Undersea Forces Critical to Future Defense
Undersea Forces Critical to Future Defense, Commander Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.,
American Forces Press Service.
Groton, Connecticut -- (AFPS)
-- November 21, 2011 – Undersea forces will become increasingly
important to the nation’s defense and in exerting military influence in the
future, the commander of Submarine Group 2 said here last week.
Navy Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge provided his insights after a Nov. 17 visit
here from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who called Groton “the home of our
submarine force” and the “submarine capital of the world.”
“It’s the original home of the Nautilus, and it is, from my point of view,
one of the very important elements of our national defense that you guys are
doing,” Panetta said.
Breckenridge ultimately has operational authority of all attack submarines in
the Atlantic region.
“There are three squadrons here in Groton, Conn., and there’s one squadron in
Norfolk, Va.,” the admiral said. “There used to be two, but we just consolidated
to one squadron of ships in Norfolk, Va.”
Breckenridge also oversees the building of additions to the undersea force
and ensures the manning, training and equipping of submarines for availability
to U.S. combatant commanders.
Submarines have been critical to national defense in the past and continue to
remain relevant in today’s fight, the admiral said.
“If you look at historian records, many will claim that it was the undersea
forces that won the war in the Pacific, especially, at least, until we were able
to get the surface forces back up and on their feet,” he said, referring to
events following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United
States into World War II.
Submarines have been used in operations as recently as Operation Odyssey
Dawn, Breckenridge noted. “With the United Nations charter, our forces were sent
in to soften up the air defenses of Libya to allow the flow of other forces,” he
“This gets back [to the] principle [that if] we don’t have superiority in the
air to have our way at the onset of a crisis, we’re going to need somebody who
can penetrate the defenses and soften up the adversary so then we can flow those
other forces in to establish air dominance,” he said. “So in the onset of that
campaign, we, the undersea forces, were called upon to attack land targets in
Breckenridge lauded the performance of one of the Navy’s attack submarines
during the NATO-led operation.
“The USS Florida was called upon to be one of the shooters in Operation
Odyssey Dawn against Libya,” he said. “They launched over 90 Tomahawk cruise
missiles with eye-watering, flawless performance. Never before in the history of
the United States of America has one ship conducted that much land attack
strikes, conventionally, in one short time period. And we did it from undersea.”
In addition to the USS Florida, the USS Providence and USS Scranton, both
Submarine Group 2 boats, also participated in the Libyan strike, Vice Adm.
William E. Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, said March 19.
Breckenridge noted that undersea forces have provided a presence during the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he spoke about future challenges due to
declining force structure.
“If we pull out of Afghanistan, does that mean I don’t need as many
submarines in [U.S. Central Command]?” he asked. “You might say, ‘Yes this is
going to be good, even for the undersea forces. … It’s time for us to pull back
and send those submarines to other areas they need to go.’
“The reality is, from my viewpoint … [that] as we remove our land forces from
that region, the only thing that is going to provide stability in the future
from a potential aggressor, like say an Iran, is going to be our maritime
forces,” Breckenridge added.
The admiral referred to this concept as “regional maritime denial.”
“The need to have undersea forces, not only remains, but perhaps, increases
to provide a counterbalance to make sure no aggressive action is taken in
theater as we withdraw from Afghanistan,” he said. “So there’s going to be a
greater burden placed on the Navy, at large, and again, from an undersea,
asymmetric value perspective, I think there’s going to be a greater demand for
undersea forces to provide a counterbalance there.”
Navy Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge
Submarine Group 2
Panetta Visits ‘Submarine Capital of the World’