funding and it should not be used to keep us from getting the funding we need. If you have touse the One Third Rule to make your case, you are revealing that you don’t have a case.
We covered a lot of material this morning.
We hit on three big ideas where we all need to get aligned and do what is right and best for our country. As Secretary Work said, we are lucky to be at the forefront of influencing so many critical decisions at such a critical time for our country.
Don’t flinch from your duty!
Leading up to World War Two, there was a progression of motivational posters published by the UK to rally the national will of the people.
“Freedom is in peril” came out in 1937. Time for courage and resolution came out in 1939. The final poster I show here was never published.
But I worry that our distracted national public and policymak-ers will be absorbed in the wrong debate during this critical period in world history. Let’s not deal with our national financial crisis using sleight of hand and budgetary gimmicks. Let’s not kid ourselves by pushing the burden onto the defense budget –only delaying and worsening the situation that results.
In conclusion, as Winston Churchill reminds us, we can’t allow our mismanagement of the debt crisis to lead us to sustaining a defeat without a war where the equilibrium of free democracies around the world becomes deranged.
I thank you for what you do to keep the United States great.