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Under Secretary Modly’s Remarks From USS Cleveland Announcement

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks from the announcement of the naming of the future littoral combat ship, USS Cleveland, on behalf of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, Oct. 8. The announcement was held at the USS Cod submarine in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

Thank you for that kind introduction.

Mayor Jackson, Council President Kelly, Rear Adm. Nunan, Gold Star families, distinguished citizens of the City of Cleveland:

Good afternoon!  As always, it’s great to be back home for me.

When people ask me what it is like serving as the Under Secretary of the Navy, I am quick to respond that it is an honor every minute, of every hour of every day, – but that some days are clearly better than others.

Today is one of those days.  It is a great honor for Robyn and I to spend Columbus Day with each of you on this historic and highly decorated submarine, here on the shores of Lake Erie. Thank you to each of you for being here and for carving time out of your schedules to be with us.

As most of you know, just a few miles west of here is the site where the Battle of Lake Erie was fought and won, where Admiral Perry’s warship first flew that infamous flag that inspired his crew to fight against long odds.

The words “Don’t Give Up the Ship” adorned that flag and while they have been adopted by the U.S. Navy, they are also emblematic of the spirit of this great city.

You have never given up the ship here in Cleveland, and there is always a local pride that extends beyond what I have witnessed in any other community I have visited since I left here to join the Navy in 1979.

As some of you may know, I grew up not far from here, on the east side of the city. My parents, like many of their neighbors, came to Cleveland to escape tyranny and oppression in Eastern Europe, searching for a new beginning in this town.

They, and perhaps some of your forefathers, as well, found that beginning here.

As immigrants to this country, Cleveland provided my parents with a rich opportunity to succeed, just as it had, and just as it continues to do, for many others who came here from many different parts of the world.  It is part of the unique character of Cleveland – and it also helps define who we are as a nation.

And when that nation has called the daughters and sons of this city to defend the very freedoms that make such opportunity possible, Clevelanders have risen proudly to answer the call into service.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announces the naming of the future littoral combat ship, USS Cleveland on behalf of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Dietrick/Released)
Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announces the naming of the future littoral combat ship, USS Cleveland on behalf of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Dietrick/Released)


And they still do, and I have met young Clevelanders in uniform all over the world.

I’ve met them on submarines, and aircraft carriers, and destroyers, and flying helicopters, and jets, and in Marine detachments in the remote parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even just last week, I met a Navy Seebee from Twinsburg, Ohio, who was building a new vocational high school building in a poor neighborhood in a very remote part of Micronesia.

Clevelanders are well-represented in our Navy Marine Corps team – and that should make us all very proud – and safe.

It wasn’t really that long ago when Clevelanders of the Greatest Generation lined up to volunteer for service in World War Two. For combat veterans like Emory Crowder, here today, who moved to Cleveland soon after his valorous service in the Pacific as a combat corpsman, it seems like only yesterday. And it looked like only yesterday because Emory is 95 years old but looks like he is about 25.

They lived to serve on warships just like this one. To fight and serve as teams, far away from home. And those who remained at home answered the call.

Cleveland, along with many other cities in the Great Lakes region during World War II, became a foundry of freedom, not just for America, but for our Allies who were struggling just to stay in the fight, all across the globe.

The parents and grandparents from this area worked long shifts in factories that churned out the airplanes, vehicles, munitions and countless parts that turned the tide in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war.

And in every war since then, in Korea, in Vietnam, where Mayor Jackson so courageously served with honor, in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, and all across the world, Clevelanders have always answered their country’s call to serve.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly shakes Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s hand at Cleveland City Hall during Cleveland Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tamara Vaughn/Released)
Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly shakes Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s hand at Cleveland City Hall during Cleveland Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tamara Vaughn/Released)


But sadly, as we all recognize with great service often comes great sacrifice. The mayor and I and many of you were blessed to be part of the Gold Star Families Memorial unveiling last month, at the VA Hospital.

That moment, added to thousands of other expressions of love, all across the nation, prove to the world what kind of dedication this city holds for the families of the fallen, for those with wounds that are both visible and invisible, and for all those who have served under the banner of freedom.

Indeed, Cleveland has always risen with pride, not only for its uniformed service members, but for public servants of every calling: Our police, sheriffs, firefighters, public works employees, caregivers and many other invaluable service professions, far too numerous to name.

It is for all these public and national servants, and every working family working to make a living and a brighter future for their children, that previous secretaries of the Navies have granted three United States warships the honored title of United States Ship Cleveland.

The Secretary of the Navy is empowered by law, by the Congress to name ships of the United States, by an Act of Congress dated March 3, 1819.

This act states that:

“All of the ships, of the Navy of the United States, now building, or hereafter to be built, shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President of the United States, according to the following rule, to wit: Those of the first class shall be called after the States of this Union; those of the second class after the rivers; and those of the third class after the principal cities and towns; taking care that no two vessels of the navy shall bear the same name.”

This provision remains the law of the land, and rests in Richard Spencer’s hands. He is my boss and he is the 76th Secretary of the Navy.

The first USS Cleveland, a Protected-class cruiser, was launched on Sept. 28, 1901, served in World War I conducting convoy escort duty, and was decommissioned in 1929.

The second USS Cleveland, which was actually the first of the Cleveland Class light cruisers, was commissioned during World War II in June 1942. We actually have two crew members here today from that ship, Bob Allen and John Jackson, can you guys give a wave?

The Cleveland Class Cruiser represented a vast improvement in gunnery rate of fire, firing 10 rounds per minute, versus only three in the previous class.

This second Cleveland was decommissioned like most of the rest of these cruisers upon completing its combat duties after World War II. And these gentlemen served in both theaters, Pacific and Atlantic theater.

The third USS Cleveland, an amphibious transport ship, which was commissioned in 1967, saw service in Vietnam and in every conflict afterward, until being decommissioned just seven years ago, in September 2011.

An aerial view of the landing personnel dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) off the coast of Port Hueneme, CA. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Photographer’s Mate Terry Cosgrove/Released)


But it is today, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, that Secretary Spencer has decided that the people of Cleveland have waited long enough for a new fighting ship of the line to be named for this patriotic city.

And this is a great year to do it, because as well all know, the Indians are about to win a World Series and the Browns are going to the playoffs. So this is a momentous year for this.

So this afternoon, we’ll see how much farther we have to go to realize that dream for the Tribe, but today, I have the honor of announcing, on behalf of Secretary Spencer, that one of our newest warships, will become the fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named the United States Ship Cleveland.

The new USS Cleveland will be a littoral combat ship, and it will be constructed by patriotic American hands here in the U.S.

With a shallow draft, high speed, and an open architecture that facilitates modularized weapons and cutting-edge sensor suites, the new USS Cleveland will be able to reach and defend more coastal areas with more agility, mroe networked firepower than any other class of ship in the world.

She will be manned by a diverse group of Sailors. And that’s the most important part about these ships.  It’s the people that man them. They all grew up in different parts, different places in the United States.

They will unite under a common cause – to protect and defend the nation and the Constitution of the United States – and to make the USS Cleveland a ship this city can be proud of.

Proud to know there is a fighting ship named for Cleveland out at sea,

Proud of an American fighting crew boasting this city’s name,

And proud to know that this ship will represent the spirit of Cleveland both in peace – and in the fight if that is what is required of her.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announces the naming of the future littoral combat ship, USS Cleveland, on behalf of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Dietrick/Released)
Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announces the naming of the future littoral combat ship, USS Cleveland, on behalf of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Dietrick/Released)


In closing, I would like to share a story from my recent visit here a few weeks ago for Navy Week. We had some free time on one the mornings of that visit and we decided to go over to the West Side to visit one of Cleveland’s great cultural landmarks, and no I’m not talking about the West-Side Park. I’m talking about the Christmas Story House and Museum.

Now I have seen some great museums in my life, to include the Louvre in Paris, but as great as the Louvre is, you can’t buy a leg lamp there so it is always going to be second place in my book.

At any rate, we were driving across, our motorcade, across the 14th street bridge then an individual wearing a Vietnam veterans hat just ahead of us stepped out of his car, and he saw the motorcade and he stopped and got out of his car and he stood and he saluted us.

I stopped our car in order to meet him and I listened to his story about returning from Vietnam in the early 1970s. His reception back to the states was less than glorious. Protesters greeted him upon his arrival. They cursed at him, spit on him and threw trash on him, but despite the indignities that he was subjected to I didn’t get any sense at all that he was bitter.

He’s still very, very proud of his service, proud that he could escort his best friend’s body back to the United States, and I believe that he realized that although the Vietnam era was a difficult time in U.S. history, his negative experience returning home did not define us as a nation.

Sometimes I suspect in these days we all have the disconcerting belief that we are living through difficult times like that today, but I can tell you with certainty that we are not.

I know this because of what I see every day in this job. Despite the tumult and turmoil we may perceive in the media, we still have smart, dedicated and honorable people who are volunteering to serve in our Armed Forces – and they come from every single type of American family and from every corner and socioeconomic class of this country.  If, God forbid, we ever lose that, then that is when we will know that we are really in trouble as a country. Rest assured because that time is not now – and we should all pray that such a time will never come. Despite whatever differences we may have on politics we are blessed and united by those who serve us, selflessly, all over the world. It is their duty to protect us. It is our obligation to respect them and to honor their service.

I am certain there is a future Sailor somewhere in this city today, who you can influence and encourage to understand that the country is worth fighting for, that service is honorable. And that future Sailor may eventually stand watch on the bridge of the USS Cleveland – and make you proud.

So I ask that when you get the chance to meet someone in our Armed Forces, or from my parochial point of view, someone in the Navy-Marine Corps Team, don’t just thank them for their service – ask them what they do, ask them where they are from, and most importantly, tell them you are from Cleveland and that there is going to be a ship out there at sea one day that is named in your hometown’s honor.

Bless them, and tell them how proud you are to know that there are Sailors who have never set foot here in this city who will be serving on your ship and who will share in the honor of calling themselves “Clevelanders,” too.

Thank you for coming out today to honor the Gold Star families who have given so much, and to whom we can never repay; thank you for honoring all our city public servants and service members, both former and present; and thank you for making this city such a special place, one that proudly defends the greatest country on earth.

Today marks the beginning of a journey of your ship from drawing board to construction and eventually to the sea. In the end, wherever that ship travels the people who come in contact with her will learn what we all know is true, the USS Cleveland Rocks!

Congratulations to the City of Cleveland.

Go Navy. Beat Army.

Thank you for being here.



 U.S. Navy

Navy and Marine Corps Business Operations Reform Supports Global Operations

Thomas Modly, Under Secretary of the Navy
Thomas Modly, Under Secretary of the Navy

For 243 years, the Navy and Marine Corps team has operated as the foundation of America’s military strength and forward-deployed presence, deterring conflict when possible, and ensuring that our nation is always ready to fight and win whenever and wherever required.

As our Navy regains readiness, restores lethality and prepares to compete against peers, near-peers and trans-national adversaries alike, we must strive to make our department as efficient, effective, and agile as possible to ensure that we can meet our nation’s call – now and into the future.

In order to achieve this, we must adopt the same aggressive readiness posture in our business processes as we do in every other aspect of warfare, and realize that what we do, whether Sailor, Marine or Civilian, impacts our ability to fight and win.

The business of the Department of the Navy is to man, train, and equip Navy and Marine Corps forces for global operations.

How we manage this business matters greatly to the success of our mission. That is why the Secretary of the Navy and I have announced today the release of the Department of the Navy’s Business Operations Plan for Fiscal Years 2019-2021.

The Business Operations Plan represents a strategic shift for the department, from oversight to leadership in ensuring that the DON’s business operations effectively and efficiently achieve its mission to man, train, and equip Navy and Marine Corps forces for global operations. Through greater accountability, more agile processes and better management of business operations, this plan will enable greater efficiencies, permitting the department to reallocate resources from business operations to readiness, seeking the advantages of new innovation ecosystems, and recapitalizing our naval forces for the future.

Our business plan aligns with the National Defense Strategy (NDS) lines of effort: Rebuild Military Readiness as We Build a More Lethal Joint Force, Strengthen Our Alliances & Attract New Partners, and Reform the Department’s Business Practices for Greater Performance and Affordability, and supports the nine objectives outlined in DOD’s Fiscal Year 2018-2022 National Defense Business Operations Plan (NDBOP).







As the Chief Management Officer (CMO) for the Department of the Navy, I will lead the implementation of our Business Operations Plan – and this is where I need your help.

I believe we are at an inflection point today. For our Navy and Marine Corps team to achieve continued success in the future will not only require more ships and aircraft and advanced technologies, but it will also require a shift in culture to an adaptable, fast, innovative, collaborative, and transparent organization. We all must embrace this shift. We all must rise to this challenge. 

This plan is our report to DoD, Congress, and the American people on how we are supporting the National Defense Strategy, prioritizing our efforts, measuring success and holding ourselves accountable. I expect this plan to exhibit the same agility we are seeking. It will respond and evolve to both our changing environment and to our successes and challenges. That it will change over time to adapt is a feature.

There is something in this plan for everyone in the department, and I encourage you all to look carefully at the plan to determine where you can contribute and how your actions will be measured to our Department’s success

181011-N-WM647-3022<br /> WATERS OFF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (Oct. 11, 2018) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, steams alongside the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) during a pass in review as part of the Republic of Korea navy to help enhance mutual trust and confidence with navies from around the world. Benfold is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elesia Patten/Released)

I am confident that, together, we can build the agile maritime force our nation needs. And by reforming the way we manage the business operations of the Department of the Navy we will find the additional resources our Sailors and Marines need to face current and future threats to our security.

This will not be easy, nothing worthwhile ever is, but our heritage unquestionably proves the Navy and Marine Corps team will always rise to meet a challenge. And this challenge is ours!

Thomas Modly
Under Secretary of the Navy U.S. Navy

Under Secretary Modly’s Keynote Remarks at Sea-Air-Space 2018

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (April 11, 2018) Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly gives closing remarks during a luncheon at the 2018 Sea-Air-Space Exposition. The annual event hosted by the Navy League of the United States and brings together the U.S. defense industrial base, private-sector U.S. companies, and key military decision makers for an innovative, educational, and professional maritime based event. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brittney Cannady/Released)

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly’s prepared remarks for the final Sea-Air-Space 2018 Exposition luncheon keynote address, delivered April 10, 2018.

Thank you for the introduction and good afternoon.   It is an honor to have the opportunity to speak with you today.  It is also an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to serve again in the United States Navy.  I took my original oath of office in the Navy as a midshipman in 1979.  The world was a dangerous place back then, but today’s world is even more complex and the threats to our security even more varied across a far broader spectrum.  Some of these threats are driven by rogue actors, such as al Qaeda and ISIS, who employ unconventional means of war that have advanced their potential to have even larger destructive and disruptive effects on civilized society.  We see this across every area of the world in which our naval forces must engage.  These transnational actors inspire each other and use the tools of modern technology and social media to build connections across borders that threaten our people and our allies and friends around the world.  And some of these rogue actors, are actually nation states, like North Korea and Iran, who have determined that their paths to survival are through an ascendance to great power status of their own making.  Both nations have chosen to do so by directly and indirectly confronting the United States in order to demonstrate our vulnerabilities, and in return, to elevate their own prestige.

More alarming, though, in recent years we have seen changes that have eclipsed the dangers these rogue actors, and rogue nations, have presented over the past decade.   If you have read our new National Defense Strategy, you will see this emerging challenge clearly articulated.  Its implications are alarming and, rightly so,  they will drive investments in our defense capabilities going forward.  In short, we are reentering an era of Great Power Competition on a global scale and so we must be focused on responsibly developing forces that protect our people and our interests, and our friends and allies around the world.

The National Defense Strategy is a very cogent and realistic document.  It is aligned with the National Security Strategy of the United States which was published just a few weeks before it, and it very plainly directs the Department of Defense to Compete, Deter, and Win alongside our allies and partners. It is a strategy that recalls President Reagan’s commitment to preserve peace through strength, while enabling decisive victory in conflict if necessary. It is the Department’s preeminent strategic guidance document and it will set the course for the Department of the Navy for years to come.

As the strategy describes, great-power competition has reemerged as the central challenge to U.S. security and prosperity, and this geostrategic fact is demanding prioritization– and tough strategic choices.  It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model and they will use whatever tools that are available to them, both lethal and non-lethal, legal and illegal, to influence and coerce other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.

While the strategy prioritizes the challenges from China and Russia, it does not ignore the growing and pervasive threats from North Korea and Iran, and it also continues our commitment to defeat violent extremism and the horrors being perpetrated in the name of Salafist-based ideologies.  In essence, it is a realistic strategy, but also a very ambitious one that cannot be executed without a significant commitment of national resources, and perhaps more importantly, a significant application of national resolve and urgency.

As Secretary Mattis has stated, “In a world awash in change and increasing threats, there is no room for complacency. History makes clear that no country has a pre-ordained right to victory on the battlefield.”

“In a world awash in change and increasing threats, there is no room for complacency. History makes clear that no country has a pre-ordained right to victory on the battlefield.”The Secretary is certainly correct that there is no pre-ordained right to victory.  Rather, it occurs when a nation is prepared not only for the fight that it sees coming, but also when it is prepared for the fight that it does not see coming.  So it follows that the NDS is structured to address the full range of adversaries we may face in this rapidly changing security environment.

Fundamental to the implementation of this strategy will be the preeminence of our maritime superiority because America is, and will always be, a maritime nation.  Command of the seas is central to our nation’s security and prosperity, and our maritime forces will continue to be in great demand around the globe to ensure freedom of navigation, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, and the application of lethal power if necessary.
The National Defense Strategy’s mandate for how we construct our naval forces must therefore reconcile three fundamental dichotomies:

1. A return to great power competition, but not to the exclusion of other lesser threats.
2. An emphasis on lethality and readinesss, but not to the exclusion of new platforms and technologies for the future fight, and
3. A recognition that we must advance our own nation’s interest and influence on the seas, but not to the exclusion of building alliances and partnerships that seek peaceful conflict resolution, with preparedness for the use of decisive force if necessary.

The United States Navy and Marine Corps must, and will, rise to this challenge —-and we will do so by building a bigger, better, more networked, more talented, and more ready force.  Thanks to the support of Congress we can say that we have already begun down the path to this future state of U.S. maritime supremacy. The FY17 budget arrested the readiness decline we had experienced in recent years; the FY18 budget made further dramatic commitments to restoring readiness; and we anticipate the FY19 budget will continue to increase lethality by building both capacity and capability.

The NDS reaffirms the fact that the United States and our Allies and Partners rely on safe maritime operations worldwide.  Forward-deployed and forward-stationed naval forces use the global maritime commons as a medium of maneuver, insuring the routes of commerce remain free and open – to everyone, assuring access to overseas regions, defending key interests in those areas, protecting U.S. citizens abroad, and preventing adversaries from leveraging the world’s oceans against the United States.  We must embrace the reality that protecting our interests on the seas is critical to our survival, and so we must fund our Navy with a long-term view that recognizes that almost all of our major investments have long-term implications. Most importantly, we must recognize that short-term fluctuations in funding for capital investments can also have long-term implications for the overall fitness of our forces.

For example, we estimate that nine successive Continuing Resolutions have cost the Navy nearly four billion dollars due to the contracting inefficiencies and interruptions that managing CR to CR inevitably cause.  To restore readiness, increase lethality, and build capacity, as outlined in the PB19 budget request, we must end inefficient “boom/bust” procurement. Busts devastate workforce experience, efficiency, and resiliency, making it difficult to rebuild capacity. When new ships are needed, rebuilding the industrial base and retrieving the requisite shipbuilding corporate knowledge and talent to do so adds significant time and cost to procurement.  In this regard we are highly encouraged by, and appreciative of, the recent Bipartisan Budget Agreement, and the FY18 Defense Appropriations Bill, and we look forward to working closely with the Congress to ensure we can return to more stable and predictable funding that allows for better strategic choices.

Among the most critical of such choices is how we address the basic fact that we need more ships.Among the most critical of such choices is how we address the basic fact that WE need more ships.  There is little debate over the fact that the pace of operations over the last 16 years have put an immense strain on our fleet, leading to significant challenges to our ability to effectively provide forward presence and project power.  While I am confident that the Navy will always answer the call, the recent tragic events involving USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain have demonstrated that we must return to a condition in which we have enough well-maintained ships manned by well-trained, well-rested, focused, and competent crews to meet the relentless security demands placed on them by our Geographic Combatant Commands.

Our answer to the need for a larger number of ships can be found in the PB19 Ship Acquisition Plan (FY2019 -FY2023) which covers the period of the FYDP.  This plan puts the Navy on a path to growing the Fleet to 326 ships by FY2023 — which is a respectable increase from our current Fleet of 282.  However, and more significantly, our 30 Year Shipbuilding  plan (FY2019-FY2048) illustrates how the realities of building a 355-ship Navy will be a much longer term proposition.  While the plan can achieve a 355-ship fleet, it is constrained by the top line funding we expect to see through the FYDP and beyond, and our best estimates of current industrial shipbuilding capacity.  Industry has assured us that they can flex upwards to meet a more aggressive schedule, but based on stable assumptions for these factors, we will not achieve the 355 ship fleet until the 2050s.

An acceleration of this plan to achieve 355 ships is certainly possible but it will require a much more aggressive funding approach, and one that must recognize that shipbuilding is just the first step.  In addition to building and commissioning these new ships, there will also be significant costs related to the acceleration of manning and maintaining them.  These costs are not calculated in the 30 Year Shipbuilding Plan itself.   Additionally, while we could accelerate, we also want to avoid boom and bust cycles for our shipbuilding industry partners. Booms, or buying too many ships in bulk, ultimately leads to mass obsolescence when entire types/classes of ships reach the end of their service lives simultaneously.  Also, as a nation, we don’t have the industrial shipbuilding capacity we had in the past.  Over the previous five decades, 14 defense-related new construction shipyards have closed, 3 have left the defense industry, and only a single new shipyard has opened.  Today, the Navy contracts primarily with 7 private, new-construction shipyards to build our battle force in support of our National Defense Strategy requirements. These are the shipyards that will be called upon to build the 355 ship force and we have calculated reasonable expectations for them with respect to capacity in our Plan.

The 30 Year Shipbuilding Plan attempts to address this potential capacity problem by providing the reliability and consistency needed for our industry partners to fulfill shipbuilding orders efficiently and affordably, while retaining highly skilled workers.  As currently constructed, the plan shows a smooth and steady procurement schedule for each class of ship across 30 years. This method of procurement will ensure the United States retains the industrial capacity and corporate talent to surge different types/classes of ships to address uncertain security environments.  It also allows for greater flexibility to integrate technological advances and avoid the problem of mass obsolescence as I described.  Our ship acquisition plan demonstrates how the long-term nature of these investments present us with a very difficult paradox— that paradox is that we are making commitments to building ships that will sail in a maritime security environment that we can’t truly understand today.  All we can say with some certainty about that future environment is that it will be different than the current one, and so our plan has to balance stability with flexibility, current needs with future ones, and aspirations with fiscal realities.

A larger force is necessary, but a larger, more agile force will be the key determinant of the success of our maritime strategy.This is why when I am asked about the 355 Ship goal, I answer that the right number is probably 355 PLUS, because while we certainly need more sea-going platforms, we also need to increase their lethality and their ability to operate in a networked fashion with both manned and unmanned assets that contain, restrain, confuse, overwhelm, and decisively defeat our enemies.  A larger force is necessary, but a larger, more agile force will be the key determinant of the success of our maritime strategy.  So from my perspective how we measure the “PLUS” is far more important than how we we end up counting the number of ships that make up the 355.  That “PLUS” will be measured by how AGILE that future maritime force is. Specifically:

• How flexible and adaptable is it?
• How well does it collaborate and interoperate with allies, and with unmanned assets, or smaller combatants that don’t fit nicely in the categories we are used to using to define warships (things we haven’t thought of today)?
• How fast are they—not just over and under the water, but in the information space, or in how quickly they can be reconfigured to address different threats?
•  How transparent are they within the network of systems and platforms in which they operate, and how nontransparent and unpredictable are they for our adversaries?
•   How innovative are the tactics they employ—and the people who man the ships and devise those tactics?

These are the critical questions we will ask ourselves as we build this new fleet — and we will demand that industry also consider these questions as they work with us to build it.

In closing, I would like to say that building the agile maritime force we need to address the emerging challenges of this century will require critical self-assessment about how we do things as an organization.  We must reverse a culture of “normalized deviation” in some parts of the Department of the Navy—a culture which accepts what used to be unacceptable as standard practice. We will do this by demanding stronger accountability from all levels of the Department. This includes those whom we ask to command our ships and aircraft, those whom we ask to lead our Marines and special operations forces in battle, those whom we ask to deliver programs, both large and small, and those whom we ask to manage and account for the funds provided by the American people.  Therefore, we will place a renewed emphasis on transforming our business mission area to incorporate 21st century management methods and uses of technology that improve visibility and accountability to inform better risk-based decision making, and emphasize agility over bureaucracy.   In my role as Chief Management Officer of the department, I intend to:

• Develop an enterprise business systems strategy that finally rationalizes the antiquated systems environment we operate today
• Take lessons learned from our first audit to drive business improvement priorities—not just audit-related ones
• Implement business reforms that yield significant savings—not merely incremental ones—in order to free up capital to fund our large capital requirements
• Leverage big data strategies to address major operational issues in our supply chain and human capital management
• Drive a culture of agility, accountability, and learning for our people

I have taken initial steps recently to elevate leadership of financial audit and business transformation efforts to the highest level in the Secretariat to ensure we are taking an enterprise view of improvements to end to end business processes and business systems investments.  “Close enough for Government Work” is a phrase that I will not tolerate in the Department of the Navy because frankly that’s not “close enough” to what we need to COMPETE and WIN in this new competitive environment we find ourselves as a nation.

I have also initiated a Clean Sheet Review of our approach to education across the Navy and Marine Corps.  We need a “learning culture” in the Department of the Navy.  We must embrace this as a core value.  As many of you know, “Ex Scientia Tridens” is the motto of the Naval Academy.  Those words roughly translated mean “Through Knowledge, Sea Power.”   As we think about education and its role in the future of our Navy and Marine Corps no words seem more relevant than these.  While we surely must invest in more ships, and aircraft, and submarines, and armored vehicles, and new missile systems, nothing will be more important than the investment that we make in knowledge—and on creating a force made up of people who thirst for it.  Rapid technological advances are driving the basic requirements for this mandate, but knowledge is not purely defined by technical competence.  For knowledge to truly produce sea power we must create a culture in the Navy and Marine Corps that is committed to learning as a lifelong process—and a lifelong passion.  Such a culture is not merely defined by certificates or degrees accumulated at regular career intervals, but rather it is one that encourages innovation and risk taking and produces Sailors and Marines who are prepared to excel in circumstances that are characterized by uncertainty, and by adversaries who are unpredictable.  In this regard, we are at a point in history not unlike that which was addressed by Captains Ernest King, Dudley Knox, and Bill Pye in their seminal report on Naval Education published in 1920.  The report laid the foundation for the education of naval officers for years to come with a greater emphasis on developing officers with an understanding of strategy, policy and national security thinking.  It is hard to imagine an agile naval mind in today’s security context being able to lead without these characteristics.  While I do not want to presume any conclusions that may come from this Clean Sheet Review, I suspect some major course corrections are in order, as they are for most every public and private institution that expects to survive and thrive in this century.

 “Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.”

I will conclude by citing one of the many memorable quotes of John Paul Jones that I like to mention whenever I have a chance to talk about the future of our Navy and Marine Corps team.    Jones famously said, “Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.”  It loses nothing in the translation when we paraphrase this quote by saying, “People mean more than weapons in the rating of a service.”  Jones’ quote recognizes a profound point of truth that is even more relevant today than it was over 200 years ago.  Our maritime advantage is, and will continue to be, almost entirely dependent upon the quality of our people.  It follows, therefore, that the agility of our future force will be almost entire dependent upon the agility of the people we identify now to lead it.  Therefore, we must recruit, train, equip and EDUCATE the most quick-minded, flexible, collaborative, innovative, and transparent people we can find.  If we do this, we will set the Navy on the course for maritime superiority well into this century.

I look to you, as representatives of the broad ecosystem of our Naval enterprise, to help us push the limits of our thinking in this regard.   We need you to help us build the Maritime security the nation demands–and the free world requires.

Thank you for inviting me to speak at this forum.  God Bless You and Your Families.

And may God bless the Sailors and Marines who go in harm’s way on and under the seas, in the air, and on the land to keep us safe… and free. U.S. Navy