My purpose is to share some insight, to share with you some vision of where your new Submarine Force leadership: Admiral Richard, myself, Admiral Tofalo, are intending to direct the Force. As Admiral Padgett mentioned, I’m not presuming to speak for SUBFOR, but I was asked by SUBFOR to come and share this vision.
It is truly a joint vision. It’s something that he and I, with Admiral Richard, began working on even before we took command but after Senate confirmation, because you would never want to presume Senate confirmation. I think those of you who are familiar with us, with some of our existing strategic documents, will find that there are a lot of things that are very, very familiar.
Before I get into that, though, let me reiterate something that Admiral Richard had to say, which was that this really is an awfully exciting time to be a submariner. It’s certainly exciting because of the tremendous capabilities and platforms and systems that we have to operate. It’s exciting because of the operations themselves that we have that are absolutely eye-watering and, as Admiral Richard alluded to, we love to talk about in greater detail in classified fora. It’s exciting because of the incredible people that we have, with outstanding talent manning those ships and taking them to sea and supported by their families, and frankly, supported by all of you.
As for the Commander’s Intent that I’m going to share with you, I want to be sure that everybody realizes you are part of the audience for this document, for this vision. We are all partners in
enabling our Submarine Force to accomplish the things that the nation needs done. And that, finally, is the thing that makes this the most exciting time to be a submariner. It’s because the nation really expects and demands great things from our Navy. And the Navy expects and demands great things from the Submarine Force because of the things the Submarine Force is uniquely capable of doing.
Before I go on any further, let me also again segue off of something Admiral Richard said. He commented on the great leadership from which the Submarine Force is profiting. And by extension, and really the amplification there, is the leadership of all of you in the room who have set us up for this kind of success right now. Certainly during yesterday’s presentations, during the social last night, and looking around the room today, I see an awful lot of Submarine Force heroes, friends, mentors, people who have set us up for success. So I give you my thanks for giving me the opportunity now to participate in this exciting time to be a submariner.
The product I’m going to share with you is still a draft, let me emphasize, and foot stomp that first. It’s a draft. It’s going to change, I guarantee. It has already evolved considerably since we began. It has been informed not just by the three of us, but by our staffs, our major commanders, our CMCs, etcetera.
The next steps will get us to actually publishing it, probably first and foremost we have benefited from sort of a sneak preview from a draft of Admiral Richardson, our new CNO’s, campaign design. I think it’s probably prudent and appropriate for us to make sure that we understand what direction, guidance and vision the CNO has for us and make sure that we are in sync. So far I’ve seen nothing which indicates we’re not, but again, as prudent mariners, we will likely wait and see what the commander’s intent is before we provide our own. And then we’re going to have an opportunity for feedback with the submarine flag officer conference coming up this winter, so I’d expect sometime this winter we’d probably be in a position to be able to say that we’re really done.
Admiral Richard already mentioned some of this in talking about the Integrated Undersea Future Investment Strategy. I would like to provide a little bit of a history lesson. Back in 2012, SUBLANT and SUBPAC and N97, Admirals
Richardson, Caldwell and Bruner, issued the Design for Undersea Warfare which in November of ‘12 was update number one. It identified a vision and lines of effort and focus areas and the metrics by which we would evaluate success. Then last year, SUBLANT and SUBPAC, Admirals Connor and Sawyer, issued their Commander’s Guidance. That was a series of letters that was just that, guidance to a range of different levels in the chain of command. Admiral Richard already mentioned the undersea investment strategy which really is primarily focused towards our industry partners and across DOD. It is designed to be able to provide insight into the direction, programmatically, that we the Submarine Force, through N97, are going, so that you can help us be as effective and as cost-efficient as we possibly can be in a constrained resource environment while achieving our aims.
There is a separate brief that speaks to the undersea dominance campaign plan. The themes I’ll touch on again here are familiar, grow longer arms, get faster. We’ll skip the basic entry level course and get to at least the intermediate level here.
In surveying the landscape and doing what we did in first trying to sample the environment, talking to sailors and understanding how they’re currently utilizing the guidance, we realized there were some questions in this kind of sequence of events with folks just wanting to be sure they understood what it is that’s currently effective. We didn’t have a list of effective pages as we do with the RPM changes that made it clear for the publications petty officer to go back and validate. And as I mentioned, the great work in the undersea dominance campaign plan is a PowerPoint. I mean, these are great concepts and ideas that we are marching off with, but we’ve never really formally promulgated them. We saw this as an opportunity and so our intention here, with this vision, is to, in fact, integrate, consolidate and where necessary update them. So I think what you’ll find is, again, the themes are going to be very familiar. We’ve taken the editorial privilege of putting our own imprint on some of the concepts
based on our own experiences and priorities. But I think you’ll find that our ideas are very similar to those of our previous leaders.
The most important thing I want to emphasize is that we’re not in extremis. These are not back emergency and right full rudder. These are come right, steer course 173. Going down the Thames River, and just in order to try and make sure that we remain center channel. The last thing I wanted to mention is, this is also consistent with the core competencies that are in the Navy CNO’s cooperative strategy for the 21st century.
As I mentioned right up front, we are all the intended audience here. It’s certainly intended to speak to the Submarine Force and the Navy organizations that support us. But there are supporting organizations that are not in uniform. Certainly the Submarine Force’s supporting organization, our industry partners, all are included here.
So we’ve tried to make sure that thematically this is guidance that will be of assistance to all of you in your support of us. It’s also recognizing that primarily we’re speaking first and foremost to submarine crews and to their leaders. But again, it runs across the spectrum of active duty, reserve component, our government civilians, and as I said, our industry partners. The folks we expect to benefit from this are clearly those sailors in uniform, on submarines, but everybody in those supporting organizations and the family members who are supporting our sailors as well, we expect to benefit from this.
The other thing I want to clarify is that although SUBFOR has been tasked by CNO with responsibility to represent the undersea domain, with this document we are not presuming to speak for or provide direction to the forces for which we’re not the resource sponsor or the forces not under our command and control. So we certainly recognize that undersea forces, things that will influence and affect our success in the undersea domain, includes operational forces such as MPRA and fixed systems and CRUDES and ASW helicopters and all the systems that operate from those platforms. We are not discounting them as part of the undersea team, we’re just not trying to speak to them. So it’s, again, a Submarine Force perspective.
We’ve characterized this as a Commander’s Intent. Again, it could be a vision, it could be a mission. It has lots of different elements to it. But we decided to structure this as a Commander’s Intent, a joint pub sort of doctrine.
Why is that? Well, we in the Submarine Force are not always big believers in doctrinal purity, but there is a certain simplicity that comes from trying to organize along those principles. I was always struck by listening to Admiral Gortney when he was first Fleet Forces Command and now is the commander of NORTHCOM. Every time I heard him talk to a group he would emphasize that the two most important things to get right are the command and control and the Commander’s Intent. If you can get those two things right then everything else will take care of itself.
When you think about it, if all you provide is the Commander’s Intent and have clear command and control, if you’ve clearly stated what is the purpose you’re trying to accomplish, what is the end-state that you’re trying to achieve, then you’re enabling your commanders to do what submariners have always done, which is to be successful conducting sustained, distant, far-forward, independent operations. That is certainly part of our culture. It is part of our history. It’s what we are designed to do and do very well. And as Admiral Richard alluded to, and as I’m going to talk about more this afternoon with respect to the operating environment, that’s part of the future in which we are going to be operating. The ability to operate independently, without sustained reach back and distant support, is going to be a key element in our ability to be successful.
I’m going to talk more about these different elements. Elements of the Commander’s Intent, let’s talk about why we’re doing this. First and foremost this has to do with the strategic environment in which we’re operating. The world continues to evolve. It’s a dynamic place. There are organizations, nation states, etcetera out there whose interests don’t always align with our own, and not just speaking on behalf of the United States but in terms of our allies, our partners, our friends overseas as well. There are a number of nations, I’ll list a few, that are expanding their defense budgets and spending, expanding the scope and nature of their operations, expanding their capabilities. And again, it’s not my place, intention or purpose to surmise what their intentions are with those capabilities, but as military professionals we need to understand those capabilities and make sure that we are manned, trained and equipped in order to be able to deter and defeat them. Certainly the recent history of naval operations, in particular for the Submarine Force, we have been projecting power from very secure, uncontested sanctuaries in the littorals with long distance Tomahawk missiles and other such capabilities. That’s what the nation has demanded of us and we have done that very well. I don’t feel we have ever taken our eye off of basic submarine core competencies of undersea warfare and antisubmarine warfare. But the fact is, I expect that what the nation is going to demand of us more in these next 10 to 15 years is going to be much more blue water than brown water, much more ship-to-ship or sub-to-sub, than power projection. What that means for us then is to ensure that we are always providing forces to the combatant commanders that are going to be prepared to win, or at least to have the capability that will successfully deter not just strategic conflict but even conventional conflict.
Certainly what the nation expects of us is continuing to evolve as well. As a result of New START we can see that the seaborne leg of the triad is going to become ever more important, and therefore much, much more important for us to ensure that we can safeguard it and that they’re capable of executing their mission. And as well, the nature of the threat environment also includes many, many more threats that make it much, much harder for the rest of the joint force and for the rest of the Navy to be able to operate in places where we may be required to operate.
So anti-access and area denial threats are things that significantly impact the concept of operations for the majority of the joint force. For us, with the ability to remain concealed under water, obviously we need to be able to exploit our stealth in order to enable the joint force so they can get done the things they need to get done. And we need to be able to hold the adversary at risk and make sure that he is aware that we are able to hold him at risk. And then as to purpose, again, these are not new themes.
Through our ability to operate stealthily, to go where we want when we want, we need to continue to be able to deliver those elements of access, collect intelligence and deter conflict and always be ready to fight and win should deterrence fail. So the nation is expecting more of the Navy and the Navy is expecting more of us.
How are we going to do this? Well, as I mentioned, stealthy, independent, forward operations. Certainly we need to be able to integrate with the joint force and deliver combat power when required. In the initial phases, the phase zero plus and on up, the nation is going to expect us to be able to go in harm’s way and accomplish what needs to be done. I won’t read you the list, but obviously these are basic core competencies, again, of what stealth provides us.
The undersea environment is a vast maneuver space in which we can operate without creating provocation but be in position to do what needs to be done. The ability to penetrate defenses means you can deny safe haven to adversaries. Certainly it gives us opportunities that we can exploit for our own benefit or for the joint force. That very uncertainty creates ambiguity in the adversary’s calculus that makes him inefficient. It’s a costimposing strategy for us to impose on him.
Admiral Richard talked about the operational readiness and material. We’ll all talk more here later as well—trying to get our boats in and out of their availabilities on time is hugely important, certainly in terms of delivering the capabilities we owe the Combatant Commanders. It’s usually important for the health and welfare of our sailors as well. That work which is done in the yards is vitally important. It’s key to the life cycle sustainability of our boats. It’s not always what every submarine sailor signed up for on every given day.
And then ultimately we need to be sure that we are developing sailors that are capable of exercising and demonstrating these kinds of traits. It’s the kind of capabilities which are going to take the world’s most capable platforms and systems and operate them successfully. I had the privilege in the O-5 command of taking what was then the Navy’s newest submarine at that time, the USS CONNECTICUT, the second Seawolf, and frequently found myself reminding the crew that we have to be on-step, on our game, the most proficient submariners possible every given day. Although we had what was then the world’s most capable submarine, we could lose an engagement because of a personal error, or lose the ship because of some problem with a tag-out or Subsafe paperwork. Every day every submariner has to be at their very best in order to enable the capabilities which our industry partners are providing us.
So, who does what? These lines of effort really are largely the same as what you read in the Design for Undersea Warfare. Providing ready forces, so we’re talking here about the day-to-day kinds of tasks that go to the waterfront; conducting maintenance and getting it done on time; individual training and development of both teams and of individual sailors; logistics; the force protection that ensures not just the physical security of ships and sailors, but the cyber security and security in the electromagnetic environment. A couple of the focus areas we highlight here again are continuing to make sure that we’re paying attention to operational safety and force improvement; and ultimately, again, making sure that at the deck plate and waterfront levels, we’re delivering combat ready forces.
Line of Effort Number Two goes up an echelon, that’s factually imprecise, but up the hierarchy. We’re really talking here about the headquarter staffs who need to employ the Force effectively. So on a day-to-day basis it’s the deployment orders, the mission tasking, the global force management aspects, the tactical development. So this is everything associated with providing ready forces, the most ready forces, to the Combatant Commanders. Again, that’s shipyard and depot level maintenance, making sure that we’re getting in and out of availabilities on time, that the boats are getting modernized with the kinds of capabilities that they need. Then making sure that in an ever more challenging ASW environment that we’re improving and continuing to develop our
tactics, our tools, to be able to improve our ability to hold the enemy at risk. And again, as we go through here you’ll see—I hope you’ll see—there’s something in here for everybody to be able to contribute to.
Number three, developing future capability. This is basically what Admiral Richard just recounted for you. In fact, he is the guy that Admiral Tofalo and I are going to hold responsible and accountable for delivering on these future capability requirements.
Again, in summary, it’s everything associated with identifying the requirements and delivering the capabilities that we’re going to need to support high-end combat should it come to that; and hopefully, by having those capabilities, be able to deter it. And then finally, and this one is new, this was not a line of effort that appeared in the previous documents. But as I kind of recounted from my story onboard USS CONNECTICUT, we are nothing without our people. We’ve always acknowledged that and we’ve always demonstrated that understanding through our actions as well as our words, we just had never really quite codified it. So line of effort four is about empowering our people, recognizing that they are the foundation of our strength.
This really is intended to be a task to everybody who is a leader in our Submarine Force. When you consider the different levels of leadership, certainly supervisors, peer leadership, subordinate leadership, it’s really intended to speak to everybody because everybody in the Submarine Force is a leader. And not just on the submarine, but again, in all of our supporting organizations with all of our industry partners, and for the benefit of our sailors on the tip of the spear on our submarine crews and their families. This has to do a lot with trying to make sure that we’re attacking and addressing the things that are the sources of destructive behaviors of individual sailors, trying to reduce the unplanned losses where we create a personnel readiness gap because of a events: certainly undersea, but on land, in the air, on the surface and in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Longer arms also talks about the influence that we’re able to achieve simply through the kinetic effect, but it affects the decision-making of a potential adversary. So it’s developing and building not just the tools, the sensors, but it’s really the entire spectrum of things to which we can contribute a positive effect. Next is beating the adversary’s systems. Again, this is not new. This has always been something that submariners have challenged themselves to able to accomplish. The counterpoint to that is all those things that we are trying to protect of our own in the U.S. order of battle are things which, when they belong to the adversary, are things that we need to be able to hold at risk and want to be able to threaten.
Getting on the same page, again, has to do with alignment, making sure that between the strategic and the operational and the tactical, between the White House and the Pentagon and out in industry, making sure that we are on the same page and working towards the same thing. The very fact that if you were to compare Admiral Richard’s slides with my own, when you consider the fact that this is not just Admiral Tofalo’s vision, it is our vision, and he has perhaps dubiously entrusted me to represent it for him, we are aligned. We are in sync certainly within the Submarine Force, the uniformed, the leadership. I hope through our discussion here today to make sure that we are aligned with you as well.
Getting faster, again this certainly includes acquisition but is about more than acquisition. It has to do with our decision-making at all levels. Again, it is about also eliminating the kinds of distractions and processes that don’t allow us to be as agile as we need to in a world that’s changing very, very quickly around us. And I want to foot stomp again that being faster is not blindly valuing speed over quality or over impact. We need to be bold but we can’t be reckless. We just don’t have the resources to be inefficient.
Following up on that Line of Effort Four on people, not only is it important to have, to own the best, but we have to be the best. As I mentioned, we all know that we are blessed in the Submarine Force to have the very finest sons and daughters our nation has to
offer. We are privileged with the opportunity to lead them. The
challenge here, in addition to trying to avoid attrition, the
unproductive or destructive behaviors, has to do with making sure
that we’re equally devoting time and attention and resources to the
professional development, the helping of our sailors to achieve
their goals and helping them to be the very best they can be.
One of the things about us nukes in general, submariners in
particular, we’re always really, really good, very, very prompt at
pointing out deficiencies. We’re not always quite so good at
recognizing our successes and certainly rewarding and recognizing
All those things above we are attempting to consolidate and condense into guidance letters. The three of us kind of began with the—I guess I’d call it either hubris or naivete of thinking we speak uniquely and with a unique voice, and we need to start from scratch and in that way we’ll have something that truly embodies our priorities.
We did that and had a couple of things that we were really pretty proud of. As we kind of socialized them we got a lot of feedback that said that doesn’t look at all like the last set of guidance we got. We said, no, no, it’s good, right? It’s better, right? Well, if you say so, admiral.
Actually the feedback we got was—because one of the things we had thought of doing was consolidating and rolling things up to be a little bit more strategic perhaps, the feedback we got was,
“Hey, we really like the guidance that currently exists, with individual levels of tailored guidance to COs and COBs and squadron commanders, etcetera”. As you see here, I had a number of my Commodores who said, “Admiral, I keep that letter on my desk. When I’m counseling my COs or when I’m trying to think of what is the most important thing for me to be doing every day, I go back and see what it is that you, SUBPAC, my predecessor, what you told me mattered to you”.
So we said, okay. We stand corrected. So now instead of starting from scratch we’re starting from the existing letters. And what we’ve found is that that guidance is pretty good. There’s not a whole lot that needs to be added. We’ll put our own personal touch on it so we can feel like we added value, but the guidance that exists is really very well considered and very well thought out. So what we finally issue is going to look very similar.