CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
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 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:
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.