Predictable Deployments, Future Fleets Crucial to New Navy Chief
By David Mays
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2007 Sailors can continue to expect predictable deployment lengths and new ships on which to serve, the new chief of naval operations said today.
“If you look at our deployment patterns, only on a couple of occasions have we exceeded our objective of six months,” Adm. Gary Roughead explained.
“We have been able to live within those with the exception of a couple unique deployments, and also with the exception of some of our high-demand, low-density forces that I continue to watch very carefully, specifically our SEALs, our explosive ordnance disposal (teams), and then some of our medical people.”
Roughead spoke with online journalists and “bloggers” during a conference call from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he is attending the International Seapower Symposium. Yesterday, he and the commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard released the first “unified maritime strategy.” Today the admiral elaborated on that plan and the Navy’s future, including the aggressive goal of greatly expanding its fleet.
“With regard to the 313 shipbuilding plan, I consider that to be the floor,” Roughead said. “We are introducing several not just new classes, but new concepts. The littoral combat ship is new, LPD-17 (amphibious transport dock ship) is new. There’s a new class of aircraft carrier. We’ve just taken delivery of some of our new Virginia-class submarines. So we’re at a period where we’re making some significant changes in capability and operating concepts.”
As the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard each continue to build capacity and capability, Roughead has been working with his colleagues in the sister services to figure out what the country expects of its maritime forces and how those forces might best align to serve in a time of increasing globalization.
“The American people want our maritime forces to remain strong, to protect them and their homeland and then a significant desire for us to work with partners around the world,” the admiral said. “And that’s a theme that continued to echo as we held our conversation and worked and discussed our way ahead with some of the strategic thinkers.”
The result of those conversations is a 20-page document called “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.” It was presented at the Navy War College yesterday to 90 navy and coast guard commanders from 98 countries attending the symposium, the largest such maritime gathering ever, the admiral said.
“It is not a document that we will print and have a glossy and leave it on a coffee table someplace,” Roughead said. “We intend to continue to have the discussions and the dialogue. We intend to make the investments that enhance our ability and capability.”
The strategy pledges to bind the maritime services more closely than they have ever been in order to advance America’s prosperity and security despite the demands of an uncertain world, and stresses not just the ability to employ military might, but the need not to.
“It is equally important to prevent wars as it is to win wars and to make the decisions on that which contribute to both,” the admiral said.
A key part of the strategy is to concentrate our “credible combat power” in parts of the world where the United States has “historic and current interests,” Roughead explained, including the Western Pacific, the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean regions.
“By having these forces distributed globally, we are able to deepen and foster relationships with friends and international partners and our allies and then use relationships and our forces to prevent and contain local disruptions,” the admiral said.
The strategy also stresses enhancing global maritime security and increasing the forces’ combined ability to respond effectively and efficiently whenever and wherever disaster strikes.
“For me, having been out in the Pacific, the tsunami was something that had a great effect on me professionally and personally,” Roughead said. “But it was shortly followed by Hurricane Katrina, and we realized that those types of disasters, that we’re not immune to those.”
Enabling his sailors to serve in concert with maritime forces around the planet, during times of war and peace, is a commitment the admiral said he takes seriously.
“Our Navy is globally deployed. It is well trained, well prepared, well equipped,” he said. “And my responsibilities are to be able to ensure that the Navy remains that way.”
(David Mays works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)