Remarks at Navy League Sea
Refocusing the Navy on
Building Lethality for High-End Conflicts
Remarks at Navy League
Sea-Air-Space-Convention by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, National
Harbor, Maryland, May 17, 2016.
Source : U.S. Departent of Defense.
Good afternoon, everyone. And thanks, John. I appreciate that.
And thanks for all you do.
You know, I said when John was nominated to be Chief of Naval
Operations that I had to wrestle him away from the Secretary of Energy, which I
did every day since you've been sworn in. I'm glad I won that fight. Ernie Moniz
and I said if we could clone John Richardson, that's what we'd do. But we
wouldn't, so I got him.
He's doing an excellent job to steer the Navy, a terrific
job. And it’s wonderful to join all of you, distinguished guests, leaders of the
nation’s Sea Services, members of the Defense Department, past and present, on
this, the 51st, as I understand, anniversary of this important exposition.
And I also want to recognize Skip -- Where did Skip go to?
There you are, Skip -- and the entire Navy League. For over a century, the Navy
League has been a powerful voice for stronger sea service. And thanks in part to
the advocacy of the Navy League and its members, the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps,
Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine have helped defend our country, served as a
linchpin of global security and supported prosperity by ensuring the free flow
of commerce that has enabled many nations, including our own, to rise and to
prosper. And with help from the Navy League and all of you, it always will.
Today's security environment is dramatically different from
the one we've had in the last 25 years, but our sea services are as important as
ever. We face no fewer than five major, immediate, evolving challenges. We are,
first of all, countering the prospect of Russian aggression and coercion,
especially in Europe. Two, we're managing historic change in the vital
Asia-Pacific region, the single region of the world of most consequence for
America's future. Balancing China's rise, which by itself is OK, with some of
its actions such as those in the South China Sea, which aren't and with which we
share the serious concerns of other countries in the region. And three, along
with our allies, we're strengthening their deterrent and defense forces in the
face of North Korea's continued nuclear pursuits and provocations. And four,
we're checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf and
protecting our friends and allies there, especially Israel. And five, we're
countering terrorism, especially by accelerating the certain defeat of ISIL, in
its parent tumor first in Iraq and Syria, and everywhere else it is
metastasizing around the world, as well as protecting our people here in the
We're meeting these challenges thanks in part to today's
sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and merchant marines. I've seen them taking on
these challenges around the world, in the South China Sea not too long ago
aboard the USS John C. Stennis and earlier than that, the USS Theodore
Roosevelt; in port, in Tallinn, Estonia with sailors of the USS SAN ANTONIO,
fresh off a multilateral NATO exercise; and in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS
Kearsarge as part of a large American regional commitment to both countering
ISIL and confronting Iranian malign influence there.
On shore and afloat, in the air and under the sea, in every time zone around the
world, our men and women in uniform are confronting these challenges in order to
protect the American people and our interests worldwide.
And in order to ensure that they have the capabilities that
they need, we're making decisions based on the challenges we face and the right
strategies that will help us to meet them. And we're pursuing new technology
development, along with new operational concepts and new organizational
constructs, all of which are reflected in or supported by our 2017 budget
submission to maintain our military's technological superiority and assure we
always have an operational advantage over any potential adversary.
Our budget refocuses the Navy on building lethality for
high-end conflicts. We're looking at our overall warfighting posture, which is
signified by presence, because it's overall posture that determines whether our
maritime forces can deter and if necessary win a full- spectrum conflict. Our
budget this year increases the number of ships to meet the department's 308-ship
posture requirement by 2021. And even more importantly, it will make our naval
forces more capable, more survivable, and more lethal, too.
Lethality is the key word here, as Admiral Richardson has
stressed. We're investing in ways to make our weapons more lethal, as well as
making our ships harder to find and harder to attack.
That's why our investments reflect an emphasis on payloads
over platforms alone, on the ability to strike from sanctuary quickly so that no
target is out of reach, and on closing capability shortfalls that have developed
over the last several years.
First, the budget maximizes our undersea advantage – an area
where we should be and will be doing more, not less, going forward. It provides
funding for important payloads and munitions, included in improved heavy weight
torpedo, as well as research and development for an advanced lightweight torpedo.
It includes $29.4 billion to buy nine Virginia-class attack submarines over the
next five years – four of those submarines, up from three in last year's budget,
will be equipped with a versatile Virginia Payload Module, which can more than
triple each submarine's strike capacity.
Next week, I'll see a Virginia-class-ship building up close
in Groton. The budget also includes new funding for unmanned, undersea systems
in multiple sizes and diverse payloads that can, importantly, operate in shallow
waters where manned submarines cannot.
Second, the budget makes significant investments to bolster
the lethality of our surface fleet forces, so they can deter and if necessary,
prevail in a full spectrum conflict, even against most advanced adversaries. It
maximizes production of the SM-6, one of our most modern and capable missiles,
an investment doubly important, given the SM-6's new anti-ship capability. And
it invests in developing and acquiring several other key munitions and payloads,
including the SM-3 high altitude ballistic missile interceptor, the Long-Range
Anti-Ship Missile, and the most advanced Tactical Tomahawk land-attack missile,
which is being upgraded for maritime strike.
The budget also invests a total of $18.3 billion to buy two
Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers each year over the next five years
– a total of 10 – as well as nearly $3 billion for modernizing our destroyers,
12 of which will also receive upgrades to their combat systems. It continues to
support 11 carrier strike groups, investing a total of more than $13 billion for
new construction of Ford-class carriers, and it supports modernizing our guided
And third, to ensure the U.S. military's and our sea
services' continued air superiority and global reach, the budget makes important
investments in aviation platforms and payloads. We're investing a total of $8
billion in a wide range of versatile munitions, including buying more of the
Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, as I said, the extended range of Anti-Radiation
Guided Missile too, and the AIM-120D air-to-air missiles.
In particular, our Naval Aviation component is focused on the
concept of integrated warfare to project power over and from the sea, and at the
heart of this concept with the F-35, the P-8, and other air assets that are
critical nodes which capture and disseminate information in an unprecedented
manner, ultimately improving lethality across the battle space. That's one
reason why we're maturing our investments in the stealthy five generation F-35
JSF, and to make sure our fleet has a sufficient quantity of advanced tactical
aircraft long into the future, our budget also increases the Navy and the Marine
Corps F-35 procurements. We're completing procurement in the advanced P-8A
Poseidon maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft as well.
We're also buying an additional 16 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
fighter jets between now and F.Y. 2018, providing a significant boost to the
health of the Navy and Marine Corps fourth generation fighter aircraft fleet so
it's ready and capable for today's missions. And lastly, to address the Navy and
Marine Corps maintenance backlog in tactical aviation, the budget funds a 15
percent increase in F/A-18 depot maintenance capacity for the Navy and the
With this budget, our fleet will be larger and our sea
services will be much more effective, potent and lethal than they are today
because they'll be equipped with the weapons and the advanced capabilities that
they will need to deter any aggressor, and make any aggressor, who isn't
deterred, very much regret their decision to take on the United States.
Now, in order to maintain that lethality and capability ahead
of all others in what is, after all, a competitive world, we need to continue to
invest in innovation, to think outside of our five-sided box. That's why one of
my top priorities as Secretary of Defense is to build, and in some cases to
rebuild, the bridges between the Pentagon and the innovative business community
that for decades has buttressed one of America's greatest strengths, namely
superior technology. And as I'm building bridges from the DOD side, I know there
are those in the private sector, including members of the Navy League
represented here today, who are building from the other, and we appreciate that.
Our men and women in uniform operate in an increasingly
competitive and changing world – particularly when it comes to technology. And
when I began my career, most technology of consequence originated in America,
and much of that was sponsored by the government, particularly by the Department
Now, today, we're still major sponsors, but much more
technology is commercial and the technology base is global.
Indeed, technologies once possessed by only the most
formidable militaries have now come into the hands of previously less-capable
militaries and even non-state actors. Meanwhile, nations like Russia and China
are modernizing their militaries to try to close the technology gap.
So to stay ahead of those challenges, to stay the best, and
to keep our edge, we're investing aggressively in high-end innovation and to
enhance our own asymmetric and hybrid capabilities.
For example, we're investing a combined total of $34 billion
across the cyber, electronic warfare and space domains in F.Y. '17 alone. We're
building fast, resilient microdrones that can be kicked out the back of a
fighter jet moving at Mach .9 and fly through heavy winds.
We're developing an arsenal plane, which will function as a
very large airborne magazine with different conventional payloads, networked to
fifth-generation aircraft that act as forward sensors and targeting nodes. And
for the Navy, we're working on autonomous, self-driving boats, which can network
together to do all sorts of missions, from fleet defense to close-in
surveillance – including around an island, real or artificial – without putting
our sailors at risk. These are just a few of many examples.
Overall, our budget invests nearly $72 billion in R&D. To
give you a little context, that's more than double what Apple, Intel and Google
spent on R&D last year combined. That includes $12.5 billion specifically
invested in science and technology to support groundbreaking work happening in
the military services in our dozens of DOD labs and engineering centers across
the country, and at DARPA to develop and advance disruptive technologies and
capabilities in areas like undersea systems, hypersonics, electronic warfare,
big data analytics, advanced materials, energy and propulsion, robotics,
autonomy, and advanced sensing in computing.
And at the same time, we're also investing in further
partnerships with our nation's innovative private-sector in technology
communities – in places like Boston, Silicon Valley, Austin, Seattle, Northern
Virginia and America's many, many other hubs of globally unrivaled innovation.
Last week, I visited and announced enhancements to a
path-breaking innovation hub that we launched in Silicon Valley. I call it the
Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx – which is essentially an outpost
of us, of the Pentagon on the West Coast – to help broaden the range of great
companies that we work with. We've launched and funded Manufacturing Innovation
Institutes across the country to advance emerging technologies like flexible
hybrid electronics, which will make it possible to seamlessly print lightweight,
flexible, structural integrity sensors right onto the surface of ships and
aircraft; revolutionary textiles which combine fibers and yarns with things like
circuits and LEDs, solar cells, electronic sensors and other capabilities to
create fabrics that can see and hear and sense and communicate, store energy,
regulate temperature, monitor health, change color and much more.
But as good as America's technology is, it's nothing compared
to our people – they're the reason why our military is the finest fighting force
the world has ever known. It's them. And in the future, our mission requires
that we continue to recruit and retain the very best talent. That's why we
opened up all combat positions to women who qualify, in order to expand our
access to 100 percent of Americans for our all-volunteer force.
It's also why we're building what I call the Force of the
Future, to ensure that amid changes in generations, technologies and labor
markets, we're always postured to bring in, develop and retain young men and
women as fine as the ones it's our privilege to have in our military today.
Last November, I announced the first link to the Force of the
Future, with over a dozen new initiatives, including programs such as the
Defense Digital Service, which brings in talent from America's vibrant,
innovative business community for a time—a few months, a year, a project—to help
solve some of our most complex problems, and also expanding opportunities for
those currently in DOD both military and civilian to gain new skills,
experiences and perspectives by working outside of DOD. And reforms to improve
and modernize our talent management systems, to make sure that we recruit, train
and retain the best people for our best -- for our force in the best possible
In January, I announced the second link, a set of several
initiatives with a singular focus: strengthening the support we provide our
military families because this is, after all, a married force in the Navy. To
improve their quality of life and for our purposes, get them to stay, stick with
us, including expanded maternity and paternity leave, as well as extended
childcare on our bases and giving families the possibility of some geographic
flexibility in return for additional commitments.
Competing for good people for an all-volunteer force is a
critical part of our military edge, and everyone should understand this need any
my commitment to it. And our work on this front continues full steam ahead – and
while these first two links are important – we'll have more to announce on the
Force of the Future in coming weeks.
In order to meet the challenges of the future, we're also
innovating operationally, making sure that our contingency plans and operations
are more flexible and dynamic in every region. Because our military has to have
the agility and ability to win, both the fights we're in and the wars that could
happen tomorrow—the ones we're in, the ones that could happen today and the ones
that could happen tomorrow, I should say all three—we're always updating our
plans and developing new operational approaches to account for any changes in
potential adversary threats and capabilities, always innovating to stay ahead of
that—including ways to overcome emerging threats, such as cyberattacks,
anti-satellite weapons, hybrid threats and anti-access area denial systems. And
because we owe it to America's taxpayers to spend our defense dollars as wisely
and responsibly as possible, we're also pushing for needed reforms across the
As a learning organization, DOD has a long history of
striving to reform our command structures and improve how our strategies and
policies are formulated, integrated and implemented. That's why last month I
proposed several reforms to the Goldwater-Nichols Act – for example, to improve
the Chairman of Joint Chief's ability to integrate, on my and the President's
behalf, our military capabilities across domains and across cross-regional and
cross-functional challenges, to simplify command and control and address where
headquarters have become less efficient than they should be and to streamline
our acquisition system. And I appreciate that the House and the Senate have
advanced several of our recommendations in the annual National Defense
In other areas, though, I have concerns about some of the
reform proposals being put forward. One area I must comment on is the proposal—the
Senate version of the NDAA—to extensively reorganize the functions of the Under
Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
I believe strongly in acquisition reform. It's a competitive
world and we need to make the best use of taxpayer dollars. I appreciate the
serious attention that both SASC and HASC have given this imperative in their
bills. I share the views of the SASC that over time, the acquisition executive’s
position has become so preoccupied with program management, including a lot of
unnecessary bureaucracy associated with it, that perhaps takes some management
attention away from the research and engineering function.
In fact, I know this myself because I once served as the
Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and I know the
research and engineering function, both as an engineer and scientist and also
because my first job was for then-Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, who had
been a Director of Defense, Research and Engineering. And his Under Secretary,
who was called the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering, not AT&L, in
those days, was Bill Perry, who also became Secretary of Defense.
And I worked for and with every other incumbent of that job
as it was renamed over time, including on the Defense Science Board for Robert
McNamara’s Director of Defense, Research and Engineering, who was the Chairman
of the DSB, Johnny Foster.
So, I do, however, have a serious caution: separating
research and engineering from manufacturing, which is implied in this proposal,
could introduce problems in the transition from the research and engineering
phase to the production phase and then to the sustainment phase, and that is in
fact, a frequent stumbling block for programs.
One need only remember the Joint Strike Fighter's growing
pains, which I remember quite well, in moving from Engineering and Manufacturing
Design, to Low-Rate Initial Reduction.
Procurement and sustainment are tightly coupled with
technology and engineering and development, and those two together represent
about 90 percent of program cost. So, separating these functions makes no sense,
as procurement and sustainment costs are controlled by decisions made during
development. This proposal could also derail the success we've had lowering our
contract cost grow in the most high-risk contracts to what is now a 35-year low.
Finally, an overly prescriptive approach risks unhelpful micro-management with a
high potential for negative second and third order effects. So, I would like to
work with the committees on this and other provisions of their bill.
I'm also compelled to address the budget gimmickry included
in the proposed NDAA in the House.
Most disturbingly, it raids war funds in a time of war, when
we have men and women deployed in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It
also threatens the budget stability that undergirds all of the reforms,
investments and initiatives I've detailed here today. And it threatens the
readiness of the force – an actual contrast to the narrative its proponents
propound. Now, I was an early advocate for Washington to escape gridlock, and to
come together behind an agreement along the lines of last fall's Bipartisan
Budget Act, for we in the Department are very grateful. The passage of this act
gave us some much needed stability to plan and build for the future, after years
of gridlock and turbulence.
That budget deal set the size of our budget, and with this
degree of certainty, we focused on its shape and building the FY 2017 budget
we've submitted and I've described—changing that shape in fundamental but
carefully considered ways to adjust to a new strategic year end to seize
opportunities for the future.
But the budget stability that was supposed to last for two
years is already under threat after only six months with a proposal to underfund
DOD's overseas warfighting accounts by $18 billion and spend that money on
programmatic items we didn't request. This approach is deeply troubling. It's
flawed for several reasons.
First and foremost for me, it's gambling with warfighting
money at a time of war, proposing to cut off funding for ongoing operations in
the middle of the fiscal year. Moreover, it would spend money taken from the war
account on things, as I said, that are not DOD's highest priorities across the
It's a step in the direction of unraveling the Bipartisan
Budget Act, which provided critical stability the DOD needs and leaves us facing
now the Department's greatest strategic threat, which is a return to
sequestration, a $100 billion in looming, automatic cuts beginning next year if
this isn't fixed.
And it's another road to nowhere with uncertain chances of
ever becoming a law, and a high probability of leading to more gridlock and
another continuing resolution -- exactly the kind of terrible distraction we've
had for years. It undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer
dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles friends, and emboldens
Particularly concerning is the potential impact of this
proposal on the readiness of our force. Whether taken from overseas contingency
operations or added on top of existing resources, buying force structure in this
fiscal year without the resources to sustain it in future years is not the path
to increased readiness. It's a path to a hollow force. It exacerbates the
readiness challenges we currently have. Our readiness recovery plans are
centered on synchronized and sustainable manning, training and equipping
pipelines that are rigorously shaped based on the size of the force.
For that reason, increasing the size of the force without
sustaining our ranges and schoolhouses over time doesn't produce readiness.
Buying additional force structure without expanding depots and shipyards in the
years to come doesn't produce readiness.
Simply put, readiness is the most critical priority right now
for each one of our services. And that's why our budget aggressively funded the
readiness plans of each of the services, based on the most that is actually
executable such as, for example, take an Army example, the maximum number of
rotations through the National Training Centers. Readiness is the core of our
mission, from the forces on the Korean Peninsula standing ready to “fight
tonight,” to the ships patrolling the Persian Gulf, to the pilots flying over
the Baltics. And the readiness of our men and women in uniform to carry out
their missions and return home safely will always be my highest priority.
Looking ahead, that's why I ordered a strategic portfolio review to determine if
we are doing everything possible to help the services continue to recover their
high-end combat readiness next year. We'll make adjustments to our plans in
funding in FY 2018 based on the outcome of that review.
The raids on wartime funding in the House authorization bill
and the concerning approach to reforming our research, engineering and
acquisition enterprise in the Senate bill represent two specific concerns. The
fact is, these bills have become lengthy and extraordinarily prescriptive. And
the pages and provisions continue to accumulate from year to year. It's
cumulative. They've been used repeatedly to block necessary reform in the
Department, such as BRAC, and a wide range of force management approaches which
are needed to sustain our enterprise and operate effectively.
I would respectfully suggest that the informed expert
judgment of the civilian and military leadership at the Department of Defense,
which is embodied in our budget proposal, should receive greater support and be
subject to less micromanagement.
If a final version of the NDAA reaches the President this
year and includes a raid on war funding that risks stability and gambles with
war funding, jeopardizes readiness and rejects key judgments in the department,
I'll be compelled to recommend that he veto the bill. I'm hopeful, however, that
we can work with Congress to achieve a better solution. Our warfighters deserve
nothing less because our mission is a deadly serious one.
It's been said that security is like oxygen; when you have
enough of it, you tend to pay no attention to it, but when you don't have enough,
you can think of nothing else. The men and women of our military are not only
defending the United States and its people, they're providing the oxygen that
provides better lives and a better world.
It's in the new commitment. I saw the same dedication to
these principles last month when I was at the American Cemetery in Manila, where
17,000 Americans, many sailors and Marines, are buried after making the ultimate
sacrifice in the Pacific. And I see it in our newest personnel and I'm sure I'll
see the same commitment in the eyes of our Navy and Marine officers next week at
the Naval Academy commencement in Annapolis.
Because in a new strategic era and a time of great change, we
must and will continue to ensure the security, stability and prosperity that has
meant so much to so many here at home and around the world. To do so, we'll
invest and innovate, we'll change how we plan, how we operate and how we fight.
But we'll never change what we're willing to fight for: for
our safety and freedoms, for those of our friends and allies and for the values
and principles that have produced security, stability and prosperity for all for
With the help of the Navy League and many others in this
room, we'll continue to do that for years to come.
Thank you so much for being here.