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Under Secretary Modly’s Remarks at USS Sioux City Commissioning

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks at the commissioning of USS Sioux City (LCS 11) at the U.S. Naval Academy, Nov. 17.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Nov. 17, 2018) Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly delivers his speech to over 5,000 people during the commissioning ceremony of USS Sioux City (LCS 11). (U.S. Navy photo by Stacy Godfrey/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Nov. 17, 2018) Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly delivers his speech to over 5,000 people during the commissioning ceremony of USS Sioux City (LCS 11). (U.S. Navy photo by Stacy Godfrey/Released)

Thank you, XO for that kind introduction.

Sen. Ernst, Adm. Richardson, Mrs. Winnefeld, Mayor Pro Tempore Don Moore and Sioux City Council members, Annapolis Mayor Buckley, Vice Adm. Carter, Rear Adm. Thorp, Siouxland Chamber of Commerce President Chris McGowan, Cmdr. Malone and Cmdr. O’Brien, officers and crew of the soon to be United States Ship Sioux City.

The great citizens of Sioux City and the broader Siouxland region; as well as our Annapolis hosts, distinguished guests, families and friends:

Good morning, and welcome to Annapolis!

On behalf of the 76th Secretary of our Navy, Richard V. Spencer, I am privileged to welcome you to this historic event, the commissioning of a major warship at the United States Naval Academy.

This beautiful piece of American history, known as the “Yard,” is where naval service began for me, and for so many others who are with us today.

It is a perfect setting to renew the cycle of service once more, when soon, a new, courageous, ready and able crew will sally forth to all corners of the world, defending our nation from those who would threaten us, and deterring all others from even thinking about it.

This bold new crew will ensure freedom of navigation and freedom of trade for our citizenry, and offer ready partnership for all who believe in their hearts, as we have since the American Revolution; that individual liberty is at the core of human progress and prosperity – and that it must be protected by people willing to fight for it.

This ship, and this crew, will go from this place, just as so many of us have, to serve the nation in places far, far away from here.

During that process, they will build relationships with partners and allies who have a common goal in mind: Peace.

As I look back on my own career, I can anticipate that journey for Sioux City, and I am excited by it because you never know where those relationships will lead.

In my own case, through the Navy, I have connected with, and developed friendships, with Sailors from countries all over the world. It is one of the great satisfactions of service in the United States Navy.

And today, it is brought to light in a particularly personal way for me as one of my flight school classmates from Pensacola, a former helicopter pilot like me, and former Italian naval officer by the name of Dario Deste, is president and CEO of Fincantieri USA, who I know wishes he could witness this historic event in person.

MARINETTE, Wis. (Feb. 19, 2014) Mary Winnefeld, center left, wife of Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, watches as her initials are welded into the keel of the future littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11). (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)
MARINETTE, Wis. (Feb. 19, 2014) Mary Winnefeld, center left, wife of Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, watches as her initials are welded into the keel of the future littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11). (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)

As you all know, the great men and women of Fincantieri in Wisconsin built this fine ship and delivered it to the United States Navy.

Serving together again as we commission her into service is a scenario that neither Dario nor I would have likely imagined in 1984 in Pensacola, but it is a vivid example of how service binds us together across national boundaries – and how it must continue to do so to maintain mutual commitments to peace and security.

It is truly a great day to be an American, and a great day to celebrate a great American hometown, while being hosted by another one. To the many Siouxlanders who have traveled from the Midwest, over 500 of you, thank you so much for being here and for representing your city and your love and pride for this ship and its crew.

With the help of Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, a native of the City of Annapolis, and the sponsoring spirit of Mrs. Mary Winnefeld, a true servant leader who has led our joint forces and families for decades along with her husband, Sandy, the people of Sioux City have made this commissioning event a model for how to do it right.

As some of you may know, I recently had the honor of announcing that one of our future LCS ships would be named for my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

And I know Sandy Winnefeld was once the commanding officer of the last USS Cleveland, another personal reminder of the many deep connections that reach across the years and throughout our Navy.

In fact, there is a small delegation here from Cleveland this weekend because they wanted to be here to see how to commission a ship with all the class and dignity, and fun, that it deserves.

Sioux City has truly stepped up as a community and have demonstrated what it means to be the “proud parents” of this ship.

Just like today, the people of Siouxland have come together on countless occasions: in times of plenty, as their indomitable role as one of the nation’s leading providers of beef and pork, feeding Americans and the world.

They also lead the way in coming together in times of tragedy, as in the horrible crash landing of Flight 232 in July 1989; when Sioux Cityians showed the world how their expert care and compassion saved 185 people from an aircraft that lost primary, secondary, and tertiary means of flight control.

There is a timeless picture, placed in Dahlgren Hall today, which I know many of you have seen, for it was published in just about every national and world newspaper the next day.

In that famous photo, Iowa Air National Guard A-7 pilot Denny Nielsen is carrying a child out of the wreckage.

When asked about it, he spoke for all of Siouxland when he said, “God saved the child. I just carried him.”

Just like that day in 1989, when we launch this ship into the deeper blue waters of the Chesapeake and the farther beyond, her crew will always know who is carrying them – who is with them every nautical mile and to every corner of the ocean, whether in peace or war.

Finally, let me say something I personally know about the people of Iowa, and why they are such a fitting citizenry to have their name carried by this ship.

In 1950, my mother and grandfather escaped war ravaged Eastern Europe for the promise of a new life in the United States.

They waited for sponsorship for several years, and when it finally came, it came from a family and a Lutheran Church in the great state of Iowa, in the small city of Waverly, some 200 miles east of Sioux City.

They came here with essentially nothing, but were embraced by many Iowans who gave them respect and dignity, helped them earn their citizenship;

But more importantly, helped them earn a future for themselves – and ultimately a future for me and my own family. I am forever indebted to Iowans for this act of selfless service to others.

GROTON, Conn. (Nov. 9, 2018) The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Sioux City (LCS 11) transits the Thames River for a scheduled port visit to Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Latrice Jackson/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Nov. 9, 2018) The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Sioux City (LCS 11) transits the Thames River for a scheduled port visit to Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Latrice Jackson/Released)

 

Just as Iowans reached across a vast ocean to embrace refugees from World War II like my mother, the USS Sioux City will carry the spirit of Siouxland, and of Iowa, far beyond the banks of this river to people all over the world. In her they will see the strength and goodwill of this nation.

They will see what we see embodied every day in the warm, welcoming and gracious spirit of Iowans:

A spirit that opened its arms for my mother, and inspires the rest of us to serve others, and to serve causes greater than ourselves.

Thank you for being here today, may God bless the people of Sioux City Iowa and the magnificent crew that will breathe life into this ship. We all know that this crew and the citizens of Sioux City will never, ever give up the ship!

May God continue to bless the United States Navy and the Sailors and Marines who go into harm’s way every day to keep us safe and free.

Go Navy. Go Sioux City. And of course, as always, beat Army. Thank you very much.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/11/21/under-secretary-modlys-remarks-at-uss-sioux-city-commissioning/ U.S. Navy

Navy Auditability Leads to Victory in War

By Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly 

At the end of May 1942, the ships of Task Force 17 and Task Force 16 steamed toward their rendezvous near the remote island of Midway. Rallying the U.S. Navy’s last remaining aircraft carriers, Hornet, Enterprise and Yorktown, Adm. Chester Nimitz sent his unforgettable orders, instructing Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spruance and Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher:

“…you will be governed by the principle of calculated risk … the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to the enemy.”

As Nimitz sent his secret orders to Fletcher and Spruance, he had confidence that his commanders had a firm accounting of what ships were in their battle force, what aircraft were available, and what ammunition was stockpiled. The commanders at Midway based their decisions on hard, verifiable data, and placed immense trust in the platforms, people and processes that made that data available.

USS Enterprise (CV 6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, June 4, 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA 24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA 26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. (U.S. Navy photograph/Released)
USS Enterprise (CV 6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, June 4, 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA 24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA 26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. (U.S. Navy photograph/Released)

 

The challenges that the Navy and Marine Corps face today are no different: we must build an enterprise in which data has veracity, processes are clean and understood, and controls enable faster, more informed decisions.

The Navy audit will make this possible so that agility and accountability define us and prepare us best for victory. This is why our audit is a vital enterprise tool to enable our naval forces to execute America’s maritime strategy in this century and beyond.

You can read more about why the Navy audit is about warfighting in my blog post on War on the Rocks: Don’t Fear the Audit! Calculated Risk and Agile Accountability in the Sea Services.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/06/29/navy-auditability-leads-to-victory-in-war/ CDR McIlnay

Navy Auditability Leads to Victory in War

By Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly 

At the end of May 1942, the ships of Task Force 17 and Task Force 16 steamed toward their rendezvous near the remote island of Midway. Rallying the U.S. Navy’s last remaining aircraft carriers, Hornet, Enterprise and Yorktown, Adm. Chester Nimitz sent his unforgettable orders, instructing Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spruance and Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher:

“…you will be governed by the principle of calculated risk … the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to the enemy.”

As Nimitz sent his secret orders to Fletcher and Spruance, he had confidence that his commanders had a firm accounting of what ships were in their battle force, what aircraft were available, and what ammunition was stockpiled. The commanders at Midway based their decisions on hard, verifiable data, and placed immense trust in the platforms, people and processes that made that data available.

USS Enterprise (CV 6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, June 4, 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA 24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA 26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. (U.S. Navy photograph/Released)
USS Enterprise (CV 6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, June 4, 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA 24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA 26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. (U.S. Navy photograph/Released)

 

The challenges that the Navy and Marine Corps face today are no different: we must build an enterprise in which data has veracity, processes are clean and understood, and controls enable faster, more informed decisions.

The Navy audit will make this possible so that agility and accountability define us and prepare us best for victory. This is why our audit is a vital enterprise tool to enable our naval forces to execute America’s maritime strategy in this century and beyond.

You can read more about why the Navy audit is about warfighting in my blog post on War on the Rocks: Don’t Fear the Audit! Calculated Risk and Agile Accountability in the Sea Services.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/06/29/navy-auditability-leads-to-victory-in-war/ CDR McIlnay

Under Secretary Modly’s Remarks at Master Chief Slabinski’s Induction into Pentagon Hall of Heroes

The following are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks for Medal of Honor recipient Master Chief Britt Slabinski’s induction into Pentagon Hall of Heroes May 25.

Deputy Secretary Shanahan, Adm. Richardson, Dana, Master Chief of the Navy Giordano, Christina, Bryce, John, Meghan, military service members who are gathered here today, DoD civilians, families, friends: Good afternoon.

What better time or place to acknowledge and decorate our nation’s finest virtues in the person of Master Chief Slabinski than here and now, at the start of our Memorial Day holiday.

Everyone should have the honor of shaking the hands of a veteran on this day, but today we have the incredible honor of shaking the hand of a certified hero and embracing his family. It’s an honor that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Yes, we are gathered here to induct Master Chief Slabinski into the Hall of Heroes. It is now, as Secretary Shanahan and others have already mentioned, over 16 years since those acts of valor occurred that we recognize today.

WASHINGTON (May 25, 2016) Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly and retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski hold Slabinski’s Hall of Heroes plaque during the Hall of Heroes induction ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)
WASHINGTON (May 25, 2016) Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly and retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski hold Slabinski’s Hall of Heroes plaque during the Hall of Heroes induction ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

 

But if time has passed, it has not dimmed the bright glow of Master Chief Slabinski’s bravery. Nor, moreover, could we ever gather the full breadth of our nation’s gratitude towards him and his teammates.

Because just as we rightfully honor Master Chief Slabinski in this hall, we also pay tribute to an entire generation of leaders who have borne these battles.

For their families, we honor the bitter anguish of long separation. On behalf of far too many, we mourn heartbreaking, unimaginable loss.

And for almost 17 years now, we give thanks for their combined, unrelenting sacrifices.

Let us never forget what Master Chief Slabinski and his teammates did, half a globe away; where evil was allowed to metastasize, and bring horror to our own shores.

It was in this unchosen place where a chosen few drew a bright line in the mountains, and in sand, far from both our homes and theirs – and held that line to defend us, and all those threatened by this new tyranny of violence and depravity.

Indeed, if we have enjoyed peace here at home after 9/11, it is a peace that could only be earned through the strength and fortitude of men and women just like him and his team: those who ran towards the fight, who saw through the darkness, who loved each other, and this country, so much that they would do anything to save each other, no matter the odds.

We think back to the unthinkable events of the day when Master Chief Slabinski and his comrades drew upon immense courage – and to our brother service members stranded against overwhelming and fearful odds.

 

We try to imagine Master Chief Slabinski wading through waist-deep snow with his team, carrying his brother on his shoulder after an exhausting firefight, exceeding what we could reasonably expect of a Sailor, or a Soldier, or a Marine, or an Airman; even though what he did may be what we unreasonably expect of a hero.

And through it all, we see something we believe in, but never take for granted, about our service members – something that may be foreign or unthinkable to many people, but something we know unites those we ask to go into harm’s way on our behalf. It is the spirit of selflessness, like so many others recognized in this Hall, a singular spirit that unites our Armed Forces: serving a cause greater than self, and driven to prove worthy of that cause.

Yet Master Chief Slabinski would be the first to say that those snow-covered mountains, tangled rat lines, and poppy-covered fields of Afghanistan were, for Americans and our partners, once again, a place where uncommon valor was a common virtue – a virtue demonstrated on a daily basis in stories like this, but that may never get told.

He will repeatedly demur that this award could never be about him alone, that we serve and succeed and, yes love, as teams, as families. And there is an abiding lesson in that for all of us, one which Master Chief and his team reminded us of by their bravery.

That their greatness is truly, right here, within each member of our Armed Forces; borne by the unending faith of mothers and fathers who raise such daughters and sons, strong enough to serve, and strong enough to save.

I am honored to be in the same room with you, Master Chief Slabinski, and to your family, thank you for allowing our nation to benefit from his courage and commitment.

On behalf of the Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, and the uniformed and civilian women and men of your Navy and Marine Corps team, I offer the deepest respect a nation can bestow towards such good and faithful servants as you, Christina, Bryce, John, and Meghan. Thank you for the example you set for future generations of warriors, and warrior families – and for our Nation.

May God Bless you, and may God Bless all those we send into harm’s way on the land, sea, and air every day, to keep us safe, and free.

Thank you.

WASHINGTON, (May 25, 2018) Medal of Honor recipient retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski stands on the stage during his induction ceremony into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon Auditorium. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)
WASHINGTON, (May 25, 2018) Medal of Honor recipient retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski stands on the stage during his induction ceremony into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon Auditorium. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/05/31/under-secretary-modlys-remarks-at-master-chief-slabinskis-induction-into-pentagon-hall-of-heroes/ U.S. Navy

Under Secretary Modly’s Remarks at U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2018 Graduation

The following are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s  remarks for the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2018’s graduation and commissioning ceremony in Annapolis, Md., May 25.

Mr. President, members of Congress, Admiral Richardson, General Walters, Vice Admiral Carter, distinguished guests, faculty and staff of this national treasure of an institution.

To the parents, families, and friends of the great Class of 2018 – thank you for being here to honor and celebrate this tremendous accomplishment, but more importantly, for putting your faith, hope and prayers behind these young Navy and Marine Corps officers.

Soon they will depart from this place to assume positions of massive responsibility, defending our nation and contributing their intellect, passion and skill to sustaining the greatest, most powerful and lethal maritime force the world has ever known—and will ever know.

Parents, thank you for raising such outstanding citizens.  And to our sponsor families from the Annapolis area, thanks for picking up where those parents left off, and opening your homes and providing comfort and support to this class over the last four years.

Finally, to the awesome Class of 2018 – congratulations! And relax!

No more panic attacks when you hear the 10 minute chow calls, no more worrying about the quality of your tuck at restriction musters, no more sitting at your desks in a class A uniform during room tours, no more cramming for final exams, no more alpha room inspections. And at least for you new ensigns, no more parade practices, parades or platoon drill! Let’s hear it for that!

Sorry, Marines, the joy of marching in parades that you all came to love in your four years here at the academy will continue for you for many more years – but I guarantee that your future parades will have a level of precision that you probably didn’t experience here!

Class of 2018, you will soon discover that life away from the academy will be very different. Just imagine, you can now learn what it is like to actually sleep under your covers, instead of on top of them.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 25, 2018) From left, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn M. Walters, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly, President Donald J. Trump, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson and Vice Adm. Walter E. "Ted" Carter, Jr. stand for the National Anthem during the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 2018 graduation and commissioning ceremony. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Hailey D. Clay/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 25, 2018) From left, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn M. Walters, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly, President Donald J. Trump, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson and Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter, Jr. stand for the National Anthem during the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2018 graduation and commissioning ceremony. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Hailey D. Clay/Released)

 

You can also expand on the passionate love of the ballet and opera that you developed during the Distinguished Artist Series at Alumni Hall.

And, perhaps most importantly, you will finally have the time and independence to prepare some of your favorite meals from King Hall in your own homes.

Just think, culinary expressions like Mystery Meatballs, King Hall Meatloaf and Kale Wraps don’t have to be distant fond memories. Contact the supply officer for more information on this, but please, no more death threats about the Kale Wraps!

But on to more serious matters, it was 35 years ago on this very day that I was sitting where you are, and I walked across this very stage and received my diploma from the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable John Lehman. It was at a time in history not unlike the one we are facing today.

After years of neglect and insufficient defense budgets, our Navy was just beginning to receive the huge shot in the arm it required to face down the growing Soviet threat. The national resolve inspired and embodied by President Reagan at the time of my commissioning rebuilt our military, and most importantly, our Navy, so that the Soviet Union had no choice but to retreat and eventually collapse into the annals of its own inglorious past.

In its wake came the liberation of millions of people in nations who suffered under Communist oppression behind the Iron Curtain. One of those nations was Hungary, a place where my own father escaped in the late 1940s to flee Soviet-imposed tyranny.

I recall this point of history to you today not because it is personal for me, but because of its relevance for you. Just as I was fortunate to serve under President Reagan, you should recognize how fortunate you are to be serving today under a commander in chief who believes what President Reagan believed – that our national security should be guided by the clearest of principles.  That principle is “Peace Through Strength.”

This is not a political tag line. It is a geo-political truth. It is particularly true for a nation such as the United States, with our broad global interests, important friendships, and our fundamental desire to see our people and the people of the world prosper under the guiding lights of individual liberty and human dignity.

Weakness in pursuit of such aspirations invites aggression – and it always will.

As you are commissioned today, be grateful that the American people through their elected representatives in Washington, from the president to the Congress, recognize this fact and have committed the resources to give you what you need to deter our adversaries – or to dominate and defeat them, if necessary. I can assure you that not every nation in the world stands up for its principles in this way – nor do they invest the resources to make it so.

Second, just as I and my classmates never saw the demise of the Soviet Union coming, you may also be surprised at the good that can accrue to the world through what you will be doing every single day you serve.

You may not recognize this fully in the routine of your daily jobs, but as long as you lead and inspire a strong Navy and Marine Corps team – one that is prepared for any adversary, I guarantee that some significant and world-altering good will come of it over time.

In fact, I am certain that as you look back on your own careers, 35 years from now – just as I am doing nostalgically today – you will find that some symbol of oppression, not unlike the now extinct Soviet Red Star, will have been relegated to the dust bin of history because of what you did to sustain the strength and lethality of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

It will happen because, as we have learned, tyranny and oppression cannot survive contact for long against a powerful military force – one that is anchored by a people, and an officer corps, of high moral character: officers, who in addition to their courage, also maintain a passion for peace and prosperity for all citizens of the world.  That is who you are, and the world you are entering today as officers in the United States military is going to be a better place for it.

In closing, let me say that although this is truly a great day in your lives, it is unlikely to be even in the 10 of your greatest days in uniform. Rather, you will find those greatest days in the moments when you see the people you have lead, trained, educated, mentored, tutored, commanded – and yes, even reprimanded, perform well beyond your expectations.

As officers in the United States military, you are given tremendous responsibility to respect and protect those who are placed under your command.  The American people entrust you with their sons and daughters, and they place their security and the security of the nation, in your hands.  Do not expect to be loved by everyone for this – even though it may happen, on occasion.

As Secretary Mattis is fond of saying to those of us who are honored now to serve in the Pentagon, “Your job is to protect the nation,” so I commend to you the following advice to make this important, and often difficult job, far easier on yourselves.

That advice is this: Don’t ever worry about being loved for what you do. Rather, love the country you are asked to defend. Love the Constitution you just pledged your lives to protect. And most importantly, love the people you have the privilege to lead.

Make sure they eat before you do. Care about their families, as much as you do your own. Be vested in their successes, more than your own individual accomplishments. Nurture their careers, more than you pursue your own advancement. And value their lives, to the point that you will always consider their safety and security in every decision you make – and you will do this best by making sure they know how to fight and win.

It is only through this level of servant leadership that you will maximize and empower those you will lead to meet the demands they will face in this dynamic century. It will also accrue tremendous personal satisfaction to you during your time of service. It will foster truly great moments that will make the elation you are feeling today seem almost trivial.

This is the kind of job satisfaction that only service in the Armed Forces of the United States of America can provide, so prepare yourselves to experience it over and over and over and to treasure it every single time.

Newly commissioned officers of the Class of 2018, you are about to embark on the journey of your lives. Your service is noble. Your service is just. Your service will make this country and the world a better place.

Today, we thank you in advance for your leadership, and for the sacrifices each of you will make to keep us safe and free!

And today, be assured – we love you!

Class of 2018: Go Navy!

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/05/31/under-secretary-modlys-remarks-at-u-s-naval-academy-class-of-2018-graduation/ U.S. Navy

Under Secretary Modly’s Remarks at Naval Aviation Symposium

The following are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s prepared remarks for the National Aviation Symposium at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, May 10, 2018.

Thank you for the kind introduction, and thank you for the honor of addressing you today at this Naval Aviation Symposium. I recognize that the path each of you has taken to be included in this audience today is unique, but also remarkable and worthy of great pride and recognition. I also know that there are common threads among you or else you wouldn’t be here: a love for YOUR country, a love for YOUR Navy, a bond to the heritage of naval aviation, and an intellectual and emotional passion for helping us get it right as we consider what national and maritime security will mean in this new century.

 

To the spouses who are here with you today, I have nothing but appreciation and respect for the sacrifices you have made over the course of your own “tours” in the Navy and Marine Corps. Robyn and I are so proud and grateful for the opportunity to share some time with you here in the Cradle of Naval Aviation. Our active-duty career in the Navy was relatively short. In fact, Robyn and I met just a few days after my last flight as a helicopter aircraft commander on board the USS Nassau. We never experienced the separation that many of you have – although, I am not sure whether Robyn may have enjoyed that separation from me on occasion.

Nonetheless, I have a profound appreciation for, and connection to, those of you who started along this path around the same time I did in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We have all witnessed incredible changes together during the past four decades. These changes will impact the U.S. Navy and our nation for years to come. The changes are coming at us fast — so we need to be prepared to break free of the organizational paradigms, and behaviors, and biases that suited us in the last century. They are not well-suited for today, and certainly not for the future.

This museum is a highly appropriate place to harness our passion and inspire our thinking in this regard. This place literally sings of our passion for the sea, and for the air: to fly, fight, and lead, with sacred purpose, with a love for a special calling that sometimes rivals that of our families, especially when crises arise, and duty calls.

BREMERTON, Wash. (Feb. 15, 2018) Under Secretary of the Navy, the honorable Thomas B. Modly, discusses flight deck operations with Cmdr. Pavao Huldisch, air boss onboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on the ship's flight deck. Modly was aboard for a tour of the ship and to talk to Sailors and command leadership. John C. Stennis was in port conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop/Released)

BREMERTON, Wash. (Feb. 15, 2018) Under Secretary of the Navy, the honorable Thomas B. Modly, discusses flight deck operations with Cmdr. Pavao Huldisch, air boss onboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on the ship’s flight deck. Modly was aboard for a tour of the ship and to talk to Sailors and command leadership. John C. Stennis is in port conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop/Released)

 

One of our most famous naval aviators, President George H.W. Bush, evinced that kind of tension in a love letter to his future bride, the late Mrs. Barbara Bush. In fact, he wrote the following to her, while still in flight school:

“My darling Bar, for a long time I had anxiously looked forward to the day when we would go aboard and set to sea. It seemed that obtaining that goal would be all I could desire for some time, but Bar, you changed all that. I cannot say that I do not want to go – for that would be a lie. We have been working for a long time with a single purpose in mind, to be so equipped that we could meet and defeat our enemy.”

How many of us tonight are fortunate enough to look across the table and see someone who “changed all that”, too!

And I would say all of us are just as fortunate – and proud – to have walked in his footsteps. President Bush personified that love, that singular purpose. Even after the enemy riddled his aircraft, he still accomplished his mission – before being rescued at sea.

But he also personified leadership, and continuous focus on national strategy especially when, at the pinnacle of the free world, he imagined a new world order after the fall of the Berlin Wall: when finally, the Soviet red star set on the horizon, something neither me nor my classmates, commissioned only six years before, would have ever believed possible.

Some of us – most of us, I’d say, with naval aviation in our blood – feel fortunate to be born into history’s inflection points.

The Post Vietnam era that lead to the Reagan defense build-up was one. The end of the Cold War was another. But, it was the end of the First World War, exhibiting the potential of airplanes, torpedoes and submarines to change the battlespace, that formed the genesis of this community’s impact on our maritime strategy that persists to this day.

And, today, I truly believe we are living in another historical inflection point of technological and social change, as well as near-peer, great power conflict:

Another age where, as Secretary Mattis rightly warns us, there is no room for complacency:

Another time, when we have earned no preordained right for victory.

In this time, in this age, we have no choice but to innovate, to take risks, to apply America’s most precious resource, our God-given talents, educated and groomed in the service of our Nation, in order to assure a competitive advantage.

Tonight, I want to talk to you about why that innovation is so critical, especially at this new inflection point in history. I want to share how your leadership must push for a more agile force now, more than ever. And I want to discuss why what we believe about a culture of learning matters so much: how it may be the most critical piece of creating lasting legacies of innovation for our children, and grandchildren.

First, we have great reason to be proud, and that pride stands on the shoulders of those who went before us, as this museum vitally reminds us. We have been blessed with leaders who took great personal and professional risk, not only in mastering their aircraft and carrier aviation at the fighting edge of freedom, but also to advance the craft of aviation warfare, and national security itself.

For most folks, the aircraft carrier and blue-water operations today seem not merely as a part of our naval service, but an assumed national treasure, one that our nation can consistently rely upon to extend our power and our presence to any distant shore. And it is not just with the force of bombs, and missiles and gunfire that this presence asserts itself. Rather, it is through the people whom these massive hulls contain.

NORFOLK (Feb. 21, 2018) Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh, left, shakes hands with Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly during a tour of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Vinh visited the ship to promote continued interoperability and a strong relationship between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the U.S. The ship was in port in Norfolk, Virginia, conducting routine maintenance in preparation for the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Hurt/Released)
NORFOLK (Feb. 21, 2018) Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh, left, shakes hands with Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly during a tour of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Vinh visited the ship to promote continued interoperability and a strong relationship between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the U.S. The ship was in port in Norfolk, Virginia, conducting routine maintenance in preparation for the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Hurt/Released)

 

Recently Robyn and I had the pleasure of hosting the Vietnamese ambassador and his wife on a tour of the USS George H.W. Bush as a precursor to the USS Carl Vinson’s historic visit to Vietnam just a few weeks ago. The Vinson’s visit was the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier made a port visit to Vietnam since the Vietnam War. When I entered the Naval Academy in 1979, such an event was not even imaginable. By all accounts, the visit was a tremendous success. But, as Ambassador Vinh explained to me last week, for all of its size and majesty as it sat anchored in Danang Harbor, the Vinson’s biggest impact during the visit was the interaction between her crew and the Vietnamese people who welcomed her to Danang. This is why our Navy, and naval aviation, is so special. It is the Sailors and Marines who enable us to fly and traverse great oceans, but also it is they who also extend our presence from the seas and into the hearts of former adversaries, like the Vietnamese, and help us build relationships founded on trust and mutual interests.

Thanks to each of you, that intrinsic value of our forward presence continues to thrive and grow, but as you well know, it wasn’t always this way. It took innovation and serious contemplations about the future to get us to the maritime capabilities we have today.

For even right here in the cradle of aviation, our naval services’ ideas about war at sea centered around Alfred Thayer Mahan’s center of mass, of lines of battleships deterring enemy main forces, keeping them at bay, or if need be, destroying them altogether.

But that was all before some innovative young aviators started writing in the pages of naval and national journals alike, arguing for their seniors to contemplate the future of warfare from the sea:

They imagined the vast reach and striking power of the future aircraft carrier, despite being hamstrung by the Washington Naval Conference treaty of 1922, and later, the economic austerity of the early 1930s.

Yet, in fact, these aviation leaders saw those two decades of post-World War I isolationism, treaties that limited ships and overseas bases, and a crippling Great Depression not as a wall to blunt their dreams, but as a challenge to overcome: an opportunity to seize.

What made the largest difference in gradually accepting and expanding the role of naval aviation was the fact that senior officers, like each of you, came to believe in and share the passion and the logic of those youthful aviation enthusiasts.

One set of historians, who focused on military innovation between World Wars One and Two, and especially upon the rise of carrier aviation, noted that for innovation to survive it was critical that senior military leaders not only fence off necessary resources and funding, but also to ensure “viable career paths to attract and retain bright young officers.”

And of course, that’s exactly what Rear Adm. William Moffett did. Admiral Moffett was the hand-picked first chief of the new Bureau of Aeronautics for its first 12 years before he himself paid the ultimate sacrifice – in a tragic accident on board the USS Akron.

Rear Adm. William A. Moffett a few days before his death. He was lost in USS Akron (ZR 4), April 4, 1933 off Barnegat Light, coast of New Jersey. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
Rear Adm. William A. Moffett a few days before his death. He was lost in USS Akron (ZR 4), April 4, 1933 off Barnegat Light, coast of New Jersey. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

He and other leaders like him led a decentralized atmosphere, one of collegiality and equality, where good ideas had no rank, qualities of a special family, one we readily recognize as our inheritance. And from their work came those common symbols of our heritage that we share today:

The first warfare emblem, our wings of gold.

Our distinctive uniforms.

Our professional pride as naval aviators, specializing in war at sea, from the air.

Our edict to Fly, Fight, and Win.

One commentator noted that Rear Adm. Moffett “Tackled the subject with almost fanatical zeal, supported by the whole nation from the President downwards.” But Moffett also personified that generational and intellectual bridge from battleship to naval aviation: From centralized to decentralized warfare – from past to future.

In fact, right here, in this very museum, there is a picture from March 1921 where he accepted a sword from his battleship crew on the USS Mississippi,  the ship which he commanded. He was a “battleship guy,” a black shoe, but he recognized that circumstances had changed — that adversaries had changed, that technology had changed, and ultimately that our Navy needed to change.

It was Rear Adm. Moffett’s open mind and zeal for innovation, his leadership and his courage that helped to turn what might have been 20 years of naval doldrums into opportunity – and a main cause for victory in the Pacific in the next Great War.

And as much as individual leadership matters to inspire innovation, it is also necessary to think around corners of the future, and create the institutional means to experiment and learn faster, inside the loops of our potential adversaries.

That leads to my second point: the changes we need now must inspire and perpetuate the kind of processes that brings our intellectual capital into a center of mass, where it matters most for our Navy and Nation.

I am certain many of you are aware of the importance of war-gaming at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, during the interwar years between World War I and II. When Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz spoke of these games in 1965, he recalled that

“The enemy of our games was always Japan, and the courses were so thorough that after the start of World War II, nothing that happened in the Pacific was strange or unexpected.”

Today, in our hyper-complex, ever-more interconnected world, we cannot allow ourselves to focus solely on a single adversary— because we are faced with a full and broad spectrum of them. None of them are true superpowers, but many of them do possess “superpowers” when you consider their disruptive, and destructive, potential. More accurately stated, our biggest enemy today and for the foreseeable future is uncertainty. Therefore, our greatest defense against it will be our own unpredictability – and, more fundamentally, our own agility.

That means we must think anew, and act anew, about the way we prepare for war, so that we, too, are ready for the strange and unexpected — because frankly what is unexpected is what we should expect. And again we can look to our shared heritage for inspiration:

Our naval leaders between the world wars created a “virtuous cycle” of operational learning between naval intelligence, war-gamers in Newport, war planners on the CNO’s staff, and experimenting and challenging those solutions in fleet exercises: where the officers and Sailors of the fleet practiced the plans that they might have to execute.

It was in experimentation with carrier aircraft that this cycle mattered most before World War Two. Through these exercises they refined air operations based on tactical war gaming at Newport, using hard data, hypothesizing and then experimenting with proofs.

One historian illustrated this cycle vividly as an “interactive, evidence-based institutional process that involved the General Board, the Bureau of Aeronautics, war planners in the office of the chief of naval operations, active aviators in the fleet, and through annual exercises, the fleet itself.”

And we don’t have to look far from this very spot to view another inspiring example of institutional, Joint innovation: a replica of one of the 16 B-25s that then-Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle’s crews launched from the USS Hornet and flew in a raid over Tokyo, a few short months after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (left front), leader of Doolittle Raid’s attacking force, and Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, commanding officer of USS Hornet (CV 8), pose with a 500-pound bomb and USAAF aircrew members during ceremonies on Hornet's flight deck, while the raid task force was en route to the launching point, April 18, 1942. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (left front), leader of Doolittle Raid’s attacking force, and Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, commanding officer of USS Hornet (CV 8), pose with a 500-pound bomb and USAAF aircrew members during ceremonies on Hornet’s flight deck, while the raid task force was en route to the launching point, April 18, 1942. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

Daunting as it is to stand on the shoulders of those giants of the greatest generation, it’s important to remember that this kind of innovation is not only part of our collective heritage, it’s in our DNA.

And after 16 years of asymmetric warfare, we clearly need to adjust again — and adjusting after years, or even decades of doing things a certain way, can be difficult and painful. But we need to muster the same courage as those 16 crews demonstrated when they headed for Tokyo, knowing full well that many would never come back. They went anyway, because they knew the moment required it. This moment requires it, too.

We have a lot to be proud of, but perhaps, as we’ve become used to unstable budgets, readiness bathtubs, and the like, we may have lost our focus on how critical that culture of learning is for our institution.

I know you’ve spent this week at AFOTS looking hard at our processes: how to make them stronger, more useful, and more lethal to face our growing maritime responsibilities. I hope you challenged traditional paradigms and thought about how you elevate and empower those young innovators within your commands – regardless of rank, and indifferent to traditional career paths. You know who they are. And I can’t wait to hear how you plan to do it, and how, specifically, I can help.

Finally, I want to take a minute or two to talk about what we as leaders must believe about education and learning itself. How we address this issue matters critically to our ability to develop the agile forces and people we need. From my perspective, this is the most critical aspect of what the CNO calls “The Navy the Nation Needs.”

As you may know, I’ve announced an Education for Seapower study that will take a clean sheet, top-to-bottom look at how we educate our people for greater agility, effectiveness, and lethality.

This will be a hard look at our processes and culture, led by me, the vice chief, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and a cast of luminaries from the national security and educational professions. The executive panel we have assembled to help us with this effort includes Adm. Mike Mullen, Gen. John Allen, Ambassador Barbara Barrett, Vice Adm. Anne Rondeau and Dr. Harlan Ullman. The study has generated so much interest that we have also attracted Newt Gingrich, Sen. Bob Kerrey, and Larry Bacow, the newly elected president of Harvard University, and many others to serve as senior reviewers.

The complex environment that Secretary Mattis so aptly described in that same 2018 National Defense Strategy demands that we think anew about the strategy with which we educate our people. 100 years ago, those learning strategies were reimagined, and redesigned, by three naval officers:

Captains Dudley Knox, Bill Pye and Ernest King, in their seminal report on Naval Education published in 1920.

Captain King, whom we all know as Fleet Admiral and CNO Ernest King, is the same Ernest King who later relieved Adm. Moffett at the Bureau of Aeronautics after his tragic death. He, along with the other two captains on the study developed what many believe was the most consequential revolution in naval education we’ve experienced as an institution.

The Knox-King-Pye 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 decision making.

Again, it’s our heritage that should continue to inspire us, and just as their report compelled new thinking in the last century, our current circumstances require us to again rethink and determine how to build a true “learning culture” in our naval services, and embrace it as a core value.

As many of you know, “Ex Scientia Tridens” is the motto of the Naval Academy. Those words translated mean “Through Knowledge, Sea Power.” As we think about education and its role in the future of our sea services, no words seem more relevant to me than these. Because 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 culture that rewards people who thirst for it.

CORAL SEA (Aug. 5, 2017) Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Giwon Kim, a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, conducts communications with the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) during a replenishment-at-sea. Shiloh was on patrol with Carrier Strike Group 5 in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pat Morrissey/Released)
CORAL SEA (Aug. 5, 2017) Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Giwon Kim, a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, conducts communications with the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) during a replenishment-at-sea. Shiloh was on patrol with Carrier Strike Group 5 in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pat Morrissey/Released)

 

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. It is one that produces Sailors and Marines who are prepared to excel in circumstances that are characterized by uncertainty, and by adversaries who are unpredictable.

So although I have no preconceived ideas of what our Education for Seapower Study may find, I do believe that the study’s recommendations will reveal an opportunity to take advantage of this moment in history to institute changes as monumental as the changes we foresee in our security environment well into this century.

I am convinced that our enduring maritime advantage is, and will continue to be, almost entirely dependent upon our agility. By extension, it will dependent upon the agility of the people we educate now to lead it. I have confidence that we have the ability to do this, but it takes commitment and a persistent push by leadership to make it agility a reality.

Truly it’s all of you – this critical mass of leadership here tonight that will – that must – break the mold of our past assumptions, think anew and lead us through another American maritime century, one that our forebears would be proud to see, and recognize as their own. Most importantly, you have the responsibility to identify the “current day Captain Pyes, Captain Kings and Captain Knoxes”– those who are willing to think differently and shape the force we need now– and decades from now. And as you look for them, you probably need to set your nose below the horizon –below the O-6 level.

In this process, great ideas should have no rank.

Just one look across this magnificent museum is enough to tell us, and moreover, to inspire us, about how much can be accomplished when we unbound our imaginations and allow ourselves to think creatively – and differently than those who are wedded to the status quo.

And only one look, at each other, across these tables, is more than enough to remind us, why our love for this profession, and our love for our families, are really not at odds at all.

They are intertwined.

They must be.

And they should be.

For you, our senior leaders, our spouses and families, both officers and enlisted alike, whose lives of service have been so consequential, we thank you with all the respect and admiration one can muster.

It is your shared journeys of leadership, innovation, and courage that represent both our heritage, and our destiny.

In closing I will reference George H.W. Bush and the former first lady once more as in recent days we have had the occasion to both mourn Mrs. Bush’s passing while also celebrating their family’s contributions to our national defense. Mrs. Bush only kept one letter in her engagement scrapbook, and it was the last thing remaining amongst all the many things Lt. Bush sent her during the war.

In that letter he wrote what I know so many of you have felt over the course of your careers,

“I do want to go because it is my part, but now leaving presents itself not as an adventure but as a job which I hope will be over before long. Even now with a good while between us and the sea, I am thinking of getting back.”

NORFOLK (April 18, 2018) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Brian Graham lowers the American flag to half-mast to honor former first lady Barbara Bush during morning colors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Bush, wife of former President George H.W. Bush, the ship's namesake, died April 17, 2018. The ship was in port in Norfolk, Virginia, conducting sustainment exercises to maintain carrier readiness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brooke Macchietto/Released)
NORFOLK (April 18, 2018) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Brian Graham lowers the American flag to half-mast to honor former first lady Barbara Bush during morning colors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Bush, wife of former President George H.W. Bush, the ship’s namesake, died April 17, 2018. The ship was in port in Norfolk, Virginia, conducting sustainment exercises to maintain carrier readiness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brooke Macchietto/Released)

 

We all yearn to get back, to return to the loves of our lives.

But today we must look forward — to prepare our Navy for this century so that those we send in the decades ahead can fulfill their own dreams of “getting back” safely to the ones they love here in the greatest nation on earth.

On behalf of our president, and the secretary of the Navy, allow me to thank each of you again for your patriotic journey, beckoned by a grand calling: returning always to these bonded loves of family and service – past, present and future.

May God bless you all, and may God bless the Sailors and Marines who go in harms way every day to keep us safe – and free.

Go Navy! Beat Army! Thank you for listening.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/05/11/under-secretary-modlys-remarks-at-naval-aviation-symposium/ U.S. Navy

Breaking the Mold

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly’s prepared remarks for the Breaking the Mold workshop at Naval War College, March 7.

The purpose for the two-day workshop, sponsored by the under secretary of the Navy, was to engage top minds within the U.S. Navy and private sector academic and business partners on ways to address future scenarios U.S. military forces may face based upon current and emerging technology and new concepts in maritime and conventional warfare. The workshop focuses leaders to engage on a myriad of concepts and scenarios meant to push conversation, dialog, and analysis of ideas and thoughts outside conventional molds in an effort to stretch and expand strategic and operational mindsets.

Thank you for the kind introduction, and thank you for the honor of addressing you today at this appropriately titled “Breaking the Mold” conference. I recognize that the path each of you has taken to be included in this audience today is unique, but also remarkable and worthy of great pride and recognition.  I also know that there are common threads among you or else you wouldn’t be here:  a love for YOUR country, a love for YOUR Navy, and an intellectual and emotional passion for helping us get it right as we consider what national and maritime security will mean in this new century.  My own active duty career in the Navy was relatively short, but I have a profound appreciation for, and connection to, those of you who started along this path around the same time I did in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Whether on active duty, as a Navy civilian, or even in the private sector, we have all witnessed profound changes together during the past 4 decades.  These changes will impact the U.S. Navy and our nation for years to come.  The changes are coming at us fast—so we need to be prepared to break free of the organizational paradigms, and behaviors, and biases that suited us in the last century.  They are not well-suited for today, and certainly not for the future.

When we were first confronted by terrorism on a massive scale on 9-11 many people realized that perhaps simply “cracking the mold” was necessary to shift our focus and forces on a new, unconventional adversary. We actually adapted our tactics and capabilities quite well to address this threat militarily, and we continue assess and adjust to how we defeat them in the new battlespaces of social media and ideology.  After sixteen years of war with this type of adversary, however, I think that simply “cracking the mold” may not be enough because no longer are we faced with a single rogue terrorist actor, rather, today we are faced with a broad and varied spectrum of them.  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.  Some of them, are actually states, like North Korea and Iran, who have recognized that their paths to survival are through an ascendance to great power status of their own making.  They have both 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.

NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), welcomes attendees of "Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century." (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)
NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), welcomes attendees of “Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century.” (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)

 

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, and they will drive investments in our defense capabilities going forward.  We are entering an era of Great Power Competition on 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 the NDS, 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 gain influence and authority over other nation’s economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.

Both China and Russia aim to shift the regional balances of power to their advantage. It is their stated intent to weaken or fracture the U. S.-led alliance and partnership network that has ensured security and prosperity for so many around the world.  If unaddressed, the erosion of the United States’ military advantage vis a vis China and Russia could undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion in key strategic regions.  Therefore, we must correct the trajectory of the past several years so that both countries understand that the United States is not in retreat, but that we will advance our interests and influence around the world.  Those interests are primarily defined by actions that will promote global peace and prosperity through what Secretary Mattis describes as a “Constellation of Partnerships” with nations who share our values and security interests.

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—and an approach to maritime supremacy that “breaks the mold” of conventional thinking.

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” (Mattis).”

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.  So it follows that the NDS is structured to address the full range of adversaries we may face in this rapidly changing security environment.  The future Joint Force must be lethal and resilient in contested environments, disruptive to adversaries who seek advantages across the globe, and flexible enough to address and defeat threats across a broad conflict spectrum.

Fundamental to this future force 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 continue to be in great demand around the globe.  China and Russia are heavily investing in expanding their conventional and unconventional naval capabilities, and Iran and North Korea present challenges to our naval forces in different, but still very disruptive and dangerous ways.

Therefore, given the increasing complexity of the competitive geostrategic landscape, the National Defense Strategy’s mandate for how we construct our naval forces must address a broad range of competing challenges:

  • A return to great power competition, but not to the exclusion of other threats.
  • An emphasis on lethality and readiness, but not to the exclusion of new platforms and technologies for the future fight.
  • A recognition that we must advance our 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.

So what does this mean for you as think about how to break the mold of old paradigms and ways of thinking? In a word, I believe that breaking the mold will require a preeminent focus on the need for AGILITY. Agility is THE term which I believe best describes the overall organizational quality that has determined, and will determine, who and what survives in any increasingly competitive, rapidly changing, and unpredictable environment.  This is the environment our Navy faces today so I think we will ultimately be judged by how well we transition our forces and our supporting organizations to a future in which AGILITY is their defining characteristic.

Therefore, we must advance agility when we think about, and build, our future force structure. We need more ships and aircraft and vehicles, but that equipment must provide flexibility, adaptability, faster development cycles, reduced maintenance requirements, greater lethality, and an industrial strategy that sustains a modern, flexible and sustainable industrial base.

NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Thomas B. Modly, 33rd undersecretary of the Navy, addresses attendees of "Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century.” (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)
NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Thomas B. Modly, 33rd undersecretary of the Navy, addresses attendees of “Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century.” (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)

 

We must also advance agility in how we manage the business mission of the Department. We must have faster access to accurate information and we must reduce the overhead and bureaucracy that impedes rapid decision-making.  We must also understand the difference between being a smart buyer and a bad customer.  We cannot build and maintain an agile organization if we promote an adversarial relationship with industry.  Rather, we must promote competition, but with integrity, transparency and collaboration around common interests.

Most importantly, we must advance agility when we think about our people. We need to recruit and train people who are innovative and creative and courageous.  People who are comfortable with uncertainty and who can collaborate and trust their teams and leaders under stressful conditions.  We must also tap into the vast knowledge and spirit of the private sector as partners with our men and women in uniform, as well as our civilian workforce.

While I believe we would all agree that the Navy needs to become more agile in all of the areas I just mentioned, I also think we would all agree that defining, and even more importantly, measuring agility is not a simple task. For most of us, agility is not unlike Supreme Justice Potter Stewart’s famous statement about pornography.  In commenting on the definition of pornography and how it related to a particular movie that was at the center of a Supreme Court case, Justice Stewart said,

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that”

I suspect most of us, could paraphrase this and say, “I shall not attempt to define what is embraced in the term “agility.” But I know it when I see it, and many of the things the Navy does today are NOT THAT.”

But we shouldn’t despair. There are some very concrete organizational qualities we can truly observe and measure to determine whether we are building and leading a more agile organization.  I would like to offer five of these qualities for your consideration.  This is not a comprehensive list, but I do believe that if nurtured, each of these organizational qualities will contribute to a more agile Navy— and as we progress in building and encouraging these qualities “we will all know when we see it.”

The first of these qualities is velocity or speed. In a time of rapid change, organizations have to learn to do things faster.  Every major enterprise that has emerged as a leader in their respective industry over the last 20 years has improved in this area—and often by quantum leaps.  When you started your careers think about how long it took to shop for something in a catalog, or to book an airline ticket, or to have a package delivered.  Think about how long it took to transfer money, or just get cash for spending.  More significantly, think about how long it took for well-established institutions to lose their competitive advantages.  Now think about Kodak, or General Motors, or Sears and Roebuck, or even a more current example of the Internet age, America Online.  Once the tide and pace of change begins accelerating, it is impossible to stop it.  Speed is critical to survival in such an environment.  For the Navy, this speaks not only to how fast our weapons can fly, or how quickly we can move forces from place to place, it has much more importance with respect to how it characterizes our processes and decision-making. When we look at our acquisition programs, for example, I think we can all agree that our lack of speed when compared to commercial industry is clearly costing us money, and stifling our ability to incorporate technologies at the velocity of change.  The same applies to how long it takes us to hire qualified people, or move beyond them if they are unable to perform adequately.  When compared to some of our geostrategic competitors who have discovered ways to shortcut innovation through nefarious means, or who can more quickly leverage commercially available technology, our lack of speed is quickly becoming a competitive disadvantage.  In the end, if we don’t correct this trajectory, it WILL end up costing us much more than just money.

The second quality is adaptability. Agile organizations adapt quickly to changing conditions.  They do not allow themselves to stagnate or be overcome by changes in their environment.  Boston Consulting Group has studied the concept of corporate “adaptiveness” and discovered that there are in fact concrete ways to measure a company’s capabilities in this regard.  Not surprisingly, when examined within competitive environments that are defined as particularly “turbulent” the most adaptive companies on the BCG index far outperformed those who were lower on the scale.  This conclusion seems obvious, but the overarching point of this work was that a high adaptability score for such companies did not come by accident.  Rather, those companies who successfully built adaptive organizations did so intentionally, and invested in it commensurately.  For us this means we must consider and invest in adaptability across the entire Navy enterprise.  We must foster flexibility in our people, design and construct both adaptable platforms and force deployment models, and ensure that both people and platforms are enabled by flexible business and operational processes.  We must also encourage an understanding of the world and the geopolitical context in which we ask our forces to deploy.  Our people must be able to adapt to the multiple potential environments in which they may be asked to operate—and fight.  They cannot afford to be ignorant of them.

NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Thomas B. Modly, 33rd under secretary of the Navy, and Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), listen to a presenter at the "Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century." (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)
NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Thomas B. Modly, 33rd under secretary of the Navy, and Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), listen to a presenter at the “Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century.” (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)

 

The third agility quality is collaboration. Collaborative cultures may appear to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from bureaucratic ones. This does not have to be the case—and we cannot allow it to be the case in our Navy.  I have often observed that the Department of Defense, like most great bureaucracies, is the great “self-siloing” organization.  It tends to have an aversion to working across organizational boundaries, and organizations and sub organizations have a bias toward protecting themselves, along with their domains, their budgets, their identities, and their hierarchies fiercely.  Some of this is to be expected in a culture that is inspired historically by a traditional military command and control environment, but some of it also leads to unhealthy behaviors that inhibit collaboration and resolutions that are in the best interest of the entire enterprise.  Our propensity for siloing is perhaps one of the most difficult cultural challenges we have to overcome–but we have to overcome it.  Agile organizations collaborate across internal and external boundaries, and most importantly up and down the chain of command. This collaboration fosters a greater enterprise appreciation of the organizational strategy, and encourages greater enterprise focused solutions that are not simply optimized for a particular sub-organization, or command, or ship, or SYSCOM, or program.  This means that leaders in our Navy, whether they are military or civil servants, must set very high standards for collaboration, openness, communication, fairness, compassion, intensity, and commitment if there is any hope of impacting culture in a positive way that enhances overall agility.   Leaders must demonstrate zero tolerance for organizational silos and an aversion to the accumulation of power, while building broad coalitions that align resources and momentum in a common direction.   Fostering greater collaboration as a critical cultural characteristic will also help us improve our ability to work with allies and partners around the world with whom the NDS identifies as critical to our ability to secure our interests.

The fourth quality of agility on my list is visibility. This is a key element as it exists in all organizations that move quickly, adapt, and share information freely.  These organizations allow for the best authoritative data available to drive decisions.  For us in the Navy this has as much applicability to a theatre of maritime operations as it does in the back office.  The proliferation of platforms with sensors, and our ability to integrate and understand all of the data they produce, will be critical to the success of the future warfighting mission.   But all this data has to make sense, and we must figure out how best to exploit visibility to the right level and at the right time so that we increase lethality and our ability to defend ourselves.

The same organizational value of visibility holds true for our business environment—and in this regard I will put it quite simply: we need to know where all our stuff is, and we need to know how much it costs, and we need to know how long it is going to take to get it where it needs to be. Today, I don’t think anyone in our organization can answer those questions with a high degree of confidence.  In the future, however, lots of people in our organization will be required to do so.  This is why the financial audit effort is such a high priority for me, and why it is so critical to the entire enterprise.  The financial audit, despite its name, should never be viewed as solely a finance-driven effort.  Rather, it is an enterprise imperative, because the corrections in visibility, accountability, and overall enterprise behavior, will accrue to our warfighting mission directly.

The fifth quality of agility is innovation. Agile organizations are adept and comfortable with trying new things–with experimenting, failing, measuring, trying again–all with a view towards finding new solutions to current and anticipated problems.  For those of you who have not read it, and have an interest in understanding how the breakthrough innovation of manned flight happened in the last century, I commend to you the Wright Brothers biography written by David McCullough.  The Wright Brothers’ story is remarkable.  It is great history, but it is also a pure innovation case study.  Even though this occurred over 100 years ago, Orville and Wilbur Wright demonstrated that innovation is driven by constant trial and error, meticulous documentation, and the deliberate construction of a culture of learning.  We need a “learning culture” in 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 innovation 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 raw technical 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.

NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Thomas B. Modly, 33rd under secretary of the Navy, and Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), pose for a group photo with attendees of the "Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century." (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)
NEWPORT, R.I. (March 7, 2018) Thomas B. Modly, 33rd under secretary of the Navy, and Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, president, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), pose for a group photo with attendees of the “Breaking the Mold; A Workshop on War and Strategy in the 21st Century.” (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin L. Wriston/Released)

 

This last quality has specific implications for this institution and the other educational institutions across the Navy such as the Naval Academy, the Post Graduate School and the Marine Corps University. We must break the mold with respect to how we think about the role of education in the career progressions of our Sailors, Marines, and Officer corps.  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 that is well-prepared for our current turbulent security environment being able to lead without these characteristics.  Therefore, I am commissioning a comprehensive clean-sheet review of Naval Education to determine how well we are educating, not merely training, our naval forces today–and for the future.  While I do not want to presume any conclusions that may come from this “Knox-King-Pye Redux for the 21st Century”, I suspect some major course corrections are in order, as they are for most every institution that expects to survive and thrive in this century.  So as you think about your tasks over these next few days, I ask that you consider agility and its components and its implications for the future of naval education when you experiment with what may result when you “break the mold.”

I will conclude by citing one of the many memorable quotes of John Paul Jones, as it relates why agile minds will matter so much in our future Navy. Jones famously said, “Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.”  It loses nothing in the translation when we say, “People mean more than weapons in the rating of a service.”  Jones’ quote recognizes a profound point of truth that is perhaps 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, I encourage you to think about breaking the mold in a way that allows us to 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.

The future dictates that our maritime forces will have to contend with something agile and so we must find and develop people who are agile enough to defeat it, and give them more responsibility. I predict we will have to break the mold to do it, but if we do, it will set our Navy, as it sails into uncertainty—on a course for agility and ultimate victory.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/03/14/breaking-the-mold/ U.S. Navy