Sea Service Chief Panel - AFCEA West 2020

by From Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs
02 March 2020
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday; Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger; and Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Karl Schultz speak on the Sea Service Chief Panel at AFCEA West 2020, March 2, 2020.

Moderator: We’re going to spend about 40 minutes talking among ourselves, and then we’ll turn it over to questions from the audience. I’m going to break it down roughly one-third, one-third, one-third in terms of readiness, capabilities and personnel. 

I’m going to start off with readiness, which I know is a key theme for everyone here, and I want to start with the topical issue of the day, the Corona Virus. 

Has the pandemic affected fleet operations and training in any material ways? I know the PACFLEET has said there’s going to be a 14-day delay between port calls. I know some exercises have been canceled, but I don’t know how many. 

So I just wanted to start off, if you can give the audience just a real quick kind of overview on do you see it having an impact yet? 

Why don’t we start with the Commandant and come this way. 

Admiral Schultz: I’ll tell you this, Secretary, first off the Coast Guard, our people are interfacing on the waterfront in the regular maritime community. This is a significant issue. Sitting in DHS this is one of those places where you say why wouldn’t you have [inaudible] five or six services, Navy, DoD. It’s one of the places where it makes perfect sense. 

You know, we do the arrivals of passengers in the United States, CVP, Customs, border protection, cargo. So we’re intimately involved. About 4,000 ships a month call on the United States, about 750 here in the Pacific. We’re screening every one of those ships. So ships that are coming out of China, other than Hong Kong, Macau, if they’re coming in after 14 days or less at sea, we’re keenly scrubbing those lists of crew. We want to make sure who is on board. Passenger vessels out less than 14 days during that incubation period are being detained at sea. 

Our cargo operations, we’re working with shippers. We’re working with, if there’s a crew member that’s identified, we’re working with CDC and other local health officials to get on top of that. 

You know, walking it back into the force, you know, personal protective equipment for our folks, policy, it’s starting to get into that realm here as it’s becoming an increasingly evolving domestic situation, policies in terms of folks on leave, people have spring break coming up where they want to travel. I think we’re deeply involved in this and being in DHS is one of those places where our regulatory roles I think sit outside the Department of Defense, but they’re a good fit in DHS as a partner. 

You know, outside the crisis we work with Homeland Security, with Health and Human Services, with FEMA on a persistent basis. So I think with an episodic situation like this, we’re ready to press on. 

Moderator: CNO, any impact on training or readiness yet? 

Admiral Gilday: Not significant. Our connections really from the services are up through the Department and then the CDC and the World Health Organization. So we’re executing through the combatant commanders and of course in the United States the U.S. Northern Command. 

The Corona virus manifests itself in different ways, depending upon the location. So what we’re seeing across the combatant commands is a variety of steps that we’re taking, some more pronounced than others depending upon the location of concentration areas of the virus. For example, for 6th Fleet out of Naples, we’ve prohibited travel up in Northern Italy due to concentration of the outbreak there. Same thing in certain spots in Asia. We’ve trained our medical personnel to be able to identify the symptoms and then test and then isolate/quarantine until we can confirm whether or not it’s an active case. We have taken a look at port visits, and again, based on those regional estimates made decisions about canceling port visits, scaling back exercises. 

You mentioned Pacific Command specifically. So when you expect a port visit, we’re testing crews before they go ashore, testing crews before they come back, putting out guides with respect to liberty in terms of where they go, how long they can be out. 

So at this point, obviously we’ve not contained the virus for the continental United States, so we’re trying to mitigate as best we can given what we know. But at this point there are no Sailors who have contracted the disease at this point. 

Moderator: Commandant? 

General Berger: Probably two points. First, a great job by, you have to help me here, but Miramar up the road, Lackland or Travis, I can’t remember where the others were. 

Admiral Gilday: Hawaii. 

General Berger: The Department of Defense was asked can you house American citizens or other folks coming back that would be under quarantine? I mean really quickly the base commanders -- this is where O-6 commanders are going to make their money because it’s not going to get solved in Washington, DC. The base commanders just knocked it out of the park. Quickly made all the arrangements, worked really closely with the interagency on quarantine measures and all this sort of thing. I don’t know about y’all, but I didn’t hear of one hiccup in all that. I’m sure there were. But that’s a tribute to the quality of the base commanders. 

Outside I think the biggest impact so far has been on the command post exercise in Korea which had to be scaled way back because of the spread of the disease. Does that impact readiness? I think that’s a great question for General [inaudible]. I think he would be the best judge of that. But for us, we’ve trimmed down that. On the other hand, like Cobra Gold Exercise that we found we went full-up in there. 

Like you said, Admiral Davidson has published really good guidance as has the European Command Commander, SOUTHCOM Commander. They’ve all published really detailed guidance. So so far, not a big impact. 

Moderator: And no Marines have bene affected? 

General Berger: No. 

Moderator: No Coast Guardsmen. As well. 

All right. 

In my view, I was in the department as a senior political official for four of the five, but I’ll call it the BCA years, the BCA sequestration years. In my view, the way you have to look at this is during these five years we had more force structure than the budgets we were allocated. In other words, we knew it. We made a conscious decision not to cut force structure. It was a hard decision because the force structure was too big for the budget we had. 

At the same time the force structure was too small for what it was being asked to do. The original thinking in the ‘90s was if you got into the first war you’d start to pare back on presence operations around the world so you could maintain readiness for the second major combat operation [inaudible], or whatever you wanted to call it. But we didn’t pare back. 

And then, I mean I remember the term reset and reconstitution. After we left Afghanistan and we stopped combat operations we were supposed to take time to reset the force, which we knew if you have too much force structure for the budget we have, and it’s not big enough for what it’s being asked to do, the place where it impacts is readiness. You really start to pare away readiness rapidly. 

So what I want to ask all three of you is, somewhere between 2015 and 2017 we kind of hit rock bottom in terms of the readiness impacts of sequestration and the BCA. And let’s set that as a relative score of zero. That is just a kind of opening. 

We’ve now seen several years of more budget. Where would you rate the overall readiness of your respective services now against the low point of the BCA years? 

General Berger: Two aspects. You’re well aware, sir, one is the amount and one is when you get the funding. If you get a continuing resolution, it just compounds the problem. The commanders don’t have the funds, they don’t know how much they have to operate with. So I just want to emphasize, as much as amount matters, and it does, timing -- the unpredictability is huge on the force and on industry. 

I think for us on a scale of one to ten. If we were at a zero, I would say we’re at a 6 or 7 probably now. We don’t have the big capital assets like Admiral Gilday has, so ours is training and manpower. You can rebound faster than you can deferred maintenance or something like that, we decapitalize that. 

Marines are never going to be happy, but I would say it’s probably a six or a seven. That’s not bad. 

Moderator: No, that’s a pretty good improvement in a relatively short period of time. And to amplify what the Commandant’s saying, we were in a continuing resolution about 30 percent of the time in the BCA years. So in effect we had an eight month fiscal year, which as the Commandant said, plays hell on trying to do any type of planning. 

Moderator: CNO, how’s it looking? 

Admiral Gilday: I think it’s a five or a six. But I want to provide a little bit of context to that. 

In terms of budget stability if you take a look at the last decade, we’ve had continuing resolutions for about an average 135 days a year, so that’s about 40 percent of the year, so there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of instability there, right? In terms of maintenance and modernization in the particular work you want to get done. As well as new contracts you want to start. Hundreds of thousands of contracts that you can’t start on time. 

So if I back up just a little bit and give you some examples about how we used the force in a period of let’s say 2007-2014. We, at that time I think we did eight double-pump carrier strike group deployments. At one point the Ike had gone out and deployed four times with only one maintenance availability between the deployments. So that coupled with the significant reduction in the workforce at our shipyards, we increased in seven years 10,000 workers back in order to handle the workload. At times we were running 500 days behind on submarine maintenance as an example. 

So you had this very high OpTempo. At the same time you’re trying to catch up in a compressed budget scenario. 

So what we’re doing now is, we’re essentially holding the line and we’re saying look, across those readiness pillars, whether it’s manpower that we’re buying back or whether it’s modernization that we’re now paying for, maintenance that we’re now paying for that’s been deferred for a long time, stocks on supply shelves that we’re investing in, training -- we’re doing a lot of live virtual construct. So we’ve essentially said look, we are going to make sure that stuff is fully funded. The sacrifice is the slope of the line in terms of buying capacity, which is new ships. 

But based on the budget we have today, and if I projected that out for a while and I assume no growth. We really haven’t had growth over the past decade, it’s been constant, we can really afford a Navy of between 305 and 310 ships. Right now we’re at [296]. 

So if you want a fleet that’s going to be ready, capable and lethal, you’ve got to make those investments. Rather than a bigger fleet that is less ready, less capable and less lethal. 

So a long answer to your question, but we are still feeling the ramifications of OpTempo, of challenges we had with respect to workforce. And that maintenance piece is really a key piece in terms of capital ships, in terms of getting them up and ready to go. 

Moderator: Commandant? 

Admiral Schultz: Let me start, we’re, the nation’s Coast Guard, should be about 5 percent annual operation support growth and approaching $2 billion major acquisitions capital. That’s what it takes to [inaudible] Coast Guard. If I answer your question about the score, I would put us probably at the three or four level. But there’s some encouraging news coming up in the ’20 cycle going into the ’21 budget cycle. 

Since the Budget Control Act of 2011, we’ve lost 10 percent of our sea power. Unlike our DoD brethren here when National Security Presidential Memorandum #1 came out and sort of addressed this readiness and gave a booster shot in 2018 of about 12 percent, we weren’t part of that conversation. We’re a capital intensive organization. We’ve got the same people challenges in a competitive environment. 

So I’d say we’ve lost that 10 percent. The ’20 budget gives us about 4, 4.5 percent positive growth. The ’21 budget, the presidential submission builds on that. 

I’m encouraged. My number one priority I had in coming to the job, I’ve been really big on readiness. I talk readiness every single day. It’s incumbent on me to take that narrative to the Hill, to take it to the Department of Homeland Security, take it across the river as we support the combatant commanders. 

So I’m encouraged. I think we’ve got to continue to beat that drum. We’re a work force. About 40 percent of our enlisted men and women went to 20 years. Yester-year before blended retirement system, 60 percent of our officers. So just getting folks through the gates in our training center at Cape May and then retaining them, where we’re apprentice, journeyman, subject matter expert organization on the technical side. The waterfront’s increasingly sophisticated. If we don’t keep folks in beyond 12 years, I can tell you it’s going to be a very different Coast Guard. 

So I’m encouraged. I think we’re on a good trajectory. We’ve got to do some real upgrades on things like our innovative capabilities with mobility [inaudible] or our C-5 backbone, just stuff we do in our day to day Coast Guard operations. We’ve got some real opportunities and I think we’re starting to have the right conversations. So if we can get on a trajectory building that 4.5-5 percent growth and project that forward, I think we can deliver the Coast Guard the nation needs to support the Homeland Security Department and support our combatant commander colleagues. Thank you. 

Moderator: I think you all know this. I think the Trump bump, the big increase in defense spending that occurred starting in ’17 and going through ’20. Essentially what it tried to do was better balance personnel, operations and maintenance and modernization for the force structure we had. And we were very clear, Secretary Mattis especially so, that this doesn’t grow, appreciably grow the force. It puts it in better balance. We can buy munitions. We can put more money into facilities maintenance, et cetera, et cetera. If you want to grow the force you need three to five percent real growth, year over year for a sustained period of time. 

The reason why I wanted to start with this question, I thought the answers three to seven, a lot of people would say oh my gosh, this doesn’t sound too good. To me, it sounds real good based on where we were. We’ve got a long way to go. So thank you all. 

Admiral Schultz: Maybe a little less good for the Coast Guard, but we’re getting better. 

Moderator: The theme of today’s WEST 2020 is, “Are we ready to confront great power competition?” This afternoon we have a panel that asks the question are we ready to fight and win in a fully contested zone. How would you answer that question? I know it’s a huge question and we could probably spend an hour just on that. But for the audience, how confident and how comfortable are you where we stand right now vis-à-vis our great power competitors? 

Let me start with the CNO. 

Admiral Gilday: I think it depends on the fight -- but I feel pretty good. Actually, I feel very good when I think about the synergy across all domains. So it’s not just singularly any one service in terms of what we’re bringing to the fight. And yet the thing that we’ve taken a look at is that these are global fights, so we intend to fight transregionally as well. So we would come at an adversary across many vectors, across all domains. 

So from that perspective in terms of exercises that I’ve observed, wargames that I’ve participated in, I feel pretty good about our position. 

General Berger: We are ready. I think we are relearning what great power competition is over the long haul. Where two or three great powers are pacing off of each other. In other words the answer to your question might be X this afternoon, but both are moving. So it’s a question you have to ask all the time. They’re making developments, they’re making changes to try to stay in front of us and we’re doing the same. 

So are we ready for them? That now becomes a temporal question. In other words this afternoon, six months from now, two years from now. If either one stays static then it goes out of balance. It’s something we’re going to have to press hard on continuously. As long as we have pacing threats you can’t lay off. 

Moderator: Commandant, since you took over, you’ve made improving readiness your top priority. And in your most recent State of the Coast Guard address you started to outline some of the means in which you’re getting after improving readiness. Do you want to cover some of those for us? 

Admiral Schultz: Yeah. Let me maybe put it in context with the last question. I think when you think about the National Defense Strategy, our contributions are really below the level of armed conflict. I think we bring a lot to the fight in that continuum from cooperation to competition. We just sent a couple of heel-to-toe rotations of National Security Cutters out to the 7th Fleet. 

And I think from the standpoint of are we ready, we’re ready to contribute more to the fight in solving this readiness conversation, that’s important. I left about 550-600 cutter days on the table last year because of what [inaudible] operation support dollars that could be in the fight. We’d like to continue to support the CNO and the combatant commanders to the extent they want. 

I think we bring, when Joe Lengyel, the National Guard Bureau Chief, came through the Pacific [inaudible] came through the Pacific out in Asia to start a program up and said hey, great to see you, General, but we want to see more Coast Guard. Bringing that human to human interaction in places along that pathway from Hawaii to Asia. We talk to the ASEAN nations, we talk to the five big maritime partners there. I think they see a lot of [inaudible]. I think the Coast Guard can bring something to that [fight]. 

So for us, the readiness conversation is really about being able to press in there and bring in that human interaction along that continuum below the level of armed conflict. I want to make sure we’re able to push thing in play, get some of our patrol boats on the Arabian Gulf. 

So I think we’re getting better but I think there’s a process involved. That’s what, as we talk readiness, it’s our people, it’s our domestic mission, it’s our families, and it’s the ability to contribute to the national defense in the bigger conversation about the National Defense Strategy. 

Moderator: Thanks. 

Some people like to watch the World Series and the Superbowl. I like to watch congressional testimony. [Laughter]. 

Last week I have to say there was a remarkable set of testimonies. And CNO, last week Secretary Esper claimed that the Optimized Fleet Response Plan hasn’t worked for years, so why should we expect it to work in the future? And therefore, essentially what he said is I don’t trust the planning. I want to give you an opportunity to respond, because I thought it was quite remarkable. 

Admiral Gilday: I don’t necessarily agree with the Secretary of Defense. I say that with all due respect. But we have met, and projecting into the future, continue to meet every commitment, every deployment that we’ve been directed to do. 

The Fleet Response Plan, the Optimized Fleet Response Plan is supposed to do four things. 

The first thing it’s supposed to do is rotate the force, right? That force is a SecDef directed force to provide immediate response and set the globe. 

The second thing it’s supposed to do is be able to surge the force in terms of crisis. So we have forces in sustainment. Many of them are working up to deployment or just back from deployment, that are ready for a period of about 14 months to surge if required. And we call on these surge forces a lot. 

The third thing that the construct allows you to do is to maintain and modernize the force so it remains operationally relevant. 

The last thing it does is it gives you the ability to reset the force if you do have to surge in crisis. 

So we learned a lot in previous models that go back to 1992 where we had the End of Deployment Training Cycle, and then we had the Fleet Response Plan. And we weren’t necessarily developing a surge force. I talked a little about, in an earlier question about, I commented on the OpTempo that we had with double deployment carriers, 9 to 11 months at a time. So OFRP has also given a degree of stability to our Sailors. 

When I came into the job I directed US Fleet Forces Command and the Commander of Pacific Fleet to conduct an assessment of OFRP, because it’s been five or six years since we put it into place, and I had questions myself coming out of the Joint Staff on plans that I had observed that at a minimum I thought we were going to have to buy more surge. 

Secretary Esper asked for a separate, independent assessment of OFRP. That’s ongoing. I think we have another meeting with him this week with this outside agency that’s going to present their findings. And the Navy’s been very much a part of working on that. I think at the end of the day what we have to do is understand what the Secretary of Defense really wants with respect to either increased presence today or increased surge or a combination of both of those. And the question is, in an OFRP cycle of 36 months, and only about -- so there’s 52 percent of the force that’s in that 36-month model, right? That 36-month construct. SSNs, SSBNs, FDNF forces, your military sealift forces are not in a 36-month cycle. But it’s taking a look at the maintenance phase, and we’re doing a lot to improving the maintenance phase. The training phase. So if I take both of those together, nominally they’re about 14 or 15 months and then the remainder of that on the OFRP, the remaining 21-22 months, that’s for employability. So right now we do a 7 month deployment and then the strike group or the ARG spends 14 months in surge. 

If we want to change how we deploy within that 22 months we can take a look at that. We can take a look at the cost of it. 

And not to drag this out too long, but the paradigm has completely changed for the NDS in terms of how we identify what we need in terms of capacity ready forces. 

Before Secretary Mattis sent out the NDS, it was a demand-driven model based on what the COCOMs wanted and they were never satisfied because you just didn’t have enough to go around. 

Now it’s a top-down model. So the Secretary of Defense says you will have this many forces of these types ready to go in 0 to 10 days. So on any given day the Navy has 90-105 ships deployed. So those ships, those players are on the field. The Secretary then, his responsibility is to prioritize how we want to use those forces. It takes into account the Navy’s forced integration model and the fact that we’re recovering from readiness as we already talked about. 

So all that is factored in, along with globally integrated base plans and stressing hope plans to figure what we need out there today to set the globe and then what you need to surge. 

Long answer to your question, and I’m sure that I’ll get a follow-up form the audience, but the bottom line is OFRP is meeting the mark. We are digging into the maintenance side, and I can talk about that later. And on the training side we’re doing very, very well. 

Moderator: I want to shift over to the capabilities now. Also last week the size of the fleet, how fast you get there, how much it costs was very much kind of central in Congress in all of your testimonies. 

So I’d like to ask both you, CNO, and the Commandant, where are we in this debate? Do we have a number? Are we shooting towards a number? Acting Secretary Modly said we need another $120 to $130 billion over the next ten years if we were going to try to get to 355. Sometimes unmanned are in, sometimes unmanned are out. Can you give us a sense on where that debate is right now and where it might be headed? 

Admiral Gilday: When the Commandant and I both came into office we shook hands and agreed to do an Integrated Force Structure Assessment. So we hadn’t done one, the Navy hadn’t done one since 2016 and that was the baseline for the NDAA, the law which established the 355 number as the law of the land for ships. 

So we decided not to do a coordinated assessment, but an integrated assessment. So our staffs worked together. We did modeling and simulations, we did it within the Pentagon, but we not only took into account distributed maritime operations conceptually on the Navy side, the fleet side, and expeditionary advanced basing operations on the Marine Corps side. But we integrated those in a very challenging scenario, and that scenario is the scenario that was endorsed by the Joint Staff. So we felt like we were using a scenario that was recognized within the Pentagon that both OSD and the Joint Staff supported, and we were coming at it in an integrated fashion. 

One of the things we changed in the assessment is, we took a look at for the first time a non-program of record. So we took a look at unmanned, but because it’s conceptual there were a lot of caveats and assumptions. So we came up with our final analysis, we came up with a discreet number of ships which was more than 355 and then separately unmanned, because again, they’re conceptual. 

But another really important piece of this Integrated Force Structure Assessment is that we don’t intend to let it sit on a shelf for three years. So we intend for this assessment to be updated every year. By now a larger volume of exercises, experimentation, wargaming and analysis and studies that we’re doing so that it informs everybody’s cycle. So that North Star and the mix which is critically important, is going to change. And what we’re focused on -- if I can speak for the Commandant for a second -- isn’t necessarily the numbers of platforms, but it’s the capability that the Navy brings to the fight. So we’re part of a joint team, right? We’re not going to win unless we fight as a joint team. 

So what unique naval capabilities do we bring to the fight? Think integrated air wing on an aircraft carrier. Think about what submarines bring to the fight, or a multi-mission DDG that does ASW and has long-range inland strike capabilities and those types of things. 

So that in with other joint capabilities helps to determine what we bring to the fight that is then going to translate into platforms, and a mix of platforms over time. 

General Berger: Just to extend that beyond the scenario of what it takes to win that kind of a fight. The learning that we’re all going through is in a more macro sense to accomplish what the National Defense Strategy tells us, what does it take to deter elsewhere in the world in addition to the fight that you’re in. 

So the number. How many or what type of ship do we need? It has to factor in not only what it takes to win in any given scenario but concurrently with that, to deter something bad from happening around the rest of the world. 

I couldn’t have stated it any better. Part of the magic of how do you deter and how do you win a conflict is how you’re going to fight which is changing. 

Admiral Gilday: It ties back to a previous question on OFRP, right? So we’re challenging the assumptions in OFRP because we need a construct to produce both the ready forces and the surge forces we need on the bench in order to meet, as the Commandant said, not only the fight we’re in, but how do you set the globe to deter an opportunistic peer competitor as well and still meet those five National Defense Strategy mission areas to deter conventionally and strategically and to respond to threats to our allies and partners. 

Moderator: I’m not sure how it works. You know, I’ve never heard like a 355 number for the Coast Guard or some analogy. I’ve heard you want to shoot for 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters, 58 Sentinel-Class patrol boats. I think the program of record for the National Security Cutter is still eight and Congress continues to give you a new one each year. How do you think of, in terms of the overall capabilities needed in the Coast Guard? 

Admiral Schultz: It’s interesting. I follow with keen interest the conversations about the number for the Navy. I spoke recently at Surface Naval Association, so I thought maybe a conversation, a different lens to look through might be a conversation about a national fleet. 

I was at Pascagoula on Saturday commissioning the ninth National Security Cutter. It’s a good story. That was a program of record of eight ships. We got stable on Coast Guard requirements. We know the ships we need. We’ve got a very capable shipbuilder. We had Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Steve Palazzo there. We have informed members of Congress that see the value those ships are delivering to the nation every day. That was the ninth. We’ve got two ships on budget, the 10th and 11th. There’s ongoing conversation about whether there’s going to be 12 or not. 

For me it’s not a specific number, but it’s those National Security Cutters on the high end, those are our flagships, global deployers, [inaudible] enabled. Again, low level of armed conflict. They’ve got some self-defense capabilities but it’s not missile-equipped so there’s limited applications. 

Twenty-five Off-Shore Patrol Cutters. That’s going to be a 360 foot ship. Similar capability, not quite the speed. That’s a global deployer. I look at whether those 36, 36-plus ships contribute to the fight. We just awarded a contract last year for a Polar Security Cutter. That’s going to be a roughly 460 foot ship to reach the high latitudes at both ends of the world. We just got production underway. There’s no detail design. The first one, that first ship cuts steel next year. The ’21 budget includes funding for production of number two. So I think the conversation is hopefully building to three. We’re having a conversation about medium icebreakers. 

I don’t have a number in mind. I’d say it’s the amount of capability. I look at it from what affect does the Coast Guard try to have, and then do we build the fleet towards it? We’re also looking to step out on some number on 3000 waterways. Congress has to supply the nation’s waters and enable 45,000 federal aids to navigation. We’re building a domestic program of record with 58 fast-response cutters. We’re sending six over to support Mike Smith’s team over there on the Arabian Gulf. They’re running maritime security missions. So there’s not a specific number. It’s really how much capability the Coast Guard needs to do our organic Coast Guard missions and then contribute to the joint force. 

General Berger: Clearly we’re going to need more unmanned, we’re going to need more smaller, lower signature capable ships that can fight disbursed. We note the trend lines are really clear. 

Moderator: I want to pull on this integration string because both of you have brought it up and I want to hit you last Commandant because there was a very interesting article written by a Marine infantryman about how the Coast Guard might integrate. 

But in your initial FRAGO in an eight page document you mentioned integration seven times. If anything, Commandant, in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance you pushed integration even further. 

Can you give the audience a sense of where is this headed? It’s kind of ill-informed, I mean other than the fact that we want to integrate. I think everybody thinks that’s a great idea, but both of you arrived before you could really affect the ’21 budget, so now there’s a canvas. So can you kind of paint the canvas for the audience on where you think this integration is going to go? 

General Berger: For me it goes back to the 2016-2018 time frame, driven by a series of wargames and exercises when I was in Hawaii with Not-so Swift and Shags O’Shaughnessy, Admiral Harris. Each wargame -- it could have been before I got there, but every single wargame for those two years the conclusion was if you’re going to maintain an advantage over a nation like China, then you’re going to have to operate in a different way than you are right now. And the different way -- in other words, the different way is integration. It is an asymmetric advantage that the U.S. has. 

The ability to operate one, combined arms; but two, as an expeditionary naval force, no one else is close. So push the limits on that. Maintain that margin and advantage that you have. 

So it wasn’t out of emotion. It was driven purely by logic. The results were the same every time. Keep fighting the same with the same warfighting concept and the same capability, the outcome’s going to be the same. You have to change. 

So integration, to me, driven by the tactical to operational support. That has to drive it back up to the top. 

Moderator: CNO, will we see in the Integrated Force Structure Assessment new ships that reflect more integration? Are there any other things that would be concrete that people could say oh wow, this is really happening. 

Admiral Gilday: With the Force Structure Assessment’s final release you will see discreet ships that we’re bringing on-line. There are some smaller amphibs that connect us really to move, to take advantage of the mobility of the fleet marine force and move them to places where they can bring effects that are both kinetic and non-kinetic to help us with both sea control and sea denial. 

Moderator: Commandant, I mentioned an article written by a Marine infantry officer who is an exchange officer in Colombia. The title of the article was “Integrate with Marines… and Who Else?” I almost thought he was a former Coast Guardsman because he basically said integrating the Coast Guard better into the great power competition model with both the Navy and Marines would be the virtuous thing. 

Have you had the opportunity to talk more? Are there Coast Guard/Navy/Marine Corps talks going on on how we might be able to push this also? 

Admiral Schultz: That Marine I think wrote two very insightful articles. I had a chance to see them both. I really appreciate his perspective. I almost think the Commandant wrote that and put that Marine Corps colonel’s name on there. [Laughter]. 

I think at the end of the day Mike’s team, Dave’s team, my team, we’re together. And sort of looking back to the 21st century cooperative strategy, 2015, our teams are working just a little ahead of that to talk about that much here. But I look forward to that. I saw the CNO’s FRAGO and read it with great interest. Clearly when the Coast Guard sits outside of the Department of Defense it’s a little different for the CNO to sort of write taskings, but this document we’re working on, privileged by not being by law a member of the Joint Chiefs, but I sit at the pleasure of the Chairman and the SecDef at the table. I think we’re having those conversations. I absolutely think that Marine’s thinking is where we’re heading, the integrated solutions that I hope will involve the Coast Guard. 

I know you think about the complexity of the problem, you think about National Defense Strategy, competing powers. It is a continuum. When the CNO can put the shooters in place, where we need shooters and possibly a National Security Cutter can scratch an itch. Sanctions enforcement and that type of work with other capacity building. Why wouldn’t we want to be part of the conversation? 

So I think we’re in a good spot, heading to a better spot. I very much look forward to sort of just tightening up and solidifying this and rolling out this new thinking here for the nation’s naval force and the maritime security forces, however we decide to sort of banner that. I think it’s an exciting time. It’s an important time in this National Defense Strategy. There’s more work there for all of us, any of us. I think collaboration/cooperation is the magic. 

General Berger: I’m pretty sure when I was at that rank I never worked with the Coast Guard, didn’t think of, I don’t know about you but it wasn’t even, I don’t remember the first time I worked with the Coast Guard. The fact that it’s being thought about, talked about, is good. 

Adm. Schultz: This year, I know some in the audience here were up in Alaska with the former Secretary regarding an expeditionary capabilities exercise. Anyway, Coast Guard C-130s, Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Units around the naval combatants that were going to be in the exercise, there were fuel transfers, there’s P8s up there. I think there’s absolutely I’d say beyond niche capabilities that we can bring to the fight. So I’m really excited about this enhanced integration that all the sea services are about getting after. 

Admiral Gilday: Just one more add. The Commandant alluded to it, but we haven’t talked about this publicly before, but our staffs are working together on a Tri-Service Maritime Strategy that should be presented to us by the summer. So we are trying to bring things together from a top-down perspective in a more integrated way. 

Moderator: I want to ask each of you a detailed question that I’ll pose to each of you. Commandant, in ’21 you dropped Marine Corps end strength by 2,000 and you testified last week that ’22 and ’23 might see more. So obviously you’re making these to free up headroom to pursue other capabilities. Can you give us a sense on the type of capabilities you’re going to go after? 

General Berger: Historically, like you know, we have grown and contracted and the Marine Corps over our history when we needed to. This is the time when we have to get smaller to get better. If we’re going to be an integrated part, if we’re going to actually directly contribute to sea control, sea denial, then we’ve got to have capabilities that we don’t have right now. We’ve got to hold at risk naval platforms, a body of water, a piece of littoral terrain, and those are capabilities we don’t have right now but we need to get. 

So rather than hold onto a larger force structure and not be able to make the change, not be able to pivot in the direction we’ve got to go, we’re making a conscious decision to go there. 

So we will contract some. I don’t know how far. But the end result will be a much more capable Marine Corps that maintains that asymmetric advantage that we have. In a unique way. 

Moderator: CNO, the Ford aircraft carrier elevators have been in the news a lot. Can you bring us up to speed on how is the Ford doing overall? 

Admiral Gilday: We doubled the number of operational elevators. They’ll certify here in another month or so, two more this summer. 

Let me talk about Ford for just a second. I am very bullish on that carrier and that capability that it brings not only to the fleet, but to the nation. So we've got two nuclear power plants that are certified through deployment. The ship will spend 50% of the next year at sea. The only ships with that we have with that kind of OPTEMPO are probably the Rota-based DDGs. Her flight deck has been certified for all type, model, series aircraft that will deploy with her in her first deployment. Her flight deck will be certified by the end of this month. 

She'll be operational by the end of this month, and she will be the East Coast Carrier for carrier quals for the next year…" 

Last month she was out for a 20-day period, logged some 7,000 miles. They were chasing the highest seas they could find in order to test the elevators. We’re bringing shipyard workers to sea with us. We have streamlined the work that we need to do, the phasing that we need to do over the next year. So we’re trying to sustain the momentum between in port and at sea periods. 

So if we bring the ship about a year from now, next April, we’ll begin a four-month shock trial period and then after that we’re going to see what we can do with her operationally for an extended period of time. 

The dual band radars are performing very well. 

The story about the elevators is that, you know, the punch line is that the elevators are broken. The elevators are not fully constructed. They’re not built. So we have four fully built right now, and seven by the end of this summer, and the remaining four will be finished in 2021. But the path to those has really been good over the past several months. We feel like we have figured out what the main limiting factors are. We’re moving pretty steadily today on schedule with the elevators. 

Moderator: Admiral Schultz, you mentioned Polar Cutters. This has been something that was talked about when I was the Under Secretary back in 2009 and it just never seemed to go anywhere. Is that program now going to be funded? And are we going to capabilities for the high-end wargames? 

Admiral Schultz: Yeah, there’s absolutely a good news story about it. Think about the purpose of this conference, and thinking about the world through the lens of the National Defense Strategy. Both China and Russia who really the competing global powers at the center of the strategy have made the Arctic a priority. One is a legitimate Arctic nation and the other is a self-declared near Arctic state. But China’s operating off of Alaska and the Arctic. They’re keenly interested in the availability of natural resources, rare earth minerals on the ocean floor, the untapped energy in the world. They’re paying attention to what we’re doing as we site 5th generation fighters up there in the state of Alaska. There’s that piece. 

There’s Russia who looks at a ship out of Shanghai. If you provide icebreaker service for us through the Northern Sea route it knocks two weeks off that transit. So they see the Arctic as an economic generator. Today about 23-24 percent of their GDP is derived from Arctic activity. So through the context of the National Defense Strategy the Arctic region is absolutely important. 

To answer your question, yeah, we got funding in 2019 in the spring for that first Polar Security Cutter. We’ve detailed design and construction contract. So that’s a good start to that. 

But we’re chasing. We’re chasing China. China will have more icebreaking capability as a self-declared near Arctic state than the United States government by 2025. They have the ship they got from the Ukrainians, the Snow Dragon I. They built a second Snow Dragon II last year in China. They’re building a heavy breaker. 

Russia, you hear the number of 50 icebreakers. They’ve got about four to eight really capable nuclear breakers. They’re building more nukes. They’re building LNG breakers. I mean they are doubling down in the Arctic. 

So we’re having conversations with Congress, within the administration about more breakers. That’s great. We spent about a decade sort of conditioning the space, about the importance of taking this pivot to this global competing powers that really pushed the conversation over the edge here a little bit to start recognizing we are playing catchup. 

So I talk about a 6-3-1 strategy. We need a minimum of six icebreakers; three of them need to be the semi-Polar Security Cutters. We’re having a conversation about requirements builds for what a medium breaker might look like. 

And you know, today the conversations on the East China Sea for freedom of navigation but think about a contested Northern Sea route. What capabilities are going to go up there and operate there? It’s probably something that looks and operates like a Polar Security Cutter. The conversation may be well beyond three of those. 

The good news is we’re actually manned, we’re off to the races. Late ’23, ’24, the first Polar Security Cutter will splash and we’ll put it to work. At first she’s probably going to spend most of her time down in Antarctica, breaking out McMurdo Station. I was down there recently and visited a 44 year old icebreaker which before we take her out of service, we’ve got a 50 year old polar icebreaker, Polar Star. She’s the world’s most capable, 75,000 horsepower, non-nuclear breaker, but she’s on life support now. 

So this is a good thing for the nation, but we’re clearly playing catchup. 

Moderator: Commandant, you mentioned unmanned systems a few minutes ago. Kind of implicit in your planning guidance. I think you said there’s going to be a large number of human machines, special purpose MAGTAFs out there, my word not yours, that can more easily exert from possibly longer range and really be able to do things differently than in the past. 

Do you want to talk about that? I’d like to get to the audience here soon, so I’d like to ask that the answers be as brief and concise as you can. 

General Berger: The range from totally unmanned which isn’t, of course, totally unmanned, to fully manned and the whole spectrum in between, we’ve got. Again, not because we love science but because it allows you to cover a bigger frontage, it allows you to operate over a greater span of space than if you’re exclusively just manned. 

The lifesaving part of it is clearly important, but from a warfighting perspective it allows you to operate on a persistent basis over a much larger front. So we’ve got to push hard now. That is, we’re pushing hard now. We have to push harder now. 

Probably the space we’ve got to learn the most about is the teaming aspect we talked about. How is man and machine actually going to work together to produce like one plus one equals something more like four to five? We have to move fast. 

Moderator: CNO, in the ’21 budget the recommendation is to decommission the first four LCSs. Is there a story behind this move? Does it reflect growing Navy dissatisfaction with the ships? They’re not going to be as important in the future fleet as once thought? Can you give us a sense on what your thoughts are there? 

Admiral Gilday: Thanks for the question. Let me take the second piece of it first. 

We’re going to have a fleet of 31 Littoral Combat Ships, so the question is, what are we going to do with those ships? We think we’re in a good place right now with respect to the organization on both coasts. We have 14 on the East Coast, 17 on the West Coast. We think that we’ve done a good job of crewing. We’re testing Blue/Gold, we’re testing, we’re deploying it this year. We think we have the organization down and we’ve invested a lot in training. 

So we feel like foundationally we’re in a much better place than we’ve been. In terms of mission modules, we’re delivering a surface mission module we’re delivering the naval strike missile now that gives us an over-the-horizon cruise missile capability. We do the final testing on the ASW modules on both variants this year. They’ll make their maiden deployment in ’22, and right after that the mines and countermeasures capability will deploy as well. 

So right now we’re deploying five of those ships this year. We’ve got two of them down in the SOUTHCOM AOR, two of them in Indo-PACOM, a fifth coming out here to deploy. We’re using the Blue and Gold construct. We have successfully fired a naval strike missile off Gabriel Giffords. We have done a good job in SOUTHCOM in particular in the sustainability piece using GTMO as kind of our hub. We will double, within a couple of years we’ll double the amount of deployed LCSs simultaneously. 

So we need to use those ships. We need to get serious about using those ships. We have thousands of Sailors that are well-trained and excited about those ships. We need to get the capability on them so they’re operationally relevant and that’s what we’re focused on. I think testimony to that is we’re delivering those modules and deploying those ships. And the COCOMs want more of them. We’ll follow-up at the heels of the SOUTHCOM and Indo-PACOM deployments with CENTCONM and EUCOM right afterwards. 

But the first four -- so we made a decision a number of years ago in order to give capability to LCS-5 and beyond, particularly the block buys we did in 2015, we decided we needed to do much more testing and use those first four hulls so that we better understand what the issues with respect to hull maintenance and engineering that kept on plaguing us, right? And kept us from getting those ships at sea. 

What do we need to do in terms of upgrades, in terms of power-generation, in terms of other warfighting capabilities, whether it was electronic warfare or C4I with a gunfire control system. So we used those first hulls to test. We put no money into upgrading them like the rest of the fleet. So in order to put them in the same car as the rest of the LCS class it would cost about another $2 billion. 

So that was a tough decision to make on whether we wanted to put that money towards those existing LCSs or retire them, move on with the rest of the class, and then take that $2 billion and put it in the [FCN] account for different capability. 

The bottom line is those first four ships are not bringing lethality to the fight. They’re not bringing capabilities to the fight and I didn’t see the return on investment to do that. 

Moderator: Admiral Schultz, I know the basic outlines of the National Security Cutter, Offshore Patrol Cutter, Fast Response Cutter, the Arctic Cutters. What is the next big capability that you think the Coast Guard needs to bring in to improve its overall capabilities in our National Defense Strategy? 

Admiral Schultz: In terms of capabilities, I’ve talked about the cutters, I won’t really mention that. 

But I think aviation wise we’re watching future vertical lift. We’re flying a fleet of 98 Golf and aerospace helicopters that are beyond many hours at this point. We’ve got to pay attention to that. Composite aircraft. We’ll be flying them more than 30,000 hours. Our MH-60s, Sikorsky birds, we need to probably drive down that fleet of 98 Golf and take our fleet to 45 or 46 MH-60s and drive that up as we sort of look down the road on what our DoD colleagues are doing with future vertical lift. I think that’s important. 

We’re missionizing our C-27s. We got 14 C-27Js in a swap with the U.S. Air Force and the buyer services of old age models. We’re putting minotaur platforms on board so we have commonality with our CEV Marine colleagues and the DHS with our Navy and other colleagues, Defense colleagues. That’s a good story there. And then we’re bringing on-board C-130Js. We’ve got the 17 that came in the budget last year. We’re building out to a program of 22. 

So I think it’s continuing the momentum on the surface capabilities. It’s pressing in on the air capabilities. Keenly the readiness thing for me though really is the people. In a competitive environment where less than a third of Americans, 28-29 percent, are eligible to serve. I’ve got to go find about 3,700 every year. My DoD brethren are bringing in about a thousand every couple of days. So it’s really, having those, you know, we get the same title, the same pay. But things like tuition assistance, I fund that at 50 percent because I’m constrained on the ONS top line. It’s training, it’s professional development. That’s where we’ve got to really, as we drive up our readiness and get on a good trajectory, I think we remain a more competitive employer. 

Moderator: Thank you. We’ll be shifting over to questions from the audience. If you want to pose a question, head up to the microphones. But I want to ask the CNO one other question. 

I read that one of our P-8s was lased by a Chinese ship. I wanted to know is it true? What actions have we taken with the Chinese? And do we have the protective gear for our pilots who are operating in the Western Pacific against these types of attacks? 

Admiral Gilday: It happened. It’s the first time we saw it happen from that type of PLAN ship. We do have protective gear on board for our pilots. And importantly, we’re also trained to deal with it. But I can confirm this is the first time we saw it. We have, the U.S. government has demarched the Chinese. 

Moderator: Thank you. 

Audience: Meghan Eckstein with USNI News. Thank you all very much for being here. 

Admiral Gilday and General Berger, you both spoke about the need to have the naval integrated force be ready and have a capable, credible surge force. From the civilian leadership we’ve heard a lot about correlating capacity, whether Secretary Esper committing to 355 or Secretary Modly even talking about 390. 

So I wonder if there’s a discrepancy maybe between uniformed and civilian leadership, or kind of how you can maybe address the readiness versus capacity issue. 

General Berger: I think there’s no disagreement at all. Any growth in the military has to factor in readiness. We’re not going towards a hollow force. Between the military and civilian side, there may have been some different views on that in the past, but it’s pretty rare. If you’re going to add one more of anything you’ve got to be ready. So no one is headed towards a hollow, large force at all. Which is why I think as the CNO mentioned, we’re allowed to grow above the force level that we have right now. It’s got to come with the resources that sustain that over time. The people, the training, the maintenance, the whole package. 

Admiral Gilday: If you take a look at analyses, whether it’s inside the Pentagon or outside, every analysis has been consistent, and numbers north of 350. 

And so what the Secretary of Defense has said he wants to do is take the existing Force Structure Assessment, which in essence is a requirements document that both the Commandant and I signed. And he wants to run that through a series of wargames, deeper studies, bring in outside entities to take a look, which we welcome. So that’s why earlier I talked more about capabilities that will translate into platforms than I did specific numbers. You can change those numbers all day long and I’m not sure it’s very productive or satisfying. 

General Berger: One last other thought that comes to mind. There’s also an evolution in thinking and readiness itself. It’s not just the availability of something. It’s ready to do something specific. It’s ready at a certain time. What unit of measure do we use for readiness? 

So our readiness tools that we’ve had for decades, we have to evolve them as well. If that makes sense to you. A much more refined view of what is ready. 

Audience: Good morning, CNO. IS1 Miner from Strategic Command. My question is for you, CNO. 

Whether it’s 310 ships or 355 ships, how do you plan to recruit and retain to man those vessels? We’re already facing manning issues at sea with our existing force, and we’re seeing the drawdowns in incentives like TA and reenlistment bonuses. How do I help you get our recruiting and our retention above 74, 78 percent into the higher 80s to try to man these ships that we’ve been talking about building all morning? 

Admiral Gilday: I take a little bit more positive outlook. The 78 percent retention is above our benchmark. Tuition assistance, we did see a dip in that in 2019, but I am committed to fully funding it. 

And we have funded so many other personnel-related incentive programs including, if I go all the way left to families where readiness really begins, and taking a look at what we’re doing with childcare in terms of buying back 5,000 childcare seats this year, in terms of banking more childcare providers. If you take a look at what we’ve done with My Navy HR in terms of the apps that we’ve put out there for Sailors to use in terms of the detailing marketplace, the ability to do a PCS move, to set up a PCS move on line, to do all of your travel claims using the app, to have an app that doesn’t require a CAC that you can use from your phone. 

So your family can set up childcare, your family can set up housing off of those same apps. 

In terms of other things that we’ve done, so we’ve brought back meritorious promotions, right? So we’ve gone from 5 percent when we initiated it a couple of years ago to 20 percent now, where commanders actually get to say these are the Sailors that I think deserve promotion. 

We’ve provided incentives in terms of advancement for those tough positions at sea that we’re trying to attract really able, willing and qualified E5s and E6s to get promoted to E6 and E7, based on taking those tough assignments if they qualify. 

Then in terms of the frustrating chase against closing gaps at sea. So the budget in ’21 pays for an additional 7,000 Sailors. So what we’re trying to do is quality of life, quality of work to help retain you, the Sailors around you, and importantly, your families. 

I hope that answers your question in terms of some of our focus. But those programs, those transformative programs in HR, we have tried to fully fund those as best we can. 

Moderator: Thanks for asking that question, because we talk readiness capabilities, we didn’t really get to personnel. So Admiral Schultz I’d like to, and the Commandant, allow each of you to -- 

Admiral Schultz: I would echo the CNO. It’s competitive and young people have many choices. We’ve done some things in terms of, you know, across our workforce, we have a workforce of 15 percent women in an environment where across North America 50 percent women are staffing the workforce. We’re trying to bring more women to the organization. We have some success stories there, the United States Coast Guard Academy graduating class of 2020 here is going to be about 40 percent women. The entire population of the Academy is 40 percent. That’s a good news story. We gotta bring more women in the ranks. We’re focused on diversity inclusion. We’ve got to have a Coast Guard that looks more like the nation we serve. 

The touch points from a recruiting standpoint, delivering an African-American female on board, a Hispanic male, they’re almost two to three to one in some cases. So we really need to get our recruiters in places we haven’t been before. We need to grow our own recruiters. Conduct some things in terms of, we have many geographically disbursed small units. If you’re at a boat station on the Pacific Northwest Coast, there’s 30 shipmates. A young female Coast Guardsman goes out and has her first or second child, you know, we have childcare up to 84 days away. Care for second givers. It’s a lot of pressure and stigma to take off for 84 days because your shipmates are carrying a lot of load. So we’ve just come up with a program where we backfill that Sailor with a Reservist so they can go and they can make the family adjustments, they can set up in child development centers. I have eight or nine across the Coast Guard. So we’re really working the progress on subsidies. If we can put our hand on that rheostat with a subsidy and help pay folks in high cost areas -- we’ve had some success there. We’re looking to continue to press that conversation. 

So it is a competitive environment. We’re trying to do some different thinking. We’re trying to have more permeability in the work force, thinking cyber ratings. We’re training most of the cyber professionals here in North America of the armed services. How do we keep them in it if we’ve got to think about permeability with active to reserve, reserve to private sector, to back in. My team has done some innovative things, but the Gold ticket, the Silver ticket you to come back in and you don’t have to play catchup with where you left the service, it’s competitive for pilots. 

So we’re trying to do some kind of bust some of our thinking of yesteryear, being a lot more forward thinking about human talent management. 

I call it the mission ready total workforce and we’re really excited. The Coast Guard lifeline is changing our thinking. 

General Berger: Are you on your second enlistment? 

Audience: Preparing to reenlist for my third, Commandant. 

General Berger: Why did you stay in? 

Audience: I love this uniform. [Applause]. 

General Berger: I think we need to pay attention to that. Everything that my two shipmates said I 100 percent agree with, but at the end of the day I think you stayed in because you felt like you were making a difference you like the team that you’re on, right? Not trying to put words in your mouth, but at the end of the day that’s why we join an organization. That’s why we stay. Am I making a difference? Do I like this team? 

Our job is to make the life on the team better -- all the things that they said, so that it’s not a choice between having a family or having a career. We have to do everything humanly possible to make that team better. 

But at the end of the day the other half is still true. Are you making a difference? 

So if we’re not making it possible for Coast Guardsmen or Soldiers or Marines, if they don’t feel like they’re making a difference we’re going to lose them. We’re going to lose them. They’re not going to stay for money, they’re not going to stay for another -- they have to stay because they’re making a difference, because what they do matters. 

What you do matters, right? You’re protecting the nation. This is what we do. 

Moderator: Thank you, Petty Officer. 

Audience: Good morning. Thank you all for being here. My name is Mallory Shelbourne with Inside Defense. 

Admiral Gilday, you mentioned the new Tri-Service Maritime Strategy. I’m wondering if there’s any additional details you can share on what that might look like and how the sea services will use that moving forward in conjunction with the National Defense Strategy. 

Admiral Gilday: It will be informed by the National Defense Strategy but I can’t provide any additional details yet. The teams have been working on it for about 2.5-3 months, but we haven’t seen any of those results yet. 

Audience: You said this summer you’re expecting to complete it? 

Admiral Gilday: We expect to see something in the summer based on that work. 

Audience: And when do you think the public might see something? 

Admiral Gilday: Probably shortly thereafter. 

Audience: Thank you so much. 

Audience: General, thank you for your time this morning. Lieutenant Commander Mantries, VFA-192 Operations Officer. 

This question is directed primarily to Admiral Gilday, and it relates directly to personnel but it certainly impacts long-term readiness. 

Several communities including aviation are facing significant shortages of officers and enlisted personnel during maintenance phase. What efforts have been made, if any, to better utilize the experience and capabilities of our Reserve sailors, to augment our active duty force, given more opportunity to train to and maintain an increasingly complex tactical edge and improved quality of life during maintenance phase? 

Admiral Gilday: The answer to properly manning our ships is not to bring Reserves in to fill those gaps. We’re looking at fully manning so the numbers that we’re supposed to have on our ships are full year-round for when they’re going to be in training. So this is well into the maintenance cycle. That’s what we’re sighted on. 

So how do we change the way we’re rotating the force in order to make sure that we’re properly filling all those gaps? Some of those are just a question of quantity of Sailors. Again, I go back to a point that I made in the last question about putting more money into manpower so that we have sufficient well-trained Sailors to fill those positions. 

Moderator: Do either of you want to jump in on that? 

Admiral Schultz: -- from a Reserve standpoint not a maintenance standpoint. We’re a Reserve of about 7,000. At one point we were authorized up to 10,000. Never got above 8,100. We are doubled down in the Coast Guard Reserve. We’ve got to make more active duty members that leave the service for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a change of life, a working spouse, ailing parents. 

Jumping into the Reserves has got to be a preferred choice, and right now we’re losing in that space. So we’re doing some things the first time in more than a decade, tuition assistance for our Reservists. Not just those on active orders, but tuition assistance for Reservists. Hopefully that’s a plus. And then some of these active duty, we put them at port security and then six months later they deploy for nine months. That’s not the model, where they want to be. 

So we’re really taking a hard look inside the Coast Guard at our Reserve program. We’ve got some exciting things coming out here in the coming months. 

Audience: Rick Easton, retired SWO. First of all, thanks very much for an excellent panel this morning. 

My question is for Admiral Gilday. CNO, sir, if I understand it, I think the 2021 shipbuilding plan and report to Congress was put on hold as the budget was submitted. Do you see that being submitted later? Or will that be replaced by the Force Structure Assessment? 

And then I note that Secretary Modly talked about, and I probably have the words wrong, but burning midnight oil to find several billions of dollars. How is that an issue to help reinvestment in particular I think in the shipbuilding plans, but how is that issue going and where do you see that outcome? 

Admiral Gilday: Thanks for the question. 

On the shipbuilding plan the question really is whether it’s going to be informed by the 2016 Force Structure Assessment or whether you use the Integrated Force Structure Assessment that we just finished, that’s fully informed. 

As the Secretary of Defense said, he wants to take a deeper look at the Integrated Force Structure Assessment and then make a decision on whether or not that informs the shipbuilding plan. So in due time he’s indicated that when he’s satisfied he’ll release both. 

On the second piece about the Secretary’s initiative to find money in in the inside. So publically, I’ve said that if we’re going to grow the fleet we need a higher top line. So the first thing that we need to do is thoughtfully -- we started doing this after the budget submission ended for ’21 -- to take a deeper look on the inside, basically put everything on the table, challenge our assumptions and see what money we could shift not just, it won’t just translate to the shipbuilding account, but will translate to the wholeness that goes along with that that we’ve been talking about this morning. 

Audience: Thank you very much. 

Moderator: This will be our last question. 

Audience: Good morning, gentlemen. Captain Shawn Rushlowe. I’m going to take a little different tact on global peer competition. 

CSBA recently wrote a two volume paper “How to Win the War Without Fighting.” And then the March issue of USNI kind of focuses on building strategic partners. 

If you were to grade the whole of government response as compared to say the Cold War, what would that grade be? And then what elements of theater security cooperation would you build upon so we have that network of partners? Thank you. 

Admiral Schultz: I think there’s whole of government in the National Defense Strategy. There’s tremendous opportunities there. I think we’re focusing on the value piece. With the Coast Guard we’re figuring out how we fit under that threshold below armed conflict. 

I would tell you there is tremendous opportunities that are mentioned. My travels through the ASEAN region, they talk about Coast Guards, capacity building. I look at the Philippine Navy’s four-thousand people, they’ve got 11,000 Coast Guard marching to 35,000. How do you go in and help build capacity there? 

I think there are tremendous whole of government partnership opportunities there that… And what are we trying to provide? We’re trying to provide an alternative to coercive antagonistic behaviors that challenge the rule-based order for free and open seas. I think we have to think about that through a lens that’s very real. Not just through the military lens. 

So I think there’s tremendous opportunity. I think we can bring more into play. 

We did a 30-day operation in September of last year with a 225 foot buoy tender patrol boat. They call it [Inaudible] which means [Inaudible]. You get around the [inaudible]. But we offer an alternative. 

This year we’ll be back with a similar mother ship and a buoy tender, a couple of expeditionary capable patrol boats. We’re fielding additional expeditionary patrol boats, fast response cutters in Guam. I think that competition for ideals, Western ideals. I look at what the Kiwis, the Aussies are doing in the region. How do we lash up internationally [inaudible]. I think there’s some real opportunities to think about this. You know, A, we’ve got to be ready for conflict; but really hope to be operating and staying below conflict. It’s that competition continuum from my perspective. 

Admiral Gilday: I’d give us a solid “B” I think it’s really easy to be critical, and I’m not saying you are, but it’s complex. Right? It’s not just complicated, it’s complex to bring all those elements of government together. 

I think if you look across diplomatic information in the military/economic, you can see, whether you’re thinking about Russia or China, you can think about things that we’ve been doing. Whether it’s been in the cyber domain with respect to the elections in terms of stuff that we’ve done both offensively and defensively; with respect to trade and the things we’ve done economically; and the diplomatic side as well. 

One important thing about the sea services, I think, is because of our forward presence and because of navies meet all the time -- not just in war but in peace as well, and Coast Guards and we work very closely together. And if you take a look at those other elements of the DIME, particularly diplomatic and economic, you can see where the naval forces play in to reinforce the overall intent of the U.S. government on a day to day basis. 

General Berger: It’s really hard to compare two timeframes, and you’re not exact there. They’re different circumstances. But I think there were a lot of really bright people in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s who were focused on deterrence -- conventional and strategic -- and learned a lot of lessons and we’d be wise to read some books they wrote. 

I think today, I would agree. To me, the biggest battle going on right now in great power competition I would say is in Indo-PACOM, perhaps is in the information space. All the others are part of it, but it’s an area that’s hardest to define. There aren’t any easy courses to take where you can become an information environment expert quickly. You can’t. But that’s where the battle is taking place. 

The last part. Against a competitor, an adversary like PRC where you vacate space, they occupy it. So the persistence part isn’t just to be visible and out there with your partners, with your allies. That’s key. But void a space against that adversary, they’ll be in it tomorrow, convincing the same people in the neighborhood that they’re a better partner than you are. 

We have a lot to learn in the information space. I’m convinced this is a decades-long competition. It’s not a week, it’s not a month, it’s long term. 

Audience: Thank you gentlemen. 

Moderator: When I was the Deputy Secretary I started using the term, and probably 90 percent of you here today have heard me say this at a talk. But people ask me how I sleep at night. I always respond I sleep like a baby. I wake up crying every two hours. [Laughter]. What I say over and over and over again is the reason why I always go back to sleep is because of our people. Our true asymmetric advantage against any competitor, especially competitors who are authoritarian regimes, there’s the fundamental initiative, mission focus, and innovation of our young men and women who serve in all three of the sea services. I think it’s reflected right here in these three fine gentlemen. I think we’re blessed at this time to have people of this caliber leading our services, and I’d ask you all to join me in thanking them for what they do and for their time this morning. 

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