Navy Embraces Transformation Journey
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 2, 2004 The Navy is "moving out smartly" on its transformation journey, the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command said at the Annapolis Naval History Symposium April 1.
The framework for naval transformation is set with Sea Power 21, Adm. William J. Fallon told those assembled in the Naval Academy's Alumni Hall.
"This vision is a network of a jointly integrated, sea-based power-projection force capable of assuring coalition and joint force access in protecting America's interests throughout the world," he added.
Fallon said he believes transformation centers on three areas people, hardware and organizational processes.
The Navy is implementing several initiatives to maximize the potential of sailors and fundamentally change the way "we assess, empower, educate and train our people," said the admiral.
Fallon cited the recently created Naval Personnel Development Command in Norfolk, Va., as an example. He talked about simulation and distance learning. "Future ship classes will be built with advanced electronic classrooms and embedded training systems to provide education on site, on demand for our sailors," he added.
One of the Navy's broadest transformation efforts, said the commander, is its substitution of capital for people through automation. The benefits of increasing operational tempo and availability of ships without increasing the number of sailors deployed could significantly raise the percentage of time that ships can be kept forward-deployed, he noted.
"These initiatives will place fewer of America's men and women in harm's way and yield savings in personnel expenditures," said Fallon.
On the technology side, Fallon spoke of a new family of ships littoral combatants that are high-speed, shallow draft, multimission modular ships designed to ensure sea control in the littorals.
Two new high-speed vessels, the Joint Venture and Swift, are large catamarans that can travel at speeds of 50 knots, said the admiral. They've been used in the war on terror, he added.
"The real, immediate change," said Fallon, "is the proliferation of unmanned vehicles, whether they be air, surface or subsurface. I believe this will truly revolutionize a lot of Navy capabilities."
Making changes with personnel and equipment without making adjustments in organizational processes would be like sitting on a three-legged stool that only had two legs the same length, said Fallon.
The Navy has undertaken "dramatic initiatives to employ resources more efficiently," he said. The integration of Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation has resulted in a more capable naval strike force and saved billions of dollars, he added.
Fleet Forces Command is also leading an effort to integrate the active and reserve force structure.
The objective, said Fallon, is to transform the Navy to "ensure its basic relevancy, its viability and capabilities for the 21st century."