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CNO Nominee Charts Vision for Navy, Emphasizing People

July 31, 2019 | BY David Vergun
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"Most Americans associate the strength of the Navy with grey-hulled ships at sea. But the true sources of our naval power are the people and the loved ones who support them," President Donald J. Trump's nominee to serve as the next chief of naval operations told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

A Naval officer speaks while seated at a table..
Gilday Testimony
Navy Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, director of the Joint Staff, testifies at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination for promotion to admiral and to become chief of naval operations, July 31, 2019.
Photo By: DOD Screenshot
VIRIN: 190731-O-ZZ999-001A

Navy Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today on his nomination. If confirmed, he will also advance to the rank of admiral and become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Besides the sailors, Marines, civilians and their loved ones who make the Navy strong, Gilday said, the dedicated work of contractors, as well as partners in industry and academia, also is vital.

A sailor holds a child.
Family Time
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Azeire Martin greets his daughter during the USS Kearsarge’s homecoming in Norfolk, Va., July 18, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Eduardo Jorge
VIRIN: 190718-N-SZ865-1032C

It takes highly skilled technicians to work on ships and submarines at the nation's shipyards, he said. The Navy will continue to invest heavily in its shipyards and is committed to building a 355-ship Navy, he added.

Personal relationships also matter, he told the senators, noting that he and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger have worked together in the past and will continue to do so in the future. "There's no daylight between us," he said, referring to their shared vision.

A Harrier jet sits on a ship bathed in colorful light.
Harrier Hues
A Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier aircraft participates in night flight operations aboard the USS Boxer in the Pacific Ocean, May 30, 2019.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dalton Swanbeck
VIRIN: 190530-M-EC058-0517Y

Part of that vision, he said, includes holding more exercises and wargames involving the Navy and Marine Corps, including one coming up next week in Newport, Rhode Island. These activities will better integrate the services so they can be more lethal and effective, the admiral explained.

Exercises with allies and partners also will continue, he said.

An admiral points as he speaks with sailors.
Commander Conversation
Navy Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, speaks with sailors assigned to Navy Information Operations Command Colorado Task Force 1080 in Aurora, Colo., March 13, 2017.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert A. Hartland
VIRIN: 170313-N-TD563-076A

High-priority investments the Navy will make include experimenting with and fielding cyber and space capabilities, hypersonics and unmanned vehicles on the sea, under the sea or in the air, he said. "Those are some of the areas I'm most enthused about," Gilday told the Senate panel.

In partnership with industry, he said, the Navy also needs to harness the power of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning so the right decisions can be made more quickly and before adversaries have time to respond.

A sailor works with equipment.
Sailor's Work
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Damien Ortiz checks a helicopter's fluid level aboard the USS Chancellorsville in the Coral Sea, July 19, 2019, during Talisman Sabre, an exercise highlighting the U.S.-Australian alliance.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Harris
VIRIN: 190719-N-WK982-2025C

Gilday also addressed the Navy's culture and accountability. "Ethics is a particularly important point for me," he said, "and that begins at the top with my leadership, and it extends through all our flag officers and commanders and right down to our chief petty officers, who I consider a critical link to ensure that every day we go to work, we bring our values with us. That's especially important in combat that those values be maintained."

Regarding Iran, Gilday said he hopes State Department-led efforts will bring Iran back to the negotiating table on a nuclear deal. In the meantime, he told the panel, the focus of U.S. Central Command is to have sufficient resources in theater to protect the forces in the region and to be able to respond if necessary. 

Two Navy officers talk.
Navy Discussion
Navy Capt. Daniel B. Uhls, left, commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City, gives a tour of the of Hue City's bridge to Navy Rear Adm. Michael M. Gilday, commander of Carrier Strike Group 8, in the Mediterranean Sea, June 16, 2013.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew R. Cole
VIRIN: 130616-N-ER662-046

"We’ve taken great care not to be provocative against Iran in both our operations as well as our very moderate force build in the region," he added.

Concerning the protection of commercial shipping transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Gilday said it will be an 80% to 90% coalition effort, with a much smaller U.S. effort. The United States, he said, will primarily provide intelligence support to coalition partners and will escort U.S. ships.

A boat carrying military vehicles splashes into the water.
Big Splash
An air-cushioned landing craft carrying light armored vehicles departs the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer during training operations in the Pacific Ocean, May 25, 2019.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dalton Swanbeck
VIRIN: 190525-M-EC058-0346

Asked whether he considers China's naval activities in the western Pacific and Russia's submarine activities in the Arctic to be defensive or offensive in nature, Gilday replied that he sees these as offensive activities. Nonetheless, he added, the U.S. joint force maintains "a significant synergistic advantage over both of those nations' military."