Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, the QDR provided a unique opportunity, outside the budget process, for this CNO in my first year on the job, to take a hard look at what the Navy does, how it does it, and what its requirements are for the future. It reaffirmed that our Navy fully supports the National Security Strategy and the requirements of the Unified CINCs, and it confirmed that we have the programs in place to improve significantly this support in the future.

The QDR, and the Joint Strategy Review which preceded it, validated many pre-existing Navy principles. Our naval strategic concept, as defined by … From the Sea and Forward … From the Sea and implemented by the recently published Navy Operational Concept, aligns perfectly with the QDR strategy of: shaping today's environment; responding rapidly to ongoing crises; and preparing for our nation's future. Naval forces provide the ability to intervene in crises anywhere in the world, whenever the nation calls, with minimal operational or political constraints. Our forward presence enables us to influence events as they develop, and intervene rapidly and decisively should they escalate to conflict.

Going into the review it was clear that our forward deployed Navy is relevant in today's world, and that the Navy would continue to be relevant in the future. While we continue to be innovative and seek improvement across all of our mission areas, forward presence is the core of our Navy, and that will continue as a guiding principle into the future. It was not necessary or wise to attempt to reinvent ourselves just for the QDR.

The relentless demands of this world, manifested through numerous crises around the globe, continually require the United States to maintain a strong forward naval presence. On any given day during the QDR process 50 percent of our 350 ship force was underway, operated by our total force of just under 400,000 active duty and 97,000 highly integrated reservists. Thirty percent, or 105, of these ships and 60,000 Sailors were deployed on six-month missions doing what the Navy does best every day - forward presence.

Our forces are ready, meeting every commitment, and demonstrating American resolve. Just as importantly, they are preparing for the future.

The QDR examined the Navy of today and also the Navy for the future. It provided us with an opportunity to create a leaner force by retiring selected legacy systems, which in turn will enable the modernization and incorporation of new technology for the future environment. The future will also require personnel every bit as bright, talented, motivated, and innovative as those who make up today's force. Along with our continued need for the very best personnel, there are other enduring constants:

  • The United States will retain worldwide military, economic, and political interests.
  • Crises and conflict will continue to threaten those interests.
  • The time and place of those crises and conflicts will often be unpredictable.
  • Access to overseas bases will not always be assured when and where needed.
  • The relevance of forward deployed naval forces will continue.

The QDR underscored the importance of our modernization program, a program that will ensure tomorrow's Navy is even more capable and ready than today. For example:

  • The multi-mission F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a leap forward in both tacair design and survivability. The Super Hornet may look like its predecessor, however it is far larger, significantly more capable, and most importantly it is a first strike, every day strike, survivable weapon system for the foreseeable future.
  • The MV-22 OSPREY will significantly enhance our naval force's ability to execute Operational Maneuver From the Sea. Its improved capability and reliability, along with significant changes to Marine operational concepts, will truly enable our Amphibious Ready Groups to be more flexible and versatile.
  • In 2008 we will commission CVN-77, our tenth NIMITZ-class carrier. As we build it we will simultaneously design the next carrier class, currently known as CVX, which will fully incorporate technologies that will be proven in CVN-77. This will ensure CVX becomes the right ship for the second half of the21st Century. Fundamental to all of our operations is a force of at least twelve carriers. This is the minimum number for today, to meet our world-wide requirements with prudent risk.
  • The submarine force of the 21st Century will continue to be a key element in our control of the seas. OHIO-class submarines will continue as the linchpin in our nation's strategic deterrence, and in July the world's fastest, quietest submarine, the SEAWOLF, will enter our Navy. The new attack submarine (NSSN) that follows will be even stealthier, and will outperform any current or projected threat submarine to dominate both the littoral and open-ocean.
  • Our 21st Century surface force is being reshaped to give us broader capability to influence events ashore. Our cruisers' and destroyers' enhanced command and control capabilities will achieve theater air dominance, provide a robust theater ballistic missile defense, and bring widely distributed offensive naval firepower to any theater. Our maritime fire support demonstrator will lead to a land attack destroyer (DD-21) manned by as few as 95 Sailors, capable of firing vertical guns that reach 100 miles and 128 missiles of any type in our inventory.
  • In support of early arriving forces Navy will develop robust, and inherently mobile, Theater Ballistic Missile Area and Theater Wide Defense programs to enable expeditionary operations in any environment. We will work to ensure our systems are compatible with those of the other services, to enable smooth transitions during phased operations.
  • Our amphibious forces will receive a formidable upgrade as LPD-17 comes on line to replace four classes of aging amphibious ships. This is a dramatic increase in combat capability to what is already a superbly capable Navy-Marine Corps team.
  • At the core of our modernization strategy lies information superiority that will tie these advanced platforms together, enable us to dominate any battle, and provide the ability to apply the precision force envisioned in General Shalikashvili's Joint Vision 2010. Our dependence on information is absolute, and that will never change. In what we call "network centric warfare," information superiority will allow our netted, dispersed, offensive firepower to yield a well-conceived and precisely placed early effort to produce extremely high rates of change. This increases our "speed of command" by flattening the decision making hierarchy, locking out enemy options, and ensuring our success.

Our modernization strategy throughout will be based on four goals. First, we will build a balanced force that is affordable. Second, we will evolve the current capabilities of aircraft, Aegis cruisers, destroyers, and our submarines, providing significantly increased combat effectiveness at attractive marginal costs over what we have today. We will make these legacy systems responsive to new technology in fundamental ways. Third, we will optimize the mission capability of every ship that is in the water, because we will integrate the most up-to-date technology in our ships. These will be based on evolutionary as well as leap ahead developments, validated continuously by fleet experiments. Fourth, we will also become leaner in the area of infrastructure. Navy already has reduced its infrastructure significantly, and plans to do more through outsourcing and privatization, where it makes sense, and plow the savings into modernization. These are challenging issues, however, and we will be working them in concert with DOD's initiatives in this area.

All this technology and modernization amounts to little without the American Sailor. The 21st Century Sailor will be even smarter than the dedicated, talented men and women who serve today. In the past two decades we have gone from a force composed of 70 percent high school graduates to one in which 95 percent of personnel hold a high school diploma. What's more, 65 percent of these are in the upper mental groups. We are meeting these goals, and have no intention of backing down from our standards.

Our Sailors come to us with computer skills most of us could not imagine twenty years ago, and they are getting better all the time. Their skills make our advancement towards a true "network centric warfare" system that much easier. They know how to use the same technologies to improve their shipmates' quality of life, through innovations such as e-mail at sea and affordable voice and video transmissions.

In summary the QDR provided a comprehensive, timely, and highly useful means to evaluate our future, while at the same time validating the Navy's principle of forward presence. Our modernization priorities have been preserved, and the reductions we have selected are ones we can live with today and tomorrow. Our concept of forward global presence is relevant, and the forces necessary to execute the mission were retained. In the near future this force will become even more capable, thanks in part to becoming leaner.

As we step through the restructuring process, our focus on personnel will remain sharp. As we have done in the past, we will carefully manage these reductions, ensuring we do the right things for our people at every step. We must control the pace of change to ensure we do not attempt to create savings by increasing the workload of individual Sailors. Our young men and women already produce more than might reasonably be expected. Their quality of life must not only be safeguarded, but improved upon, if we expect to maintain the ready forces this nation has so long enjoyed.

The QDR is only the beginning. Our Navy will continue to work with the Congress and the National Defense Panel to find the best ways to implement the QDR's findings, and to maintain the operational primacy that is the hallmark of our Navy. The road ahead is full of challenges, opportunities, and some risk for our Navy and country, but if we remain united in our resolve to keep faith with our people, whose magnificent teamwork and pride in their service make everything else possible, we will ensure this process enables our Navy to remain the world's best.