Statement of RADM Albert H. Konetzni, U.S. Navy Commander, Submarine Force United States Pacific Fleet before the House Armed Services Committee Procurement Subcommittee Submarine Force Structure and Modernization Plans Hearing 27 June 2000 Chairman Hunter, Members of the House Armed Services Procurement Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present submarine force issues from an operational perspective. In my remarks, I would like to highlight the “pain” that is being felt in the Pacific Submarine Force with an inadequate number of attack submarines. I will discuss the challenges that we face in meeting CINC and National requirements, and offer my perspective on what we need to do to provide a Submarine Force that is sized adequately and structured properly to fulfill its role in preserving National Security. At the turn of the last century, Theodore Roosevelt challenged the nation to “walk softly and carry a big stick.” He went on in that speech to explain that the big stick the nation most needed to influence events overseas was a “strong and highly trained navy.” Roosevelt’s question is still pertinent today: will the nation maintain its ability to influence events overseas? Will we maintain our strong navy today and build the navy we need for tomorrow? Can the nation accept the consequences if we don’t? Roosevelt understood that the nation’s ability to influence events overseas would impact the daily lives of average Americans. Today, this is truer than ever. From the interest we earn on investments to the price we pay for gasoline, our security, economy and military, depends upon our own and all other nation’s unhindered ability to transit the world’s oceans. 15 million American jobs depend upon the 98% of overseas U.S. imports and exports that travel by ship to and from our shores. Naval forces are uniquely tailored to give the United States options to execute our national strategy when overseas bases are not available. Around the clock, 365 days a year, U.S. naval forces are a visible symbol of America’s ability to defend our interests throughout the world. Simply put, I believe naval forces do three things. First, they provide overseas presence or show the flag. History has shown that a continuous, combat credible forward presence by U.S. forces is the key to long term political stability in our regions of interest. Second, our forces engage our allies, war- fighting partners and developing nations, shaping how they will interact with the rest of the world. And finally, our forces provide the capability for timely response throughout the spectrum from peacetime, through crisis, and into war. The order of precedence of these tasks can vary daily depending on the world environment. Navy ships, submarines and aircraft and their weapons are designed to strike targets hundreds, even thousands of miles away. With the Navy’s sea-based mobility and speed, and with 85 percent of the world’s means of production, industry and commerce within range of the world’s oceans, you can see why the navy has such great influence on world events. The U.S. Navy is a lean and powerful organization that has maintained its position as the world’s premiere maritime force today, while preparing itself to influence events in the 21st century. The 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review established target force levels that amounted to slightly more than 300 ships, including 50 attack submarines contingent on a review of peacetime overseas presence requirements. Since the completion of the QDR, it has become increasingly evident that 50 SSNs are inadequate for the Navy to be able to carry out its responsibilities in support of the national military strategy. Here are some examples of things being said by those responsible for our operating forces: The CNO recently stated that “we run unacceptable risks by going below 300 ships… the current level of shipbuilding is insufficient to preserve even that level of fleet in the coming decades.” Admiral Clark, the prospective CNO, stated that “ Navy shortfalls translate into ‘high risk’ for implementing the nation’s military strategy.” And finally, Vice Admiral Murphy, Commander SIXTH Fleet, recently stated “The effect of too few forces is uncertainty and increased workload. Emerging personnel shortages are exacerbating the impact, further increasing the demand we place on our deployed crews.” Today, our navy is strong, but the nation is now facing a daunting challenge as it heads into the new millennium. I have substantial operational evidence from the fleet that today’s force of 56 SSNs cannot continue to meet the current and projected pace of world-wide operations. The Demand For Submarines In The Pacific Although the Cold War is over there are many emerging security issues in the Pacific Theater. Submarines and related technology are rapidly proliferating throughout the Pacific. There are currently 268 non-US submarines in the Pacific, of which 193 belong to nations that would not be considered friendly. This is compared to only 26 US SSNs in the Pacific. The situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to evolve. North Korea continues to develop the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction with intermediate range ballistic missiles and the North Korean navy continues to challenge the line of demarcation in territorial seas. While recent discussions between the North and the South show promise, it is far too early to predict the eventual impact upon the stability of the region. With the purchase of foreign submarine technology and tactical weapons, China is rapidly developing a navy that could project power beyond territorial waters. The tense situation between India and Pakistan continues while both countries develop the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction with intermediate range ballistic missiles and their armies continue to challenge the border in Kashmir. With the purchase of foreign submarine technology and tactical weapons, Iran is rapidly developing a navy that could interdict vital sea lanes in the Straits of Hormuz. Since Russia still has a capable nuclear arsenal in which SSBNs are the most survivable component, some Cold War missions remain applicable. US force reductions have created a need for allied support in responding to contingency operations. Accordingly, engagement exercises with other countries to develop interoperability and improve the war-fighting skills of our allies have taken on added importance. National and Theater Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions make up 40% of an attack submarine’s time while on deployment. These missions gather information which forms the “basis for the most crucial U.S. security policy decisions and are required for planning defense of the U.S. and countries critically important to U.S. interests, including that required for planning defense of U.S. forces overseas.” Of these missions, over 80% are “submarine unique” and for the rest, the submarine is the only viable alternative. From 1995 to 1998 demand for CINC/National submarine ISR nearly doubled, while the size of the Pacific submarine force declined from 34 to 30 SSNs. We now have 26 SSNs in the Pacific. In 1997, we reached the point where the Pacific submarine force became “asset-limited”, with the number of SSNs available for tasking precluding scheduling some required ISR missions. SSN Force Structure Requirements As previously stated, the QDR established a target SSN force level of 50 SSNs pending a “re-evaluation of peacetime overseas presence requirements.” In March 1998, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed CJCS to complete this study by September 1998. The JCS Attack Submarine Study was completed in late 1999 and the results were released earlier this year. It concluded that in the year 2015, 68 SSNs are needed to meet all CINC and National “highest” (i.e. critical) operational and collection requirements. The JCS study stated a force structure below 55 SSNs in 2015 would leave the CINCs insufficient capability to respond to urgent crucial demands without gapping other requirements of high national interest. Additionally, the study concludes that 18 VIRGINIA class SSNs would be required in the 2015 time frame to counter comparable technologically advanced threats at that time. Operational experience also indicates a need for a greater number of submarines than is currently programmed. Analysis of current Pacific fleet requirements today indicates a need for at least 35 SSNs. In USCINCPAC’s Integrated Priority List (IPL), Admiral Blair presented a need for a minimum of 35 SSNs in the Pacific fleet as one of his top ten issues. There are some operational implications regarding these conclusions that are important to understand: First, the total force level of 68 SSNs is largely driven by ISR requirements. It supports no Asia Pacific/South America engagement/allied exercises, precious little European/Middle Eastern engagement, no counter drug efforts, and no strike presence for "peacetime" contingencies. Second, the study requirements are based on peacetime missions that only a submarine can perform. Third, with the 56 SSNs that are currently in the US Submarine Force, there are substantial gaps in the ability to accomplish crucial ISR requirements. These gaps in coverage challenge our ability to maintain the knowledge superiority that must underpin our forward presence. In CY99, 365 submarine reconnaissance-days, or about 10 submarines worth, were not accomplished worldwide due to competing requirements and unplanned contingencies. To date in CY00, about 200 submarine reconnaissance-days worldwide (5-6 submarines worth) could not even be scheduled, and another 74 days (2 additional SSNs) that were scheduled could not be executed. In reality, the point at which critical operational requirements begin to be gapped occurs at a force structure well above 55 SSNs; it begins immediately below 68 SSNs. Fourth, the planned construction rate for the VIRGINIA class SSN will deliver 14 SSNs by 2015. Results Of The Force Structure – Requirements Mismatch With the increasing demand for limited SSN assets, the predicament faced by military leadership is which of the highest priority intelligence collection requirements will not be met. In other words, which crucial parts of the world will we risk not gathering intelligence on? When no other options or national assets are available or capable to perform these missions, they are simply missed. The number of missed missions has increased from 4% in 1995 to 12% in 1998. Unfortunately, the vital nature of these ISR requirements has resulted in ships and sailors going to great lengths to meet the increasing demand and avoid gapping missions. SSNs are worked harder and driven faster. The deployed OPTEMPO, or the percent of time spent underway while deployed, has risen to an average of 77% in 1999, with some ships experiencing upwards of 85% deployed OPTEMPO. The OPTEMPO goal to provide for maintenance and crew liberty is 65%. For short periods of time, maintenance can sometimes be deferred, but deferral has become a regular answer. The impact of regularly deferring maintenance is decreased operational readiness and prematurely aging of our ships – literally “running them into the ground.” Another impact of high OPTEMPO is excessive use of the submarine’s reactor fuel. The average amount of fuel used for a deployment has risen about 20%. This is particularly a concern for Improved LOS ANGELES class SSNs, whose reactor cores will power the ship for about 33 years of normal operations. For short periods of time the impact of higher OPTEMPO is not significant, however if this trend continues these submarines will not last the full 33 years that they were designed for, further exacerbating force structure problems. There is an operational requirement to maintain 5 SSNs deployed to the Western Pacific at all times. For significant portions of the year, this requirement cannot be met. In 1999 we were only able to meet that commitment 50% of the time, 22% of the time only 4 SSNs were deployed and 28% of the time only 3 SSNs were deployed. Exercise participation with allies and foreign navies have been greatly reduced due to the lack of SSN assets. Since 1994, the number of exercise-days has been reduced by nearly half. This reduction directly impacts our ability to operate with foreign navies and runs counter to our national strategy of influencing events overseas. Will we be able to fight the next war alone? Force Structure Options The only long-term solution to sustain the required number of SSNs is to build more SSNs. The submarines that were built at a rate of 3 to 4 per year in the 1980s will be retired at the same rate, and unless the construction of replacement SSNs at least matches this rate, there will be a further decline in force structure. This fact, combined with the six years from authorization of a new VIRGINIA class SSN to delivery, makes this an issue that must be addressed in the near future. Each year that an increase to the build rate is delayed increases the required build rate in subsequent years. The low rate of submarine construction in recent years, combined with the accelerated decommissioning of LOS ANGELES class SSNs has created a substantial force structure deficit. Even at a rate of 4 new SSNs per year starting in FY08, which is the soonest that construction rate could be achieved, SSN force structure will only reach 56 SSNs by the year 2015 through the addition of new construction SSNs alone. There are several other options that would provide near term solutions to force structure shortfalls. In the near term, there are 7 first-flight LOS ANGELES class SSNs that are scheduled for early decommissioning. These submarines were designed to be refueled approximately mid-way through the life of the ship, and they have an average life of 12 to 13 years each until they reach the end of their 33 year ship life. The cost for refueling and modernizing these ships is $230M each. Four of these refuelings could be accomplished with the wedge of funds for submarine force enhancements included in the FY2001 budget. Refueling four TRIDENT SSBNs that are scheduled for inactivation in FY03 – FY04 and converting them to cruise missile firing submarines (SSGNs) would provide more than 20 years of service from each of these ships. These submarines would be optimized for Strike and Special Operations Forces missions. Carrying up to 154 Tomahawk missiles, they would provide a tremendous land- attack capability that could be deployed upon initial indications of increased tensions, remain on station for an extended period of time with no external logistic support, and provide a covert, non-provocative strike presence. Additionally, as a SOF platform these ships would provide the ability to conduct sustained (approximately 90 days) campaigns using large numbers of SOF troops (66 or more), which is a capability not provided by any other platform. While these SSGNs would not alleviate the demand for ISR using SSNs, they would provide potent new capabilities that would effectively complement those of other platforms and reduce the demand for SSNs to conduct non-ISR missions. Conclusion Mister Chairman, thank you for the honor of testifying today. I would like to conclude by stating my concern for a strong submarine force as a vital component of our nation’s defense. Your support of submarine programs to provide a capable Submarine Force in sufficient numbers will go a long way to ensuring that the Navy retains its preeminence as a power projection force now and in the future. I stand ready to answer your questions. --USN--