Mister Chairman and
distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to
share my views of current Naval force structure impacts on fleet
operations with you today. Your
continued appreciation and support of the dedicated men and women who
serve in our Navy any your supportive efforts on their behalf have
positively affected our ability to respond worldwide.
We in the Fleet are keenly aware of your support, and sincerely
thank you for it.
As Commander, Third
Fleet, I exercise operational control of assigned forces in the Eastern
Pacific. I am responsible for
the training and preparation for deployment of West Coast and Hawaii-based
Naval forces, and primarily support requirements in the Central Command,
the Western Pacific portion of the Pacific Command, and counter-drug and
engagement operations in the Southern Command.
Today, there is just
barely enough force structure to carry out the National Security Strategy.
With current force structure, maintenance funding, and operational
commitments, we have been able to provide forces to meet major
requirements, but this is not to say that a simple re-shuffling of
schedules provided the solution.
As Fleet Commander, a primary mission of
COMTHIRDFLT is to protect our area of the Pacific Ocean.
This requirement is met by prioritizing requirements, and
apportioning forces based on those requirements.
In the past, for example, when a Soviet submarine was suspected of
being in the Eastern Pacific, many ships, submarines and aircraft would
have been engaged in the detection and tracking effort.
This was good for crew morale, and provided a valuable training
opportunity while achieving the area protection mission.
Today, when a Russian submarine is in the Eastern Pacific, the
minimum number of assets needed to ensure it is detected and tracked is
applied because additional assets are simply not available.
As a force provider and trainer, Third
Fleet provides trained and ready forces to the Unified Commanders.
For COMTHIRDFLT, the National Security Strategy is defined
primarily through the Global Naval Force Presence Policy (GNFPP).
The opening sentence of the GNFPP states that USCINCCENT, USCINCPAC,
and USCINCEUR each has a requirement for continuous carrier battle group
and amphibious ready group (ARG) with embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit
(special operations capable)(MEU (SOC)) presence within their areas of
responsibility. We have not
had the force structure necessary to meet this requirement for several
years. Therefore, the GNFPP
apportions the available CVBGs and ARG/MEU(SOC) assets among the Unified
Commanders so that, on average, there are approximately 2.5-2.75 CVBGs and
2.5-2.75 ARG/MEU(SOC) forward deployed at all times. We currently have the force structure to continue to meet the
minimum GNFPP apportionment guidelines.
However, guidance from the Chief of Naval Operations states that
each CVBG should contain six surface combatants; due to force structure
limitations CVBGs deploying from the West Coast normally deploy with only
four surface escorts. Because
of increased combat capability of our modern platforms the power
represented by this reduced number is in no way reduced, but there are
many times when numbers count as much or more so than the combat
capability of any individual unit, especially in the forward presence
Another requirement of our force provider
mission is to provide continuous surface combatant presence to USSOUTHCOM,
and approximately 180 days of combatant presence to USCINCPAC for their
counter-narcotics missions. We
have met this minimum requirement.
COMTHIRDFLT also has the mission of
theater engagement. For
forces on the West Coast, this means routine exercises with Japan, Canada
and Chile, and one major biannual exercise with Canada, Chile, Australia,
Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Our force structure has allowed us to continue these exercises,
although the periodicity of many of our exercises recently changed from
annual to biannual due to force structure reductions.
Another important aspect of
theater engagement is that of the port visits our ships make to non-Navy
ports in the United States. These
port visits provide a valuable opportunity for the people of America to
see first-hand the fine men and women of their Navy, and allow our Sailors
to enjoy many areas of the United States they would otherwise not see –
from Alaska to Southern California. This
is very important to us, and we think it’s important to the other
Americans our Sailors meet. We
have not been able to conduct as much of this type of engagement as we
need to. Force structure
limitations, and the very important and necessary constraints on underway
periods needed to provide homeport time to enhance the quality of life of
all Sailors, means that we are not able to fill the requests of all West
Coast ports which want Navy ships to visit.
In the area of theater engagement, there
are frequently requests for ship visits on the West Coast that go
unfilled. Engagement is part
of our mission; port visits are important to readiness, recruiting,
retention and morale.
While not a platform or a weapon, there
are shortfalls in numbers of critical systems that inhibit our ability to
train effectively. For
example, the shortage of satellite channels limits our ability to train to
use our network-centric warfare capability effectively.
Shortages of precision guided munitions greatly restrict our
ability to train and most effectively use what are clearly the weapons of
choice to improve combat effectiveness and survivability.
Decreased assets have caused us to be
more creative in how our platforms are used.
For example, due to the shortage of attack submarines on the West
Coast, ballistic missile submarines are frequently used to provide the
opposition force for battle group training.
However, this brings its own challenges, as we are not allowed to
have non-U.S. ships and aircraft obtain acoustic signature data on our
ballistic missile submarines. This
is a significant problem, as Canada is a frequent and important
participant in our joint force training exercises.
Deploying battle groups and amphibious
ready groups do not have sufficient intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance awareness due to training constraints. The limited availability of intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance platforms – EP-3s, P-3s, U2s, and unmanned aerial
vehicles – during training evolutions (fleet, competitive, and joint
task force exercises) precludes appropriate training and
architecture-testing prior to deployment.
All intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets,
specifically unmanned aerial vehicles (such as GLOBAL HAWK and PREDATOR)
and Air Force U2 aircraft, are required in order to provide realistic
joint training for Navy units afloat.
An organic signals intelligence airborne capability with
capabilities similar to the ES-3A is required.
For THIRD fleet training in FY2000, intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance asset availability is heavily dependent on Air Force
contributions. No replacement
for Navy organic signals intelligence airborne capabilities is anticipated
in the near future, therefore the availability of other assets for Battle
Group training is even more important.
Lack of organic airborne signals
intelligence capabilities has reduced battle force indications and warning
lack of organic airborne signals intelligence has degraded indications and
warning support to combat search and rescue, strike, and other high
priority war-fighting missions in support of operational commanders.
Air Force airborne signals intelligence has not routinely been able
to support Pacific Command battle group and amphibious ready group
personnel force structure afloat is also barely adequate.
Aircraft carrier Intelligence Specialist manning has been reduced.
Personnel gaps exist during the inter-deployment training cycle
that prevent efficient training. Battle groups routinely need augmentation from other
COMTHIRDFLT is fortunate that the only
force structure change occurring in FY2000 in ship and submarines is the
decommissioning of JOHN A MOORE (FFG 19), to be replaced in FY2000 upon
the commissioning of USS LASSEN (DDG 82).
The result is no change in the overall number of ships and a net
increase in the capability of the Fleet with this modern asset.
While there are slight decreases in force
structure of specific aviation squadrons, the overall force structure of
Third Fleet aviation assets is projected to increase by sixteen aircraft
in FY 2000. However, my most
significant concern about our aviation force structure is the advancing
age of our aircraft due to increased operational tempo and inadequate
modernization and aircraft replacement rates.
There is no longer a sufficient number of
Tomahawk missiles to fully load every deploying ship.
The projected buy of Tactical Tomahawk should solve this problem in
the future, and conversion of some older Tomahawks and some submarine
variants to surface launch capability will mitigate this problem until
Tactical Tomahawk is in the fleet in sufficient numbers. However, until
then, we must very carefully manage existing numbers and types of this
critical war-fighting asset. This management often entails sending our
Tomahawk capable ships out of their homeports to Naval Weapons Stations
for on load and off load operations more frequently than desired.
Training missile and weapon expenditures
are also underfunded. Our Naval Aviation squadrons do not have sufficient
numbers of precision guided weapons with which to train. As the demand for
precision and speed grows, we must provide aircrews with an adequate
number of precision training weapons to ensure that they are ready on day
one when called upon to go into combat and quickly produce results with
minimum casualties and collateral damage. In the Surface Warfare area,
Third Fleet ships require 17 Sea Sparrow missile firings to maintain an M2
readiness level; in 2000 due to resource constraints we are allocated 8.
Likewise, we require 6 RAM firings to maintain M2 in training; in
2000, only 3 are allocated.
would be remiss as an operational Fleet Commander if I did not mention the
effect of increased encroachment on our ability to conduct realistic
combat training. It is
imperative that Naval forces continue to be able to conduct full spectrum
mission training, to include live fire training; without it we cannot
train, evaluate, or certify battle groups and amphibious ready groups for
integrated combat operations. Inability
to conduct realistic combat training also puts our Sailors and Marines at
unnecessary risk; no one wants their first experience of realistic combat
conditions to be in actual combat. The
Navy is acutely aware and is a strong supporter of efforts to protect our
protection of the environment must be balanced with support for the best
possible training for our Sailors and Marines.
The current status of the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility
in Vieques, Puerto Rico is the most visible and acute example, but by no
means the only one, of the continuing and pervasive encroachment by
civilian organizations and government agencies on our ability to conduct
realistic training. This
cannot be allowed to continue without a tremendously negative effect on
our ability to quickly and effectively fight and win in combat.
Every branch of our armed
forces is faced with increasing pressures on our ability to conduct needed
training from a variety of diverse interests. Tension exists between
government agencies and special interest groups in virtually every area in
which we train. We must
protect our ability to meet current and projected needs for the
development and fielding of the next generation of weapons, for their
effective employment tactics and for the training of our forces in their
use. Since the inception of
the military training range system during and following WWII, the armed
forces have lost half of the space that was once available to conduct
training and tactical development. The effect of training range
encroachment, in all of its many forms, has negatively impacted the
effective combat training of our forces and will increasingly continue to
do so unless we are successful in protecting the vital national security
assets that our training ranges represent.
Addressing these issues in a coherent and balanced way is of great
importance to our future success in combat and to the safety of the men
and women who we send in harm’s way.
Force structure throughout the Navy is
such that an increased commitment anywhere necessitates reduction of
operations somewhere else, or a quality of life impact due to increased
PERSTEMPO. We have been
conducting Northern and Southern Watch for many years, and training CVBGs,
ARGs, and surface escorts for those operations is one of the primary
missions of Third Fleet. When
the situation in Bosnia/Kosovo required that the Atlantic Fleet CVBG
return to the Mediterranean instead of staying in the Arabian Gulf as
planned, this did not mean that the demand for forces in CENTCOM was any
less. Therefore, the Western
Pacific CVBG, USS KITTY HAWK, deployed on short notice to take up the
commitment in CENTCOM. This
resulted in a gap in CVBG coverage in the Western Pacific, with a
resulting risk to PACOM objectives and the loss of training and engagement
that KITTY HAWK would have provided to the Pacific Commander.
Ultimately, CONSTELLATION deployed early, catalyzed by North and
South Korean gun firing skirmishes at sea, with the battle group’s final
training preparations conducted enroute, in the Hawaiian operating areas,
prior to continuing Northwest to the Seventh Fleet area of operations.
The crisis in East Timor caused a similar
ripple effect and is an appropriate example of how the Navy is being
stretched. The National
Command Authority and the Pacific Commander decided that the United States
would support the Australian-led peace keeping operation in East Timor by
providing heavy lift helicopters. Because
of East Timor infrastructure difficulties and force protection
considerations, it was decided that sea-based helicopters provided the
most appropriate and timely response.
The only ship that could meet the required time line was the USS
BELLEAU WOOD, whose homeport is Sasebo, Japan.
Because of a previous emergent deployment and a large percentage of
time already out of homeport, BELLEAU WOOD could not stay on station in
the Timor Sea for the period of time desired by the U.S. commander.
Therefore, it was decided to have USS PELELIU sail early from the
Arabian Gulf and relieve BELLEAU WOOD.
This resulted in no ARG/MEU(SOC) presence in the Central Command
area of responsibility, resulting in increased risk to CENTCOM objectives
and the loss of training and engagement that PELELIU would have provided
the Central Command Commander. Until
a recent decision was made to use civilian contract helicopters to sustain
the heavy lift requirement, USS ESSEX was preparing to deploy on two-week
notice from San Diego. Had we
been required to deploy ESSEX, this would have violated some of the
Navy’s quality of life PERSTEMPO rules, but it was the only other
solution that met the heavy lift requirement to support forces deployed to
the area. Additionally, East
Timor required the unplanned deployment of the Kitty Hawk battle group and
the Belleau Wood ARG. Although
the Navy met the requirements dictated by the East Timor crisis, this
increased presence near Indonesia necessarily caused a reduction in Naval
presence in both Southwest Asia and near Korea.
While these examples point out the
inherent advantages of flexible, forward deployed Naval forces, they also
clearly show that there are not enough forces to meet all of the Unified
Commanders’ requirements. The
inherent elasticity that results from a properly sized and trained force
is becoming more difficult to realize.
The ability to surge forces in support of major theater war
contingencies does not match the requirements.
We would not, in my view, be able to surge forces as quickly or as
well resourced as we did in preparation for Operation Desert Storm in 1990
because we do not have assets much beyond those required to sustain
today’s rotational deployment operations.
Additionally, the strain on assets is
being manifested in other ways. Non-deployed
aviation readiness has leveled out, following several years of steady
non-deployed aviation readiness remains below the CNO’s readiness goals.
Lack of fully mission capable (FMC) aircraft at the Fleet
Replenishment Squadrons is a major limiter in the throughput in the
aviation training pipeline. All
surface ship and submarine readiness indicators are steady or slightly
declining over the past two years. The
average number of CASREPS per submarine has increased 2.5 times over the
average in 1995. Not only is
the number of total CASREPS increasing, but the average age of CASREPS is
also increasing. The civilian
technical representative community has been cut 25 percent since 1996.
And our ability to provide the war reserve material and sustainment
for a major theater war has decreased significantly, mainly in our ability
to provide the munitions, in particular, precision munitions, necessary
for a major theater war.
Nowhere was the stress of high demand –
low density more evident than with our EA-6B and intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.
Increased support requirements during Kosovo operations caused the
EA-6B and ISR squadrons to operate at a maximum surge capacity that was
far beyond their sustainable mode of operations.
This surge required the use of personnel and equipment from
non-deployed squadrons, placing added stress on people and resources.
To meet these expanded requirements the EA-6B community is being
restructured to include another squadron.
need to invest in a modernized and capable force structure now with a
focused and expanded program in order to maintain Naval superiority well
through the first half of the 21st century.
First and foremost, we must do whatever it takes to recruit, train,
and retain quality Sailors. This
year’s increases in pay and retirement accounts are a good start, but
they are only the beginning of what is required.
Beyond pay and benefits, our Sailors must believe that they belong
to a quality organization, one with a focused, important mission – our
Sailors have to believe in themselves, and they must be convinced that the
American people see their Navy as relevant and important.
They must be given the tools to succeed – training,
technologically superior ships and aircraft, adequate spare parts, and
fully funded modernization programs.
I believe our retention statistics reflect a belief among our
junior Sailors that we have not provided them the tools for success that
are indicative of a quality organization.
the horizon, there is a broad array of technologies ranging from electric
shipboard propulsion, to extended range guns, new and improved aircraft,
enhanced ISR coverage, improved submarines, new precision guided
munitions, and new amphibious lift, to name only a few.
The common and highest leverage technologies, however, remain those
in the realm of information processing and exchange. Future platforms and weapons systems must be able to take
advantage of technological innovations and be fully integrated to utilize
network-centric warfare principles, they must be easy to maintain, and
they must be reliable. But
most important, they must be present – forward deployed – in
sufficient numbers that they provide the deterrent and response capability
needed and expected by our national leadership.
As always, the future is hard to predict.
The inevitable increase in the realm of humanitarian assistance and
disaster relief, particularly in direct support of regional stability as
part of our National Strategy, is emerging in the Pacific.
Whether a natural disaster in a benign country, or violent turmoil
involving armed force, these are likely and emerging requirements.
I do see continued high demand and stress on an already hard
working and near-capacity force, with decreasing flexibility to sustain
the current pace of events with the resources in hand.
I know that you share my desire that our Navy remain fully ready
and capable of deterring conflict; reacting to crises and winning our
nation’s wars should it be necessary to do so.
As greater emphasis is placed by the
American people on fast and effective combat, minimizing collateral damage
and avoiding casualties, we must have the tools to succeed – realistic
training, technologically superior ships and aircraft, adequate spare
parts and fully funded modernization programs.
Given these necessary and essential tools, the talented and
dedicated Sailors and Marines we are recruiting and retaining today will
ensure our Nation continues to deploy the world’s premier naval force.
Thank you for your continued strong support, and for
the opportunity to testify before this subcommittee.