Admiral Padgett, thank you, sir. Thank you to the Naval Submarine League for putting this whole forum together and giving us this opportunity to have these conversations. Some of you have heard me talk before and probably heard me say I think that it is a great time to be a submariner. Not that there has ever been a bad time, but there are some things that we are doing now that I find particularly exciting. So when you look at the world situation that we face today, when you look at what this nation needs in capability to defend itself, you keep coming back to the undersea forces as a key asymmetric advantage that we have. It’s part of the inherent physics, frankly, of our domain. It’s part of the inherent and designed-in capabilities of our platforms. If you need to get there, we can get there… pretty much no matter where “there” is. In many cases we’re the only force that can do that. We’re the key enabler that unlocks the door and sets the table for the rest of the joint force. In fact, I’m so excited about this that if I could sign up for another 30 years, I would do it right now.
Now I might go to Admiral Caldwell—I meant to mention this to him yesterday—and say, can I maybe skip that prototype thing? But I’ll tell you, if I could go back and be a prototype instructor right now I sure would. I think they have made that into a fabulous tour of duty.
Another thing that makes me very excited to be a submariner is the vision that we have for the force. The Submarine Force has had, and has, great leadership. They have crafted what I think is a tremendous vision for the future. In fact, immediately after me you’re going to hear from Rear Admiral Roegge, on behalf of Vice Admiral Tofalo, about that vision, and I could not be more excited about it.
I’m reminded that it takes substantial amounts of effort, work and just hard-nosed engineering effort in a lot of cases, to take a great vision and turn that into reality. I’ll tell you that’s where my focus is going to be. How do we take this vision and apply the rigor? How do I go out and innovate, be rapid, while at the same time remembering the technical rigor that got us here and not go off and try to build a paper reactor? That is the challenge that I see for us. That, and serving as the synchronizer between an enormous number of organizations. Look at all the people that are in the room, what you represent, and all the places that you’ve been. We see ourselves at N97 as leading the effort to keep that collective experience and effort synchronized and on the same page.
We have our investment priorities. They come from the Integrated Undersea Future Investment Strategy, which is aligned to the force commander’s direction and the vision for our force. Those should be familiar because they’ve not changed and because I think that they’re very sound. I want you to know that as the director, it is my intention to continue with these priorities, with just minor rudder adjustment to account for set and drift. I’ll start from the top. First is providing the sea-based strategic deterrent.
Know that includes both the force that we have today and the Ohio Replacement Program (ORP). Let me make this point on strategic deterrence. If it is not intuitively obvious to you why strategic deterrence is the most important mission in the Navy and the most important mission in the Department of Defense, I’d ask you to see me afterwards and give me a chance to convince you otherwise.
I’ll give you a hint, it starts with a conversation of the consequence of failure inside this mission. So I’ll tell you right now, getting the resources and other efforts to get ORP in and on time, as well as providing what resources the current OHIOs need, will be my number one priority resourcing effort. It’s on a list of things that I worry that the nation takes for granted. One of them is strategic deterrence and the fact that we’ve had 70 years of nuclear non-use and how we got to that point.
The second thing that’s on my list is sea control. To do that, you have to have adequate force structure. So, the next priority is maintaining building at least two Virginia-class per year. That has been very successful so far. My compliments to the entire team that has gotten us to this point. But we have to continue to do that, and that still doesn’t do enough to address the shortfall that we face in the attack submarine structure that we see coming up in the future. So the question there becomes, what are the limits? What else can we do to go address that shortfall? What is the maximum ability of our industrial base? Are there additional resources that could be made available? Are there other things we could do with the fleet that we have to give us more of the forces that we need to address this?
And then right behind that, the third priority, is enhancing our asymmetric advantage. The good news is we can get there. Once we get there, do we have the tools to understand what we need to do, communicate it, decide, and then go into action? So you see, Virginia Payload Module (VPM). Again, great work so far to get to the program of record of one per year starting in FY19. We’ve got to make sure that that maintains course and speed and see if there’s anything else we can do to further close that gap in strike capacity.
We’re off to a great start on acoustic superiority. Earlier speakers and program managers talked about heavy weight torpedoes. I have to go get that line restarted at the same time we’re talking about a Continuing Resolution (CR). By the way, Martin, where are you? I’ve got to make sure—I get excited about this stuff and there’s a chance I’m going to run long so I’ve got Martin back there to give me the cue if I go too far. And the other piece is he’s there to keep me calmed down, right, to keep reminding me you are in a hotel room not on a watch floor, so you’ve got to be a little careful about what you say.
I mentioned the continuing resolution a few minutes ago. That’s a body blow in terms of my ability to get the resources and get them into the hands of those program managers so that we can go make torpedoes, would be a very high one on the list. That’s just next to impossible under a continuing resolution. So I’ve got to start making torpedoes and then what I have to do is I have to come up with an entirely new array of “schwackage” options that I can go give the fleet. That includes both undersea, that’s with the heavy weight torpedoes capabilities, as well as an expanded missile portfolio. High on my expanded portfolio list is figuring out how to get back in the anti-surface ship missile business.
And then behind that, large and small diameter UUVs. You saw Admiral Girrier come up here yesterday and start to give you the vision for what we’re going to do for N-99. We have been working in 97 quite a bit with Admiral Girrier. You’ll recall from his presentation he takes things up to milestone B. We’re the post-milestone B people and we’re in some active conversations with him right now on some of the programs that are going to come into the N97 family so we can properly take care of them and get them into the fleet.
Other pieces of this stuff won’t go down a classic acquisition path. There won’t be a milestone B. They’re simply extensions of existing capabilities we have in the combat control system, and so there’s another path that we’re going to pull stuff in from N99. And, of course, that’s at the back-end of what he does. At the front-end he is just now going out to look for candidate technologies and nascent programs that can come into his process. It’s like we’re standing there with a stack of 1250s in late September, when all the sweep-up funds become available, and saying “here you go shipmate”. These are some things we’d like for you to consider; large and small UUVs.
And then, we get to the middle ware, right, how do you get LDUUVs on and off the submarine? Have we thought this through from an end-to-end standpoint of how we’re going to employ them? The Universal Launch and Recovery Module (ULRM) is high on the list. So, there’s the list of priorities. It hasn’t changed.
On-track, minor rudder orders, but a lot of work to do to get those things through the POM and get them into the fleet. So, if you heard my presentation at NDIA, what you saw me do was allude to is the fact that there’s a whole bunch of other stuff we’re working on. This is the next level of stuff that we’re thinking about. What I show you in the lower right hand corner is taken from the force commander’s brief. It’s a piece of the vision. The idea here is we have this wonderful vision, now let’s do the hard work to put further definition in it in a number of areas, go figure out what the path is go get there, and then see what are the near term decisions, capabilities, concepts that we need to go work on so that they move off of slide two and roll into the bottom of slide one as we complete things., We move them into our priority list through the program objectives process and then on into the fleet. We organized this asking ourselves the question, once you have access what do you do when you get there? And I don’t mean to imply that we can’t do anything today. We’re actually very capable in a number of areas.
This is the next question. We broke it out into sensing, command, and control. We show payloads, but it’s really an effects thing. Remember, there’s a whole bunch of effects and payloads that we already have that we’re working on to get into the fleet relatively rapidly. I want to highlight using the sea floor as a particular subdomain that I think we have to put a lot of effort into, and I also highlight one specific mission. I’ll just leave it here. As you see me do this, a lot of it is going to be posed as questions that we’re asking ourselves.
Don’t take the fact that I’m standing up here asking questions to let you think that we actually don’t have a couple of answers or a couple of areas where there’s some vigorous debate going on. It just goes back to, Chas, you’re in a hotel room. There’s certain things that we’ve got to keep in the playbook to ourselves, at least for now.
On the sensing the environment piece, what I really want to draw a big circle around is that electromagnetic spectrum thing.
As we shift from a platform focus to a domain focus, we are going
to have to radically rethink what we do in electromagnetic
spectrum. I have described this as I have to move from a world
where the big question I’m trying to answer is “Has my periscope
been detected?” to “I may be the only aperture in this location,
what is the state of the electromagnetic spectrum? Who do I tell
about it, and then what do I do with it?” That includes effects
delivered in electromagnetic spectrum.
So, not only is it how we operate in there—and again, I don’t want to leave you with he’s gone all War College on us. There’s actually a lot of more specific work that’s going on inside that. But it’s answering that question and how does a stealthy, submerged platform interface with the electromagnetic spectrum in the future? Is it the mast? Do we see that as the interface all the way into the future or are we going to get to the point we have to think radically differently about how we get that aperture into the electromagnetic spectrum? There’s a lot of specific details inside of it. Just know that I’m highlighting electromagnetic spectrum.
We haven’t forgotten acoustics. We’re very good in acoustics. But, are there any other advantages we can wring out in that area? The acoustics superiority program would be a near-term example where we asked that question, answered it, and then moved out to put a capability in the fleet.
So once you understand where you operate, you’ve got to understand command and control. There are a couple of pieces in here. One is, remember it’s not all widgets that we’re talking about. In some cases it’s ideas, it’s concepts. I’ll tell you, if you want to help me with something this is a good one. It’s not hard to predict a future that has maybe 10 or 100 times more things operating in the water.
That’s going to be a lot of SUBNOTEs. I think we’re going to have to buy more Lieutenants or I’ve got to have a new plan on how I manage all the things in the water. And that’s not just in PMI, for those of you familiar with that term. We’re talking about putting effects out at much longer ranges. We’re submariners, we’re doing the math, we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do the targeting at long ranges.
The Navy has tried that before. It’s really hard and we didn’t get to some really good answers before. We think we’re on the cusp of getting to it with our new technologies. But it’s not going to do me a lot of good to have a target quality solution with a weapon with the required range, if I’m waiting for permission to fire because my command and control networks aren’t in a position to let me go do that. We can gain competitive advantage over a potential adversary if we can get inside his command and control loop. So, we’re working on that.
Another question on C2 is, how do I have a future Submarine Force that can be fully integrated into the larger Navy’s battle networks when I want to, while never losing the ability to operate as an independent operator? That is a prized ability for the Submarine Force. I think we have to guard that very jealously as one of our key advantages, without forgetting, that even when you’re operating independently, you are part of a command and control network. It just doesn’t work the same.
Remember, even in World War II you had to go report to Lockwood at some point. It might not be until you got back to port and talked to him, but you were in a broader command and control network. Are we thinking our way through that properly? We talked about payloads. There’s another class of payloads and effects that I want us to start thinking about. And again, I’m kind of overstating it a little bit of this for effect, but in some cases one way to visualize it is I see a future that has—to use that Pentagon term—competition short of war.
I’m a football guy, and I think of this more as like chest bumping. So we’re not exactly at peace with somebody, but we’re not exactly winging guided missiles back and forth at each other just yet. So what can we offer combatant commanders in these types of environments? And again, I’m going to overstate it for effect just a little bit. Right now, in some cases, it’s “Boss, you want a picture? I can get you a picture. You want me to blow it to smithereens? I can blow it to smithereens.”
But Chas, do you have anything in between? So we’re asking ourselves, what is the opportunity there? And I then go back to the electromagnetic spectrum looking potentially very attractive in your ability to put an effect on a target to perhaps neuter its capabilities, to otherwise make it ineffective for what it’s doing there, with a reversible effect on it without going all the way to a level of violence that may not be appropriate.
I want to highlight using the sea floor sub domain. I think the question there is, what is the military utility of access to the sea floor? Can we gain an advantage with that access in sensing? Can I get myself bigger aperture by utilizing the sea floor than I might be able to achieve with a mobile system? If I can, can I make that portable? Can I move it into a place
fast enough for it to do me any good? And then, what’s the right combination of your mobile—think submarine—versus these deployable systems? And then how would I interface to it? Is there an opportunity to use that to mitigate the loss of the traditional C2, particularly the overhead architectures? This is the idea of an underwater constellation. Is there potential in there? How about power density? Is there a way to go after that?
And it’s one of those areas as it starts—there’s a whole lot of effort going on, but do we need to sort of bring some order inside this, put some vision in it, and then focus our efforts in a couple of areas? I do want to make a point there which is, one of the challenges when you say you want to go innovate rapidly has to do with you being inside a large bureaucracy. So I can’t set it up where it’s like the innovation team meets at 10 o’clock and you have to have the ideas before you go home.
Innovation doesn’t work like that. But at the same time, I have to have that technical rigor before we go off and either spend money or put something onboard a ship. C4 is a piece of that. And then finally, we have a lot of work to do on in what we’re doing with the Special Operations Forces. Again, you heard Captain Newton talking about where they are with SWCS, the Shallow Water Combat Submersible Program. One of the issues there is, as both communities work to define what their future is, one of the things I have to do is make sure we don’t at least
inadvertently preclude a future capability because we made a
decision without fully understanding the implications of what we
were going off to do.
So those are some of the things that we’re thinking about to define better the force commander’s vision, get it to some actionable steps so that we can make programmatic decisions on resources and concepts and then move them onto slide one. This is the how piece. It’s an electrical engineer sort of inspired drawing. What we’re trying to show you in this is that Line of Effort Three (LOE 3), future capabilities, comes from the commander’s vision for the force. That’s my responsibility. I owe that back to my force commanders to have a leadership position in terms of what’s coming in for future capabilities. So as you step out and look at all the ideas and concepts, one is how do we organize ourselves to get this conversation going between the people who know what we can do—think more technology—with the folks that know what we need—think war fighting—and have the back and forth so that something comes out of it, it matures, and we can go take some action on it? So there’s a process piece inside that, and we’re putting a lot of effort into looking at both our traditional processes—think acquisition program—as well as some of the novel rapid things that have been going on. I’m very proud to be in a force that has the URCIs, the Undersea Rapid Capability Initiatives. What have we learned from those? What pieces of those need to be institutionalized so that I have some fast lanes when I have a compelling need?
So you see it’s revitalizing things that we have already had, in some cases. Plus, what are the new things that we can go off and do inside that world? The Future Capabilities Group, for example, that we talked about in Mr. Drakeley’s presentation, is looking at promising solutions to future needs. The Transition Advisory Board, provides structured recommendations for acquisition. working to revitalize that.
Remember then, a piece of that is just the culture that we set inside the force. I think that’s very positive right now. The fact this a theme of our symposium this year, that we want to go talk about innovation, is very positive. Our force commanders could not have made it more clear that they’re interested in us doing that. Once you do this process, you’ve had the debate, you’ve tested it, you have technical rigor, we’ve come up with the ideas that we need to push forward, we roll it into Line Of Effort 3. Pace is a piece of LOE3. We like to think of pace in terms of three time frames. So some things you have to think about over a very long-term tend to be the platforms. These are things that you have to think about—have to be baked in from the very beginning. Stealth is a great example of that. I can’t retrofit stealth into a platform very well. Another one is flexibility. We talked about the things that we might need to go do.
You have to have thought about that ahead of time. Space, weight, power, cooling, modularity, all of those are very hard to retrofit so we have to think about those upfront, knowing that you pay a premium for some of that. And so I have to balance how much of a premium I’m willing to pay for flexibility upfront compared to what I have to do to be fiscally responsible in the budget environment that we’re in.
Then as you move into intermediate and shorter terms, now I start to take advantage of flexible software and hardware architectures that we got right in the beginning. We must build modularity into payloads through the interface standards that we established. And then, do I have mechanisms to rapidly go do the things that we see emerging that we need to go have?
Because of wise decisions that have been made in the past, you have unmanned vehicles operating off of submarines today. For a lot of this—it looks like PowerPoint—we’re there now and now we’re in the transition point to take some of these systems and put them up to fleet scale. What is the next step that we have to go do to make sure we can do to scale the next technology in the future?
One final point that I meant to make all the way back in the priorities discussion, is I gave you a list of things, programs that we’re pursuing in the future. Know that what underlies all of that is current readiness. N97 is also responsible for providing the resources for current readiness. So we make difficult choices in terms of what we have to do.
It doesn’t do me a lot of good to talk to you about the cool new torpedo I’m going to have that’s going to start whacking things at hundreds of miles if I haven’t given the resources to the fleet so they can get the boat out of overhaul. You have to tie those two things together. And you can’t forget the people inside this, right? We say that we’re a people centric organization, but that requires a commitment in resources and that’s on my list as well. So how do we wrap all of this up? Well, we’re submariners, we write it down. We have the Integrated Undersea Future Investment Strategy. What I would want you to know about this is it’s not new. It dates all the way back to 2011. It has been updated twice.
Admiral Tofalo did it most recently before he left to go down to SUBLANT. Know it has been very useful to us in the past for some of the successes that the force has enjoyed. We’re going to continue to use it not only to get success inside the POM, but to shape where we’re going in the future as a force. We have an executive summary. That’s the piece that’s designed to communicate with you, industry. It has a distribution list “D” controls on it. We have to do that. It, by necessity, goes beyond the program of record because it describes our aspirations. But there’s pieces of that that because it’s pre-decisional needs to be held within the OPNAV staff.
So we’ve carefully gone through and done that. It’s available to you. When you take a look at it, if you haven’t already, what I’m trying to invite is a conversation. Let’s go have the back and forth. Let’s go have the debate. We already had some of it going on today. We talked about directed energy. I think there was a really valid debate on, do we have the right priority on directed energy systems inside that electromagnetic spectrum piece balanced against what would I be willing to give up to push? It’s a great conversation that we need to go have. I’m looking for that kind of conversation more broadly.