Greenert Provides Navy Update in Pentagon News Conference
By Navy Seaman Jennifer Lebron
Defense Media Activity, Social Media Management
WASHINGTON, July 22, 2013 Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert discussed the status of the fleet, readiness impact due to sequestration, and modifications to Navy policies at a July 19 Pentagon news conference.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert conducts a news conference at the Pentagon to provide an update on the status of the Navy, July 19, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"Presence remains our mandate," Greenert said. "This is what we are mostly about, and it's an essential element of our defense strategic guidance."
Greenert pointed out that the Navy has about 95 ships deployed and about 3,700 operational aircraft. The current ship count in the Mediterranean Sea has been higher than it has been through the years, he added.
USS Kearsarge and USS San Antonio are positioned in the Red Sea and stand ready with a range of missions and operations if required, the admiral said. USS Nimitz is deployed to the North Arabian Sea supporting ground operations in Afghanistan with close air support, he added, and piracy in the region is slowly increasing and is becoming more of a concern.
In the Pacific theater, the Talisman Saber exercise started July 14 off the coast of Australia and in the Coral Sea. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group and Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group assets are participating in the biennial training exercise.
In the U.S. Southern Command area, sequestration spending cuts have resulted in no combat ships in the region, Greenert said, though noncombatant ships and other forces are there.
The Navy's first Spearhead-class joint high-speed vessel will deploy to the Southern Command area of operation in fiscal year 2014, the Navy’s top officer told reporters.
"Presence forward, assuring our allies and deterring potential adversaries is our primary function," Greenert said. "I think we are out there at what I call the maritime crossroads where it matters, when it matters."
The admiral also addressed the readiness impact of sequestration spending cuts for fiscal 2013 and 2014.
A carrier strike group and an amphibious ready group are deployed to the each of the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific theaters, Greenert said, but the surge force is a concern. Only one CSG and one ARG are ready to surge if needed, he explained, noting that the Navy had three CSGs and ARGs ready to surge a year ago.
Despite reduced operations and maintenance spending in fiscal 2013, Greenert said, the Navy's focus is to keep sea commands ready for deployments scheduled for fiscal 2014.
For fiscal 2014, the chief of naval operations said, sequestration could reduce each account by 10 percent. And the Navy possibly faces deeper cuts for fiscal 2014, he added, because fiscal 2013 used money available from previous years to help in mitigating the effects of sequestration.
Greenert said his goal is to preserve shipbuilding and aviation contracts through this process. Meanwhile, furlough impacts to the civilian force continue to be a challenge.
"Regrettably, we're enduring furloughs," Greenert said. "It's an impact, I felt it last week. I feel it this week. It hurts our readiness, and it hurts our productivity as well."
Greenert also provided noted on organizational changes in the Navy’s battle against sexual assault and a revision to the Navy Exchange alcohol sales policy. With more than half of all sexual assaults involving alcohol, he said, the Navy had to look more critically at the atmosphere and climate of its bases.
Greenert said after a review of Navy Exchange alcohol sales trends at base stores, the data showed a high volume of sales occurring late into the night and early morning and were not in line with mainstream retailers.