Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Sunday, September 04, 2005

CNO Vision:

Force for peace and some littoral thinking as set out here:
The new Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, wants to re-establish a riverine force the Navy last had in the Vietnam War. He's pushing for smaller ships that can sail close to the coast, and a naval infantry that could augment Marines and Army forces when needed.

He's also talking about new “mission sets” that might involve more undertakings such as the Indonesian tsunami relief effort, or taking an entire ship's crew and deploying it as a unit to help in an operation such as rebuilding and peacekeeping in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“A naval infantry?” muttered one Navy commander who left the Spruance Auditorium at the Naval War College after the speech last week in which Mullen unveiled his ambitious agenda. But he and others were also considering the possibilities.

That seems to have been the admiral's intent.

“I want to talk about sea power in this new century, what it is and, more importantly, what it can be,” Mullen said. “Without mastery of the sea — without sea power — we cannot protect trade, we cannot help those in peril, we cannot provide relief from natural disaster and we cannot intercede when whole societies are torn asunder by slavery, weapons of mass destruction, drugs and piracy.

“Without sea power we cannot hope — the world cannot hope — to achieve what President Bush has called ‘a balance of power that favors freedom,' ” Mullen continued. “But what, in this day and age, does sea power really mean? We have a pretty good idea of what we can't do without it, but do we really know all the things that we can accomplish with it?

“I am not so sure,” Mullen said. “But I do have a few ideas.”
Yes, yes, it seems he does. But the Navy is noted for its conservative ways and there are a lot of powerful constituencies that need to be convinced and moved if the outer limits of his vision are to be effectuated.

One such challenge to overcome is the Navy's traditional shipboard manning levels which are much higher that those found on modern merchant ships - and feature a certain level of redundacy to allow for battle damage control among other concerns. The current crew of the testbed FSF Seafighter is undergoing some testing to see how a "reduced manned" ship crew can respond to things like a fire at sea as set out here:
Thirteen Navy and Coast Guard crew members from the new Sea Fighter (FSF-1) based in San Diego and a host of technical and military personnel from various Navy commands spent three days in August conducting flight deck fire tests at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), China Lake, Calif.
The test was designed to evaluate reduced team manning concepts for aviation firefighting aboard FSF-1 and LCS-1 class ships.
In addition to the 11 Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and their Commanding Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Bryan, test participants included NAWCWD Fire Sciences Office of the Weapons and Energetics Division, with support from the Fire Division, Fuel Farm and Safety Offices of the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS). Observers included Capt. John W. Riley III, commander of the Regional Support Organization in San Diego, and Cmdr. Michael Sasscer from the Afloat Training Group, Pacific (ATGPAC).
Sea Fighter’s commanding officer had praise for the NAWCWD support at China Lake.
“The facility has been fantastic,” Bryan said. “And I think it’s safe to say the tests have been successful so far.”
Well, Mr. Bryan, let's hope so.

UPDATE: Entire CNO speech -

Remarks as delivered by Adm. Mike Mullen
Naval War College
Newport, RI
31 August 2005

I've got some prepared remarks, but initially I would just like
us all to keep it in our thoughts and prayers all those people
who are suffering right now from Katrina.

As I left the Pentagon this morning, there is -- needless to say
-- a national emergency effort response, which is ongoing. It
involves clearly many, many government agencies, all the
services, and it 's difficult at this point obviously to figure
out exactly what's going to be required and exactly how long it
will last.

That said, at least at this point, it certainly is going to take
a while to really find out where we are. In the Navy over the
last 24 hours we have deployed a number of units, a number of
capabilities -- and again -- this is a team effort, we're not
alone in that regard, to be able to both assess and respond.

Many of you are aware obviously of the tragedy off Indonesia
earlier this year, and it's worth very little expectation that I
thought we would be having much of the same kind of response
here at home.

So again I ask that you to please keep those people in your
thoughts and prayers, and all of us will be working very
diligently to help there as much as possible and ease as much
pain as possible.

I would like to thank Admiral Shuford, this distinguished
faculty, and the many students who are beginning your first
weeks here at our Naval War College. It's a very special place
-- has been -- and always will be.

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was a student here in
Newport, although unlike you, or most of you, I was never going
to be a graduate. I was part of a short-lived, two-month course
where we crammed in one year worth of War College work, that
ended wisely soon after I finished it. I don't like to think
that my own academic performance in the two-month course had
anything to do with it. (Laughter)

But I do stand here a little jealous of the academic opportunity
that you have today, and the full experience of Newport that I
missed then, although I have been stationed here. It's a very
special place, and I would encourage you to take advantage of
the full experience of Newport ... including the agony and pain
associated with whether or not the Red Sox will repeat,
(laughter) the wonderful people who live in this part of the
country, as well as just the intellectual rigor and exchange
that you'll be allowed to participate in over the next year.

As I tell audiences everywhere I've been these last four weeks,
I've seen an awful lot of changes in our Navy since that day in
June when I first raised my right hand.

That was actually 1964 when I first came in.

We are a very different Navy today, in just about every possible

When I came in it was all about big ships and blue water,
training for the big fight, training to fight the big, bad 10-
foot tall Soviets. That was it, except of course the brown-
water combat security capabilities that we were very much
involved in, in Vietnam.

But the line was, take your Navy to sea and sink the enemy
fleet. Period.

Ah, the simplicity of it all.

Well, it's not so simple anymore. Ask any Sailor who served
aboard USS COLE back in October of 2000.

Our world -- certainly our Navy's world -- changed that day.

Now, I'm not sure we recognized the change that actually
occurred on October twelfth. I believe nothing will ever be the
same again. It's a new era. It's a new time.

We face entirely new challenges, the likes of which we couldn't
have even imagined just a few short years ago. How we deal with
those challenges will affect not only America's freedom, but
also the freedom of millions of others -- women and men -- all
over the world.

Now, I love taking questions after I talk, especially when I get
to talk to Sailors. And I've doing quite a bit of that these
last few weeks, and it's the greatest part about this job.

Inevitably one of them will start a question with "Why won't
they do this?" or "When will they do that?" That's when I tell
them, "You're now talking to they." (Laughter)

I've been told I'm in charge, (laughter) I understand I'm in
charge, and I'm really going to act like I'm in charge. Some
people may think that's dangerous, but I am able to do some
things, make some decisions, and I'm very anxious to do so.

But I don't necessarily want to talk about me or they today but
rather we -- all of us and what we represent -- the decisions we
all need to start making about our future.

From the birth of our Nation, from the beliefs of our first
President, George Washington, we have understood the worth of
what he called "decisive naval force." For 230 years, we have
been, and remain today, a maritime nation, dependent upon the
sea -- and our power to use that sea -- to nurture and protect
the freedoms we cherish. Today, I want to talk about sea power
in this new century, what it is and more importantly, what it
can be.

I see many shades of service here -- green, light blue, and dark
blue -- as well as sisters and brothers in arms from all over
the world. I also see governmental agencies represented here,
agencies, people who feel just as strongly about national
security as any of us in uniform. You too wear the "cloth of the
nation" Your presence here underscores a powerful truth: that
today -- given the threats we face in this new world of ours --
only the global community can assure true security, freedom, and

And part of what you learn here in Newport, I hope, is that the
joint application of sea power is -- and should be considered --
a critical part of that global community and indeed a
significant competitive advantage.

Seventy percent of the world's surface is covered by water, and
more than 50% of the world's population lives within 16 miles of
it. It can nourish, it can devastate.

Our power sources -- food, clothing, and so many other
necessities of life are furnished more and more by world trade -
- and 90% of that trade is carried by international shipping.
The seas still unite the world.

Earlier this month, the navies of several nations -- including
ours -- worked together to assist Russia in a race for life
against time and the unforgiving nature of the deep.

My hometown newspaper, the LA Times, quoted Russian Defense
Minister Sergei Ivanov after the mini-sub was finally cut free:
"We have seen in deeds, not in words, what the brotherhood of
the sea means."

Without mastery of the sea -- without Sea Power -- we cannot
protect trade, we cannot help those in peril, we cannot provide
relief from natural disaster, and we cannot intercede when whole
societies are torn asunder by slavery, weapons of mass
destruction, drugs, and piracy.

Without sea power we cannot hope -- the world cannot hope -- to
achieve what President Bush has called "a balance of power that
favors freedom."

But what, in this day and age, does sea power really mean?

We have a pretty good idea of what we can't do without it, but
do we really know all the things that we can accomplish with it?
I am not so sure. But I do have a few ideas.

Say the those words sea power, close your eyes and think to
yourselves those words, and what image comes to mind?

Task forces filling up the horizon. Booming guns and storming
Marines. An aircraft carrier plowing through the deep blue
ocean. A submarine broaching the surface. A classic battle at

Well, there's probably a lot of truth in that image. We need to
be ready -- and to always be ready -- for that kind of fight.
But, as I said, life is not that simple anymore.

We need a new -- or as you will see, maybe a not so new but very
different -- image of sea power.

How about this?

Doctors and nurses healing the sick. Pipe fitters and mechanics
and electricians repairing a city's lost infrastructure.
Construction workers literally and figuratively mending fences
and building bridges.

Or this?

Small, fast watercraft crewed by highly technical Sailors
training and operating with international naval forces -- in
close, in country -- stemming the flow of illegal drugs, hunting
down pirates, making and keeping ports safe.

Or how about this?

A fleet of ships -- fully netted and connected -- not only to
each other, but integrated with the joint force, as well as DEA
or the FBI, or the Customs and Border Control agencies of any
number of other nations, not just our own.

A fleet with fully interoperable crews and teams of maritime
professionals spanning the full spectrum of operations.

Just imagine the power that would reside in that kind of fleet,
imagine the depth and the breadth of skills it would bring to
the table -- any table, anywhere.

Now imagine that fleet operating with the navies and naval
infantries of a host of other nations, again fully netted and

They could be anywhere the national and international political
leadership wanted them to be … ready to go at a moment's notice
-- and they could contribute in all manner of ways.

Not just a force to wage war, but a force to wage peace as well.
A force for good.

Now, some of you may say, "Hey Mullen, what's so new about

At some level, we always have and are still doing these sorts of

Just look at the enormous success of NATO's Operation Active
Endeavor in the Mediterranean right now. I just came from a
command in Naples where that operation was a key part of what we
did. We had great success stemming the flow of illegal
immigrants and contraband into southern Europe. It's a real
testament to the changing face of NATO and to the flexibility
and adaptability of naval forces.

Maybe this new vision of sea power isn't really all that new at
all -- it's just that we've not thought about it in quite this
way, at least not in recent years. Sea power has too often been
about putting ordnance on target, about beating the other guy

And I'm not suggesting here that we don't still need to preserve
those kinds of capabilities and skills. I'm on record saying,
and I truly believe, that we are first and foremost a
warfighting, sea-going service.

What I am suggesting here is that -- while warfighting is
certainly what we are about -- it is not and it cannot be -- all
we are about.

Not today, and not tomorrow.

Think back to December. Day after Christmas. The unthinkable
happened to hundreds of thousands of people living in Indonesia.
And what did we do? What did the international community do? We
sent help in any way we could.

For our part, in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, that help
consisted of a Carrier Strike Group and an Expeditionary Strike
Group -- dozens of ships and helicopters and thousands of
Sailors and Marines, all collected and connected for one
purpose: to save lives, provide security and restore a sense of

Let me say that again: to save lives, provide security and
restore a sense of hope.

We literally built a city at sea for no other purpose than to
serve the needs of other people. That was the Sea Base during
those critical days, when the entire world rushed to reach
suffering people in the midst of unthinkable devastation.

And guess what happened as a result? Aside from the lives we --
along with our international partners -- helped save, we started
changing some hearts and minds. We started showing a side of
American power to them that wasn't perceived as frightening,
monolithic or arrogant.

We showed them American power -- American sea power -- at its
finest, and at it's most noble.

And people have responded to that. I just recently came across
a poll published in The Economist that said before the tsunami,
nearly 70 percent of people living in Indonesia looked with
disfavor on the United States and our efforts in the war on
terror. When the relief effort was over, 70 percent of them had
an entirely different view of us and what were all about for the

That was one of the defining moments of this new century, and
shame on us, if even through benign neglect we allow those same
opinions to turn against our best intentions once again.

Make no mistake about it, I view relief efforts like that -- and
any number of other engagement activities we do -- as very much
a part of winning the war on terror. And we are at war.

We are up against people with absolutely no conscience, no
regard for life -- people with an entirely different vision of
the future than the one we embrace. They are not just our
enemies, but the enemies of all who cherish freedom and liberty.
They dream of closed societies and intolerance and injustice.
Theirs is a small world, led by small-minded men.

The chief problem, of course, is that their ambitions are not
small. Their ambitions are global in scope and deadly in
practice. It's unrestricted warfare that they preach. They
crave instability and look for opportunities to exploit it.
They observe no bounds. They are killing children. We should
make no more sacred pledge than to eliminate them.

Poverty, crime, illness, corruption, authoritarian governance
and disrespect for human rights all contribute to the kind of
instability and insecurity from which terrorism festers and
grows. If we can successfully use the sea and our capabilities
to as a means to prevent that instability, then we will have
gone a long way to deter acts of terror.

I'm not just interested in knocking the enemy to the canvas.
I'll do that if I have to. I want to prevent him from even
climbing into the ring.

The sea gives me access to where he is and just as importantly
where he isn't. It gives me dominance in short order. It takes
advantage of my ability to be persistent and, perhaps most
critically, it allows me to influence events ashore. And we
don't need anybody's permission to do it.

So, that's point one today -- we need to think more broadly
about this thing we call sea power.

Point two is we need a Navy that can effectively -- and
forcefully if need be -- bring that power to bear for decades
yet to come.

The Navy is in great shape today, thanks to my predecessor and
to all of you. We couldn't have done what we did in O-E-F and
O-I-F, couldn't have contributed to that relief effort in
Indonesia if we hadn't gone to such great lengths over the last
five years or so to improve our readiness. We are the most
ready we have ever been, and our Sailors are the best trained
and most highly skilled warriors I have ever seen.

Now, it's time, now it's my responsibility, to make sure we
don't squander that readiness for the future. I have spoke with
thousands of Sailors recently, their eyes sparkle they are
eager, ready, and they are executing the mission. It has fallen
to me, in my time, to build tomorrow's Navy, to make sure the
fleet we put to sea 10, 20, 30 years from now is just as capable
-- indeed, more capable -- than the one we have today.

You might have heard of the alternative shipbuilding plan I've
got folks working on down there in Washington. I can't put
forth a new way of thinking about sea power if I don't also
offer up some ideas about how to make it stick.

And that means we need to re-think both the number and the types
of ships we are building. We've got a great Navy right now, a
fleet that has proven its flexibility in a dynamic security
environment. It is a fleet that is particularly good at
leveraging the Joint application of Sea Power to fight and win
during major combat operations.

But we also need a fleet that can operate at the other end of
the spectrum. We cannot sit out in the deep blue, waiting for
the enemy to come to us. He will not. We must go to him.

We need a green water capability and a brown water capability
and quite frankly, I want a more robust onshore capability. I
want a balanced force in every sense of the word.

Balanced to face the challenges of our age: Piracy, drug
smuggling, transport of weapons of mass destruction over the
high seas, exploitation of economic rights, organized crime, and
yes, terrorism. As well as not taking our eye off the
requirement for major combat operations.

Balanced to operate in, and command, if need be, all things
maritime -- from the darkest corners of ungoverned waters, to
the well-sailed sea-lanes of world trade.

The correct balance will be a Navy with the right mix of
capabilities, manned by the right number of Sailors with the
right skills that matter in this century, a Navy built around
the right number of ships.

I want the ability to go close in and stay there. I believe our
Navy is missing a great opportunity to influence events by not
having a riverine force. We're going to have one.

I think Admiral Spruance had it just about right when he defined
sea power as "pushing our front lines as far forward as
possible." A naval force floating off the continental shelf
with no impact on shore is not decisive. We must go forward to
the very reaches of the sea, operating effectively in every part
of the littoral and beyond.

For example almost 30% of the water in the North Persian Gulf is
inaccessible by ships with drafts of more than 20 feet. Think
of the vast areas of the world covered by shallow water -- those
connected to the oceans by rivers, and harbors, and rugged
shorelines. These are the decisive strips of sea that make all
the difference. And we need to be there.

You hear a lot these days about virtual presence. Well, for
naval forces, virtual presence is actual absence. And we are
not going to be absent. If you're not there you can't do much.

Again, this is nothing new for us. Our history is replete with
stories of bravery and victory in the shallows -- from the
monitors of the Civil War to the PT boats of the South Pacific
to the patrol craft of the Mekong Delta. We know how to do
this. We just haven't done it for a while.

And with this riverine force, we can operate and exercise and
learn from many nations who do not need or desire a blue water
navy. We can be a better partner, and we can help extend the
peace to every shore.

And that's point three today: the need to look at sea power as a
team effort.

I think at many levels we already do this, certainly as it
regards the Marine Corps and our contributions to the joint

Look at the possibilities -- I know I am -- of well-trained
Sailors deploying ashore as a unit, rather than individually,
using expertise we already possess.

Think of the crew of an aircraft carrier -- a self-sustaining
city at sea in its own right -- or the crew of another large
ship, or the staff of a naval station, all people with exactly
the type of skills to assist civil affairs efforts.

Who do we have in a crew? Doctors, nurses, pipefitters,
mechanics, electricians, and security personnel. We've taken to
calling our ships "cities at sea" for a long time and for good
reason. What if we took the citizens of that city and moved
them ashore to help relieve stress on our Joint partners and
make life a little better for people in need?

This is just one of the many possibilities I want to look at. I
ask you to put on your thinking caps and think about others.

Look also at the possibilities of new missions joined with our
Coast Guard, learning from their unique expertise. Look at the
possibilities for Maritime Domain Awareness, not just within the
lifelines of the Defense Department, but outside those
lifelines, to include our inter-agency and international
partners as well.

Here in Newport you are, and should consider yourselves to be, a
large part of pioneering those possibilities, with initiatives
such as the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander Course,
which just graduated its first class last week.

I think the real potential of Sea Power lies in exploring those
kinds of possibilities, while developing global awareness. It
is about international maritime relationships founded on
understanding and trust, enduring relationships that bloom into

And as we build upon ideas like Theater Security Cooperation,
the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Regional Maritime
Security Initiative, we find that every nation has a stake in
security, and a distinct, unique capability -- as well as a
great desire -- to contribute.

Our vision is and ought to be to extend the peace through an
inter-connected community of maritime nations working together.
The enemy goes global. So should we.

I'm after that proverbial 1,000 ship Navy -- a fleet-in-being,
if you will -- comprised of all freedom-loving nations, standing
watch over the seas, standing watch over each other. Because I
believe, with every fiber of my being, that we are all united by
more than just fear.

I think of what Marine Colonel Thomas Hammes, now at the
National Defense University, wrote in his book, "The Sling and
the Stone," about the kind of war we face today.

It makes perfect sense to me. He wrote that we are fighting a
war of ideas.

And he stressed the strength of a message in the last page of
that book, an idea hundreds of years old; yet it is the most
powerful idea I know: that individuals are sacred, and have
intrinsic worth, and are born to be free men and women, and
strive for their dreams, for their children, and for their

That is a message of hope and empowerment for all people, a
message I am proud to fight for.

Our Navy and Marine Corps team works to extend that message of
hope by defending the inherent freedom of the seas, and by
extending the peace through aid and comfort to those in need --
a true City at Sea. That City at Sea was a part of
international relief efforts in the Indian Ocean last winter
after the tsunami. But we shouldn't have to wait for disaster
to strike. And we aren't.

Earlier this spring, in a town called Tan Tan, in Morocco, we
sent almost 50 Seabees to build a five-room schoolhouse for 200
children, as well as other material improvements. And just two
weeks ago, we assisted the Philippine government in reaching the
towns of Batu Batu and Sanga Sanga, with Navy and Marine Corps
medical aid, facilitated by an amphibious landing by
Expeditionary Strike Group One.

We are operating in the Horn of Africa combating hunger, and
we've got forces in South America, combating the drug trade.

I believe that to be effective in this uncertain environment,
our Navy needs tools that are not only instruments of war, but
implements of peace -- to become a strong partner for a stable
global community.

One of our young Sailors in Sanga Sanga was Hospitalman Alicia
Tilley, who worked alongside an Armed Forces of the Philippines
Nurse Corps Colonel for two days. Together, they treated
hundreds of patients, mostly young children.

She later told a reporter how great it was to get a chance to
use all her training to help people, especially the kids. She
called it an honor to work alongside the Philippine doctors and
"We learned from each other and developed a bond," she said.

To me, it is exactly this process of learning from each other,
relying on each other, and creating these profound human bonds
that define the true meaning of Sea Power.

Technology allows this next step. The acceleration of
communications, command, and control capabilities makes possible
-- for the first time in history -- an ocean with no dark

And one day, the massive areas beneath the surface of the oceans
may be made transparent as well. We may, one day, share a
common picture of the seas: a merchant shipping track, weather
information, geospatial mapping, seismic information, and
universally observed rules for conduct.

We have proven the awesome capability of the sea when used for
war. But we have yet to realize the full potential of the sea
when leveraged for peace, prosperity, increased understanding,
transparency and pervasive security.

This, to me, is the real meaning, the real potential of sea
power. It is the power of the sea to share and unite, to deter
and defeat, to protect and to endure.

We need to think about sea power in this new way for this
century. We need to build and put to sea a Navy that can
leverage that broad power, not only for our benefit but also for
the benefit of the joint force and the world at large.

We need to be a team player, a leader, for that 1,000 ship Navy
and a citizen in good standing for the city at sea.

Thank you again for inviting me, and I look forward to your

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