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Remarks by Acting Deputy Secretary Fox at the Navy War College, Newport, Rhode Island

Presenter: Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine H. Fox
April 07, 2014

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHRISTINE H. FOX:

Thank you very much for that kind introduction. It’s such a great pleasure to be here with all of you today and to be in Newport, particularly out of the Pentagon and with our future leaders.

Let me uh, begin today though, I’m afraid I have to start by talking about something very sad, and that is the tragic shootings at Fort Hood last week. I really couldn’t start today without recognizing those events, and our thoughts and prayers are of course with the victims, the families and the entire Fort Hood community. Those who remain in the hospital, we pray for their speedy recovery.

As Secretary Hagel said last week, there is nothing more important to us in this institution than the safety and well-being of our people. Unfortunately, we have been down this road too often and there are no easy solutions as you (inaudible). But, I can assure you that Secretary Hagel, myself, and the entire leadership of the department are determined and committed to doing everything we can to prevent something like this from happening again.

So, given these tragic events, it feels odd to talk about strategy and budgets but we in DOD exist to support our nation’s strategic needs, and it is our budgets that allow us to do that while also taking care of our people. So, in some ways the recent events at Fort Hood provide a poignant backdrop for our discussions today.

It is our discussion today, that I want to have with you -- our future leaders -- as I prepare to leave the department and end my tour as acting deputy secretary. It’s been a great privilege to hold this position and to have this time and I’ve had a lot of opportunity to work on some very tough problems.

And so as I’ve prepare to leave, I decided to make my last round of speeches at our nation's War Colleges. After all this is -- these are the institutions -- this institution that prepares you, our future leaders, and how important that is for our nation.

And I particularly think that you will be having the opportunity to lead through a period of profound change and several challenges, as well, of course, as opportunities. And so I am particularly honored to have the opportunity to speak with you today.

Before I get into the specifics, I want to pause and say thank you to our sailors and Marines who have made tremendous sacrifices over the last 13 years. I know that our nation is ready to move on and is often forgetting that we're still at war. But I can assure you that your secretary of defense and I have not forgotten and we are very grateful to you.

But today, I do want to talk about the future environment that we entering -- that you are entering. And I want to talk about the opportunities I see for the Navy and Marine Corps to help secure our gains in Afghanistan, keep the peace in Korea, engage in Africa, provide crucial humanitarian relief to countless nations, and many, many more. The demands and opportunities will be endless, and so will the challenges. And today, I want to talk about both with you.

Before I get into the specifics, I would like to begin with some fiscal and strategic context. Secretary Hagel recently announced the recommendations and proposals that are contained in our president budget '15 budget submission. Now, there is something for everybody to hate in that package. And the secretary and the services and all the leadership of the department are working hard to defend it through hearings and speeches and Hill engagements.

But I can tell you today that that budget is based on strategic imperatives that recognize the time of continued transition and uncertainty for the U.S. military in terms of its role, missions, and yes, available resources. Our last decade has been dominated by protracted land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now, our focus is on preparing to counter a variety of security threats and embracing opportunities on all points of the compass.

Recognizing that America was at this historic inflection point two years ago, President Obama issued strategic guidance to the department. These priorities, as reinforced in the recent 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, reflect our strategy of protecting the American homeland, building security globally by projecting U.S. influence and deterring aggression, and remaining prepared to win decisively against an adversary should deterrence fail.

Since they weigh very heavily in our recent budget choices, it's worth revisiting the specific tenets of the strategic guidance. And so I want to take a moment to list them: shifting operational focus and forces to the Asia Pacific; sustaining commitments to key allies in the Middle East and elsewhere; being prepared to defeat a major adversary in one part of the world, while denying victory to an opportunistic adversary elsewhere; reducing the force planning requirements to conduct large prolonged counterinsurgency and stability operations, but aggressively pursuing terrorist networks and countering weapons proliferation that threatens the homeland; enhancing capabilities in cyberspace and missile defense; maintaining a smaller, but credible nuclear deterrent; and continuing a military presence and pursuing security cooperation in multiple regions -- Europe, Africa, South America and beyond.

OK, I'm taking a breath now, because that was not a small list. So, the world has gotten no less dangerous, no less turbulent and no less in need of American leadership. And in this drawdown, there is no obvious peace dividend as was the case at the end of the Cold War. At the same time, there is also a strong possibility under current law, most notably the return of sequester in fiscal year 2016, that resources for national defense may not reach the levels envisioned to fully support the president's strategy.

Since it appears that leadership's stern warnings about sequestration fell on deaf ears in the Congress last year, Secretary Hagel had no choice but to prepare the department for an era when defense budgets could be significantly lower than expected, wanted or needed. The secretary strongly feels that we must deal with the world as we find it, as it is, not as we'd like it to be, either beyond our borders or within the Beltway.

That said, president budget '15 would provide $115 billion more over the next five years than sequester-level funding. The president and the secretary simply could not send a budget to the Hill that did not support their strategic needs. And the sequester-level budget does not provide a force large enough, ready enough or modern enough to meet those needs.

Now, we believe we have submitted a realistic proposal that reflects strategic imperatives, as well as the resources the department might reasonably expect to receive, albeit with strong leadership and cooperation from the Congress. This budget plan and associated proposals provide a sustainable path towards shaping a balanced force able to protect the nation and fulfill the president's defense strategy, albeit with some additional risk.

By "balanced," we mean a force that is sized to be ready and modern within the resources we might reasonably expect to receive. And to achieve a balanced force, there was no choice but to reduce force structure starting yesterday. Now, shrinking the future military contains real risks as a smaller force, no matter how ready or technologically advanced, can go to fewer places and do fewer things, especially when confronted by multiple contingencies or a scenario in which mass is required.

But attempting to retain a larger force in the face of potential sequester-level cuts would create a decade-long readiness and modernization holiday on top of program cancellations and delays that we've already had to make. While the odds of a major conflict against another technologically advanced military power are relatively low, the consequences of being unprepared for such a contingency could be catastrophic.

This budget submission is guided by history and rigorous analysis. Past major drawdowns -- World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War -- all kept more force structure than could be adequately trained, maintained and equipped, given the defense budgets at the time. This forced the department to disproportionately cut into accounts that fund readiness and modernization, creating the hollow force.

This is why Secretary Hagel has chosen to reduce capacity, the quantity of the forces available, in order to ensure those forces would be properly trained and clearly superior in arms and equipment. But the decisions to be ready and to maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries at the expense of size was a decision based not only on the stark lessons of history, but also on rigorous analysis.

We have done many in-depth studies over the past three years. I know -- I've been a part of most of them. And we did them to prepare the department for smaller budgets. Because frankly, the writing was on the wall. As the wars ended, so would the sizable funds we had become accustomed to during the war years.

To determine the size of forces needed, we used two critically important inputs: the existing operational plans, to include the requirement to defend the homeland; and the global force management allocation plan, the GFMAP, that provided an estimate of steady-state requirements for our forces to support the day-to-day needs of our combatant commanders.

Now, this analysis validated what the last decade-plus of war had already shown in terms of the unique capabilities the Navy and Marine Corps bring to the fight, as well as the role you'll be called upon to play in the future. First, the forward presence naval forces provide is vital to our security future and essential to deterring aggression and maintaining the peace.

When disasters strike abroad, sailors and Marines are the first to respond. When our partners and allies seek a visible sign of our commitment to their defense, you are often the manifestation of our resolve. When the president needs military options, you provide a solution without the need to surge forces from home, as we saw this fall in Syria.

And second, as the department moves away from protracted large-scale stability operations toward a renewed focus on full spectrum, you provide capabilities that are central to the defense strategy from agility and crisis response in Africa to projecting power in Asia to building partnerships in Europe and the Middle East.

Secretary Hagel's budget decisions reflect these strategic realities. For the Navy and Marine Corps, this translated into protecting investments in attack submarines, guided missile destroyers and afloat staging bases, maintaining 11 carrier strike groups, preserving many of the fleet's modernization programs and growing the ship inventory to 300 by Fiscal Year '19, and retaining 323,000 active-duty sailors and 182,000 Marines, including the additional 900 necessary to support the increased security demands at embassies around the world or the new normal.

However, in order to pay for these investments, we had to make tough and farsighted choices now. And examples within the Department of the Navy include the decision to lay up half of the Navy's cruiser fleet, 11 ships, while they undergo modernization upgrades. Now this is clever and it extends the life of the cruiser fleet, while simultaneously modernizing their capabilities. But it also reduces the number of cruisers operationally available day to day. Another example is the choice we had to make to reduce the total number of Joint Strike Fighters we plan to buy for both the Navy and the Marine Corps and more. And none of these decisions were easy.

And keep in mind, all of the changes I've detailed are contingent on Congress providing relief from sequestration in Fiscal Year '16 and beyond. If sequestration returns, as it will, unless Congress changes the law, the department will be forced to make additional cuts that would not allow us to implement our defense strategy and would compromise our national security.

Let me give you some examples. Sequestration would mean that we could not afford to refuel George Washington in 2016 and would need to retire it. Once something like a carrier is taken from the inventory, it is gone. It is too expensive to buy it back. And decisions like this are not reversible. It would require laying up six more ships, slowing the rate at which we buy destroyers and going without an additional 10 large surface combatants by 2023. It would also mean halting procurement of the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter for two full years, diminishing a key capability for our future. And for our Marines, it would mean shrinking from 190,000 to 175,000, rather than leveling off at 182,000 as planned.

Now this is a dark future that we can ill afford. And we're doing all we can to work with Congress to ensure it's a future we and the nation don't face. But it is not yet assured. Whether sequestration returns or not, the reality is that we're counting, more than ever, on your leadership and innovation to solve problems and meet new and often unfamiliar challenges to our nation's security.

So I wanted to leave each of you with a sense of the challenges and the opportunities you will face. So allow me today to offer a few thoughts.

First, before we turn the page on the recent past, indeed very much still the present in Afghanistan, we must institutionalize the hard-fought lessons learned from these past 13 years.

Our Marines have excelled at everything we've asked of them in the COIN fight, from Ramadi and Fallujah to Marja and Sangin, and they continue to do so in Afghanistan today.

For counterterrorism missions outside of the war zone, sailors and Marines have helped disrupt plots and detain terrorists in places like Somalia and Yemen.

So even as we make this transition, we'll need to capture as much of these hard-won experiences as possible, because we'll undoubtedly need it again in the future.

For the Marine Corps. I also challenge you to rediscover your service's core capabilities, even as you build from the lessons of the immediate past to take on new missions.

For the past decade, you have served nearly exclusively on land. And during these conflicts, you have contributed immensely and, I would note, performed heroically to be successful in the prosecution of our campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, the Marines have America's 911 force, ready to answer the call of the global crisis, from attacks on U.S. embassies leading to the new normal to following the Arab spring to disaster relief in the Philippines.

In all, these demands have meant there are now many young, battle-hardened Marines who have spent little time inside of a ship, much less practicing to conduct an assault from the sea.

As you regain your sea legs, I also hope you will work to innovatively update your amphibious concepts of operations. Amphibious landings may not be wise when conducted under a sophisticated defensive umbrella of precision-guided munitions. Amphibious assaults, however, could have an increasing importance in the future, if it could be conducted survivably.

Turning to the Navy, we will need to confront the reality that there's more demand for ships than budgets allow. And I don't see this changing any time soon.

Presence is a key part of our strategy, as I said earlier. Also, the need to be able to fight tonight, as the world gets more dangerous and unpredictable, will translate to high demands for naval forces.

That means that our naval forces need to think creatively about how to provide presence, getting more out of the ships we currently have.

Can we change deployment concepts and keep ships deployed longer, perhaps by scaling up concepts like sea swap, or possibly rotate people in phases instead of conducting an entire crew swap all at once.

I do realize that the more complex the ship, the harder it is to make concepts like this work. But there must be some innovative approaches out there that people like you, our future leaders, can find and adapt.

Also, where can we increase forward-stationing? Where should we? And for what types of ships?

As you know, the secretary of defense is in the Asia Pacific right now, and just announced the addition of two ballistic missile defense ships to Japan.

What other opportunities like that are out there that would help us meet the needs of our strategy?

Now, I realize that none of this is easy. But I do believe that the demands for naval forces will remain high, despite the reduced budgets.

But it can't just be about the numbers of ships. It has to be about capability in today's world. We need to make the financial and intellectual investments in technology and modernization programs now, before we no longer have the massive technological advantages we've enjoyed over the past 60 years.

In many ways, this is both a challenge and an opportunity.

Of course, the Navy is unique amongst the military services in never having been seriously challenged in direct combat at sea since World War II. But other nations are catching up, notably China.

Moreover, because of the Navy's overwhelming superiority at sea, potential adversaries are seeking new ways to deny our advantages, to include electronic warfare and anti-access area denial efforts.

Given that security future shaping up before us, U.S. naval power will rely on more capable and lethal ships, not simply higher numbers of ships.

A key to building more capable ships is the ability to survive, not a new concept. We've faced threats to our ships before, such as to our carriers and surface ships during the Cold War.

In the current context, given the growing threat to surface combatants, this puts a premium, in part, on undersea capabilities, namely submarines.

Moreover, with the proliferation of more advanced anti-ships munitions, we'll need more ships with the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced adversary.

And, particularly, we need to invest in enabling capabilities like electronic warfare, capabilities we seem only to turn to when survivability is in question.

Well, I believe that now is the time.

We do not have the luxury of building large numbers of huge platforms suited to specific operationally friendly environments. And this is why the secretary has directed the Navy to develop a new, more capable and survivable frigate-like small surface combatant.

In his guidance to the Navy, he specifically honored the fact that this may mean that the Navy has to trade the numbers of ships for this increased capability in our constrained budget environment.

As we've said before in the department, presence is important, but presence with a purpose and with capability.

So, as you assume your leadership roles, I challenge you to think about new capabilities and concepts of operation that can increase the survivability and lethality of our ships in multiple regions against multiple threats for extended periods of time.

Finally, while you invest in technology, I challenge you to avoid the pitfalls of falling victim to your own technological successes, which can stymie creativity and innovative thinking for the future.

I'd like to just take one example with you today, communications. Now, this isn't unique to the Navy, but it's particularly relevant to operating at sea.

For decades as advances in communication and information technology have increased, so, too, has the Navy's reliance on communications for all aspects of its operations. We have moved far from the days of command by navigation and the routine practice of operating without comms.

We expected to lose comms in the Soviet era. Why don't we expect that today?

Today we know potential adversaries are developing cyber-space and electronic warfare capabilities to neutralize, disrupt and degrade our communications systems. The challenge is in balancing the benefits and advantages derived from using high-tech communications with the vulnerabilities inherent in becoming overly dependent upon them.

Accordingly, we need to imagine and plan for a future when adversaries render high-end communications obsolete.

What does this mean for navigation?

How do we survive and defeat adversaries in a world in which modern-day communications we have come to depend on are no longer reliable, secure, or even available?

As we go forward, your challenge is to identify technologies like communications that we are overly dependent upon, technologies that our adversaries are seeking to deny us in the future, and either find ways to protect them or ways to operate without them.

So, in conclusion, throughout history the Navy and Marine Corps have been called upon to act in times of war and times of peace. Naval forces are the nation's full-up, deployable round that offers a president floating sovereign territory from which to assure allies, deter enemies and project power when needed.

I urge each of you to think about how you'll navigate America's naval forces through a turbulent and uncertain world to a future full of promise and opportunity.

This is your charge. This is your responsibility and your opportunity. And I am confident you will execute it splendidly.

Again, I want to thank you for your service. And I very much want to thank you for the opportunity to be with you today.

And now I look forward to your questions.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Questions?

I'm very patient. Someone will start.

Yes?

Q: Ma'am, Lieutenant Colonel (Franks ?), (inaudible) Air Force.

My question is, obviously we're gonna slim the force. If we find ourselves in a situation like you addressed, where mass will become more important, are we concerned about the industry's ability to respond that that and generate additional force or structure if we need it?

DEP. SEC. FOX: We are concerned. Very concerned.

I think that all of us would like to do as much as we can going forward through partnerships with industry, partnerships across the joint force, to make sure that we can reverse things.

In fact, when the strategy was initially rolled out, one of the things that we talked about was trying to infuse it with reversibility. But that was hard to explain, what did we mean, and we stopped talking about it.

But we haven't stopped thinking about it because, as you well appreciate, we don't have that crystal ball. And the strategy is based on the events of the world, as we see them today. We recognize it's an unpredictable world, and we recognize that we could have it wrong.

On the other hand, the budgets simply don't allow us the opportunity to hold the hedge that we would like to have in place. So we have to be able to swing.

And we are talking with industry about it. And we are concerned about it.

I can't tell you that I feel like we've got a lock on it. I think we need to keep talking. We need to make sure we understand with industry and our partners and, again, across the joint force, where we're getting too close, too (inaudible), where we're gonna lose capacity in our industrial base or within our services and our know-how as we -- as we come down.

And that is a hard challenge. And I think we just all have to keep our eye on it all the time, because it's gonna last with us for a few years, I believe.

Yes?

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

DEP. SEC. FOX: Surely, it's a great point. So one of the things we can do is lead by example. And our own budget is -- is under pressure. And I know all of our European allies -- I think some of you are represented here in the room -- are watching what we're doing, watching our political challenges and some of the stalemates that we've been going through.

So I think it's very important that we get our own selves sorted out. I do think the budget we're proposed takes us in a good direction and we can meet our strategic needs. And I hope that that can be resolved and we can just stop talking about that and move forward.

I think we do need to keep encouraging our European allies and partners that they also need to invest in their future. I think recent events with Russia and the Crimea are putting a point on the importance of NATO today. I know that the secretary in his dialogue with our allies and partners, and to the extent that I've had the opportunity myself, all feel a recognition of this, but there's, you know, recognition is step one, and then we have to build the promise of that recognition.

But I do think that the -- the time is now and that's been brought to everyone's attention. But we do have to stay together and recognize this really is not a time when there is a peace dividend. In the economies of our countries and the budgets that result from that put pressure on it, so we have to strike that balance, but we have to keep talking about it and going forward.

The Hill, no. I have not -- I have not had engagements myself with the Hill about the European allies and their budgets recently. But I know that has come up in the past. But I will tell you I've had conversations on the Hill very recently about our own budget.

And I do feel a growing recognition that they -- our budget has gone too far; that they've gone too far in bringing us down. Certainly, the sequester-level does that. And a desire -- a sense to address it. And I hear that on -- in both the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

The thing I don't hear yet is the way forward to do that, but I do believe that there's recognition growing.

Yes?

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

DEP. SEC. FOX: So the question is: What are the choices in front of the United States to stop the Iran nuclear program? So, I think the president has been very clear about this, that Iran's nuclear program is not acceptable and that we need to be prepared to do what it takes to stop it. We, of course, are hoping and working very hard to have a negotiation with Iran such that they are transparent in what they are doing and they take the steps forward.

So, I can tell you that that is the effort that we're undergoing right now, but also we are watching very, very closely and working very closely with our allies in the Middle East to keep strong and together, to make sure we share our picture, and have a shared view of what is actually happening, keep the pressure on and keep moving Iran in the right direction to move back to the place where we all, I think, want and think they need to be.

But it is clearly a challenge, clearly a work in progress and we are certainly not counting on that and we're not turning a blind eye. We're watching very closely -- big, big issue.

Any other questions? Yes?

Q: Ma'am, Colonel Dennis (Olms ?), U.S. Army.

I'm curious if you could talk a little bit more about the Crimea situation. Has that caused a reassessment of the budget plans, either this year or do you think it may have an impact next year, and how it relates to the risk (inaudible)?

DEP. SEC. FOX: So, I think on the risk side, it is a factor. I mean, we -- we clearly know that we're in an unstable world. We clearly know that life is unpredictable and that we need to be prepared for anything. But Russia's immediate -- recent actions are definitely getting a lot of attention. We're all focused on it.

And I do think that the notion that we need to beef up, if you will, NATO and the NATO response and all of the alliance's opportunities to signal support for all of our allies and push-back on Russia is very real and recognized. But as already has been observed, all of those nations' budgets are under pressure like ours.

So, I think -- I think we have the resources. I think we have the forces available to do that now. But, you know, problems are proliferating around the world. I think it helps the budget discussions because it's just another manifestation of the fact that no, there isn't a peace dividend if we come out of Afghanistan. But it -- again, it -- we need to get that across that political cooperation hurdle before we can really go forward.

But again, recognition is part one and it's a big part that really wasn't there last year. Really, when people were talking last year about the fact that sequestration-level funding would cause these problems, people were not so interested in listening. This year, I think they really are and I do think events like what happened with Russia and the Crimea helps bring that focus that's needed.

Meanwhile, we've got to deal with the crisis and I think we're trying very hard to do that with our NATO partners.

Yes?

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

DEP. SEC. FOX: Absolutely. So the question is about ethics -- the kinds of discussions that we're having in the Pentagon about ethics. So, I will tell you that I believe that Secretary Hagel has said, I can't even remember the number of times I've heard him talk about his pride in being the secretary of defense, of an institution that is the highest-regarded institution in the country by way -- you know, I don't even remember the margin -- but the next group is way down there compared to the U.S. military.

And he is so proud of that and he values that so dearly. And I think he knows how dearly everybody in the service values that.

And so I think his focus on ethics is about sustaining that. Because you get these -- these sensational cases that make the news, that I think when we all read them, we all just kind of go (inaudible) because it's just not -- it's not the military that you're proud of and a civilian like myself has had the privilege to work with you for so long. It's not the -- the military I know, that I work closely with.

But it happens. And I think what he wants to do is just have an organization and a set of conversations across the services, sharing best practices, how to inculcate our people with the right ethical standards; to have dialogue about this so people understand it. And frankly, also recognize that 13 years of war and the need to really focus on competence and capability can -- can skew you just a little with regard to the way that you look at things like the ethics and standards. I think he just wants to maybe re-set a little bit through dialogue.

Secretary Hagel is absolutely, to my observation now, not -- not someone ever looking to, you know, just do the witch-hunt thing. I mean, that is so far from who he is. He is really about thoughtful, in-depth conversations about challenges that we all face, the knowledge that when there's a sensational case and the way that we as leaders deal with those cases, what it does to those front-runners in the service that are doing everything right.

You know, it's -- he's aware that that -- that drags their morale down. And so he just want to have a place where we are focusing on it and talking about it and working on it together. And I think it's got the potential to be very important for our forces going forward. And it's brand new, as you know, so we'll see.

Any other questions? There we go. Yes?

Q: Ma'am, Lieutenant Commander Tom (Flaherty ?), U.S. Navy.

(CROSSTALK)

(Laughter.)

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

DEP. SEC. FOX: So, the Joint Strike Fighter. You know, I'll just tell you, because I have a minute to chat with you guys, I'll tell you my -- a true story. I came from the Center for Naval Analysis to the Cost Assessment Program Evaluation Group, CAPE, in OSD. And day one on the job, first time ever in OSD, the very first thing we had to do is brief Secretary Gates on the cost assessment of Joint Strike Fighter.

It was not a good day to join the department because the cost estimate in 2009 was way above what he had been told in the past. And he was, suffice it to say, a little bit unhappy.

DEP. SEC. FOX: So, I had the opportunity to work closely with Joint Strike Fighter Program now for -- since 2009. And I have to say that there's been enormous change in that program from when I first started looking at it to today. So, when I first started looking at it, the stated advertised costs were here. The independent cost assessments were here. Now, I can honestly tell you that the cost -- the procurement cost of that program, as predicted by independent cost assessors, has held constant since 2010, and actually this year, for the first time, has actually come down under the independent cost assessment.

So, what -- what happened? The department put some very aggressive leadership in -- in charge of it, and notably, Admiral Venlet, a naval officer. A very, very capable program manager. And now, of course, with General Bogdan. They are not using the Lockheed Martin talking points. I will tell you they are pushing the program to achieve the goals stated by the department.

So, the whole albatross thing -- I actually think we're past that. I truly do. And if you had asked me in 2009, especially after day one meeting with Secretary Gates, I might not have given you that answer.

So, I also think the Joint Strike Fighter has a number of important capabilities and promise going forward. First, it's a joint platform, so we will have three services that can be interoperable. Plus, our coalition partners, who are buying. And that's a very good capability.

I think it's the only jet that has been built to work from the ground up in an electronic-denied environment, and that's a very big deal in the future world. So, it brings real capabilities that the Joint Force needs.

The Navy, I think, in particular, has the opportunity to develop joint tactics between joint Strike Fighter, I agree. The F-18, yes, it's a very capable platform. And that is going to give deployed Naval assets, with both embarked, unique capabilities that I think is going to be very, very powerful going forward. And with the addition of the Growler, I think it could be unbeatable.

The challenge and opportunity for you guys is to put all that together and figure out those combined and joint tactics so that you can bring the integration of the EF with its -- it's greater carrying, the JSF with its greater ability to get in and take a look, and the G to help with the environment all together in a very complex environment. I think that's a very powerful thing going forward.

At the same time, we have to keep those JSF costs going in the right direction, which I think Secretary Kendall has done a really excellent job.

Just one last quick thing on JSF. Our comptroller, Secretary Hale, has a very nice way of talking about programs that has hung with me, especially on some of those early days with JSF.

Programs start out, you know, and they're like little kids -- cute little kids running around with all the promise in the world. And then they get this point where you need to hit those teenage years. Maybe you're just not sure how they're going to come out, and every day, you're pulling your hair out. And then eventually, most of them -- and I think JSF is absolutely one of these -- is going to transition to the responsible, productive adult. And we're right on that cusp. And I think we still have a little bit of the teenager in that program, but we're getting past it. And -- and I think it's going to be a great capability for the department going forward, and we need that capability. And Navy needs that capability. But particularly, because you have that opportunity to come by and it (inaudible). I think it's very powerful.

Well, again, I want to thank you very, very much for your time today. It's been a great privilege to be with you. And I wish you all the best going forward. (Applause.) 

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