CNO Remarks at USNI 2019 Defense Forum Conference

by Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs
05 December 2019
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday speaks at the USNI Defense Forum Conference, Dec. 5, 2019.

Moderator: Good morning everybody. It’s wonderful to be here with the CNO. We had hoped to have the Commandant here also, but he was unable to be here today so we have the great good fortune to gang up on the CNO over the next hour. 

Admiral Gilday has a remarkable career. He served on the Chandler which was the last of the Kidd Class, the “Ayatollah” class, the “Sprue-can” that we all wanted. Served on two “Ticos”, the Princeton and the Gettysburg. Commanded the Higgins and Benfold, both of them “Burkes.” Commanded Destroyer Squadron 7, [part of the] the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, and was the Commander of Carrier Strike Group 8 with the USS Eisenhower. 

He also had some other things on his resume, which I’ll bring out during the morning, but I think we’re blessed to be able to have someone like Admiral Gilday to be our CNO. 

I’d like to jump right in, CNO. I remember in January of 2009 I got a phone call that said hey, do you want to be the Under Secretary of the Navy? And I thought I was getting punked. I was on the Obama transition team, but I had no expectation of going in. And, I imagine when you got the call a little bit ago that it might have been very much the same. 

So not having the chance of having a normal transition period, what’s your first 100 days been like? 

Admiral Gilday: Thanks for that question. I think it’s a good warmup to give you a sense of how I came into the job and where my thoughts have been over the past few months. 

Before I say that, I just wanted to take a moment and express my condolences. We lost two civilian shipmates in Pearl Harbor last night, and one Sailor. It was a shooting. The Sailor took his own life and he fired upon three civilian shipyard workers and two of them died. One of them is still in serious condition with a hip injury. So, those families, those Sailors that served with them are in our thoughts and prayers. 

In terms of my 100 days, it was very quick. Everybody had a moment like this in their life when things change within a 48-hour period. So the runup to the confirmation hearing which was really phase one, and everybody’s worst final exam was very quick. Then I really didn’t have a transition or much of it before I walked into the job. 

I did not establish a transition team and the primary reason for that is because I knew I was going to be traveling a lot. More importantly, I felt that I really need to understand things for myself. In terms of context, I was coming in from almost a decade of joint service. I did have Carrier Strike Group command, I did have command of Fleet Cyber Command, Navy’s 10th Fleet. That fleet command job wasn’t necessarily a deep Navy Blue job. There was a lot of jointness to that. I really had to learn for myself. 

I did travel. I met with the fleet. I didn’t have a lot of preconceptions on where I wanted to go with guidance. Then right after I was confirmed I met with the four stars and what I did is on a placemat I laid out what I believed to be Admiral Richardson’s trilogy of guidance. I laid out his strategy and then his Design 2.0 and then his budget guidance, and I spoke to the four stars about that. I could see the clear direction across those documents in terms of great power competition, China being the pacing peer competitor, and where we wanted to go. And I felt, having watched the Navy and was very proud of the Navy’s direction over the past couple of years, actually before the National Defense Strategy ever came out, Admiral Richardson had us sighted in this direction. I thought that the Navy had it right in terms of strategic direction and I didn’t question that. 

The feedback that I received led me to simplify and prioritize. I actually liked Design 2.0 that Admiral Richardson had issued about a year ago, so I didn’t want to discard it. So I decided to call it a FRAGO to modify it. Most of you know what a fragmentary order is. That was my thinking. 

I also met with the four stars again along with the three-star fleet commanders the day after I took over as CNO and received some more feedback. Then I wrote the draft myself and I had a gathering with all the three and four stars in the Navy. I brought in the senior enlisted, the master chiefs from their commands. We talked about it. Then I gave them two weeks to give me written feedback which actually helped me sharpen my focus and exposed me to a few blind spots that I knew I had but I didn’t know where they were. 

Since I’ve been in the job I’ve done some traveling. I’ve learned that I have much less discretionary time than I ever thought I would, so I’m trying to use my time very wisely. Where I find myself investing the most time right now is on programs and on budget. So we’re in the end game with the ’21 budget and we’re wrestling with the ongoing CR in ’20, so we have some challenges with respect to prioritization moving forward. 

That’s kind of it in a nutshell. 

I would also say that my role as a Joint Chief is one that I take extremely seriously, so I do spend a lot of time studying and thinking about North Korea, Iran, China. The real hot spots that when you do walk into a tank with the Chiefs and you do get that opportunity to provide your best advice, that that advice matters because you may only get one shot and the stakes are pretty high. 

Moderator: I’d like to dig in a little bit on the FRAGO. You mentioned it just was published yesterday. I’ll ask you some more pointed questions as we go along this morning, but do you want to give any kind of an overall view of your FRAGO? 

Admiral Gilday: Strategic view, great power competition. Some of you may have taken a look at the FRAGO. There are three sections to it. Warfighting, warfighters, and then future Navy. I was really looking for a third W. It’s WWF right now. I couldn’t find a third W, so if you think of something really cool, let me know. You never know when FRAGO-2 will come out. That’s essentially how I structured it. 

There are a number of priorities that we can speak to. 

One of the conclusions you’ll draw as you read it is you’ll see that I’m really focused on the near to midterm. I tend not to think about China in a 2035 mindset. I tend to think about China in a much closer period of time in terms of potential trouble. 

That’s not to say that I believe that a conflict with China is unavoidable. I do think that mindset and attitude are everything. Whether you’re playing football or whether you’re a fireman in an engine room in a ship. It matters how you think. 

We take our peer competitors very very seriously. We don’t think about them in a 2035 mindset. I want people focused on readiness. I want our ships looking good. I want our Sailors trained well to fight. I don’t want anybody walking around with the mindset that we’re not going to have to do it for 15 years. 

So part of it is mindset. In the readiness section, the first thing I talk about is ship’s maintenance and we’re getting 35-40 percent of our ships out of maintenance on time. That’s unacceptable. I can’t sustain the fleet I have with that kind of track record. 

We are improving. The trends are going in the right direction. We are doing a lot of data analysis, so we’re looking at that kill chain. 

The first place I go on a ship is the Chief’s Mess because that’s where the kill chain starts. The current ship’s maintenance plan. They’re the ones that are entering those jobs that ultimately turn into a work package that somebody’s going to have to action in a shipyard. So it goes back to the basics. 

But one of the things we found in terms of maintenance is that in terms of looking at a substantial amount of data, we’ve concluded so far, and I do take this to be a conservative estimate, that 25-30 percent of our delays are due to bad planning and forecasting up front. So there are things that we definitely need to do within the lifeline of the United States Navy to improve our performance and we absolutely can get after it and we are getting after it. 

Then there’s the partnerships we have with shipyards, both private and public, that we’re also getting after. Everything from investing in their infrastructure to their work force to processes. 

As an example, recently we came up to 85 percent readiness with our F-18 Strike Fighters, our Super Hornets, and we didn’t throw a lot of money at that problem. We were down in probably a 50 percent readiness percentile. It was all about process. It was all about what can we fix inside the lifeline? What can the people in those maintenance shops fix inside their own lifelines to make this better? 

I’m an optimist with respect to that. 

Let me just pause, I kind of camped out on maintenance for a few minutes, but it’s just an example of kind of the near-term focus. 

Certainly integration with the United States Marine Corps is another one. One of my monikers that I talk about, and I meet with the Commandant almost every day, is integrated American Naval Power. I really appreciated his guidance which came out right before my testimony and put a little pressure on me, but it really has caused me to think, and from the top levels of the Navy to drive integration. 

So now it’s not uncommon for me to walk into a meeting in the OPNAV Staff and there will be three senior Marine officers in that meeting. 

One of the things we’re doing, if I can just shift to Future Fleet for just a second. When I came into the job we were doing a Force Structure Assessment. The last one we did was in 2016. That of course informs the 30-year shipbuilding plan. So based on what the Commandant wrote in his guidance, I approached him about presenting to the Secretary a proposal that we do an Integrated Force Structure Assessment. Not coordinated, integrated. And so this is the Navy/Marine Corps analysts together. So we’re about to produce that assessment. We fast-tracked it this fall. We already got a running start, just bringing the Marine Corps in closer with us. And we ran through joint scenarios this fall. The same joint scenarios that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is using for the global integrated exercise we just ran in Newport two weeks ago. We were trying to stay consistent with the baseline that both OSD CAPE and the Joint Staff are using as well. 

The other thing we’re introducing in the Integrated Force Structure Assessment is unmanned. So typically, a Force Structure Assessment is complete sighted on programs of record, but I know that the Future Fleet, which I’m sure that you want to dive into, sir, has to include a mix of unmanned. We can’t continue to wrap $2 billion ships around 96 missile tubes and think we can do that in the numbers that we need to in order to fight in a distributed way against a potential adversary that is producing capability and platforms at a very high rate of speed. We have to change the way we’re thinking. 

So we’ve introduced unmanned with some assumptions into that Force Structure Analysis. My goal, my aspiration, is that that Force Structure Analysis not sit on the bench for three years, but that we continue to update that every year through experimentation, right? Through the investments we’re making, I would say modest investments and calculated investments in unmanned experimentation right now. That it actually informs our investment every year in a responsible way. 

Let me pause there after that rant. I’m taking up all of your time, sir. 

Question: Well CNO, the title of today’s conference is are we building the naval power the nation needs, and inside your FRAGO you list three core capabilities or core advantages, I’m sorry. So you talk about the Columbia, maintaining mastery of the undersea domain, and maintaining formidable forward presence through the aircraft carrier fleet. So I’d like to ask you a question on each of those three core advantages. 

One of the big dangers it seems to me during the ’20s, and we’ve been talking about this now for five or six years, is that the Columbia program is going to insert such a disproportionate impact on the naval shipbuilding plan that it could skew everything that you may want to do in terms of redesigning the fleet. How are you going to approach that problem so that we don’t have another Ford, for example? 

Admiral Gilday: It’s unavoidable. And so if you go back to the ‘80s when we were building Ohio, the ’70s and ‘80s, it was about 35 percent of the shipbuilding budget. Columbia will be about 38 to 40 percent of the shipbuilding budget in the future. 

It doesn’t matter if you take a look at the most recent Nuclear Posture Review or if you go back to preceding administrations. The seaborn leg of the triad is absolutely critical, so we have to replace it. By the time that we get Columbias in the water and operational, the Ohio Class is going to be around 40 years old, and so we have to replace that strategic leg. That has to come out of our budget right now. Those are the facts. 

I have to account for that at the same time I’m trying to make precise investments in other platforms -- some of them will look like the ones that we’re building today, like the DDG Flight IIIs, but there’s also an unmanned aspect to this. And I do remain fairly agnostic about what that mix needs to look like, but I do know based on the analogy I gave a few minutes ago about the $2 billion ship around the 96 tubes, we do need to change the way we’re thinking. I do think we need an aviation combatant. What the aviation combatant of the future looks like? I don’t know yet. I think there’s going to be a requirement to continue to deliver seaborne launched vehicles through the air that will deliver an effect downrange. I do think that that will likely be a mix of manned and unmanned. The platform which they launch from, I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. I think we need to continue to invest in undersea ballistic missile capability. I think we need the right mix of both surface and undersea, unmanned and manned, as well as logistic platforms in number to support the way we want to fight in a distributed way. 

We need to experiment more with unmanned. We need to do it with greater speed. And we’re going to fail. And that’s the uncomfortable part of this. Right? We will learn as we’re going. But if I go back to the Integrated Force Structure Assessment that I do want to experiment, I’m asking people to be patient with that. There are lessons out of what Admiral Wayne Meyer did back in the ‘70s and the ‘80s. He did a lot of land-based testing. He did a lot of, he took a ship, and I forget the name of the ship on the West Coast and he put missile launchers on and then Moorestown, New Jersey became a shore site. There is value in a deliberative approach like that. Yeah, we want to move at speed, but I don’t want to be reckless. 

I hope I’m making some sense in terms of the fleet’s too small. Right? Our capabilities are stacked onto too few ships that are too big, and that needs to change over time. 

We’ve made significant investments in aircraft carriers, and we’re going to have those aircraft carriers for a long time. And I get uncomfortable when people, and I know you want to get to carrier vulnerability, and most of that stuff’s highly classified. But in terms of just taking a look at it like a physics problem, right? Hypersonics go really fast and they travel at long range. Carriers can only go this far. So carriers are going to go away. 

The very simplistic way to look at a problem set, I’ve been in two big war games up in Newport since I’ve been here. I absolutely believe, and one of the reasons I want to bring back annual fleet exercises is because we have to wring more out of what we have today in terms of how we’re going to fight with it. There are alternative CONOPS that we have to develop and that we have to test and we’re not going to do it during certification of Carrier Strike Groups for combat deployment. We have to do that in big scale exercises. That’s what we did years ago. We need to go back to experimentation. That’s where we’re going to experiment with unmanned. That’s where we’re going to experiment with new capabilities. We absolutely have to do that. And then to leverage that as we go into the future. 

But back to the carriers for just a second. People don’t give us enough credit for the gray matter between our ears in terms of warfighting. We have some phenomenal leaders out there at every level who are thinking about how we can fight better. 

The fleet that we have today is going to be the same fleet that we have, 75 percent of it in 2030. So we have to think about how we get more out of it. Right? 

Moderator: Since you jumped on to carriers, let me pull on that string a little. 

I agree, a lot of the vulnerability studies are classified, but I think there’s a general consensus that the threat to service vessels and the carrier is growing over time. And they’re extraordinarily expensive as the Acting Secretary talked about this morning. So they represent an enormous opportunity cost. Given that you are pretty confident it seems that an aviation platform will be a central part of the fleet, have you made any initial judgments on how big the big deck carrier fleet will be? 

Admiral Gilday: No, I haven’t. That will come over time. I don’t have a predisposed notion of how big it ought to be. 

I will say that it’s unfair to think about the maritime flight in a single domain, right? How we’re going to leverage space -- we don’t do anything in the U.S. military today without leveraging space. We can’t. We have to. So we have to learn how to leverage it when we fight. Not just in day-to-day operations. 

The same thing with cyber and why I want to keep tactical cyber teams small. Tactical cyber teams of fleet commanders so that we can confuse the enemy and put ourselves in a position of advantage in a fight right off the bat. 

We have to do a better job at integrating all domains into how we’re going to fight. It gets back in, it’s not just wringing everything you can out of the iron that we have. It’s leveraging everything you can out of the Joint Force that we have and out of the all-domain fight that we know we’re going to get into. 

Moderator: The third core competency you talked about was maintaining your mastery of the undersea domain. One of the things that struck me most about the 2016 force structure is it had a 600-ship Navy worth of guided missile cruisers and destroyers, but only half of the 600-ship Navy worth of attack submarines. When we see what’s happening with the Russian undersea fleet and just the technological trend lines in the Western Pacific, that seems wildly out of balance to me. 

So have you given any thought on how you might address this balance or are you comfortable right now with the way we stand? 

Admiral Gilday: I’m not comfortable with where we stand. I do think we have an advantage in the undersea. We’ve got to leverage that advantage and we can’t give it up. 

We are many of you saw the announcement two days ago for Virginia Block V. Recognize that there’s also a limitation in terms of how fast you can pump out submarines, right? Or how fast you can pump out ships. So certainly anything we do has to be physically [inaudible], but also the defense investment base is a key part for us, right? They have challenges as well. We’re working very closely with them together because we succeed or fail together. 

I would just say that A, I’m not satisfied. B, it deserves a deeper look in terms of those numbers. 

Question: The one thing that stood out to me as a Marine, and given all of the things that you and the Commandant have been talking about on an integrated fleet, is that naval maneuver, expeditionary maneuver, was not one of the core competencies that was listed in the FRAGO. 

Admiral Gilday: That’s fair. 

Question: But listening to you and the Commandant, it seems like that part of the fleet might have an enormous change over the near to mid-term with the Commandant speaking of different platforms, and more distributed maneuver. 

I know it’s early days, but have you given any thought, can you give the audience an inkling of what you might be thinking in this regard? 

Admiral Gilday: The Commandant has made the statement of how does the Marine Corps best serve the fleet? So if we think about a fight in the maritime against a peer competitor, how can we use Marines ashore to help us both control and deny the maritime to an adversary? That’s what expeditionary advanced basing operations is all about. The Marines are very good at that. They’re thinking about the types of platforms that they need, how they will move, let’s say in an island-hopping kind of scenario in order to provide fires, whether they’re non-kinetic or kinetic, in order to set the conditions to reach objectives in a campaign. It could be largely maritime focused. 

Moderator: You mentioned it already, but manned and unmanned teaming and autonomy, are you thinking right now this is more of an adjunct to manned platforms? Or do you see them becoming more of a central component of a future battle force? 

Admiral Gilday: I think it has to be a central component of a future battle force. 

I think the first biggest challenge quite frankly, is Joint All Domain C2. So when we talked about, well, we’re building netted weapons and we’re building netted platforms, but we don’t have an adequate net. So that’s missing and it’s a critical piece. 

We typically talk about that in the 2033 to 2035 time frame. We are working, most recently over the past month, very closely with the Air Force because they’ve done some good work, we’ve done some good work. 

As I sit down with the four stars and we have two admirals that are combatant commanders, and typically they only have to say one word during those discussions. Joint, joint, joint. And they say it repeatedly. 

As the Navy is making investments on a Navy tactical grid or an operational architecture that’s Navy centric, it’s not going to work. Which led to immediate discussions with the Chief of Staff of the government and a handshake that we would team our forces together and perhaps our budget lines together and start working towards a joint solution set fast in a Manhattan Project kind of way because we need it. 

It's a serious gap that we need closed. 

Moderator: Have you given any thought on how we educate Congress? They often say hey, I’ll give you the large unmanned surface vessel once you give me the CONOPS, and your answer back to them is well I need the ships to develop the CONOPS, and they don’t like to change ship counting rules. They’re very, very skeptical. 

Have you thought about how you’re going to approach Congress with this? It seems to me that it’s going to have a big impact on what you want to do. 

Admiral Gilday: Interestingly, and I know you can relate to this, most discussions I have on the Hill to do with ships are viewed through the eyes of the Gerald R. Ford, which by the way I’m extremely bullish on and you should be as well. It’s a phenomenal capability and it’s heading in the right direction. 

That said, we did have some, we do have some challenges with Ford that we’re working very closely, we’re working through with our partners and again with great momentum. But we did make some mistakes. We should have done some more land-based prototyping as an example with the elevator systems and we didn’t do that. There are reasons why we didn’t do that that I don’t want to revisit. 

As I talked about the Wayne Meyer model earlier, I think if we show Congress that we can approach this in a responsible kind of way, you know, test a little, learn a little, learn a lot, and then regroup. I think that we can do this in a deliberate way but at speed, that we can show Congress we’re working at this responsibly. I’m not asking for money to build a class of unmanned ships. I’m asking for money to experiment step by step with capabilities that we know that we can put on them. 

I don’t have a better answer than that right now, and I’m being completely honest with you, because I understand the hesitation if they gave us money for stuff that might fail. And as you know, a [wounded] project on the Hill typically leads to a mark. And so how do you get to that kind of discussion? You just have to be transparent and be truthful. 

I’ve got an adversary that’s moving at flank speed. I’ve got to move at flank speed. I need your help to get there. I’m trying to do it in a responsible way. I don’t have an agenda other than to try and move out faster, but in a responsible way. 

Question: One of the things that jumped out the most to me in your FRAGO and the one that I was most excited to read was your discussion of the large-scale exercise in fleet problems and wargaming it. Can you tell the audience a little bit about this? This seems to me to be one of the real big, big ideas of the FRAGO. 

Admiral Gilday: I really have to give credit to people like Admiral Davidson that put a lot of thought into fleet centric warfare. And then fleet commanders ought to own the physical and virtual battlespace that they’re responsible for and they ought to drive the fight. So that was a concept that led to fleet design about four or five years ago. Then out of that came distributed maritime operations. I would argue that the Marine Corps’ expeditionary advanced basing operations is almost hand in glove with those concepts. 

In order to be able to fight as a fleet, if we believe that’s the way we need to fight, we can’t continue to use strike groups and ARGs around the world, these constabulary positions, right? At some point we’re going to have to bring together the broadband and make it work at the fleet level. Then we have to exercise as a fleet. We’ve made great investments in our maritime operational centers at those fleet commands and they are a great capability that gives that fleet commander the ability to fight. So we need to exercise it. We need to do more than wargame it. We need to exercise it. And the only way to do that is with iron out there at scale. 

So my vision is to bring back, and this will be the first one this summer, Large Scale Exercise 2020. But to try and do it on an annual basis with several strike groups. Both amphibious ready groups and carrier strike groups and to run it from the fleet level. As a pilot in this first one I want to establish an information warfare cell to integrate cyber and influence operations inside that model. So you can integrate that better at a higher level. And look at what we can do to scale it. 

Moderator: You also mentioned a little bit about live virtual constructive training, and that’s another section of the FRAGO and that’s another very exciting thing. So we should expect more money to be shifted into this? 

Admiral Gilday: We learned a lot after the collisions in ’17 and the money we put in live virtual has really, really paid off. We’re sending officers to ships right now who are out-performing some of their peers that have been on those ships that haven’t had live virtual training in a substantive kind of way. We’ve got a JOOD course right now, Junior Officer & Deck [inaudible] that’s producing ship [handlers] that actually know how to handle the ship before they get on board. It’s been remarkable.

So if you walk in to these simulators, and a lot of this is leveraging gaming technology that’s already out there. It is so life-like and it’s fun, it’s life-like, it’s productive and we need more of it. 

We need more of it not just from a ship driving perspective but a warfighting perspective. Simulators. 

Moderator: I could just keep going forever. I want to give the audience a couple of chances, but I did want to have one more question. 

You were the Commander of the 10th Fleet, J3 at U.S. Cyber Command, so you have a deep understanding of this. So you talk a lot about extending the digital competitive advantage we have and you’ve already talked about the netting of architecture. Do you have any, can you fill the audience in on any more thinking on that? 

Admiral Gilday: As I was thinking about the guidance, I was thinking well, there’s probably an expectation out here when I became CNO that one of my main tenets would be digitization, and it is. But it’s wrapped up in everything. My view is digitize everything. What we’re doing right now in manpower, in the manpower area specifically has been fantastic. So we’ve taken, as an example, and for those of you that are either retired or still active duty, we took some almost 80 web sites, 60-some-odd entry points, five data warehouses, and we collapsed that into an integrated cloud environment that allows us to with one entry and exit point using global applications and micro processes. We’re just doing what everybody else is doing, but we’re collapsing all of this stuff. So now a Sailor can do their travel claim at their kitchen table, just like you would expect they should be able to. Or that somebody that’s retired should be able to access that system as easily as somebody [inaudible]. That is probably our best example of where people need to head. 

It doesn’t necessarily need to be centrally managed and [inaudible]. I mean these are efforts, the standards certainly have to be centralized, but in terms of the efforts themselves, they don’t have to be centralized. 

So there’s a lot of things we’re going to do with digitization. We just had one of the biggest cloud contracts in the country that essentially modernized our financial services inside the Navy as well. 

I think, and the Secretary may have spoken a little bit about this this morning, but that’s the direction we’re heading in. Digitize everything. 

Moderator: I’ll be asking the audience for about 15 minutes, so if anybody wants to make their way to the microphones, I’ll get right to you. 

CNO, is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you would like to talk to the audience about? 

Admiral Gilday: On Monday I released my message to the force about integrity and the standard of conduct. The reason I did that is fairly obvious to everybody based on what we’ve been through in the past about month and a half, but having been through this now deeply in the last three or four weeks, I saw it as an opportunity. When I’ve been speaking inside the lifelines of the Navy recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the profession of arms. And that the profession of arms is really grounded on two main things. One is specialization. If you think about it, the al-Baghdadi raid a month and a half ago. There’s no better example of what the United States military is capable of when you take a look at a raid like that and how successful it was. 

But the other thing that’s important is our standard code of conduct and the accountability that goes hand in glove with that. So this is a chance for us within certain communities and broadly across the Navy to think about what makes us a profession and why it is so important that we take our values to work every day, home every day, and especially into combat. That’s what the nation expects, and it’s easy to take that for granted. It’s why the world looks at the U.S. military as the standard. It’s because we truly are professionals, and I think sometimes we take that for granted. 

The events recently have given us the opportunity I think to reflect and to get after this and for us it is a learning opportunity, right? We’ve made some mistakes in some communities in particular, but it’s something that we have to dig back into and not just put behind us. The tendency is to put stuff behind you in your wake and just keep on going, and stuff like this, you can’t. You just can’t. 

Moderator: Let’s switch over to the audience. I’d like to just ask that the questions be crisp and not be a statement or a speech so that we can get as many questions as possible within this last 15 minutes. 

Question: Thank you. Jeff Schogol with Task and Purpose. 

The Harry S. Truman is headed to the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal’s reporting that other ships may be going there as well. Does the Navy have the ability to surge more than one carrier in the 5th Fleet AOR if the President decides to intensify the maximum pressure campaign against Iran? 

Admiral Gilday: The short answer is absolutely yes. 

There is a requirement that we have. So we have a requirement that is dictated by the Secretary of Defense in terms of our readiness posture with our carrier strike groups, our CRUDES, our air wings, and we meet that requirement. We also have the ability to surge if we have to. And if there is a requirement to surge, we will be able to surge. 

Question: I apologize for having to ask about something so terrible, do you have any more details about the event at Honolulu, the shooting last night? 

Admiral Gilday: It was an active duty service member who was part of the crew of the USS Columbia, a submarine in drydock in Hawaii. The incident happened at the shipyard. We don’t have a lot of details yet. We know that, we’re pretty sure that he acted alone but we don’t have those details yet. There’s a lot of interviews ongoing right now. 

Question: Thank you. 

Admiral Gilday: You’re welcome. 

Question: Ben Werner from the U.S. Naval Institute. 

I was hoping you could talk a little more about manpower. Especially not just recruitment but retention. I know from talking to CNP staff, especially the talk about some of the people are like hard to get, especially cyber, nuclear. The challenge exists in the Navy and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what you’re going to do, what your plans are to improve retention. 

Admiral Gilday: As you may know, we just did a deep dive on sea/shore rotations. We made changes across I think 23 ratings in terms of lengthening sea tours, but taking a look overall in terms of career path so the balance is equal to sea/shore retention. And a number of other ratings, almost an equal amount, we actually reduced the amount of sea time. So we think that’s a benefit in terms of retention. 

The laser focus that we’ve had over the past year on housing is another issue. In fact interestingly, the metrics that we look at now for housing I’m pulling into our readiness portfolio. So if we truly believe that readiness begins at home and we have those metrics and that we retain families and not just Sailors, that we had to start looking more deeply at that. 

In terms of, you talked about cyber. We took a look at an aptitude test that we piloted that at 10th Fleet. I just recently raised the question again on whether or not we can use it service wide so that we’re not testing people for specific cyber skill sets, but whether or not they have the aptitude, we do this with the language exam, right? But seeing if people have the aptitude for languages. 

So we already have talent resident in the force that we can leverage against these problems and we don’t even know it. 

Question: I’m really excited about how you brought back the idea about fleet exercises. I used to be a land fleet ex scheduler, but that’s when we had 234 ships in the Atlantic Fleet. It’s a little bit different. 

Any thought as you look forward for to changing the way we think about the way we think, anything about bringing GTMO back? Utilizing Roosevelt Roads, the deepest harbor. It’s the biggest runway system in Latin America. And then bringing back the Marshals [inaudible]? It helps relieve the deck plates as well as provides the platform for experimentation. 

Admiral Gilday: Thanks. One of the things I didn’t touch on but it’s under the warfighting section is the tasking of fleet forces to take a deeper look at how we generate readiness. So this specifically gets to the Fleet Response Plan, right? That was designed in 2012 before the National Defense Strategy and there’s a number or things we have to do to generate readiness. We need a rotational fleet. We need to be able to surge. We need to be able to provide hopefully stability for our Sailors and their families. We need to be able to recover faster after a surge or after a crisis, so we need to be able to account for all that. 

The influence into that quadratic equation have changed over the past years, and so now all the combatant commander operational plans have been updated, number one. Another big change have been globally integrated base plans that have been developed by the Joint Staff along with the combatant commanders. 

So essentially the globally integrated base plan for let’s say North Korea doesn’t just flow forces from the O plan for that particular fight. What it does is it sets the globe across the five problem sets, right? China, North Korea, Russia, Iran and counter-VEO in a way that allows us to do five mission, right? Defend the homeland. Deter strategically. Deter conventionally. Respond to threats. Assure our allies and partners. 

We’re not just looking at these problem sets -- these are global problem sets. And the fight against China or Russia is going to be global fight. We’re going to try and create a strategic dilemmas, but we can’t ignore the other problem sets and just flow everything and just play, you know, grade school soccer. 

Those factors will go into the SECDEF guidance on what those readiness levels need to be. That’s why because that quadratic equation’s changed, I’m not confident that the current system that we have is going to be able to generate the forces that are going to be required for the nation. So we’re going to take a look at that. Part of that, you sit back and say where can we gain more efficiencies? Maybe it is in terms of how we train. Maybe it is going back to the Caribbean to do JTF exercises for an extended period of time. Take that carrier strike group and basically take them through 2.5 months or whatever it takes, basically get them up to speed. Do we gain any efficiencies out of doing that? 

I talked about perform to plan piece a little bit in terms of what we’re doing with data analytic and maintenance. 

Will that squeeze any more time and make us more efficient. So we are taking a look at it. 

Long answer to your question about GTMO, but it’s kind of a bigger problem set. 

Moderator: I think we have time for two more questions. 

Question: Mallory Shelbourne with Inside Defense. I’m a reporter. 

A question for you about the Integrated Force Structure and working with the Marine Corps. You mentioned the timing of the planning guidance from General Berger and the plan for an Integrated Force Structure and not a coordinated force structure. I’m just wondering if you could elaborate both on how Berger’s planning items may have influenced the work you did on yours and also how you’re making sure that this Integrated Force Structure is conducted in such a way that the Marine Corps and Navy are really doing it together. 

Admiral Gilday: Thanks for the question. I’m going to give you a short answer only because I’m being followed by Admiral Kilby and his team is actually leading that work. I don’t mean to deflect the question but the Commandant’s guidance was a strike at the obvious, right? I mean how we do not want to leverage, how we do not want to bring the Marines Corps into this. They’re already willing to improve the way we’re going to fight together. We also need to improve the way we plan together and eventually the way we budget together. So that’s a good piece of it. This is a shared effort. 

Question: Frank Zehner, retired Air Force. 

The Acting Secretary talked about how we’re trying to improve agility and speed and all that stuff. Are there an internal OPNAV staffing, restructuring or concepts or [projects] that you’re going to try to help internal to your staff that may work on those kind of focused items discussed? 

Admiral Gilday: Thanks. Large scale exercises, not my idea. I’m leveraging on something that Admiral Richardson had already been thinking about. Admirals Grady and Aquilino are already working towards. I just felt like we needed to do them more frequently. 

The question you asked about are we doing anything to start structurally. The OPNAV N7 is a really, really important move and the reason is it is because the Joint Staff now, think of it the way, what the Joint Staff is focused on in terms of now leading the Joint Capabilities Assessment every year, right? Then that drives how we’re taking a look through war games and exercises on capability gaps that we need to close. It eventually, and not necessarily coming up with solution sets in terms of platforms, but what capabilities does the Joint Force have to invest in? 

We had nothing on the Navy side that would mesh with that function, so the OPNAV N7 along with the education piece that Stu Munsch is working on with the Naval University System, brings that together. 

The other thing that we just started in OPNAV Staff is a battle rhythm that includes a functional meeting every single day. So that I’m bringing the right stakeholders together to get after stuff, naming who the supported entity is and who the supporting entities are to those efforts so that we give them stuff at a high rate of speed. 

I’m not making any gigantic organizational changes. 

Moderator: CNO, this has been terrific. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts this morning. 

Guidance-Card-Icon Dept-Exclusive-Card-Icon