Author: U.S. Navy

USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) Naming Ceremony

On Jan. 20, 2020 —the holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.— the U.S. Navy officially names its newest aircraft carrier, the future USS Doris Miller (CVN 81).

Doris “Dorie” Miller saved the lives of his shipmates and then valiantly fought attacking Japanese forces during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, bravery for which he was awarded the Navy Cross—the first African American to receive this honor. Almost two years after his valor at Pearl Harbor, Miller gave his life for his country when his ship was sunk during battle.

USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) will be the first aircraft carrier named for an enlisted Sailor and the first named for an African American.

Join the Navy in celebrating the future USS Doris Miller and the life of this Navy hero. Below you will find:

  • A biographical video feature honoring Miller’s life and legacy
  • Interviews with a Navy historian about Dorie Miller’s actions, legacy and contributions to civil rights for all
  • An infographic of Miller’s life and other content

“Naming CVN 81 for Dorie Miller casts long overdue recognition to a true American hero and icon. It also honors the contributions of African Americans and enlisted Sailors for the first time in the history of American aircraft carriers. The Sailors who will put the USS Doris Miller to sea will be the fortunate ones, as heirs to the mightiest of Navy legends who epitomized the kind of fighting Sailor we need today.” –Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith

The Life of Doris “Dorie” Miller

Doris Miller, known as “Dorie” to shipmates and friends, was a U.S. Navy Sailor recognized for his bravery during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross.

Miller grew up on his family’s farm in Waco, Texas, and played football in high school before enlisting as a ship’s mess attendant in the U.S. Navy in 1939. In 1940, Miller was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and reported for duty onboard USS West Virginia (BB 48), where he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion.

Miller was below decks December 7, 1941, when the first Japanese torpedo struck USS West Virginia (BB 48). His battle station in the magazine damaged, Miller was ordered to the bridge, where he helped carry the ship’s mortally wounded captain to safety. Miller then loaded and fired an anti-aircraft machine gun—a weapon that, as an African American in a segregated military, he had not been trained to operate. Miller stayed behind once the order to abandon ship was passed to help evacuate shipmates and save the lives of Sailors in the burning water.

For his extraordinary courage, Miller was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Newspapers around the country cited his example as an argument for civil rights and equality.

“This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race, and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.” — Admiral Chester Nimitz

200117-N-NO101-151 WASHINGTON (Jan. 17, 2020) In this file photo taken May 27, 1942, Adm. Chester Nimitz awards the Navy Cross medal to Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller for his actions aboard the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The award was presented to Miller aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Miller died in 1943 when a torpedo sank USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56) off Butaritari Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. On June 30, 1973, the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Miller (FF 1091) in his honor.

Today, we are proud to continue honoring Miller’s heroic legacy by naming the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier Doris Miller (CVN 81). Read more about the life of Doris Miller here.

Historical Perspective

Learn more about Doris Miller from historian Dr. Virginia Akers of Naval History and Heritage Command, in the following interviews.

Actions During Attack of Dec. 7, 1941:

Social Context, Award of Navy Cross:

Initial Reception by African American Community:

Symbol of Hope, Legacy for All:

News Articles

Navy Will Name Future Ford Class Aircraft Carrier After WWII Hero Doris Miller

WASHINGTON (NNS) — Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly will name a future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier in honor of World War II hero Ship’s Cook Third Class Doris Miller during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Jan. 20.  Read More

NAVY RECRUIT GRADUATION: January 24, 2019

Navy Recruit Graduation: January 24, 2019 – Navy Live

Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of Recruit Training Command’s graduation, Pass-In-Review. It is a formal military ceremony that honors a Sailor’s hard work and dedication to a new way of life. Pass-In-Review also ties together the future of the Navy with our long-held naval traditions and customs.

Read how Recruit Training Command transforms civilians into Sailors – 38,000 of them each year.

The live video from the Navy’s only boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, is scheduled to begin 8:45 a.m. CST Jan. 24.

Congratulations, Sailors! And welcome aboard to the newest members of our Navy family!

Join in the story of four recruits as they make their way into the Navy through the training pipeline, never before so intimately profiled, of the Navy’s Recruit Training Command in All Hands Magazine’s documentary “Making a Sailor.”

Navy Recruit Graduation: January 24, 2019 – Navy Live

Join the #USNavy conversation on social media on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Flickr.

Congratulate the Navy’s newest Sailors by leaving a comment below.Edit

Surface Navy Association 2020 National Symposium

Owning Tomorrow’s Fight Today

Jan. 14-16, 2020

Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the 2019 Surface Navy Association National Symposium in Arlington, Virginia, where naval leaders, government officials and members of private industry will discuss a broad range of professional and career issues of importance to the surface warfare community.

The theme of the symposium is Owning Tomorrow’s Fight Today. The event provides an opportunity to highlight the Surface Navy’s vision for the future. Below you will find articles about and links to live events at the symposium, as well as the schedule of events.

Find out more at the SNA website: https://navysnaevents.org/national-symposium/index.html.

“The United States Navy has a Surface Force that is second to none, and we have taken deliberate steps to maintain that premier status in the face of great power competition,” said. “We will build on our improvements as we build the best mariners, build the most lethal ships and warfighters, and build fully-prepared warfare commanders.”

–Vice Adm. Richard Brown, Commander, Naval Surface Forces

LIVESTREAM VIDEO LINKS

Day 1 (Tuesday, Jan. 14):

Day 2: (Wednesday, Jan. 15)

Day 3: (Thursday, Jan. 16)

SCHEDULE
(Subject to change. All times EST.)

Tuesday, Jan. 14

1045-1245: Enlisted Roundtable and Luncheon
Active Duty/Reservists in Uniform/ Retired Enlisted, E-1 to E-9 only
Moderator: CMDCM Bryan Exum, USN(Ret)

1030-1145: Retired Flag Briefing (Flag Officers Only; All Branches Welcome) VADM Rich Brown, USN, Commander, Naval Surface Forces/Commander, US Pacific Fleet
RADM Gene Black, USN, Director, Surface Warfare (N96)

1130-1200: SNA Podcast
Moderator: CAPT Paul Rinn (Ret)

1230-1330: NAVSEA Media Availability: LCS in the Fleet Today

1300-1310: Opening Remarks: VADM Rick Hunt, USN (Ret), President, Surface Navy Association

1310-1410: The Surface Navy Today
VADM Rich Brown, USN, Commander, Naval Surface Forces/Commander, US Pacific Fleet

1330-1400: NAVSEA Media Availability: Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program (SURFMEPP) Update
John Murphy, SURFMEPP Deputy

1410-1510: Keynote Address (Seminar Package Required): ADM Michael Gilday, USN, Chief of Naval Operations

1530-1650: Updating the Surface Navy Vision
RADM Gene Black, USN, Director, Surface Warfare (N96)
Maj Gen Tracy King, USMC, Director, Expeditionary Warfare (N95)

1700: USNI Podcast Interview with VADM Rich Brown

Wednesday, Jan. 15

0900-0930: NAVSEA Media Availability: Surface Ship Modernization Update
Capt. Kevin Byrne, Surface Ship Modernization program manager

0930-1000: NAVSEA Media Availability: Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift Shipbuilding Update
Matt Sermon, Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift Office PEO Ships
executive director

10000-1030: NAVSEA Media Availability: DDG 51 Flight III Update
CAPT Seth Miller, DDG 51 Class program manager
CAPT Jason Hall, Above Water Sensors program manager

1015-1100: Coast Guard Update
ADM Charles W. Ray, USCG
Deputy Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

1100-1145: NAVSEA Media Availability: DDG 1000 Class Update
CAPT Smith, DDG 1000 Class program manager

1100-1130: NAVSEA Media Availability: Naval Power & Energy Systems: Way Forward
Steve Markle, U.S. Navy Electric Ships program manager

1100-1145: Marine Corps Update
Gen David H. Berger, USMC
Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps

1300-1330: NAVSEA Media Availability:Surface Training Systems Update
Bob Kerno, Surface Training Systems program manager

1330-1400 NAVSEA Media Availability: Surface Ship Sustainment Update
Capt. Steve Murray, Surface Ship Sustainment program manager

1400-1430: NAVSEA Media Availability: USNS Navajo-class Towing, Salvage and Rescue (T-ATS) Overview
Chris Paulus, Support Ships, Boats and Craft assistant program manager

1400-1500: Transformation of the Navy Warfighter for the 21st Century
Moderator: VADM John B. Nowell, Jr., USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education, N1, OPNAV Chief of Naval Personnel

1515-1615: Navy/Marine Corps Integration
Moderator: VADM James Kilby, USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements & Capabilities, N9, OPNAV

1615-1700: Keynote Address: The Hon. James F. Geurts,
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition

1800-1930: Naval Heritage Program – “Life and Times of Admiral Bulkeley”

Thursday, Jan. 16

0830-0915: Keynote Address: ADM Christopher W. Grady, USN, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command

0900-0930: NAVSEA Media Availability: In-Service Aircraft Carriers Update
Capt. Charles Ehnes, In-Service Aircraft Carrier program manager

0930-1030: NAVSEA Media Availability: CVN 78 Update
Capt. Ron Rutan, CVN 78 Class program manager

1000-1030: NAVSEA Media Availability: Future Aircraft Carriers Update
Capt. Philip Malone, Future Aircraft Carriers program manager

1015-1145: Building the Future Force
Moderator: VADM Thomas J. Moore, USN, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command

1300-1330: NAVSEA Media Availability: Unmanned Maritime Systems Update
CAPT Pete Small, Unmanned Maritime Systems program manager

1330-1400: NAVSEA Media Availability: Mine Warfare Update
CAPT Danielle George, Mine Warfare Programs manager

1400-1430: NAVSEA Media Availability: Mission Package Program Update
CAPT Gus Weekes, Mission Modules program manager

1415-1530: Maintaining the Current Force
Moderator: VADM Moore, USN, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command

1645-1730: Closing Remarks: VADM Richard Hunt, USN (Ret), President, Surface Navy Association

NAVY RECRUIT GRADUATION: JANUARY 10, 2020

Navy Recruit Graduation: January 10, 2020 – Navy Live

Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of Recruit Training Command’s graduation, Pass-In-Review. It is a formal military ceremony that honors a Sailor’s hard work and dedication to a new way of life. Pass-In-Review also ties together the future of the Navy with our long-held naval traditions and customs.

Read how Recruit Training Command transforms civilians into Sailors – 38,000 of them each year.

The live video from the Navy’s only boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, is scheduled to begin 8:45 a.m. CST Jan. 10.

Congratulations, Sailors! And welcome aboard to the newest members of our Navy family!

Join in the story of four recruits as they make their way into the Navy through the training pipeline, never before so intimately profiled, of the Navy’s Recruit Training Command in All Hands Magazine’s documentary “Making a Sailor.”

Navy Recruit Graduation: January 10, 2020 – Navy Live

Join the #USNavy conversation on social media on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Flickr.

Congratulate the Navy’s newest Sailors by leaving a comment below.Edit

Firsthand Effects of the Naval Sustainment System-Aviation

By Vice Adm. Dean Peters, commander, Naval Air Systems Command, and Bill Taylor, assistant deputy commandant for aviation, U.S. Marine Corps

During the past year, Naval Aviation made meaningful strides toward improving readiness and sustainability across our strike fighter communities. Since October, in partnership with leadership from across the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) including Navy Air Boss Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, Deputy Commandant for Aviation (DCA) Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder and other military and governmental partners, we have had the opportunity to visit Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) and additional units at four locations vital to our Super Hornet platforms: Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point and Naval Air Stations (NASs) Jacksonville, Lemoore and North Island.

These events, known as Boots on the Ground (BoGs), are a common NAE activity. Two things set these visits apart: the close scheduling of the events—three visits were conducted in December—and the specific purpose of touching as many major FRCs as possible to understand if Naval Sustainment System-Aviation (NSS-A) reforms are sustainable. In addition to the Depot-level maintenance we observed at the FRCs, we visited several organizational-level (our basic level of maintenance, referred to as O-level) activities, including the Naval Aviation Maintenance Center of Excellence (NAMCE) at NAS Lemoore.

Across the board, we saw substantial improvements in workspace layouts, turnaround times for maintenance, backorders of high-priority requisitions that are missing from the supply shelf and planning for the future.

During these visits, we observed firsthand the effect the NSS has had on maintenance, production and supply. We spoke directly to members of these and other teams who work on our aircraft every day to hear what improved their operations and where we can provide assistance.

Across the board, we saw substantial improvements in workspace layouts, turnaround times for maintenance, backorders of high-priority requisitions missing from the supply shelf and planning for the future. Daily meetings in various Production Control Centers are identifying and elevating issues for resolution more quickly. Improved floor organization makes finding parts and pinpointing support required by the supply chain more efficient.

More importantly, we witnessed an improved culture on those lines and in those shops where NSS reforms had been accomplished. An important part of this culture is the intent to treat artisans as surgeons, providing all the parts and tools they need for their jobs at the site rather than having them take time from fixing aircraft to search for supplies.

We found that the aircraft production line at Fleet Readiness Center West (FRCW) at NAS Lemoore is sustaining reforms; Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) at NAS North Island is sustaining reforms in its component shops; and Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) at MCAS Cherry Point has continued to sustain reforms for critical component shops and expanded reforms to aircraft planned maintenance interval (PMI) lines.

Here are a few examples of the many improvements we encountered:

  • The T-6 repair line at FRCSE has reduced cycle time from 187 days to approximately 100 days, on the way to a standard 77-day event.
  • The H-53 program at FRCE reduced cycle time by 10% on CH production and 30% on MH production.
  • The V-22 program at FRCSW has no outstanding supply issues—a goal for which every shop must strive.
  • The Super Hornet PMI line at FRCW consistently delivers aircraft in 60 days or less.

With the assistance of FRCW, reforms have been implemented at NAMCE, an activity not originally planned but subsequently prioritized by the Air Boss. NAMCE saw a 137% increase in productivity following NSS-A transformation. NAMCE was able to take on all long-term down aircraft for maintenance and allow the operational squadrons to manage and maintain their normal allowable number of aircraft.

We now must expand the improvements we’ve achieved to all shops, repair lines and squadrons across Naval Aviation.

This is phenomenal work, and it’s all contributing to the NAE’s sustainment of Mission Capable (MC) Super Hornet numbers above 325 (which historically hover around  250-260). In addition, Legacy Hornets are returning to service in days versus weeks after PMI and maintaining percentages in the high 70s for MC aircraft.

MC aircraft make up the critical baseline of our future readiness for the high-end fight. Without “up” aircraft, we cannot prepare to meet mission requirements; with them, we can build for whatever operations come our way. MC aircraft mitigate problems across the NAE, including projected pilot shortages. More MC aircraft mean more aircraft available for the training commands and Fleet Readiness Squadrons. They also mean more flying hours for our trained pilots, so they can hone their skills.

Together, we’re seeing remarkable change, but we still have much work to do.

We now must expand the improvements we’ve achieved to all shops, repair lines and squadrons across Naval Aviation. In addition, we still have vital components that must be available in greater numbers and repaired in less time to increase lethality and survivability, per Air Boss and DCA priorities. 

We will continue to attack readiness degraders through the Reliability Control Boards (RCBs), making better use of data to refine our maintenance programs and supply forecasting. Across all these efforts, we must integrate improved cost management.

It is powerful to see the close alignment between the Navy and Marine Corps as we advance these priorities. This is a true partnership—one team with one fight. And it is encouraging to receive the positive feedback from our artisans, maintainers and production support personnel who are super motivated to provide quality products, and who are taking ownership of these reforms.   

As always, your NAE flag officers, general officers and senior executive service leaders are committed to providing the resources needed to accomplish our mission. Don’t hesitate to let us know what is needed. Fly, fight, lead and win!

The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians, and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.

Acting SECNAV Speeches and Transcripts

The following are transcripts of interviews and prepared remarks from Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. The most recent additions appear first.

All transcripts and recordings from commercial media sources are courtesy of the copyright holder.

Jan. 3, 2020: Interview on Hugh Hewitt radio program. Click here for the YouTube audio recording of the segment.

HH: Of course the huge news overnight: President Trump ordered the killing of Khasim Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard–probably the second most important person in the rogue regime that is Iran.

Joining me this morning to talk about that and of course our force structure overall, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

Secretary Modly, welcome. It’s great to have you back. It’s been nine months since we’ve talked. I’m glad to have you this morning.

TM: Good morning, Hugh. How are you?

HH: Great. First question has to come about last night. Do we have the assets and the rules of engagement in place to protect our citizens, our forces, our allies in the region that Iran could threaten as retaliation?

TM: I certainly believe that that’s true, Hugh. I think the President’s number one priority is to protect our people overseas. And so any action that we take over there has that in mind prior to any action being taken. And so we thought through those things pretty seriously, and we feel like we have the forces in place to protect. But that being said, the Iranians are a rogue regime, and they’ve got all kinds of nefarious ways of going about things. So we just have to be very, very vigilant and make sure that we’re taking care of our people. 

HH: Secretary Modly, do we have carriers in the region? Are we dispatching more naval strength to the region in anticipation of potential retaliation?

TM: Yeah, well, Hugh, we do have a carrier in the region. I’d prefer not to get into more detail about what other forces may or may not be flowing into the area. But the Harry S. Truman is there. It relieved the Lincoln that had been there for about ten months. So, but other than that, I really, I can’t really go into much more detail.

HH: All right, but last question on this. The rules of engagement do allow our troops, especially our ships, to respond to any provocation?

TM: Yes, they do.

HH: Alright.

TM: They have the ability to protect themselves and protect Americans, and so they, that’s pretty clear to all of our commanders.

HH: Now originally, I scheduled this to talk to you about force structure, so I want to go there.

TM: Sure.

HH: I first have to say, though, you’re a fellow Buckeye and a fellow Browns fan. What do you think of Urban Meyer as the head of the Browns?

TM: I’m tracking that very closely. It’s been a very disappointing season for all of us. But I don’t know. I think that he’s a pretty strong football mind, and I think he has been able to build pretty good culture wherever he’s been, and I think that’s one of the things that seems to be lacking there the team. So if that’s the direction they go, I think there are a lot worse choices they could make.

HH: Now the reason I asked that is he builds things, he gets a plan, he sticks to it. The Browns have had eight plans, ten plans over the last 20 years, and that’s why nothing ever works. They don’t stick to a plan. The President has a plan for 355 ships in his Navy, and for 12 carriers. We aren’t anywhere close to that. When we talked nine months ago, we talked about this. Is there ever going to be a plan, Secretary Modly?

TM: Yes, and in fact, I’m actually here today at the U.S. Naval Institute. I’ve gathered together a group of both folks from inside the Navy, Department of the Navy, and the Marine Corps, and a bunch of outside experts and academics, and folks who have looked at force structure for years. And we’re going to sit down and talk this through, and we’re going to come up with some recommendations for Secretary Esper, and for the, ultimately for him to bring to the President to say look, this is the path that we need to be on to get to the number that you want. And the number itself can’t just be a random number. It has to be a number that works in terms of when we look at various war gaming scenarios and how the national defense strategy has changed, and what the threat scenarios are, and that’s what we’ve been working on, actually, for the last several months internally, doing something called the integrated naval force structure assessment, which is the first time we’ve actually brought the Marine Corps and the Navy together to look at this to determine what types of platforms and what that force mix should look like.

HH: Now I am certainly not the person to tell you what the force mix should look like, but I know what the number is, because the President has said it repeatedly – 355 ships.

TM: Sure.

HH: What was that memo to OMB about? Because to a civilian, and that’s what I am, I’m just a civilian. It looked like near insubordination.

TM: Well, now I wouldn’t say that, Hugh. I mean, we’re going through a budget process right now, and you know, that budget process has puts and takes, as particularly as you get to the end game, which is where we are now. We roll the budget out in February. And so we’re looking at those various puts and takes, and trying to present some options to, both to the Secretary of Defense and the President in terms of final decisions. So I mean, I think the OMB memo was, you know, had some concerns about where this might look. I think they overstated in that memo where that, where those decisions would drive the end force number. I think we’re still, regardless, we’re going to be over 300, or close to 300 at the end of this year. We started out the administration at 275. But the path to 355 is a challenging path, because you know, frankly, it’s a mathematical issue. I mean, if you’re going to grow the force by 25-30%, and we started at 275, you need to have a top line that matches that. And right now, we sort of have, we had a big bump in the first year or two, but we’re sort of inflation-adjusted, sort of flat going forward. And so that’s where the decisions base has to be brought and made clear to the President and the Secretary of Defense about, hey look, if this is the path we’re going on, we’re going to probably need to have more top line for the Navy.

HH: So Secretary Modly, if you go to this sit down this morning, and your first question is here is our budget, what can we build with it, you’ll have a very different discussion than if your first question is the President has said 355 and 12, how do we get there as fast as possible, and then what will it cost. Which approach are you going to adopt?

TM: No, no, my approach is the latter, and I’ve made that very clear from my first day in the acting seat, is that I want a plan for 355 in 10 years. And so that is what, that is the mandate that I’ve given the Navy and the Marine Corps to look at, and that is the way we’re looking at it. It’s not completely resource unconstrained. I mean, we have to be realistic about things.

But you know, my perspective on this is very consistent with where I was two years ago when I was sworn in as the under [secretary of the Navy], which I think the number is going to be more than 355. And I’ve always called it 355 plus, because I think it’s going to be that number plus a variety of other platforms that we’re probably, that we hadn’t thought about before, and that includes unmanned vehicles, it includes a new type of, perhaps, smaller amphib-type ship that we hadn’t looked at before. So I think it, my perspective is the right mix for us is going to be 355 plus, and that could be anywhere from 400 to, you know, 420 platforms, some manned, some unmanned, you know, some under the traditional guise that we’ve been looking at before.

HH: I’m so glad to hear that, because you’ll get a plan, then, if you demand it. My question is you don’t get what you don’t ask for. You don’t get the money unless Congress knows you need it, and you have to persuade. Are you prepared, and I know actings have some limitations, but you don’t seem to care about that, and I’m glad to hear that. Are you going to go up there and persuade the Hill that we need this money now to get to what the President has said he wants?

TM: Certainly. I mean, that is, that has been the challenge, because a 355 goal isn’t law, but it was put in law by the authorizers, and not funded by the appropriators. So that is the big challenge, and I’m glad you mentioned this point about me being acting. I mean, being acting doesn’t mean you’re pretending. So you know, I’m in the seat, and I believe that I am, have the responsibility and the authority to address these challenges that the Navy has, because we don’t really know how long I’ll be in the seat. And it’s a very critical time for our Navy, and I expect to take that on full force.

HH: You’ve got a new CNO. Is he as committed to 355 plus as you are?

TM: I, oh, he’s definitely, both he and General Berger, the new commandant, have been very much involved in the process of determining what this new force structure will look like, and has opened up a lot of creative options. So yeah, he’s very committed to it.

HH: Does it involve new shipyards, because that is one of the crucial bottlenecks. I’ve known about it for years even as a civilian, and it seems to me we can’t get to 355 unless we open or expand places like Philadelphia.

TM: I think it definitely, in the final analysis, if we are able to fund this and convince people that we need to fund this, it will create opportunities for other shipyards, not just Philadelphia, but probably some things in the Midwest that can produce smaller vessels that perhaps are unmanned and also built in other parts of the country. So I think it’ll definitely open up opportunities for our existing shipyards, but also for others as well.

And also, the other thing you need to think about is that the bigger the force is, the more maintenance you need. And that also opens up opportunities for expanding our maintenance bases, or our maintenance infrastructure across the country. And part of the problem we’ve had with this is that we haven’t been able to send a good, strong, consistent demand signal to those other shipyards, and so they’re just not interested in engaging with the Navy. And so we have to make sure that you know, this is a national imperative, and we’re driving towards a bigger Navy, and I think then, industry will follow.

HH: There is also the need for a 5th generation fighter, or a declaration that we’re not going to have one. Have you made that decision, yet, Secretary Modly?

TM: Well, we have the 5th generation fighter in the F-35. We are looking at sort of the 6th generation fighter right now, and that is currently under development. But no decision’s been made on what direction we’re going to go with that.

HH: Excuse me, I misspoke. But do you, are you committed to the 6th generation, because the F-35 doesn’t have the range that a lot of the experts I read say you need.

TM: Oh, I think we should always, yeah, I’m committed to always advancing our aviation capabilities, so you know, if the next generations, you know, we’re on 5th now, then 6th generation is clearly something we should be looking at and understanding what that’s going to take to get there.

HH: Last question, are you going to put back the submarine that was cut in the OMB and the other cuts in the OMB memo? Are they going to be back on the board today at the end of the day?

TM: Well, all those things, all those things are decisions that are going to be made in the coming, in the next several weeks. Ultimately, it’s a decision for the Secretary of Defense. I think, you know, we would love to have that submarine back in. And we’re going to make the case for it, and we’ll see whether or not the top line follows.

HH: Secretary Modly, thank you. Come back after you’ve had your sit down, and I’m glad you’re asking the first question the way you are. Good luck in getting everyone on the same team, and rowing in the same direction. I appreciate it. Finally, we might get a plan for 355, and it’ll be Tom Modly’s achievement. Thank you, Secretary.

TM: Thank you. Thanks, Hugh. Thanks for having me on.

[End of interview.]

Acting SECNAV Speeches and Transcripts

The following are transcripts of interviews and prepared remarks from Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. The most recent additions appear first.

All transcripts and recordings from commercial media sources are courtesy of the copyright holder.

Jan. 3, 2020: Interview on Hugh Hewitt radio program. Click here for the YouTube audio recording of the segment.

HH: Of course the huge news overnight: President Trump ordered the killing of Khasim Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard–probably the second most important person in the rogue regime that is Iran.

Joining me this morning to talk about that and of course our force structure overall, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

Secretary Modly, welcome. It’s great to have you back. It’s been nine months since we’ve talked. I’m glad to have you this morning.

TM: Good morning, Hugh. How are you?

HH: Great. First question has to come about last night. Do we have the assets and the rules of engagement in place to protect our citizens, our forces, our allies in the region that Iran could threaten as retaliation?

TM: I certainly believe that that’s true, Hugh. I think the President’s number one priority is to protect our people overseas. And so any action that we take over there has that in mind prior to any action being taken. And so we thought through those things pretty seriously, and we feel like we have the forces in place to protect. But that being said, the Iranians are a rogue regime, and they’ve got all kinds of nefarious ways of going about things. So we just have to be very, very vigilant and make sure that we’re taking care of our people. 

HH: Secretary Modly, do we have carriers in the region? Are we dispatching more naval strength to the region in anticipation of potential retaliation?

TM: Yeah, well, Hugh, we do have a carrier in the region. I’d prefer not to get into more detail about what other forces may or may not be flowing into the area. But the Harry S. Truman is there. It relieved the Lincoln that had been there for about ten months. So, but other than that, I really, I can’t really go into much more detail.

HH: All right, but last question on this. The rules of engagement do allow our troops, especially our ships, to respond to any provocation?

TM: Yes, they do.

HH: Alright.

TM: They have the ability to protect themselves and protect Americans, and so they, that’s pretty clear to all of our commanders.

HH: Now originally, I scheduled this to talk to you about force structure, so I want to go there.

TM: Sure.

HH: I first have to say, though, you’re a fellow Buckeye and a fellow Browns fan. What do you think of Urban Meyer as the head of the Browns?

TM: I’m tracking that very closely. It’s been a very disappointing season for all of us. But I don’t know. I think that he’s a pretty strong football mind, and I think he has been able to build pretty good culture wherever he’s been, and I think that’s one of the things that seems to be lacking there the team. So if that’s the direction they go, I think there are a lot worse choices they could make.

HH: Now the reason I asked that is he builds things, he gets a plan, he sticks to it. The Browns have had eight plans, ten plans over the last 20 years, and that’s why nothing ever works. They don’t stick to a plan. The President has a plan for 355 ships in his Navy, and for 12 carriers. We aren’t anywhere close to that. When we talked nine months ago, we talked about this. Is there ever going to be a plan, Secretary Modly?

TM: Yes, and in fact, I’m actually here today at the U.S. Naval Institute. I’ve gathered together a group of both folks from inside the Navy, Department of the Navy, and the Marine Corps, and a bunch of outside experts and academics, and folks who have looked at force structure for years. And we’re going to sit down and talk this through, and we’re going to come up with some recommendations for Secretary Esper, and for the, ultimately for him to bring to the President to say look, this is the path that we need to be on to get to the number that you want. And the number itself can’t just be a random number. It has to be a number that works in terms of when we look at various war gaming scenarios and how the national defense strategy has changed, and what the threat scenarios are, and that’s what we’ve been working on, actually, for the last several months internally, doing something called the integrated naval force structure assessment, which is the first time we’ve actually brought the Marine Corps and the Navy together to look at this to determine what types of platforms and what that force mix should look like.

HH: Now I am certainly not the person to tell you what the force mix should look like, but I know what the number is, because the President has said it repeatedly – 355 ships.

TM: Sure.

HH: What was that memo to OMB about? Because to a civilian, and that’s what I am, I’m just a civilian. It looked like near insubordination.

TM: Well, now I wouldn’t say that, Hugh. I mean, we’re going through a budget process right now, and you know, that budget process has puts and takes, as particularly as you get to the end game, which is where we are now. We roll the budget out in February. And so we’re looking at those various puts and takes, and trying to present some options to, both to the Secretary of Defense and the President in terms of final decisions. So I mean, I think the OMB memo was, you know, had some concerns about where this might look. I think they overstated in that memo where that, where those decisions would drive the end force number. I think we’re still, regardless, we’re going to be over 300, or close to 300 at the end of this year. We started out the administration at 275. But the path to 355 is a challenging path, because you know, frankly, it’s a mathematical issue. I mean, if you’re going to grow the force by 25-30%, and we started at 275, you need to have a top line that matches that. And right now, we sort of have, we had a big bump in the first year or two, but we’re sort of inflation-adjusted, sort of flat going forward. And so that’s where the decisions base has to be brought and made clear to the President and the Secretary of Defense about, hey look, if this is the path we’re going on, we’re going to probably need to have more top line for the Navy.

HH: So Secretary Modly, if you go to this sit down this morning, and your first question is here is our budget, what can we build with it, you’ll have a very different discussion than if your first question is the President has said 355 and 12, how do we get there as fast as possible, and then what will it cost. Which approach are you going to adopt?

TM: No, no, my approach is the latter, and I’ve made that very clear from my first day in the acting seat, is that I want a plan for 355 in 10 years. And so that is what, that is the mandate that I’ve given the Navy and the Marine Corps to look at, and that is the way we’re looking at it. It’s not completely resource unconstrained. I mean, we have to be realistic about things.

But you know, my perspective on this is very consistent with where I was two years ago when I was sworn in as the under [secretary of the Navy], which I think the number is going to be more than 355. And I’ve always called it 355 plus, because I think it’s going to be that number plus a variety of other platforms that we’re probably, that we hadn’t thought about before, and that includes unmanned vehicles, it includes a new type of, perhaps, smaller amphib-type ship that we hadn’t looked at before. So I think it, my perspective is the right mix for us is going to be 355 plus, and that could be anywhere from 400 to, you know, 420 platforms, some manned, some unmanned, you know, some under the traditional guise that we’ve been looking at before.

HH: I’m so glad to hear that, because you’ll get a plan, then, if you demand it. My question is you don’t get what you don’t ask for. You don’t get the money unless Congress knows you need it, and you have to persuade. Are you prepared, and I know actings have some limitations, but you don’t seem to care about that, and I’m glad to hear that. Are you going to go up there and persuade the Hill that we need this money now to get to what the President has said he wants?

TM: Certainly. I mean, that is, that has been the challenge, because a 355 goal isn’t law, but it was put in law by the authorizers, and not funded by the appropriators. So that is the big challenge, and I’m glad you mentioned this point about me being acting. I mean, being acting doesn’t mean you’re pretending. So you know, I’m in the seat, and I believe that I am, have the responsibility and the authority to address these challenges that the Navy has, because we don’t really know how long I’ll be in the seat. And it’s a very critical time for our Navy, and I expect to take that on full force.

HH: You’ve got a new CNO. Is he as committed to 355 plus as you are?

TM: I, oh, he’s definitely, both he and General Berger, the new commandant, have been very much involved in the process of determining what this new force structure will look like, and has opened up a lot of creative options. So yeah, he’s very committed to it.

HH: Does it involve new shipyards, because that is one of the crucial bottlenecks. I’ve known about it for years even as a civilian, and it seems to me we can’t get to 355 unless we open or expand places like Philadelphia.

TM: I think it definitely, in the final analysis, if we are able to fund this and convince people that we need to fund this, it will create opportunities for other shipyards, not just Philadelphia, but probably some things in the Midwest that can produce smaller vessels that perhaps are unmanned and also built in other parts of the country. So I think it’ll definitely open up opportunities for our existing shipyards, but also for others as well.

And also, the other thing you need to think about is that the bigger the force is, the more maintenance you need. And that also opens up opportunities for expanding our maintenance bases, or our maintenance infrastructure across the country. And part of the problem we’ve had with this is that we haven’t been able to send a good, strong, consistent demand signal to those other shipyards, and so they’re just not interested in engaging with the Navy. And so we have to make sure that you know, this is a national imperative, and we’re driving towards a bigger Navy, and I think then, industry will follow.

HH: There is also the need for a 5th generation fighter, or a declaration that we’re not going to have one. Have you made that decision, yet, Secretary Modly?

TM: Well, we have the 5th generation fighter in the F-35. We are looking at sort of the 6th generation fighter right now, and that is currently under development. But no decision’s been made on what direction we’re going to go with that.

HH: Excuse me, I misspoke. But do you, are you committed to the 6th generation, because the F-35 doesn’t have the range that a lot of the experts I read say you need.

TM: Oh, I think we should always, yeah, I’m committed to always advancing our aviation capabilities, so you know, if the next generations, you know, we’re on 5th now, then 6th generation is clearly something we should be looking at and understanding what that’s going to take to get there.

HH: Last question, are you going to put back the submarine that was cut in the OMB and the other cuts in the OMB memo? Are they going to be back on the board today at the end of the day?

TM: Well, all those things, all those things are decisions that are going to be made in the coming, in the next several weeks. Ultimately, it’s a decision for the Secretary of Defense. I think, you know, we would love to have that submarine back in. And we’re going to make the case for it, and we’ll see whether or not the top line follows.

HH: Secretary Modly, thank you. Come back after you’ve had your sit down, and I’m glad you’re asking the first question the way you are. Good luck in getting everyone on the same team, and rowing in the same direction. I appreciate it. Finally, we might get a plan for 355, and it’ll be Tom Modly’s achievement. Thank you, Secretary.

TM: Thank you. Thanks, Hugh. Thanks for having me on.

[End of interview.]

Acting SECNAV Speeches and Transcripts

The following are transcripts of interviews and prepared remarks from Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. The most recent additions appear first.

All transcripts and recordings from commercial media sources are courtesy of the copyright holder.

Jan. 3, 2020: Interview on Hugh Hewitt radio program. Click here for the YouTube audio recording of the segment.

HH: Of course the huge news overnight: President Trump ordered the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard–probably the second most important person in the rogue regime that is Iran.

Joining me this morning to talk about that and of course our force structure overall, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

Secretary Modly, welcome. It’s great to have you back. It’s been nine months since we’ve talked. I’m glad to have you this morning.

TM: Good morning, Hugh. How are you?

HH: Great. First question has to come
about last night. Do we have the assets and the rules of engagement in place to
protect our citizens, our forces, our allies in the region that Iran could
threaten as retaliation?

TM: I certainly believe that that’s
true, Hugh. I think the President’s number one priority is to protect our
people overseas. And so any action that we take over there has that in mind
prior to any action being taken. And so we thought through those things pretty
seriously, and we feel like we have the forces in place to protect. But that
being said, the Iranians are a rogue regime, and they’ve got all kinds of
nefarious ways of going about things. So we just have to be very, very vigilant
and make sure that we’re taking care of our people. 

HH: Secretary Modly, do we have carriers
in the region? Are we dispatching more naval strength to the region in
anticipation of potential retaliation?

TM: Yeah, well, Hugh, we do have a
carrier in the region. I’d prefer not to get into more detail about what other
forces may or may not be flowing into the area. But the Harry S. Truman is
there. It relieved the Lincoln that had been there for about ten months. So,
but other than that, I really, I can’t really go into much more detail.

HH: All right, but last question on
this. The rules of engagement do allow our troops, especially our ships, to
respond to any provocation?

TM: Yes, they do.

HH: Alright.

TM: They have the ability to protect
themselves and protect Americans, and so they, that’s pretty clear to all of
our commanders.

HH: Now originally, I scheduled this to
talk to you about force structure, so I want to go there.

TM: Sure.

HH: I first have to say, though, you’re
a fellow Buckeye and a fellow Browns fan. What do you think of Urban Meyer as
the head of the Browns?

TM: I’m tracking that very closely. It’s
been a very disappointing season for all of us. But I don’t know. I think that
he’s a pretty strong football mind, and I think he has been able to build
pretty good culture wherever he’s been, and I think that’s one of the things
that seems to be lacking there the team. So if that’s the direction they go, I
think there are a lot worse choices they could make.

HH: Now the reason I asked that is he
builds things, he gets a plan, he sticks to it. The Browns have had eight
plans, ten plans over the last 20 years, and that’s why nothing ever works.
They don’t stick to a plan. The President has a plan for 355 ships in his Navy,
and for 12 carriers. We aren’t anywhere close to that. When we talked nine
months ago, we talked about this. Is there ever going to be a plan, Secretary
Modly?

TM: Yes, and in fact, I’m actually here
today at the U.S. Naval Institute. I’ve gathered together a group of both folks
from inside the Navy, Department of the Navy, and the Marine Corps, and a bunch
of outside experts and academics, and folks who have looked at force structure
for years. And we’re going to sit down and talk this through, and we’re going
to come up with some recommendations for Secretary Esper, and for the,
ultimately for him to bring to the President to say look, this is the path that
we need to be on to get to the number that you want. And the number itself
can’t just be a random number. It has to be a number that works in terms of
when we look at various war gaming scenarios and how the national defense
strategy has changed, and what the threat scenarios are, and that’s what we’ve
been working on, actually, for the last several months internally, doing
something called the integrated naval force structure assessment, which is the
first time we’ve actually brought the Marine Corps and the Navy together to
look at this to determine what types of platforms and what that force mix
should look like.

HH: Now I am certainly not the person to
tell you what the force mix should look like, but I know what the number is,
because the President has said it repeatedly – 355 ships.

TM: Sure.

HH: What was that memo to OMB about? Because to a civilian, and that’s what I am, I’m just a civilian. It looked like near insubordination.

TM: Well, now I wouldn’t say that, Hugh.
I mean, we’re going through a budget process right now, and you know, that
budget process has puts and takes, as particularly as you get to the end game,
which is where we are now. We roll the budget out in February. And so we’re
looking at those various puts and takes, and trying to present some options to,
both to the Secretary of Defense and the President in terms of final decisions.
So I mean, I think the OMB memo was, you know, had some concerns about where
this might look. I think they overstated in that memo where that, where those
decisions would drive the end force number. I think we’re still, regardless,
we’re going to be over 300, or close to 300 at the end of this year. We started
out the administration at 275. But the path to 355 is a challenging path,
because you know, frankly, it’s a mathematical issue. I mean, if you’re going
to grow the force by 25-30%, and we started at 275, you need to have a top line
that matches that. And right now, we sort of have, we had a big bump in the
first year or two, but we’re sort of inflation-adjusted, sort of flat going
forward. And so that’s where the decisions base has to be brought and made
clear to the President and the Secretary of Defense about, hey look, if this is
the path we’re going on, we’re going to probably need to have more top line for
the Navy.

HH: So Secretary Modly, if you go to
this sit down this morning, and your first question is here is our budget, what
can we build with it, you’ll have a very different discussion than if your
first question is the President has said 355 and 12, how do we get there as
fast as possible, and then what will it cost. Which approach are you going to adopt?

TM: No, no, my approach is the latter, and I’ve made that very clear from my first day in the acting seat, is that I want a plan for 355 in 10 years. And so that is what, that is the mandate that I’ve given the Navy and the Marine Corps to look at, and that is the way we’re looking at it. It’s not completely resource unconstrained. I mean, we have to be realistic about things.

But you know, my perspective on this is very consistent with where I was two years ago when I was sworn in as the under [secretary of the Navy], which I think the number is going to be more than 355. And I’ve always called it 355 plus, because I think it’s going to be that number plus a variety of other platforms that we’re probably, that we hadn’t thought about before, and that includes unmanned vehicles, it includes a new type of, perhaps, smaller amphib-type ship that we hadn’t looked at before. So I think it, my perspective is the right mix for us is going to be 355 plus, and that could be anywhere from 400 to, you know, 420 platforms, some manned, some unmanned, you know, some under the traditional guise that we’ve been looking at before.

HH: I’m so glad to hear that, because
you’ll get a plan, then, if you demand it. My question is you don’t get what
you don’t ask for. You don’t get the money unless Congress knows you need it,
and you have to persuade. Are you prepared, and I know actings have some
limitations, but you don’t seem to care about that, and I’m glad to hear that.
Are you going to go up there and persuade the Hill that we need this money now
to get to what the President has said he wants?

TM: Certainly. I mean, that is, that has
been the challenge, because a 355 goal isn’t law, but it was put in law by the
authorizers, and not funded by the appropriators. So that is the big challenge,
and I’m glad you mentioned this point about me being acting. I mean, being
acting doesn’t mean you’re pretending. So you know, I’m in the seat, and I
believe that I am, have the responsibility and the authority to address these
challenges that the Navy has, because we don’t really know how long I’ll be in
the seat. And it’s a very critical time for our Navy, and I expect to take that
on full force.

HH: You’ve got a new CNO. Is he as
committed to 355 plus as you are?

TM: I, oh, he’s definitely, both he and
General Berger, the new commandant, have been very much involved in the process
of determining what this new force structure will look like, and has opened up
a lot of creative options. So yeah, he’s very committed to it.

HH: Does it involve new shipyards,
because that is one of the crucial bottlenecks. I’ve known about it for years
even as a civilian, and it seems to me we can’t get to 355 unless we open or
expand places like Philadelphia.

TM: I think it definitely, in the final analysis, if we are able to fund this and convince people that we need to fund this, it will create opportunities for other shipyards, not just Philadelphia, but probably some things in the Midwest that can produce smaller vessels that perhaps are unmanned and also built in other parts of the country. So I think it’ll definitely open up opportunities for our existing shipyards, but also for others as well.

And also, the other thing you need to think about is that the bigger the force is, the more maintenance you need. And that also opens up opportunities for expanding our maintenance bases, or our maintenance infrastructure across the country. And part of the problem we’ve had with this is that we haven’t been able to send a good, strong, consistent demand signal to those other shipyards, and so they’re just not interested in engaging with the Navy. And so we have to make sure that you know, this is a national imperative, and we’re driving towards a bigger Navy, and I think then, industry will follow.

HH: There is also the need for a 5th
generation fighter, or a declaration that we’re not going to have one. Have you
made that decision, yet, Secretary Modly?

TM: Well, we have the 5th generation
fighter in the F-35. We are looking at sort of the 6th generation fighter right
now, and that is currently under development. But no decision’s been made on
what direction we’re going to go with that.

HH: Excuse me, I misspoke. But do you,
are you committed to the 6th generation, because the F-35 doesn’t have the
range that a lot of the experts I read say you need.

TM: Oh, I think we should always, yeah,
I’m committed to always advancing our aviation capabilities, so you know, if
the next generations, you know, we’re on 5th now, then 6th generation is
clearly something we should be looking at and understanding what that’s going
to take to get there.

HH: Last question, are you going to put
back the submarine that was cut in the OMB and the other cuts in the OMB memo?
Are they going to be back on the board today at the end of the day?

TM: Well, all those things, all those
things are decisions that are going to be made in the coming, in the next
several weeks. Ultimately, it’s a decision for the Secretary of Defense. I
think, you know, we would love to have that submarine back in. And we’re going
to make the case for it, and we’ll see whether or not the top line follows.

HH: Secretary Modly, thank you. Come
back after you’ve had your sit down, and I’m glad you’re asking the first
question the way you are. Good luck in getting everyone on the same team, and
rowing in the same direction. I appreciate it. Finally, we might get a plan for
355, and it’ll be Tom Modly’s achievement. Thank you, Secretary.

TM: Thank you. Thanks, Hugh. Thanks for
having me on.

[End of interview.]

Acting SECNAV Speeches and Transcripts

The following are transcripts of interviews and prepared remarks from Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. The most recent additions appear first.

All transcripts and recordings from commercial media sources are courtesy of the copyright holder.

Jan. 3, 2020: Interview on Hugh Hewitt radio program. Click here for the YouTube audio recording of the segment.

HH: Of course the huge news overnight: President Trump ordered the killing of Khasim Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard–probably the second most important person in the rogue regime that is Iran.

Joining me this morning to talk about that and of course our force structure overall, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

Secretary Modly, welcome. It’s great to have you back. It’s been nine months since we’ve talked. I’m glad to have you this morning.

TM: Good morning, Hugh. How are you?

HH: Great. First question has to come about last night. Do we have the assets and the rules of engagement in place to protect our citizens, our forces, our allies in the region that Iran could threaten as retaliation?

TM: I certainly believe that that’s true, Hugh. I think the President’s number one priority is to protect our people overseas. And so any action that we take over there has that in mind prior to any action being taken. And so we thought through those things pretty seriously, and we feel like we have the forces in place to protect. But that being said, the Iranians are a rogue regime, and they’ve got all kinds of nefarious ways of going about things. So we just have to be very, very vigilant and make sure that we’re taking care of our people. 

HH: Secretary Modly, do we have carriers in the region? Are we dispatching more naval strength to the region in anticipation of potential retaliation?

TM: Yeah, well, Hugh, we do have a carrier in the region. I’d prefer not to get into more detail about what other forces may or may not be flowing into the area. But the Harry S. Truman is there. It relieved the Lincoln that had been there for about ten months. So, but other than that, I really, I can’t really go into much more detail.

HH: All right, but last question on this. The rules of engagement do allow our troops, especially our ships, to respond to any provocation?

TM: Yes, they do.

HH: Alright.

TM: They have the ability to protect themselves and protect Americans, and so they, that’s pretty clear to all of our commanders.

HH: Now originally, I scheduled this to talk to you about force structure, so I want to go there.

TM: Sure.

HH: I first have to say, though, you’re a fellow Buckeye and a fellow Browns fan. What do you think of Urban Meyer as the head of the Browns?

TM: I’m tracking that very closely. It’s been a very disappointing season for all of us. But I don’t know. I think that he’s a pretty strong football mind, and I think he has been able to build pretty good culture wherever he’s been, and I think that’s one of the things that seems to be lacking there the team. So if that’s the direction they go, I think there are a lot worse choices they could make.

HH: Now the reason I asked that is he builds things, he gets a plan, he sticks to it. The Browns have had eight plans, ten plans over the last 20 years, and that’s why nothing ever works. They don’t stick to a plan. The President has a plan for 355 ships in his Navy, and for 12 carriers. We aren’t anywhere close to that. When we talked nine months ago, we talked about this. Is there ever going to be a plan, Secretary Modly?

TM: Yes, and in fact, I’m actually here today at the U.S. Naval Institute. I’ve gathered together a group of both folks from inside the Navy, Department of the Navy, and the Marine Corps, and a bunch of outside experts and academics, and folks who have looked at force structure for years. And we’re going to sit down and talk this through, and we’re going to come up with some recommendations for Secretary Esper, and for the, ultimately for him to bring to the President to say look, this is the path that we need to be on to get to the number that you want. And the number itself can’t just be a random number. It has to be a number that works in terms of when we look at various war gaming scenarios and how the national defense strategy has changed, and what the threat scenarios are, and that’s what we’ve been working on, actually, for the last several months internally, doing something called the integrated naval force structure assessment, which is the first time we’ve actually brought the Marine Corps and the Navy together to look at this to determine what types of platforms and what that force mix should look like.

HH: Now I am certainly not the person to tell you what the force mix should look like, but I know what the number is, because the President has said it repeatedly – 355 ships.

TM: Sure.

HH: What was that memo to OMB about? Because to a civilian, and that’s what I am, I’m just a civilian. It looked like near insubordination.

TM: Well, now I wouldn’t say that, Hugh. I mean, we’re going through a budget process right now, and you know, that budget process has puts and takes, as particularly as you get to the end game, which is where we are now. We roll the budget out in February. And so we’re looking at those various puts and takes, and trying to present some options to, both to the Secretary of Defense and the President in terms of final decisions. So I mean, I think the OMB memo was, you know, had some concerns about where this might look. I think they overstated in that memo where that, where those decisions would drive the end force number. I think we’re still, regardless, we’re going to be over 300, or close to 300 at the end of this year. We started out the administration at 275. But the path to 355 is a challenging path, because you know, frankly, it’s a mathematical issue. I mean, if you’re going to grow the force by 25-30%, and we started at 275, you need to have a top line that matches that. And right now, we sort of have, we had a big bump in the first year or two, but we’re sort of inflation-adjusted, sort of flat going forward. And so that’s where the decisions base has to be brought and made clear to the President and the Secretary of Defense about, hey look, if this is the path we’re going on, we’re going to probably need to have more top line for the Navy.

HH: So Secretary Modly, if you go to this sit down this morning, and your first question is here is our budget, what can we build with it, you’ll have a very different discussion than if your first question is the President has said 355 and 12, how do we get there as fast as possible, and then what will it cost. Which approach are you going to adopt?

TM: No, no, my approach is the latter, and I’ve made that very clear from my first day in the acting seat, is that I want a plan for 355 in 10 years. And so that is what, that is the mandate that I’ve given the Navy and the Marine Corps to look at, and that is the way we’re looking at it. It’s not completely resource unconstrained. I mean, we have to be realistic about things.

But you know, my perspective on this is very consistent with where I was two years ago when I was sworn in as the under [secretary of the Navy], which I think the number is going to be more than 355. And I’ve always called it 355 plus, because I think it’s going to be that number plus a variety of other platforms that we’re probably, that we hadn’t thought about before, and that includes unmanned vehicles, it includes a new type of, perhaps, smaller amphib-type ship that we hadn’t looked at before. So I think it, my perspective is the right mix for us is going to be 355 plus, and that could be anywhere from 400 to, you know, 420 platforms, some manned, some unmanned, you know, some under the traditional guise that we’ve been looking at before.

HH: I’m so glad to hear that, because you’ll get a plan, then, if you demand it. My question is you don’t get what you don’t ask for. You don’t get the money unless Congress knows you need it, and you have to persuade. Are you prepared, and I know actings have some limitations, but you don’t seem to care about that, and I’m glad to hear that. Are you going to go up there and persuade the Hill that we need this money now to get to what the President has said he wants?

TM: Certainly. I mean, that is, that has been the challenge, because a 355 goal isn’t law, but it was put in law by the authorizers, and not funded by the appropriators. So that is the big challenge, and I’m glad you mentioned this point about me being acting. I mean, being acting doesn’t mean you’re pretending. So you know, I’m in the seat, and I believe that I am, have the responsibility and the authority to address these challenges that the Navy has, because we don’t really know how long I’ll be in the seat. And it’s a very critical time for our Navy, and I expect to take that on full force.

HH: You’ve got a new CNO. Is he as committed to 355 plus as you are?

TM: I, oh, he’s definitely, both he and General Berger, the new commandant, have been very much involved in the process of determining what this new force structure will look like, and has opened up a lot of creative options. So yeah, he’s very committed to it.

HH: Does it involve new shipyards, because that is one of the crucial bottlenecks. I’ve known about it for years even as a civilian, and it seems to me we can’t get to 355 unless we open or expand places like Philadelphia.

TM: I think it definitely, in the final analysis, if we are able to fund this and convince people that we need to fund this, it will create opportunities for other shipyards, not just Philadelphia, but probably some things in the Midwest that can produce smaller vessels that perhaps are unmanned and also built in other parts of the country. So I think it’ll definitely open up opportunities for our existing shipyards, but also for others as well.

And also, the other thing you need to think about is that the bigger the force is, the more maintenance you need. And that also opens up opportunities for expanding our maintenance bases, or our maintenance infrastructure across the country. And part of the problem we’ve had with this is that we haven’t been able to send a good, strong, consistent demand signal to those other shipyards, and so they’re just not interested in engaging with the Navy. And so we have to make sure that you know, this is a national imperative, and we’re driving towards a bigger Navy, and I think then, industry will follow.

HH: There is also the need for a 5th generation fighter, or a declaration that we’re not going to have one. Have you made that decision, yet, Secretary Modly?

TM: Well, we have the 5th generation fighter in the F-35. We are looking at sort of the 6th generation fighter right now, and that is currently under development. But no decision’s been made on what direction we’re going to go with that.

HH: Excuse me, I misspoke. But do you, are you committed to the 6th generation, because the F-35 doesn’t have the range that a lot of the experts I read say you need.

TM: Oh, I think we should always, yeah, I’m committed to always advancing our aviation capabilities, so you know, if the next generations, you know, we’re on 5th now, then 6th generation is clearly something we should be looking at and understanding what that’s going to take to get there.

HH: Last question, are you going to put back the submarine that was cut in the OMB and the other cuts in the OMB memo? Are they going to be back on the board today at the end of the day?

TM: Well, all those things, all those things are decisions that are going to be made in the coming, in the next several weeks. Ultimately, it’s a decision for the Secretary of Defense. I think, you know, we would love to have that submarine back in. And we’re going to make the case for it, and we’ll see whether or not the top line follows.

HH: Secretary Modly, thank you. Come back after you’ve had your sit down, and I’m glad you’re asking the first question the way you are. Good luck in getting everyone on the same team, and rowing in the same direction. I appreciate it. Finally, we might get a plan for 355, and it’ll be Tom Modly’s achievement. Thank you, Secretary.

TM: Thank you. Thanks, Hugh. Thanks for having me on.

[End of interview.]

SECNAV VECTORS

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly issues his weekly Vector message to the Department of the Navy workforce on Fridays. Below is the text of each Vector, the most recent appearing first.

Revisit this NavyLive blog each week for the latest SECNAV Vector.

Vector 4: Dec. 27, 2019

Earlier this week I announced our decision to name the next two Virginia-class submarines, SSN-802 and SSN-803, after the great states of Oklahoma and Arizona, respectively. These two ship names have special meaning for us as a nation, and particularly for those of us with any connection to the U.S. Naval Service. The previous USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37) and USS ARIZONA (BB-39) were tragically and memorably lost 78 years ago on December 7th during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lost with those ships were over 1,606 Sailors and Marines – selfless patriots of the Greatest Generation who never had the opportunity to taste victory as our Navy and Marine Corps team and the nation did some four years later. Their sacrifice should never be forgotten and these two new warships, our most modern and lethal, will set sail into unpredictable waters where we will count on them to maintain stability and peace. In so doing they will honor those lost 78 years ago, along with the two states who have sent so many into service to defend our nation.

It is fitting that we name these ships in December as we close out one year in remembrance, and look forward to the possibilities of the next. Just a few weeks after the previous USS ARIZONA and USS OKLAHOMA were lost at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the nation from Washington in late December, in a joint Christmas address with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The nation was shaken by the Pearl Harbor attacks and the advance of Nazism across Europe. In the midst of this great uncertainty, the President sought to encourage the country’s unity and resolve:

“The year 1941 has brought upon our Nation a war of aggression by powers dominated by arrogant rulers whose selfish purpose is to destroy free institutions. They would thereby take from the freedom-loving peoples of the earth the hard-won liberties gained over many centuries.

The new year of 1942 calls for the courage and the resolution of old and young to help to win a world struggle in order that we may preserve all we hold dear.

We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage. But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us.”

As we celebrate the holidays and close out 2019, President Roosevelt’s December prayer for national resolve in the coming year is just as relevant as it was 78 years ago. We as a Navy and Marine Corps team must focus our collective confidence in the goodness of the nation we defend, and on our ability to defend it with vigilance and agility. We must continue to be grateful for, and mindful of, our Sailors, Marines, and their families, who make sacrifices daily across the globe to keep the light of freedom bright. We must honor them with how we approach our jobs and in what we do every day to make our Navy and Marine Corps the finest and most powerful in the world – both today and into a very competitive and unpredictable future.

Thank you in advance for making a commitment to doing so in the coming year. Your individual efforts, your passion, your creativity, your sacrifices, and your patriotism matter. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year. Go Navy! And of course, as always, Beat Army!

Thomas B. Modly
Acting

Vector 3: Dec. 20, 2019

Thanks to the ingenuity and tireless efforts of thousands of Americans over many years, the USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) aircraft carrier represents a generational leap in our nation’s capacity to project power on a global scale. With the successful completion of CVN 78’s Post Shakedown Availability and subsequent Independent Steaming Events, finishing our work and delivering this capability to the fleet as quickly and effectively as possible is one of my highest priorities. The American taxpayers have invested
significant capital into this ship, and they deserve nothing less.

We are going to make FORD ready with all hands on deck, as one team, relentlessly focused on achieving the following tasks and timelines:

Exercise the Full Spectrum of Air Wing Operations

  • We will complete Aircraft Compatibility Testing for all aircraft planned for deployment (Q2FY20).
  • We will attain Flight Deck Certification for the planned deployment air wing (Q3FY20).

Achieve Full Ship Functionality

  • To enable access to magazines, we will complete Lower Stage #5 and #I elevators (Q4FY20).
  • We will complete the remaining five A WEs prior to Full Ship Shock Trials (Q3FY21).
  • Then we will complete Combat Systems Testing and Certification (Q3FY21).

Man, Train, and Certify the Crew

  • Our manning levels will support all planned operations for key events and deployment (Q3FY20).
  • We will complete training for crew to support certification and deployment (Q1 FY22).

Ensure Materiel Readiness

  • We will reach and maintain ship visual and material conditions to the highest standards (Q2FY20).
  • We will ensure all maintenance documents are delivered (Q2FY21).
  • We will deliver the parts needed to enable CVN 78 deployment (Q2FY22).

The Program Executive Office (PEO) Aircraft Carriers, RADM Jim Downey, will be accountable for this Vector as the supported activity. Effective immediately, he will establish a permanent presence in Norfolk to ensure that these efforts proceed expeditiously. Supporting organizations include: PEO Tactical Aircraft, PEO Integrated Warfare Systems, PEO C41, Naval Reactors, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and OPNA V N9. Additionally, the U.S. Fleet Forces Commander has assigned RADM Roy Kelley, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, as the responsible leader of all fleet-supporting organizations for this Vector.

Our first “Make FORD Ready” summit will occur on January 9, 2020, with every stakeholder in government and industry present. From that point forward, I will receive a monthly status update along with the CNO and ASN (RD&A). My expectation is that we will work with diligence and speed to accelerate each deadline if possible. The FORD is just the first ship of this new class. It must set the standard for those that follow–and with our diligence and commitment, it will. Let’s finish the job.

Thomas B. Modly
Acting

Vector 2: Dec. 13, 2019

In the last two weeks, our entire Navy and Marine Corps family was struck by three tragic acts: Little Creek, Virginia; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Pensacola, Florida. These crimes targeted us all, and I know I speak for every Sailor, Marine, and Civilian in the Department when I say that our prayers are with the families of the fallen and with the wounded. It is our solemn duty to find the causes of such tragic loss and ceaselessly work together to prevent them. As we reflect on these tragedies, I ask that we focus on the following:

Grief. We must understand, and stand in grief, alongside the families of those who lost their lives in these tragic incidents. The families of Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Master-at­Arms 3rd Class Oscar Jesus Temores, Mr. Vincent Kapoi, and Mr. Roldan Agustin are a part of OUR broad naval family. They are suffering from the loss of their loved ones. We must pray for them and keep them in our thoughts. For those who witnessed these events, and/or were injured, we must be committed to help them in their journeys back to normalcy. It is all of our jobs to help them recover from their injuries, visible or not.

Heroism. We must never forget the heroism of those who ran towards the danger in these incidents, exhibiting the finest warrior ethos and quick decision-making that doubtless saved many lives. On Tuesday, I traveled to Naval Air Station Pensacola to meet with the patrol officers and Naval Security Force personnel, who were the first responders on the scene and confronted the shooter, along with heroic civilian officers from the Escambia County Sheriffs Office. I learned about countless acts of heroism from the first responders, and many of the victims themselves which will come to light as the facts of these tragedies are revealed. I assure you that we will all be proud of these heroes and what they did in moments of terror and extreme danger.

Resolve. Even as we grieve together as a community, we must stand united in our resolve that these attacks will not deter us from fulfilling our sacred obligations to protect and defend our fellow citizens. The facilities at Little Creek, Pearl Harbor, and Pensacola remain fully operational and mission-focused. Around the world, our people still maintain the watch in protection of our nation, securing the sea lanes, and responding wherever there is need alongside our allies and partners. From these incidents, we must take renewed purpose, learning where we can to ensure-greater protection of our assets, information, infrastructure, and most importantly, bur precious people. It is my expectation that each of our facilities will review physical security and emergency response procedures to minimize the risk of a recurrence. And it is my expectation that all of our people – military, civilian, and contractor – be provided with the training, information, and motivation to maintain the vigilance we must all have to spot the warning signs that are often precursors to tragedies such as these.

The events at Pensacola, Pearl Harbor, and Little Creek were very different, but each represented an attack on our naval family and our ideals. These incidents will not hold us back but will serve as a constant reminder of our common responsibilities to each other and the nation we so proudly serve.

I have never been more honored to serve at your side than I have over the past two
weeks, as I witnessed how senseless tragedies have elevated within us the values that define our force and unite us all.

Thomas B. Modly
Acting

Vector 1: Dec. 6, 2019

It is the honor of my lifetime to serve as your Acting Secretary of the Navy. Although no one, other than the President and his Secretary of Defense, can positively determine how long this tenure may be, I fully intend to execute their strategic vision. I consider the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), ADM Mike Gilday, and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), Gen Dave Berger to be the right leaders at the right time in history to lead the Navy and Marine Corps, together, through a set of immediate changes designed to ensure that Integrated American Na val Power will continue to enable our economic and physical security for the rest of the 21 st century.

I am convinced that dominant naval force is the primary engine of our National Defense Strategy (NDS) and we must plan for it, and most importantly, resource it, accordingly. As those most trusted with planning for our naval requirements, programming, and systems acquisition, it is our time now to seize this opportunity with relentless intellectual focus and dedication. This memorandum is first in a series of weekly “vectors” that I will send to the integrated Navy and Marine Corps team, each addressing my focus and direction on our way forward in achieving specific critical enterprise-level objectives.

I have three broad priorities for which I expect alignment from naval military and civilian leadership up and down the chain of command:

  • Designing a Future Integrated Naval Force Structure
  • Advancing Our Intellectual Capacity and Ethical Excellence
  • Accelerating Digital Modernization Across the Force

My top five immediate objectives are the following:

  • Put All Hands on Deck to make the USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) ready as a warship as soon as practically possible
  • Establish an Integrated Plan to achieve a 355 (or more) ships, Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs,) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) for greater global naval power, within 10 years
  • Increase Engagement with Emerging Naval Partners and Allies in the Pacific Region
  • Fully Fund Our New Naval Education and Information Management Strategies
  • Drive Measurable, Accountable Results to Resolve Public Private Venture (PPV) Issues for our Sailors, Marines, and their families

Successful implementation of all these first objectives will depend upon an integrated Navy and Marine Corps leadership team. I will meet with the CNO, CMC, and senior members of their teams together, starting immediately and then twice a month in order to lay the foundations and set conditions for these changes, among others. I am committed to supporting the Commandant’s Planning Guidance (CPG), and expect that the CNO’s forthcoming vision will complement it, in coordination with my staff. All future high-level strategies, visions, and guidance emanating from our Navy and Marine Corps team must start and finish as integrated efforts, not as final phase “bolt-ons” from one to the other.

Additionally, my staff and I will become involved in the current Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment (INFSA). The INFSA will serve as the main analytic and planning effort upon which our integrated plan for a larger, more capable naval force will depend, especially in terms of force design and future fleet architecture. This will occur immediately in any recommended changes made to our budget for FY 21, and in current planning for FY 22 and beyond. The INFSA must be based on an accurate understanding of our current and future national industrial base, advanced technological capability, and digital domains. I will require regular briefings on the progress of the INFSA and expect it to be published no later than January 15, 2020.

Thank you for your leadership in building the Integrated American Naval Force we need to set sail safely into an unpredictable future. Above all else, it has always been our people and their combined intellects, striving for agility and accountability, which have historically marked the Navy and Marine Corps team as leaders in adaptation for new operational and strategic environments. As we work in pursuit of the above goals, the nation requires we embody the qualities of velocity, collaboration, visibility, adaptability, innovation, humility, trust, and yes, skepticism in order to create the kind of agility necessary for continual learning and any eventual success we might earn as a team. It is up to us today to hold each other accountable to display the best of these attributes, and take fullest advantage of this opportunity to build the Navy-Marine Corps team of the future.

Thomas B. Modly
Acting