Greenert: Forward Presence is Navy, Marine Corps Mandate
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 The Navy-Marine Corps team is united in fulfilling the mandate to be where it matters, when it matters, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said today.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos is “a great shipmate,” the admiral added during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.
Interaction between the two services has never been better, Greenert said, noting that he is committed to continuing that momentum.
“Forward presence is our mandate,” the admiral said. By operating from forward locations, the Navy and Marine Corps provide President Barack Obama with options to deal promptly with global contingencies, he explained.
“As we conclude over a decade of wars and bring our ground forces home from extended stability operations, your naval forces will remain on watch,” Greenert said.
The Navy’s efforts are focused in the Asia-Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf, he said, but the service continues to provide presence and response as needed in other theaters. “Now, with this forward presence, over the last year, we were able to influence and shape decisions of leaders in the Arabian Gulf, in Northeast Asia and the Levant,” the admiral said.
To protect American interests and encourage regional leaders to make the right choices, the Navy patrolled off the shores of Libya, Egypt and Sudan, he continued. And, he said, naval forces relieved suffering and provided assistance and recovery in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
The Navy’s forward presence dissuades aggression against the nation’s allies in the East and the South China Seas, the admiral noted, and helps to deter piracy in the Horn of Africa.
“And we continue to support operations in Afghanistan while taking the fight to insurgents, terrorists and their supporting networks across the Middle East and Africa with our expeditionary and our special operations forces,” he said.
The 2014 budget will enable the Navy to maintain an “acceptable” forward presence, Greenert said. There are sufficient funds to restore fleet training, maintenance and operations and recover a substantial part of the 2013 backlog, he noted.
Recognizing that budgetary constraints will continue through fiscal year 2015, the admiral said he set six priorities: sea-based strategic deterrence; forward presence; the capability and capacity to win decisively; readiness; asymmetric capabilities and maintaining technological edge; and sustaining a relevant industrial base.
“Using these priorities, we built a balanced portfolio of capabilities within the fiscal guidance provided,” he told the committee.
The Navy will continue to combine rotational forces and forward-based and forward stationed forces to maximize its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, the admiral said.
The force still faces shortfalls in shore support, Greenert noted, and a facilities maintenance backlog that “will erode the ability of our bases to support the fleet.”
“We have slowed modernization in areas that are central to remain ahead of or keep pace with technologically advanced adversaries,” he said. “Consequently, we face higher risk if confronted with a high-tech adversary, or if we attempt to conduct more than one multiphase major contingency simultaneously.”
The prospect of returning to sequestration-level funding in 2016 is “troubling,” Greenert said. “That would lead to a Navy that is just too small and lacking the advanced capabilities needed to execute the missions that the nation faces and that it expects of its Navy,” he told the panel.
If defense funding reverted to the caps imposed in the 2010 Budget Control Act, he said, the Navy would be unable to execute at least four of the 10 primary missions articulated in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.
The Navy’s ability to respond to contingencies would be dramatically reduced, Greenert said, and, in a global crisis, the nation’s options and time to make decisions would be limited.
“We would be compelled to inactivate an aircraft carrier and an air wing,” the admiral said. “Further, … our modernization and our recapitalization would be dramatically reduced, threatening the readiness and threatening our industrial base.”
Greenert noted that the Navy is on board with the effort to get the nation’s fiscal house in order, but any budgetary solutions need to sustain readiness while building an affordable and relevant future force.
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter @rouloafps)