Statement of Rear Admiral John B. Padgett, III Commander, Submarine Group Two Commander, Navy Region Northeast before the House Armed Services Committee Military Procurement Subcommittee on Submarine Force Structure and Modernization 27 June 2000 INTRODUCTION In order to frame my remarks this morning, I wanted to outline my responsibilities as the Commander, Naval Region Northeast and Submarine Group TWO (COMSUBGRU TWO), since they have shaped my perspective and helped form my personal and professional views. First, I hold traditional Group Commander responsibilities to train, equip and provide submarine forces to the Commander in Chief, U.S Atlantic Fleet. Additionally, I provide attack submarines to four of the five Unified Commanders in Chief (CINCs) (Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), European Command (EUCOM), Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and Central Command (CENTCOM)), and to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Special Operations Command (CINCSOC). Additionally, as Commander, Navy Region Northeast, under Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, I oversee and act as advocate for the Navy infrastructure from New Jersey to Maine that supports our operational forces. Specifically, this includes: - Naval Weapons Station Earle, which provides ammunition and supply support to our surface fleet, - Naval Submarine Base New London, which provides the homeport for maintenance and training for 18 attack submarines, - Naval Station Newport, which is the home for a great deal of our Navy training and supports the Naval Undersea Warfare Center which is key to our submarine research and development commands, - Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which provides Base Operational Support functions for the overhaul, repair, modernization and refueling of submarines, and - Naval Air Station Brunswick, which supports five Squadrons of Anti-Submarine Warfare Patrol Aircraft. These responsibilities for submarine policy, operations and maintenance have given me in depth insight and sharpened my view of future submarine requirements. SUBMARINE OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS TO FORCE STRUCTURE MISMATCH Since 1989, the Submarine Force, like the rest of the defense establishment, has experienced enormous change. The total number of Submarine Force personnel has declined from approximately 68,000 Sailors in 1989 to a total of about 28,000 today. Attack Submarine (SSN) numbers have been reduced from a high of 99 SSNs in 1989 to 56 SSNs today, and our Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN) have been reduced from a Cold War peak of 36 SSBNs to 18 SSBNs today. Submarine tenders, which recently re-validated their value during the Kosovo crisis, have been reduced from 12 tenders worldwide to just 2 forward deployed tenders - one in LaMaddalena, Italy and one in Guam. This is not a phenomenon unique to the Submarine Force. Navy- wide, personnel levels have declined from 592,000 in 1989 to 368,000 today. Commissioned ships have declined from 592 to 317. Aircraft carriers, the core of our forward deployed combat capability, have declined from 15 to 12. The magnitude of these changes and the challenges they pose in operations, maintenance and personnel policy is significant. Despite these force structure reductions, the threats to which your Navy's submarines are responding continue to proliferate. We have transitioned from a single, well-understood and formidable threat, to a world full of poorly understood and unpredictable challenges. Kosovo, Korea, the Persian Gulf, terrorism, and international drug cartels – these are some of the national security challenges around the globe to which the United States Navy and its submarines are responding every single day. In order to respond effectively to these varied challenges, Naval forces must be forward deployed, and our submarines seamlessly operate in conjunction with and in support of the Navy’s other power projection forces. In fact, the Submarine Force is a forward deployed, combat capable rotational force - To put it simply, there are three types of submarines: Submarines preparing to deploy, Submarines on deployment and Submarines returning from deployment. The Unified Commanders in Chief, in conjunction with the Joint Staff, recently completed the most exhaustive study of Attack Submarine Force Structure to date. This study clearly articulates a valid mission requirement for 16 forward deployed SSNs. Today, with our current Submarine Force of 56 SSNs, about 48 are considered operationally ready on any given day; in other words, ready for sea in a short period of time. After factoring in crew training and leave, PERSTEMPO and OPTEMPO limits and required maintenance, we will only be able to provide about 12 forward-deployed SSNs to the warfighting CINCs, not the 16 specified in the recent CJCS Study. Over the next five years a large percentage of our submarines will be required to undergo extended shipyard maintenance availabilities, which will further reduce the number of available submarines to a low of 45 in 2004 - a year in which we will only be able to provide 9 forward-deployed SSNs. In a major theater war scenario, we can ignore normal operating limits and surge all of our operationally ready submarines to defend the nation’s interests, but these operations cannot be sustained over the long term (greater than about six months). Today, because of the mismatch between national and CINC requirements and our available force structure we must repeatedly say "no" to important requirements in the interests of long-term sustainability. The following examples, all from my tenure as COMSUBGRU TWO, show the types of decisions we are forced to make: Currently unable to fulfill European Command’s requirement for 4 SSNs in the Mediterranean. Currently unable to fulfill European Command’s requirement for a year-round Dry Deck Shelter capable SSN to support Special Warfare contingencies. Currently supporting the bare minimum requirement for submarine contributions to counter narcotics operations in Southern Command, despite the Director of the Joint Interagency Task Force East’s praise of submarines as the most effective platform for the detection and prosecution of "go fast" drug running boats. He cited submarines as the greatest force multiplier (by a factor of 4) that he can bring to bear in his anti-drug campaign. In FY 1998-1999 we routinely had to move our forward deployed submarines between the Atlantic, European, and Central Command Theaters to support Tomahawk contingency strike requirements and conflict resolution. In FY 1998, USS BOISE (SSN 764) was pulled from a joint US, UK and Norwegian exercise to meet emergent European Command Tomahawk Contingency strike tasking, and last year we cancelled U.S. submarine participation in the major biannual NATO "Battle Griffin" exercise in the North Atlantic to sortie USS PITTSBURGH to meet submarine tasking in the Central Command. These gaps have dramatically impacted our ability to validate joint interoperability and tactics, as well as reduced our engagement opportunities and training with our allies. We cancelled a Tactical Development Ice Exercise when USS ALBANY was redirected to support other tasking in the Atlantic. No other assets were available. We have reduced our level of activity here to an absolute minimum. We only have a limited ability to support Undersea Warfare (USW) Training for surface ships and deploying Carrier Battle Groups. For example, we are currently providing only one opposition force submarine for major battlegroup exercises (Commander Task Unit Exercises, Joint Task Force Exercises) instead of the two required by the Commander U.S. Second Fleet. In the past three years, force structure cuts have driven a fifty percent reduction in available underway-training days during the Interdeployment Training Cycle. This severely limits opportunities for tactical development; Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E); tactical utilization of new equipment; as well as other training opportunities. Since we decommissioned 20% of the Atlantic Fleet attack submarine force in fiscal year 1999, the value of each individual submarine has risen substantially. Although we have continued to develop methods to optimize our available underway time we feel that I have already lost the marginal flexibility that I enjoyed when I relieved in May of 1998. Today, with our limited force structure, there is no longer any flexibility, and when a material casualty occurs or emergent tasking arises we cannot reassign assets – We further gap commitments. INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE AND RECONNAISSANCE Unfettered access is a unique submarine attribute, which makes our SSNs very capable intelligence collection platforms. Since SSNs are able to conduct extended operations in areas inaccessible to other platforms or systems, they can intercept signals of critical importance while monitoring developments in a non-provocative manner that cannot be replicated by other means. Vulnerability to satellite reconnaissance is well understood, and many bad actors employ deceptive methods to defeat this capability. U.S. policy makers rely on submarines to clandestinely surveil new or emerging adversaries and provide timely insight on their intentions and capabilities without risk of political escalation. As a result, national tasking for submarine intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions has more than doubled in the last decade, despite a reduction of about 50% in submarine ISR assets. Submarines are intelligence collection "force-multipliers" since they are often able to provide tip-offs of high interest events to other collection assets. Furthermore, the SSN’s ability to dwell covertly for extended periods defeats efforts to evade collection or deceive satellites and other sensors. The unique look angle provided by a submarine operating in the littoral region enables it to intercept high interest signal formats that are inaccessible to reconnaissance satellites or other collection platforms. The intelligence gleaned from submarine operations ranges from highly technical details of military platforms, command and control infrastructure, weapons systems and sensors to unique intelligence of great importance to national policymakers on potential adversaries' strategic and operational intentions. Significantly, our submarines can provide real-time alertment to National Command Authorities on indications of imminent hostilities, and unlike other intelligence collection systems they are also full-fledged warfighting platforms carrying militarily significant offensive firepower. We continue to work to upgrade our Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, and we are installing new communications equipment to enable stealthier connectivity at higher data rates with battle group commanders, theater CINCs and our national leaders. ANTI-SUBMARINE WARFARE My staff and I work hard to make submarines available to retain proficiency in this core Navy competency. With only about 5 attack submarines available for local operations at any given time, however, we are challenged to provide realistic ASW training opportunities for submarines, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and surface ships. We look for opportunities during our 6-month deployments to build proficiency with our allies, although many planned exercises succumb to real world emergent tasking. Reduced submarine force levels, resource constraints on modernizing exiting ASW sensors and a reduction in fleet ASW training opportunities have taken a toll, and have reduced overall ASW capability and proficiency. Additionally, ASW is more difficult today against new generations of quiet nuclear and diesel-electric submarines, and ASW will become increasingly critical as potential future adversaries acquire technologically sophisticated weapon systems like advanced diesel electric and perhaps even nuclear powered submarines on the open market. These submarines are not cheap, and acquisition should be viewed as a dedicated effort by some to challenge U.S. power projection capability. Our modernization efforts are helping us to buy back ASW capability. Our Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion (ARCI) Program – now called AN/BQQ –10 - has delivered a major upgrade in acoustic processing power to the fleet. Units deployed with ARCI coupled with the new TB-29 towed array have seen a dramatic improvement in the ranges at which we can detect and track other submarines. By going to a COTS-based, open architecture system we are moving this capability to the fleet at a pace unheard of in our legacy combat systems. We are currently upgrading our submarines to ARCI at a rate of one per month. Additionally, we are restructuring the processors on our SURTASS ships to receive the same processing and sensor capabilities we are installing on our submarines. STRIKE The recent events in the Balkans and Persian Gulf have again featured the power projection capabilities of our Navy, and the Submarine Force is playing a more prominent role in Tomahawk Strike operations. SSNs have contributed to every operation requiring combat launches of Tomahawks. For example, USS MIAMI launched Tomahawk missiles in strike packages in both Operation Desert Fox and Operation Allied Force, and she is also our first submarine since World War II to launch weapons against targets in different theaters. Submarines consistently provide about 20% of any given carrier battle group's Tomahawk loadout. Although SSNs only provided 4% of the TLAMs launched during Operation Desert Storm, they launched 25% of the Tomahawks fired in Operation Noble Anvil in Kosovo. Submarine strike operations were fully integrated into the Allied battle plan, complementing Allied tactical air operations. Although Naval Tomahawk shooters have not been challenged to date while conducting strike operations, intelligence estimates indicate that future adversaries will attempt to deny access to Naval forces attempting to project power from the littorals. Submarines will be particularly valuable in access-denial scenarios since they can execute Tomahawk strikes from undisclosed locations without warning, often from inside an adversary’s defensive umbrella. Since few nations possess the technologies required to detect or track submarines there is little risk of counterattack. This capability would be of significant value in the early phases of a conflict and would contribute to the safe arrival of follow-on forces. MODERNIZATION CHALLENGES Modernization frequently takes a back seat to urgent “here and now” readiness issues. When extra funds are needed to address readiness shortfalls or rising procurement costs, we tend to dip into our modernization accounts. In recent years, we have delayed funding for such improvements as the submarine high data rate antenna, submarine radio room, periscope upgrades, and signals intelligence (SIGINT) carry-on equipment to pay other bills. Because of your staunch support of acoustic modernization, we have been able to maintain our near-term aggressive procurement of ARCI Sonar Systems, our top modernization program. Because we have underfunded our maintenance accounts, there will continue to be pressure to remove funding from modernization programs in the outyears. PERSONNEL AND MAINTENANCE = THE KEYS TO READINESS While personnel issues are not a direct concern of this subcommittee, my Sailors are central to all of the capabilities the Submarine Force can bring to bear. I would like to begin by thanking you for the work that you in Congress have done in working with the Administration to enhance military pay and compensation. Recently approved pay increases, pay table reform and REDUX retirement reform will go a long way to ensure the viability of a long-term Navy career in the minds of our Sailors, especially important at the end of a decade long period of retrenchment in the defense establishment. Despite our current challenges, the submarine force is able to attract and retain quality people. Our recent retention and accession numbers are encouraging. However, given the small size of submarine crews, where even 1 or 2 Sailors can make a big difference in crew capability, and the demand for highly technically trained Sailors places special burdens on those responsible for manning our submarines. I take this burden very seriously. In my two years as COMSUBGRU TWO, I have gone to sea on more than twenty attack submarines, visited a wide variety of submarine support commands, and I have spoken with hundreds of Sailors. They are motivated, eager and forthright in their discussions with me, with over three-quarters of their questions devoted to their quality of life concerns. As a result of these discussions, I have made improving their life at sea and in port my top priority. In conjunction with the CNO and Secretary Danzig’s initiatives, I’m looking for ways for us to "work smarter" not harder at the deckplate level. Installing garbage grinders on our submarines (which, perhaps surprisingly, significantly reduce Sailor housekeeping workload while at sea) and using corrosion resistant materials and techniques to reduce traditional Navy painting and chipping are very simple examples in this area. We are working these initiatives in close coordination with the Type Commander, and we’re tackling the workload imposed on our crews, seeking ways to eliminate unnecessary preventive maintenance and to ensure the right level of maintenance support from our shore-based infrastructure. Navy wide pay and reenlistment and recruiting initiatives are key to the personnel health of the Submarine Force. In a similar vein, submarine maintenance is a central pillar of our Force’s readiness. Similar in importance to the aviation Flying Hour Program or the surface ship Steaming Day funding, submarine maintenance funding directly affects which of our submarines can go to sea on any given day. With the dramatic draw down in submarine tenders and Navy initiatives to both consolidate and regionalize maintenance, submarine maintenance programs are in a challenging state of flux. My staff works closely with the technical community, the maintenance commands and submarine waterfront personnel to ensure that the proper resources are in place to meet the rigorous demands of submarine maintenance. We appreciate the funding that you have provided to maintain fleet readiness in recent supplemental appropriations. Without strong and sustained support for fleet submarine maintenance funds, immediate shortfalls in submarine services would appear and the long-term health of the Submarine Force would degrade. NEEDS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY SUBMARINE FORCE Given this review of submarine force structure, submarine mission areas and the inexorable pull for submarine services, I would like to close with my views on the requirements for submarines as we enter the 21st century. First, as Admiral Jay Johnson, our CNO, has stated emphatically: “Numbers count.” I must forcefully state that 68 SSNs is the number of attack submarines the nation needs. We are gapping requirements and exceeding deployed OPTEMPO now with 56 submarines. Last year our deployed OPTEMPO exceeded eighty percent, which is simply not sustainable. Second, stealth is paramount. We must protect and enhance acoustic and non-acoustic stealth as our first order of business. Stealth equals access, and early and sustained access allows SSNs to prepare the battlespace for follow-on forces. Third, connectivity must be improved to take full advantage of an SSN’s intelligence collection and strike potential, to ensure submarines are fully integrated into joint operations, and to help pave the way for the Navy’s transformation to a “knowledge superior” service. While strides have been made which belie our reputation as the Silent Service, we must work harder to improve our bandwidth while maintaining stealth. This includes seeking new technological solutions to give submarines the ability to communicate while operating at deep depth and at high speed, not just while at periscope depth. Fourth, the Submarine Force must be a full partner in future weapons and payload developments to ensure we can bring the required capabilities to the warfighting CINCs. Submarine involvement in Tomahawk development from its inception is a good model to build upon, but we must ensure that we expand our payload capability where it makes sense to do so. Additional combat capability is the key metric here. Fifth, new submarines must be built with ease of maintenance firmly in place. We must take advantage of modular construction, advanced coatings, commercial off the shelf (COTS) components and high technology to reduce the maintenance burden placed on the backs of our Sailors. Sixth, submarine maintenance needs your continued support. Our maintenance infrastructure and spare parts supplies are always a source of concern for me. Finally, our submarines must be manned by the right people, in the right numbers. Here again, quantity imparts its own quality – the metric here is quality of life. Submarines, manned below their authorized strength and with Sailors missing the skills needed to fight and maintain their ships, cannot deliver combat capability to the warfighting CINCs. This is a long-term challenge since the Ensigns and Seamen reporting to their first submarines this year will be the Commanding Officers and Chiefs of the Boat of the year 2015. We must work hard to attract and retain the nation’s best and brightest so that we can take our submarines into harm’s way and, more importantly, bring them home intact. Your continued strong support of the Submarine Force, submarine modernization programs and the VIRGINIA Class construction program will insure that the U.S. Navy retains its preeminence as a power projection force now and in the future. Chairman Hunter and members of the Military Procurement Subcommittee, thank you for the honor of testifying today. I stand ready to answer your questions. --USN--