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Remarks by Deputy Secretary Work at a Troop Event at Apra Harbor, Guam

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work
August 20, 2014

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE BOB WORK: Okay, everybody here? I guess you have been waiting (Inaudible)? I'm sorry to keep you waiting. Are you volunteers or "volun-tolds"?

DEP. SEC. WORK: Volunteers? You're kidding me. I mean (Inaudible), coming out here on the afternoon, I really appreciate it. And I'm glad that we have everybody from all the different services.

You know, as the undersecretary of the navy, I was here when we first started thinking about the rebalance to the Pacific. We didn't call it that at that time. But Guam has always been a central part of our plans. It's certainly part of the Navy's plans (Inaudible) and now a central part of the entire Department of Defense's.

A lot of people think, hey, what is the rebalance all about? Well, it is a rebalancing of our forces. We're going to have 60 percent of the Navy out in the Pacific. We're going to have 60 percent of our combat Air Force out in the Pacific.

But it's not just about military things, it's really making our alliances with Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and other partners in the region, really strengthening our alliances, a lot of people forget about that, they just start to count ships, start to count airplanes.

The other part of it is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, which is a big trade pact that if we are able to swing it, it's really going to make a big, big difference for a lot of Americans and an awful lot of Asians, I mean, one of the biggest trade pacts we've ever had.

So the rebalance to the Pacific is real. It's going to continue to go on. And Guam, as you probably know, has all sorts of things going on with it. It's just unbelievable that by the time -- about four years ago, we were still trying to get a plan in place.

Now we have a good plan. It's agreed to by the Department of the Navy, by the Marines, by the Air Force, by the Coast Guard, by the Army. We actually see a lot of (Inaudible) start to grow.

And we're hoping very soon to start breaking ground on the Futenma replacement facility up in the north part of Okinawa. And once that happens, we'll really start to see things start to go.

So while this is absolutely central to our plans, but I don't really want to sit here and give you a speech about that. Hopefully by now you all know, and you all see all of the changes going on.

So really what I want to do is spend the bulk of my time just answering questions from you. I'll be happy to answer any questions at all that you have. If I don't know the answer, I'll tell you straight up. And if I do know the answer, I'll give it to you as straight as I possibly can.

I think you all know this is an unprecedented time as far as what's going on in our budget. If you are interested in that, I can give you my assessment on where it's going. But literally, anything is on the plate. So if you have any questions at all, you know, have at it.

So whoever makes the first question, gets a coin. Oh, here you go.

DEP. SEC. WORK: What's your name?

Q: Sorry.

Q: (Inaudible).

DEP. SEC. WORK: (Inaudible) just say hey, throw the question.

Q: My question is, with the build-up in the Pacific ships and how is -- would Japan be authorized an amphibious force, how is that going to affect One Guam? Two, our relationships -- or our trade relationships with China? And just our plan for (Inaudible)?

DEP. SEC. WORK: Great question. Thanks a lot.

Well, there is a lot of talk, are we trying to contain China? No, we're not. What we're trying to do is convince China to be a natural and a responsible stakeholder in a Pacific security environment that has held pretty firm for over the last 70 years.

There have been two major wars: Korea and Vietnam. And there have been all sorts of little dustups, sometimes between China and Vietnam, sometimes in Cambodia. But overall for the last 70 years, the Pacific has been relatively peaceful.

Now China is rising. It's going to be a great power. We want China to be a great power. We want China to insert itself into the global economy. So we want China's rise to be very, very peaceful.

Now so a lot of people think the rebalance to Asia is all about containing China. It's not. It's all about economic vitality. I mean, most of the trade in the 21st Century, a big portion of our trade is going to come from Asia.

So we want to maintain a security environment that allows free trade to go. That's why one of the things that we are (Inaudible) about with China right now is their interpretation of free movement over sea and in the air.

So we're bumping up against China right now. We're trying to work these things through. But it really has nothing to do with containing China. It's about maintaining peace so that everyone can economically benefit.

Now as far as the Asia-Pacific goes, Marines are being distributed around the Pacific (Inaudible), 5,000 Marines are going to come here tomorrow, 2,500 Marines are going to go to Australia.

Some Marines are going to go back to Hawaii, about 3,500 marines going back to (Inaudible). So we're going to have Marines spread out more over the Pacific.

At the same time, the Army has plans on doing lots of things in the Pacific too. Well, what do you need? This is a maritime theater. You need ships. And you need aircraft.

So right here is one of the best airfields, military airfields in the world. And we can move an awful lot of stuff anywhere within the Asian theater right from here. We will put an amphibious readiness group, maybe three, but right now warship amphibious ready group in Japan.

And we'll put the rest of them, except for four ARGs, which will be on the East Coast, the rest of them will be in San Diego. And that will allow us to have two 90-day tours -- I mean, two 90-day deployments throughout the Pacific.

Joint High Speed Vessel, one will be here, there will be others throughout the Pacific. We have all sorts of new capabilities. So you're going to see an awful lot of activity.

This is kind of going to be the hub. There is going to be ships coming in and out. And there are going to be Marines moving in and out. One of the key things that we changed about the plan, the original plan was to bring all married families here to Guam. And we were going to keep the unaccompanied Marines on Okinawa.

Well, we thought about that for a second and said, why would you bring (Inaudible) I mean, just dump a whole lot of more dependents on the island, because Marines are going to be off-island all the time. They can be separated from their families almost all the time.

So we switched it so that right now the UDP, the unit deployment battalions will come here. And they'll go all over the Pacific. And we'll have a lot of fewer families. And one of the issues right now is, where are we going to put them? And we think we're going to co-locate the families on Andersen Air Force Base.

So this will become a hub. You all -- how many Air Force are here? You work out of Andersen, I assume?

I mean, what an airfield, I mean, 200,000-foot runways, concrete, all that ramp space, over -- parking spaces for over 100 bombers and tankers. This place is going to hum. And it doesn't matter what our budget level is.

We might cut off at the margins. But Guam is always going to be central to our plans.

Who is next? Yes. What, did all the questions (Inaudible) everybody has a question?

How's it going?

Q: (Inaudible).

My question to you is not necessarily (Inaudible) we have a lot of theater (Inaudible), what do (Inaudible)?

DEP. SEC. WORK: Did everybody hear the question?

Okay. It's a really fair question. And it's a multileveled answer. The first that we're going to need in the next four to five years, we're going to need innovative leaders. That's the first thing.

We are really going to have to figure out how to make (Inaudible). Budgets are coming down. Requirements are going up. We're long past the point where we can ask all of you, just say, hey, keep going, keep making it work.

We're going to have to make decisions. So the first thing we're going to need, really demand are innovative leaders, people who are willing to challenge the status quo.

Second thing we're going to have to do are people who are really, really ethical. Ethical leadership is absolutely critical. Right now the military is (Inaudible) the number one trusted institution in the United States.

But for every time we hear a senior leader gets in trouble or a senior leader has done something wrong, that undercuts the trust of the American people. So in addition to being innovative, we want them to be ethical.

Third thing is they have to be absolutely operationally competent. You know, one of the things that happens when you go to a peacetime military is you start to forget about the things that really matter.

That's why the Air Force motto, "fly, fight, and win," that really gets my juices going. You know, where the chief of naval operations says "Warfighting First." Our jobs are to fight and win our nation's wars, and always be ready to do so.

And the way you do that is to have hard training and operationally competent leaders. So innovative, operationally competent, and ethical.

And the fourth thing is caring. I mean, I think -- you know, when I was a marine in (Inaudible). We are blessed with the greatest all-volunteer in the world, and probably the best armed forces in terms of quality of the people in our history, it's truly unbelievable.

And that's at all levels. So we don't want people who are thinking about their next promotion. We want people who are worried about the mission, and worried about their people. And if we get those two things right, we're going to kick ass in almost anything we do. Everything else is kind of irrelevant, okay?

So -- and I think this goes from leaders all the way from general all the way to NCOs. And if you're a lance corporal, wherever there is two service members, there is always a leader.

If there's a lance corporal and private, then I'm going to hold the lance corporal responsible for whatever goes wrong or goes right. So leadership goes all up and down the chain.

So be innovative, question. Be operationally competent. Be ethical. And be caring. Respect the people that you work with. And treat them like you'd like to be treated.

If we can get those four things right, we're going to do fine regardless of what the overall budget is going to be.

You get the next question? All right. Come on up.

I can learn. I can learn.

Q: My name is (Inaudible) with (Inaudible).

DEP. SEC. WORK: Okay.

Q: So I heard you talk about like a lot of Air Force and (Inaudible)?

DEP. SEC. WORK: Okay. Well, a lot of people don't realize that the Army has like 60,000 troops in the Asia-Pacific Theater. They've got I Corps up at Fort Lewis-McChord. They've got brigades up in Alaska. They've got the 25th ID in Hawaii.

And the Army right now is trying to think of ways in which they can become more interoperable with all of the other joint forces in the theater, and what they might be able to do.

One thing they're going to do is they're going to provide theater air and missile defense. That's kind of an Army -- Army's thing. And that is very, very high demand throughout the theater.

So I can see theater missile defense, all sorts of different -- seven, I think, I might not have this one right, but I think seven of the largest armies in the world are in the Asia-Pacific Theater.

So interactive with those armies, and building partnership capacity, and trying to teach those armies how to operate responsibly is just super, super important a job for the Army.

Do I think there's going to be a major shift in Army forces here in Guam? No. I don't think so. I believe with the Marines at Andersen and at Apra Harbor, you know, we don't want to overload the island.

We have promised. We have promised the governor and people of Guam that when all of this is done, the amount of land that is controlled by the U.S. government is going to go down, it's not going to go up.

Do I think there is going to be a huge influx of Army forces here? No. But I believe the Army is going to be central to our plans throughout the Asia-Pacific Theater.

(Inaudible). Who else? Somebody in the back. Yes, please.

Q: Sir, I am (Inaudible).

And my question is, when we talk about cutbacks and budget constraints, usually the answer that I get at my level is to still do more with less. But though it is a good slogan, but budget cuts also create real perverse incentive to do less with less whether you're trying to (Inaudible), whether you're trying to say, well, we actually do achieve the mission and then (Inaudible) so we didn't need the money, or you're just trying to be the squeakiest wheel to get the (Inaudible).

So what makes you actually confident that we will do more with less?

DEP. SEC. WORK: We don't want to do more with less. What we want to do is right-size the force for the mission at hand. And that's why I led off by being innovative. We cannot continue to do business the old way, because, as you have said, we have gotten ourselves into a lot of trouble because we've said, let's do more with less.

And we have put it on the backs of everybody in this room, and people like you throughout the armed forces. It shows up in all sorts of different ways. Our nuclear forces, you know, these are the people who sit inside the silos and take care of our B-52 bombers, and our B-2 bombers, and all of that.

For years and years and years we kept cutting back because we said, well, you know, it's not like the Cold War. But in this world, having a safe reliable nuclear deterrent is absolutely critical.

But we ask the people who are in that enterprise to keep doing more with less. And we finally came to the conclusion that we can't do that anymore, it will actually break the force.

And there is a big (Inaudible) -- we call it the "say-do gap," where we're telling all of you, hey, you've got to do this, you've got to do this, and you keep seeing, you know, the resources going down, and you're trying to struggle to meet all of these requirements.

So what you want to do -- I remember Secretary Gates saying this when he was the secretary. He said, hey, at the end of this, we want to eight people -- we have 10 people now, we want to end up -- we want to have eight people doing the job of eight people.

He said, we will fail if we wind up with eight people doing the job of 10 people. So this is the time where all of us have to constantly say, why are we doing this the old way?

If we did it this way, we would be able to save manpower. We would be able to save time. We may have to be more efficient. You know, this is all hands on deck. This cannot just be top-down driven.

It has got to be everybody on the force being committed to saying, let's change the way we do business. Secretary Hagel is absolutely aware of what you're talking about. The chief of naval operations, he started a thing called RAD, reduction of administrative distractions.

How many times do you have to do -- you know, you have to go do this training, this training, this training, this training, this training, this training? And you get it all done, and then you have 38 minutes to do all of the eight hours' work in a day.

The Air Force calls it "stop doing stupid stuff." You know, who knows which one is a better way to say it. But the whole thing is that we all have to be really kind of innovative right now.

We all really have to kind of look at this in a way and try to be able to work out things, whether it be (Inaudible), we have to say, we're not going to do these things anymore. And these are the things we're going to do with seven, or six, or whatever things turn out to be.

What other questions?

Q: Sir? (Inaudible).

One of the biggest issues that I've seen here on the island from my sailors is education, further education for ship-borne type experiences, like firefighting. As an hull technition (HT), firefighting is one of the core things that I'm going to deal with throughout my career.

And I have a lot of E-1 to E-4 sailors here that don't -- excuse me, that don't get the same experiences because, one, we don't have afloat training group that comes down here, which is our firefighting groups that come out and test us to make sure (Inaudible).

I'm on a ship that is joint forces with the military (Inaudible), which is great for us to be incorporated with them, but because of that we don't get the same type of firefighting experiences because they own the ship.

What are the possibilities of seeing in the future, as you talk about this, turning more into have more ships coming out here, of having a school down here that we can send our junior sailors to, that way when they are progressing through the command and becoming E-5s and E-6s, and they leave here with their (INAUDIBLE), they're not losing that training that they're supposed to have already at that level?

They're getting to the next command and they don't what the basic firefighting skills they are supposed to have. You know, with this insignia, I'm supposed to be, you know, a firefighter.

But they just know it on paper. They don't know the actual experiences of getting down into an engine room and fighting a fake fire that you get in the states or even in Japan or Hawaii, they get that experience.

What is the possibility of seeing that coming out here in the future?

DEP. SEC. WORK: That's a great question. I've never thought about it. And I can ask.

This is an issue across the force, though, right now. A lot of people don't realize that this is a very unusual war that we've just come (Inaudible). First of all, it's the longest war our nation has ever fought.

But the Navy and the Air Force actually dropped during the course of war in the number of people. And we have concluded, both the Navy and the Air Force have been saying, hey, have we cut too many maintainers? You know, have we cut the training overhead too far? Did we put too much money into computer-based training?

And the danger of computer-based training as we have found is, it's easy to say, okay, do this, but, again, if you have to do it on your own time, and you don't -- there aren't enough computers on the ship.

We found out, for example, on some of the submarines, you had the whole crew of 132 and there are only three computers on the ship where people could actually do the computer-based training.

And it was really causing a problem for the crew, because essentially they had to work either 4 in the morning, or 2300 at night, to get their work done.

So this is being looked at by all of the service chiefs. You have (Inaudible), proper level of training, and again, as we come out of war and really start to focus on being prepared to fight and win our wars, training is essential.

So what's the right balance between computer training and actual training? Do we have the right training overheard? All of those are being discussed and debated right now, but I've never heard anybody asks, on a hub like this, where you have a lot of forces coming through, why not have more trainers here so ships might be able to (Inaudible) port.

I'll go back and take a look at it, but I don't have a good answer for you right now.

What else?

Yes?

Q: Sergeant (Inaudible), Marine Corps (activity) Guam.

I've been seeing a lot about a possibility of building ships without well deck? I don't know how big a mission that is? But if that becomes a trend what's going to happen to our amphibious force?

DEP. SEC. WORK: All right, well, the LHA 6 and the LHA 7 were the first two big decks that we've ever built without a well deck. And quite frankly, the Navy and the Marine Corps have concluded that that is not something -- that these two ships are going to be awesomely capable, aviation platforms primarily. And will be able to operate many times like a small aircraft carrier wit F-35's and other (Inaudible).

But the next one after the LHA 6 and 7 is going to have a well
deck back in it.

Now, putting a well deck into a ship is expensive. So as many come down, we've got to say, are there other ways we could do it. So the mobile landing platform, which is a big ship that can submerge and has places for LCACs, landing craft air cushions. That's another way we could go about this.

But for right now, at the budget level we have, we want to retain the capability for amphibious theater entry, and having the well deck is absolutely critical.

So all of the LPD 7's of course have a well deck. All of the LSDs have a well deck. Of the 10 big decks we have, one eight of the ten we'll have a well deck.

And what goes on from here on out, a lot will depend upon the budget and where it goes.

But we hope to be able to keep (Inaudible). It's all going to depend upon how much and how fast and what type of ships. But if you have a choice, a well deck is always good.

I think I've got time for one more.

Let me just say, well -- yes?

Q: (Inaudible) talk (Inaudible) of ISIS, going back to Iraq. (Inaudible) maintain presence in (Inaudible)?

DEP. SEC. WORK: Well, all I can say on this is this is the biggest debate that's going on inside Washington D.C. right now. Okay, everybody knows that ISIL is -- these are about the worst guys that we've come up against. I mean, they're so bad that Al Qaeda you know, said, we don't like these guys anymore. You know if Al Qaeda says (Inaudible).

So not only are they terrorists, but they're pretty good light infantry. They know how to do combined arms. They -- one of the things that makes them so effective is they have a lot of equipment that they've gotten from the Iraqi army, they've captured from the Iraqi army and the Syrian army. They're very, very fast. They've got a very flat command and control structure, and they have good combined arms.

And so they move quickly, and they're very bold. I mean, they're quite effective with their tactical -- at the tactical level.

So what the President did about two and a half weeks ago is he says, okay, I'm going to apply (Inaudible). The thing that really started it all is when the Pesh, the Kurdistan forces up in the north. They were being outmatched because they didn't have as good of weapons as the -- as ISIL did. So they were having to pull back. They were constantly having to collapse their lines, becoming better -- (Inaudible) defensive capabilities.

The president said, hey, I'm not going to allow them to threaten U.S. forces that are in Erbil and the U.S. forces that are in Baghdad, so he essentially said, if they cross this line, we're going to smack them with air. And we've been very, very successful in doing that. So I think it's really kind of set ISIL back on its heels, per se.

Just this morning, we got word that Pesh, again, the Kurdistan forces, captured the Mosul Dam. I don't have anymore information for you than that. [Inaudible].

We cannot allow ISIL to take those forces. So we provide an airpower (Inaudible) forces, and this is the first time that we actually rolled back and retook strategic infrastructure from ISIL.

So now the question is what is the broader stretch? I mean, right now it's been for the last two week, let's stop their advances. And we, quite frankly, have been very successful at doing that.

But now the real debate begins. How do you go about this? You'll probably hear a lot about partnerships, where we're trying to get countries in the region to try to help us, to try to attack this problem in a regional way.

In the end though, we're going to have to confront ISIL. Do I think we're going to have boots on the ground. The president's been very clear, right now, no. And if we can find good partners, having the government of Iraq, having (inaudible), who's stepped down, having a new unity government. That's going to be a big deal, because the president as said when we have a good partner we will consider doing more in support of them.

KRG forces, the Peshmerga, they've already proved to be quite capable on the battlefield as long as they have the weapons. They can stand up to ISIL. But we can talk with Turkey. We can talk with Jordan. We can talk to Saudi Arabia. We can talk to a lot of different partners, and we have to address this as a regional issue.

So right now, the president's been very clear, no boots on the ground. But we've already started to support our government of Iraq, our partners, using airpower.

You know a lot of people ask me whether or not we're going to -- headed to a hollow force. Now I was in a hollow force. I was commissioned in 1974 as second lieutenant, and my first station was Okinawa. Now I arrived there in Camp Hague, it was a World War II camp that we had long decided that we were going to get rid of. And it was a total mess.

I could stand in my room, put my hands out and touch both sides of the wall -- I mean, both sides of the room. My rack was a metal bracket, and I don't even want to tell you what the mattress looked like. I slept in my sleeper bag. There was a rusted container that was -- that used to be, I think, a dresser, but it was just a big piece of rust, so I didn't put anything in there; I just kept everything in my seabag.

All of the showers ran 24 hours a day because every single one of the faucets had been broken. It was unbelievable. You know, some of the critters that lived in our rooms would scare the hell out of me.

(Inaudible).

Now you fast forward, things change pretty quickly. In 1979 if you re-enlisted you became a sergeant in the Marine Corps, just became a sergeant. All you had to do was re-enlist. (Inaudible).

(Inaudible) Our equipment really was crappy, and it was really the people. It was the people (Inaudible) That was the hollow force. Today the quality of the force, from E-1 to O-10, from private all the way to four-star generally, is truly (Inaudible). And so I never, ever worry about us getting to a hollow force. I just don't (Inaudible).

What I'm worried about is an untrained force, a force in which we don't have enough money to do the training, to really say, hey, what about damage control on the ships, what about putting the ordinance on the aircraft, what about closing with and destroying the enemy, you know, how do we do that.

So I worry about being an unready force, but I never worry about being a hollow force, because of people like you.

Now I'll tell you a storm, and this is true story of -- it tells you, gives you an example of what I think about. There was a Marine patrol in Afghanistan, come over the top of the hill. And down on the bottom of the plane, by a road, there are some Afghan nationals with a donkey cart and they're doing something that looks very suspicious, looks like they're putting in IEDs.

But the ROE, the rules of engagement, were, hey, you just can't fight these guys off; we've got to find out if we're really doing something bad. Otherwise you might be killing a friendly, which would cause problems through the province.

So Marines decided to come over the hill. The Afghan nationals saw it and they dispersed, and they ran away, leaving the donkey cart. So the Marines come down and, sure enough, there it is. In the hole, there's all sorts of bomb material, so the Marines say, okay, these guys were really bad guys.

So who's the leader of the patrol? He's a young sergeant. Everybody says, "What do we do sergeant?" He says, "Simple, unhook the donkey." So they unhook the donkey and the donkey starts walking.

"Okay, now what do we do, sergeant." "We follow the donkey."

So they follow the donkey and it goes to a village, and there, lo and behold. are the four guys that they saw. They apprehend them, and (Inaudible). Sergeant (Inaudible) and the lieutenant is just shocked. "How in the heck, this is really good. What were you thinking?"

He goes, "Sir, I was born on a farm. I was raised on a farm." The sergeant says, "I've been following jackasses my whole life."

Now, the reason why I tell you this story is, that's what I think about the enlisted force in that (Inaudible). A little irreverent, again, a great sense of humor, you're endlessly innovative, and you're mission oriented. And you're never going to leave your buddy behind under any circumstances. Never. That's what makes this force so special. It's not the generals; it's the enlisted force. You have always been the backbone of the American military.

We constantly go up against forces that outnumber us. Sometime we go up against forces that have equipment nearly as good as us. But generally we go up against forces that are very centrally commanded, and the people at the lower level are afraid to make decisions in the absence of orders. That's what makes the American military different.

If there's no lieutenant, no major, the (Inaudible) not around, there's a sergeant, there's a corporal. And they say, "This is what we're going to do." And then you go get it done. And there isn't a lot of muss and fuss.

So the key thing that I want to leave with all of you, first of all, is thank you for coming out today. I know you probably had a lot of work, and now you're going to work a little bit harder to catch up on it because you took the time out this afternoon. So I really, really appreciate the (Inaudible).

I really appreciate the people who asked questions. Never, ever be afraid to ask anybody in this force, whether they are a general or a sergeant, what's going on. So thank you for that, and then (Inaudible), and what I consider to be the greatest military that the United States has ever put on the field.

So thank you so much. And I think I'm going to be able to shake all of your hands here in just a second.  

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