US Navy CNO Vows Bold Steps To Improve Efficiency

US Navy CNO Vows Bold Steps To Improve Efficiency

By Dialogo
October 20, 2010

The U.S. Navy’s top uniformed officer vowed to take bold steps to improve the efficiency of naval operations and make hard decisions to buy weapons that are truly needed — not just desired.

“There is no option,” Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead said on Monday in a 15-page annual guidance document that mapped out his priorities. “We will question every requirement and only develop those capabilities we need, not just want.”

Roughead underscored the Navy’s commitment to winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where 14,500 sailors are deployed on the ground, and another 12,000 support operations offshore.

As the United States draws down ground forces in that region, he said it would also be increasingly important to maintain a strong naval presence, especially in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, areas vital to shipping and trade.

Defense contractors like Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, and Lockheed Martin Corp, are waiting for news from the Navy and other military services about their future weapons spending plans.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has launched a drive to cut $100 billion in overhead and low priority programs over the next five years, to ensure that overall defense spending can continue to grow by 1 percent after inflation. But many analysts and industry executives fear a decline may be in the offing.

Roughead said the Navy would focus on five key areas:

continuing as the dominant naval force in the world and ensuring that limited resources are invested appropriately

reaching appropriate force structure based on a shipbuilding plan that envisions building the current fleet from 288 ships to a minimum of 313, and a peak of 320 ships by 2024, and cuts overhead and unneeded infrastructure

further work to improve the security of naval computer networks, with an eye to using “information as warfare”

accountability and affordability in acquisition processes, looking at total ownership costs, common ship hulls and airframes, lower energy use and reduced manpower

greater emphasis on cooperative agreements with foreign allies and nongovernmental organizations, and support for arms sales to improve the capabilities of partner navies.

Roughead gave no details on specific Navy or Marine Corps programs that could be cut as a result of the fiscal 2012 budget process, but said the U.S. military clearly faced great challenges in the current economic environment.

“As I look to the future, I see continued disorder in the global security environment, a slow economic recovery, and increasing demand on our Navy,” he said, saying naval costs had never been greater and continued to rise.

Many analysts expect the Pentagon’s fiscal 2012 budget, to be released in early February, to scrap the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle being developed by General Dynamics.

Roughead did not mention the program by name, but underscored his commitment to working closely with the Marine Corps, who’s funding falls under the larger Navy budget, and helping the Marines get back into more amphibious warfare.