WEST 2022 Luncheon Town Hall

24 February 2022
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 at WEST 2022 Luncheon Town Hall, Feb. 18.

 

Below is a transcript of their discussion:

VICE ADMIRAL PETER H. DALY (RET.):  Thank you very much for that nice introduction.

OK.  Well, here we are at the town hall.  I’d like to just make very short introductions because our distinguished panel doesn’t need much more than just a few words to appreciate what we’ve got here.  But I need to say that Admiral Karl Schultz, U.S. Coast Guard, is an academy grad and career cutterman.  He’s commanded at all operational levels from WPBs from patrol boats to commander, Atlantic Area.  Admiral Schultz became the 26th commandant of the Coast Guard on 1 June, 2018.  Welcome, Admiral Schultz.

ADMIRAL KARL L. SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Peter.

VICE ADM. DALY:  General Dave Berger is a Tulane University graduate and career infantry officer.  He commanded all operational levels including combat, from rifle platoon commander to commanding a Marine expeditionary force.  And General Berger became the 38th commandant of the Marine Corps on 11 July, 2019.  Welcome.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Oorah!  (Laughter.)

VICE ADM. DALY:  And Admiral Mike Gilday, U.S. Naval Academy graduate, career surface warfare officer, has commanded at all operational levels including combat from ship command to fleet command, and Admiral Gilday became the 32nd chief of naval operations on 22 August, 2019. 

Let’s welcome our panel.  (Applause.)

So within the conference theme, we’ve been talking about committing to capabilities and are we doing it rapidly enough, so I’d like to just kick off by talking about the fact that in recent months we’ve had the build-up of the Russian forces on the Ukraine, which is a peaking event this week, all while China has sortied repeatedly into the Air Defense Identification Zone at Taiwan.  We’ve seen North Korea and Iran misbehave and flex their muscles.  The diversity of the tactics being employed by these players is almost as diverse as the players themselves, so with that in mind I wanted to just have each of the chiefs lead off and tell us where is your focus, what are your thoughts about the current state of competition, and how is your service preparing for these challenges now and in the future? 

And I’ll start with Admiral Schultz.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Well, thank you, Peter, and, you know, great question; we could probably chat all day on that.  I would tell you, from a Coast Guard standpoint, our focus has and continues to be on the readiness of the Coast Guard.  You know, we’re an organization that eclipsed $13 billion.  I think we pack a lot of punch in that.  Homeland game, which is really about, you know, enabling the commerce of our country, where 95 percent of our commodities come here and then, really, an increasing game across the globe here, supporting the combatant commanders, supporting the CNO’s numbered fleets.  We’ve been keenly focused, when you think about this competitive lens, looking through great-power competition, and I think about looking at that through the whole-of-government approach.  I think the Coast Guard has a unique brand.  I think we’re a unique instrument of national security because we’re an armed force, yet we’re an organization with law enforcement experience.

I think a lot of the world’s, you know, less-than-full deepwater navies start to look a lot more like coast guards, so I think we bring a brand, we bring the ability to think through some of the same challenges.  They’re thinking about their economic prosperity, their exclusive economic zones.  I think of this increasing global challenge called IEUF – illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing – and, you know, these are three or four major nation states that are fishing, depleting the waters along coastal regions.  It’s an ecological and environmental issue; it destabilizes the economies of coastal states.

I think we’re uniquely positioned, Peter – and just, really, in closing up, I would tell you, I sort of think about – and I think it’s really sort of that Jim Mattis conversation where you go from zero to 180 degrees.  You know, he talks about cooperate where you can, compete where you must.  And the lethal wedge, the conflict wedge – you know, we’re written into the war plans.  That zero to 150, which sort of my loose interpretation – I’ll call that cooperate and compete.  I think the Coast Guard brings something really unique to that.  So we are positioning our force to be ready to support the numbered fleets and the COCOMs and then really focus on our domestic game.  We’ve been busy, but I think we’re moving the ball down field here and I’m proud of the men and women of the Coast Guard.

VICE ADM. DALY:  Thank you, sir.

Next I’ll tee it up to Admiral Gilday to talk about that question and specifically the future, and maybe you could also lean in a little bit because I know you’ve just recently completed your navigational plan.

ADMIRAL MICHAEL M. GILDAY:  So to kind of tie into what Karl just talked about, you would expect the Navy and the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard to be forward right now, so for the Navy we’ve got a hundred players on the field today and they’re spread from almost 30 ships in the EUCOM AOR to nearly that many out in the western Pacific, Fifth Fleet, down in Fourth Fleet, so fairly busy.  I think one big theme over the past couple years for the three of us is that we’re more integrated and not less, that we tend to find ourselves working together, integrating together.  It’s interesting, I just got an updated copy of our Seventh Fleet commander’s operational CONOPs, and it wasn’t just signed by him but it was also signed by the three MEF commanders, so just an example of that kind of integration. 

With respect to looking forward, we’re going through another force structure assessment right now.  But based on the hard work that we’ve done over the past five or six years in really thinking about how we would fight, how we would fight differently in terms of in a distributive fashion, across a wide, vast ocean like the Pacific, in terms of integrating all domains simultaneously, and thinking about what the future fleet looks like, we spent time taking a look at a couple of different force structure assessments in 2019 and 2020.  As I mentioned, we have another one under way.  The one that I’ve based my best advice on is the one that finished up in 2020 that we did along with the Marine Corps, but it was actually led by OSD, and I found that to be an important stakeholder in that process because this wasn’t just Marine Corps-speak or Navy-speak or the Department of the Navy-speak, but it was much more broadly supported by OSD.

And so based on that, based on large-scale exercises like we did last summer, leveraging live, virtual, construct, based on the integrated battle problem that we just did over in Fifth Fleet with some 100 unmanned platforms over the past few weeks, I’ve concluded, consistent with the analysis, that we need a naval force of over 500 ships.  And my view on carrier aviation remains unchanged; I think we need 12 carriers.  I think we need a strong amphibious force to include probably nine big-deck amphibs and another 19 or 20 to support them, perhaps 30 or so or more smaller amphibious ships to leverage maritime littoral regiments and the punch that they’re going to provide from places inside, close inside the fight, to 60 destroyers and probably 50 frigates, 70 attack submarines, and a dozen guided missile – or ballistic missile submarines, to about a hundred support ships and probably, looking into the future, 150 unmanned.

We’re doing a lot of work inside the FDYP now.  I mentioned some of the innovative stuff we’re doing out in Seventh Fleet, some of the stuff we’re doing with the Coast Guard in Fifth Fleet and Seventh Fleet to look at things differently, but I think that kind of naval force, that kind of distributed force is consistent with the analysis we see from the Joint Staff and OSD with the Joint Warfighting Concept.  I think it speaks to the vulnerabilities that we hear called out by the Joint Staff and the chairman in his risk assessment.

So in the long term, I’m sighted on a bigger, more capable Navy, working our way through that with respect to budgets, but certainly not taking our eye off the ball with respect to requirements and how we do things differently, because the future is now in terms of wringing more capability out of the force that we have.

VICE ADM. DALY:  Thank you. 

Next I’ll go to General Berger with that same question.  Sir.

GENERAL DAVID H. BERGER:  You rattled off four or five, I think, challenges that are ongoing right now.  I think listening to you, this is the strength of the U.S. military, first of all.  We work with so many nations and we work inside the U.S. military on a higher level than anybody else.  That is not a strength we should take for granted.  We can handle four or five challenges, in other words, because we have partnerships around the world through all three of our services that were built over decades.  That’s really powerful.  But we also operate as a naval force, as a joint force on a level no one else is anywhere close.  We should stop sometimes and think, in other words, how far we’ve come and why that’s so important. 

The second part, I think – not second part but the second thought is, as Admiral Winnefeld highlighted over lunch, it’s also good to remind ourselves the military isn’t always the first tool and the biggest tool to use.  In the four or five you mentioned, we’re not in the lead.  We’re the credible aspect of deterrence and response, but it doesn’t mean we’re in front all the time, but we have to be in a posture that, if things go sideways, we can react quickly, which is why – I mean, the Air Force can deploy great distances; they should.  We’re forward all the time, have to be. 

Third part I would say, listening to your question, is, out of those four or five, there’s no way you’re going to predict which one might boil over, or a sixth or a seventh.  So the ability of – (audio break).  I think it was important 10 years ago.  Now I think, what if we can’t get to a crisis in time and someone else does, one of our adversaries gets there before we do and it’s a natural disaster, humanitarian assistance, and we’re not there?  The ability to respond to a crisis quickly matters in terms of global prestige, so the Marine Corps and the Navy has to focus on having the ability to respond to the crisis maybe we didn’t see coming or couldn’t forecast.  We have to retain that. 

VICE ADM. DALY:  Thank you. 

So for readiness, you know, there’s – it’s ever been thus that there’s the tension between ready today versus buying the future force, and each of you has a message that this is a challenge that you need to take on, and my question is, is your message being heard and are each of you balancing those demands for modernizing and achieving the service of tomorrow?

Admiral Schultz.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Yeah, Pete, I started my answer to the previous question with readiness.  I think for us, our capital programs have been on a pretty good trajectory for the good part of a decade and we’ve got to maintain momentum; we need predictable, stable funding.  That’s not always, you know, the case in Washington, but we’ve been more stable there than we have been on the operating and support side of the Coast Guard budget.  Recent years I think we sort of started to penetrate that.  We’re having a conversation inside our own department, Department of Homeland Security, which is obviously unique here amongst the armed forces up on stage, and then within the administration, past and current, that, you know, we really need to start funding the Coast Guard that the nation needs.  I don’t think the demand on our service, at least in my 39 years, has been higher both at home and abroad.  So I think we’re having the right conversations.  We’re seeing some ownership of the readiness needs of the service.

That said, you know, the piece that really hasn’t been attenuated is infrastructure.  We’ve got a lot of old infrastructure.  We’re seeing some issues with resilience of infrastructure and the changing ecological, you know, climate environment we’re in.  So we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas.  You know, if you said if there’s a trade-off between modernizing and readiness, I’d say in our service I’m not offering that maneuver space yet.  I’m saying we need to continue the momentum on our capitalization programs, recap programs, and we need to keep pressing in on the readiness piece.  That’s the human part of that.  We’ve talked a lot about ships and capabilities.  We really need to focus on the recruit, train, and retain of our – you know, our Coast Guardsmen, and then, really, we need to press in on some of the infrastructure.

We do pretty well getting money for places where we’re putting new ships.  We’re getting, you know, well – as we site platforms in Alaska, Charleston.  But we’ve got to get after some of that lagging infrastructure challenge.  And we’re leaving operational hours on the table.  So if I’ve got the equivalent of three major cutters that aren’t down-range operating because I don’t have sustainment money, that’s the readiness conversation.

So we’re going to keep our foot on the gas and we’re going to really try to position the service to be the Coast Guard the nation needs, both on the home front and in support of the combatant commanders across the globe.

VICE ADM. DALY:  Thank you.  You just said you didn’t necessarily accept the trade-off, like one – it’s either one or the other.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Right.

VICE ADM. DALY:  You’re saying it’s one and the other.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  It’s the same conversation.  For me, it’s a ready Coast Guard and we’ve got to sort of ameliorate the three buckets there.

VICE ADM. DALY:  So for the Navy, at the force structure numbers that you just mentioned, CNO, it strikes me that this – you know, there’s been a lot of talk recently about divesting to invest, and I understand that’s been prohibited now, but it’s still, no matter what label you put on it, it’s been discussed of, do you give up to get?  And it strikes me that we couldn’t even hope to get to the force structure numbers that you’ve just talked about as a result of those DOD-level studies in 2021 and now this force structure assessment, the way it’s shaping up.  It seems like you’ve got to keep what you’ve got, at least a lot of what you’ve got, and build for the future.

ADM. GILDAY:  Yeah, I’ll talk about that for a second.  So if we just understand what divest to invest really meant with respect to the Navy, it really comes down to funding priorities, and so those have remained.  The Columbia Class SSBN, readiness, modernization, and then capacity in that order.  And so the way that divest to invest has been incorrectly categorized in one’s mind is that as you divest of older platforms or legacy platforms that no longer provide the lethality that you need, given the threat that we face, if you look at them on the left-hand side of the equal sign, and then on the right-hand side of the equal sign, what people have characterized as I see stuff going away but I don’t see the size of the fleet growing.  Based on the priorities that I just outlined, you won’t, not unless the top line goes up, because I won’t sacrifice the readiness of the fleet and the modernization of 70 percent of that fleet that’s going to exist in 10 years at the expense of building capacity.  In other words, I won’t have a Navy bigger than the one we can sustain.

If the Navy – I’ve talked about requirements in answer to the previous question.  If people agree that we need a larger, more capable Navy, then we obviously need more resources to actually grow it.  I would say it will be interesting – hopefully we get a budget for ’22 here soon and if we get that budget for ’22, take a look at – you can see some of that evidence in the NDAA that was passed by the Congress and signed by the president.  You saw the NDAA’s – reflected in the NDAA a commitment for more funding for the Navy and the Marine Corps.  Watch the ’22 budget and watch where that money drops, and then watch the ’23 budget that the president proposes to Congress, watch that budget proposal, and watch how the Navy and the Marine Corps fare.  I think that answers some of the question on whether or not the approach that we have on how to fight, as well as our view of the future and also our prioritization, whether that matches up to both what inside the building, how OSD sees it and the secretary of Defense, but as well as the Congress.

VICE ADM. DALY:  Thank you.  So for Commandant Berger, same question but maybe also it strikes me that you’ve done a lot to make some hard choices and also expect that you’re going to be able to put those resources to work in other, more modernized applications for the Marine Corps.  Please, I’d like to get your view on this about the tension between ready versus future – ready now versus future modernization.

GEN. BERGER:  I’ll try to get at both parts pretty quickly.  First, to answer your first question on readiness:  No, I don’t think we’re where we need to be in terms of the right discussion on readiness.  Ready for what, when is not a bad place to start that discussion, but right now, too elementary.  It’s counting things.  How many of these do you have available this afternoon?  In other words, like availability equals readiness.  It’s not – that’s not enough of an answer.  We owe the secretary, the chairman a much deeper discussion of, ready for what?  Do you have the capabilities to achieve an overmatch over the adversary you think you’re going to face?  That’s a different question than, how many do you have ready this afternoon?  That’s not enough – that’s not enough fidelity for him to make great decisions.  So we have to change the discussion. 

There is a readiness relationship, as you highlight, to the future as well, because we cannot fall behind, but the Marine Corps is a different organization than the Navy.  So when the CNO and I talk about readiness and modernization, we’re coming at it from different vantage points, both of which complement each other.  We have divested of things that we believe will have a lesser impact in the future, taking some risk in order to move quicker.  That’s not a gamble.  I think the existential threat is not moving fast enough.

VICE ADM. DALY:  I agree.

OK, I’d like to just shift quickly just to people for a second because over the last year corporate America has experienced what some people call the great resignation, where everybody – there seems to be more people leaving and it’s like the NHL Expansion Draft, there’s a lot of players moving around.  And as millions of people have left their jobs and found new ones, I’d like to just ask you:  How are your services faring in the competition for talent?  And what have you done to work on retention?  Admiral Schultz.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  So, Pete, I think we find ourselves in a competitive environment.  You know, we go out and try to find our – what we call our ETAP (ph).  Our target for ’22 is 4,200 young men and women to enlist in our ranks.  About 600 of those are reservists; 3,600 active duty.  We have not hit that mark in recent years.

I’ll tell you, the caliber of the men and women that are finding their way to the Coast Guard are top notch.  The sufficiency in numbers, when I look in – across America, and about 25 percent of Americans are eligible to serve when you take all the factors that make them ineligible out of equation, and you look at the propensity to serve – who grew up in a house or they know somebody in the military, had an uncle – that’s down around 11, 12 percent.  So it’s a competitive environment.  You know, for us, we don’t have the deepest pockets so I don’t throw a lot of bonuses young men and women’s ways, but we’re getting great young men and women when we’re getting them.

So we’ve got to – we’re putting some mobility in our recruiters’ hands.  We probably got to get to some different communities.  Our goal is to – in that enlisted workforce, we’re striving to bring 35 percent women in.  We’re striving to bring 35 percent underrepresented Americans in.  So it’s not just finding humans.  We’re trying to broaden, you know, the Coast Guard to look more like the nation we serve.

We got some real bright spots.  Our Coast Guard Academy is 40 percent women and marching towards 50 (percent) and doing great things.  We’ve closed – we’ve done some studies in the last three years.  We did a holistic women’s retention study.  We’ve closed – (audio break) – graduation or commissioning, and we’ve closed those gaps sufficiently.  So I think we’re on a good track.

We have really, Peter – just to wrap up, really dialed in our retention, too.  We have the highest retention in the armed services.  We’re trying to even get that higher.  But it’s a – it’s a tricky environment.  I think all the uniformed services don’t quite know the impacts of this blended retirement system that hit the four-year anniversary here on 1 January.  So I think, you know, what our – what’s our ability to take care of our sailors’ medical needs?  What’s our ability to take care of our soldiers’, sailors’, airmen’s, Coast Guardsmen’s, you know, working spouses?  We’ve aligned tour lengths with dual-membered Coast Guard folks and we’ve guaranteed people co-location at the 04 and below level and E6 and below level, and I think those things are starting to mine some positive results for us.

VICE ADM. DALY:  Thank you.

CNO, will you take that one?

ADM. GILDAY:  So 2020 was an opportunity for us.  We were going to pivot away from or more towards online/virtual recruiting, and then COVID caused us to put our foot on the accelerator.  So we changed all of our recruiting districts.  We actually changed our focus from – you know, from face to face to virtual because we needed to.

We found that worked out really effectively.  In the past year, we brought on some 39,000 sailors.  We met all of our – all of our goals.  We’ve shifted our marketing from TV to online.  We have showed the American public or tried to show – the demographic that we’re trying to recruit from, we’ve tried to show them what sailors are doing day to day, real life.  And so that’s been fairly effective for us and that outreach is really important.

I was on the USS Anchorage yesterday and I met with Marines and sailors, and one of the things I always ask is, you know, what led you to the Navy.  And it’s not unusual to get an answer where somebody says, well, you know, the Navy recruiter called me back first or the Marine Corps recruiter called me back first.  So they live in that digital/virtual world right now, and that touch, that connection, the way we do it, how we do it is really, really important.

We’ve also leveraged e-teams, gaming, that community as well.  When people express an interest, we follow up and connect them with somebody that can educate them more on the service.

In terms of – in terms of retention, Task Force One Navy that we stood up after the George Floyd incident, one of the ways it really helped us was to take a look at more deeply within each community how we attract and recruit talent – I talked a little bit about that – but also how we retain talent.  And that came down to talent management.  And we are still in the process of my getting briefs from every community lead on how they manage talent, and taking a look at not just diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, but also in terms of experience, thinking about that much more broadly, so that we can take care of people, put them in the driver’s seat in terms of – put them – put them more in the driver’s seat in terms of making a decision for them and their family in terms of what they’re going to do next and how they can contribute more fully to the Navy.

ADM. DALY:  Thank you.  I know, Commandant Berger, you’ve done a ton of work in this area.  And I’d like to ask you kind of just a little twist on this question.  How are you doing it, and how do you think you’re doing?

GEN. BERGER:  I won’t ask, but I think if you asked in this room how many Marines in here have served on recruiting duty, probably one out of four would raise their hand.  So first step, you got to put the very best people in your service on recruiting if it’s that important.  And it is to us.  We have phenomenal aircraft.  We have great ships.  We have – we have the best of the best.  None of that is as important as the people, for the three of us – nowhere even close.  The people are the most important part, all – hands down.  Everything else is on another level.  There’s Lieutenant Winfield (sp) sitting there having lunch with me.  He’s going out on recruiting duty.  It's going to be hard.  He’s going to work his backside off.  It’s going to be really hard. 

That said, though, every – and I’ve been on recruiting duty.  It’s not a – we shouldn’t look at this resignation as a – as a big negative challenge.  Oh my God, we’re going to fail.  Heck no.  I look at it like if they’re leaving their jobs, perfect.  That’s an opportunity.  You want to travel?  You want a challenge?  You want to be a part of a unit that would push you?  You want to join something bigger than yourself?  I mean, you – this is an opportunity for us.  Fine, they’re unhappy with their jobs.  Perfect.  Our recruiters are going to be right there.  That lieutenant’s going to be, like, sorry your previous corporation didn’t work out.  What are you interested in doing – you know, he’s going to start to work on them.  It’s a good thing.

This is – I say that, though.  I would agree with my teammates.  It is a competitive talent market to pull from, no question.  Last part for the Marine Corps is the retention.  We have to rebalance recruiting and retention.  We have always been a very young force, where we recruit them and four years later push most of them out the back door.  We can’t do that going forward, for a lot of reasons but we’re not – we’re not giving up on the high school graduate.  None of us are.  But we have to reach a better balance in our force if we’re actually going to operate the way we think we’re going to operate.  We need some more maturity, some Marines who can make decisions without detailed guidance from above.  They’ve got to be able to operate independently.  And they will.

ADM. DALY:  What about the ability, General Berger, to bring people in?  Are we too wedded to that industrial model where, you know, you bring them in at the bottom and there’s just – you know, there’s only one way?  And I think you’ve done some good thinking on this, but this idea of how can we insert talent at different levels in the military scheme?

GEN. BERGER:  First of all, take no credit for great thinking.  This was – we’ve been doing this for 70 years.  It’s how we get doctors.  That’s how we get lawyers.  We bring them in at a certain – we’ve been doing this for a long time.  Congress gave us the authority two years ago to expand that into technical areas that we’re critically short of.  In other words, they boxed it in.  These aren’t going to be ships’ captains and platoon commanders.  They’re going to be in the specialties that we’re short of and we’re building.  They gave us the latitude to bring them all the way through O-6.  Give them credit, in other words, for their education and give them credit for their work experience.  I don’t know many we’ll bring in.  I don’t know.  But it’s either that or you’re going to have a gap at that talent level in that unit for six, seven years, until you can raise that one up.

ADM. DALY:  I’d like to throw that open to Admiral Schultz and Admiral Gilday.  Same question, about you got the authority but making it happen, where do you assess you’re at?

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Pete, I’m going to sign out a document in the coming weeks here, Ready Workforce 2030.  And it’s really about more permeability.  It’s really about ready, modern learning and how we’re going to have to train folks differently.  You know, there’s still schoolhouse training.  There’s a lot of benefit.  Leadership training needs to be sort of in the mosh pit of leadership and life.  But there’s other things where we put everybody through the same model we did 100 years ago.  You know, there are some folks that already have those skills.  Can we shorten their course? 

I think for us, it’s more back and forth between Reserve and active duty.  I got a young cyber professional, we invest a lot of money in them, you know, they might see opportunities outside the fence line for more money.  They want to go out to the West Coast, Silicon Valley, maybe I let them go.  Maybe I figure out a way where they don’t have to come back one weekend a month and drill in the Reserves.  They come back one time a year, go work at the fort or go work at the Coast Guard Cyber Bridge.  And then we just got to take a different approach here.

And I think we’re leaning in hard.  Ready Workforce ’30 for us is going to capture some of that different agility, different flexibility.  But I think you’re absolutely right, we’ve got – we’re working on some of those same authorities, where you bring people in at different levels.  We do it today, but in specialty areas.  I think we’re going to have to do that writ large across more aspects of the force.

ADM. DALY:  One of the – one of the things about the military, in my view – and this is just my view – is that there was an equality – it was truly a meritocracy.  And, you know, you got a lineal number and, you know, you could shade it one way or the other, maybe get advanced on a list, maybe get really select here or there.  But there was an equality to it and a meritocracy aspect.  Do you think that doing what you’re talking about – and then I’ll flip it over to Admiral Gilday, does some of this threaten the people who are saying, well, I stayed with the whole program the whole way?

ADM. SCHULTZ:  You know, three and a half years, I think a term I’ve heard a lot, particularly from our assignment men and women, is fair.  It’s not fair.  I say, you know, fair’s a very difficult world when you want to get different outcomes.  I think you don’t want to be unfair, but you need to think and act differently.  And let me – I’ll punt that to the CNO.

ADM. GILDAY:  I don’t think you sacrifice meritocracy at all.  I’ll give you three or four examples of areas where I think there’s opportunity we can take advantage of now:  cyber engineers, cyber warrant officers.  New rating with respect to robotics and unmanned is an area where we can bring in people who are more experienced.  More of what we do now, particularly with those high-tech areas, is in a DevSecOps type of – type of environment.  And that so you can leverage people who have done this same kind of thing out in industry, and with great success.

I don’t think that young people look at it through that same – through that same kind of, you know, hierarchical lens.  I think that they’re more open minded, more mature, and accepting of doing things differently.  I think – I think – you know, to your point about meritocracy, it matters.  I mean, that’s a really important thing out in the fleet, right?  For every leader it’s your technical – it’s your technical competency, your skill at what you do.  It’s also your character.  Those are two critical parts of leadership.  If you don’t have that, you’re not much of a – you know, it’s not much of a –

GEN. BERGER:  It’ll make us better too.  I agree with the CNO.  There’s people in this room who have been working in a field for six, seven, eight, years, right?  And if they came into any of our services, they’re going to bring with them a different way of looking at a problem.  That’s healthy.  That’s good.  Because they’re going to – they’re going to look at some challenge we’re working on, they’re going, why are you doing it that way?  Well, because that’s the way we’ve always done it.  And they’re going to go, not where I come from.  We would never do it that way.  I think – I agree, it’s not a challenge to meritocracy.  In fact, they’re going to bring a different perspective that’s really healthy.  It’s good.

ADM. DALY:  Thank you.  For the audience, please get ready.  This’ll be the last question I’ll key up up here.  I’ll ask the chiefs what they would like to see from industry.  Because of the nature of the audience we have here today that seems like a good question.  But in the meantime just be ready, because after this we’ll start to open it up.

So I’ll flip – I think I’ll flip first, and this time to General Berger, and say:  Are there things that you would like to message to a predominantly industry audience about how you would like them to support you, and things that you’d like to see for the Marines in general?

GEN. BERGER:  Yes.  But they probably aren’t in the areas that most people would think of right off the bat.  We were talking yesterday morning when we were flying here – for example, the amphibious ships that we deploy on, right, they have a flight deck and they have a well deck.  I’m just using this as an example.  We build LHA pads all over the place so that the pilots can practice takeoff and landing before they go on a ship.  But we don’t have anything like that for a well deck.  We don’t have a well deck simulator.  Why not? 

Industry, in other words, I think can help us get the reps and sets that our Marines and sailors need to make the time when they do embark much more productive.  So we need help with the simulators, the things that will get Marines touch time.  Then we move onto the decision-making part.  But you don’t want to waste a unit’s time.  So before you ever do the first field exercise, like other people have said, you want, like, 70, 80, 90 practice sessions just force on force mentally.  But we need help from industry on how to develop leaders that can make decisions with agility, speed, before they take their unit into the field.

Last part, though, I think we have to change – being self-critical – we have to change the way that we view this.  I heard something this morning on a talk that probably most of us have thought about before, but this person captured it so concisely.  They said:  We shouldn’t confuse failing with being a failure.  Holy cow.  I just pause, you know, play it back again.  Should not confusing failure with being – should not confusing failing with being a failure.  We need industry’s help, in other words, of trying things, the way that both of them have spoken.  And some of them are going to be dead ends.  Those are not personal failures.  That means we found out something, shift over here, and go.

ADM. DALY:  So, for CNO, would you take that one?

ADM. GILDAY:  So many interdependencies there it’s difficult to just answer that one way, you know, looking at industry.  I think of, as an example, these big, capital assets that we build called ships.  And so earlier I talked – to answer the first question – I talked about a pretty broad requirement, right?  And you know, over 500 ships, that’s quite a lift.  What do we owe industry with respect to that requirement?  I think as an example our shipbuilding plan is a roadmap.  And that roadmap has to be fairly clear for both the Congress and industry. 

And I think that what we owe industry in that roadmap, as an example, are those clear transition points on when we’re going to shift, you know, to higher numbers of smaller ships like frigates, smaller numbers of bigger ships like destroyers, when we intend to double down on unmanned so that they can begin to take a look at their workforce, their own infrastructure, so that they can plan five years and 10 years out.  Right now that planning horizon for them is probably a year or two.  Particularly, you know, right now we’re in what could potentially be – hopefully not – a year-long CR.  But the ’22 budget is only a one-year look ahead.

So that’s an example where we really need to help them.  But there are other examples, and I’ll give you a couple, where industry by leveraging the Congress, forces us to buy things that we don’t necessarily need in a – or, that’s excess to need, perhaps – in a decade where we’re trying to move with a sense of urgency away from stuff that isn’t going to make us more lethal, that isn’t going to help us deter a fight with China.  And so in those instances, I would ask industry to hear our pleas to move away from those legacy platforms onto something else.  Think about what other production lines you could shift to.  Perhaps some of those are production lines that affect not just the Navy, but perhaps it’s an Air Force program, or perhaps it’s an Army program. 

That’s where we could really use help.  This is a tough decade for us in a very difficult and challenging budget environment where for most of us our buying power has been static since 2010.  And so when we’re trying to shift from legacy stuff, we’re serious about that shift.  And we feel like it’s – we feel like we’re doing it because it’s a warfighting imperative, and not because we’re picking on a particular program.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Yeah, Pete, obviously I – this morning I visited what we call our Blue Technology Center of Expertise over at UC San Diego at Scripps Institute.  And, you know, that’s a place where we established a small footprint, just a couple folks there, but they are working in the blue tech sector, and they’re talking about the ideas, and where do we roll those?  Up the coast a big we’ve got a couple – a small Coast Guard at DIU, Defense Innovation University.  And I think we’re starting to really work with industry and say, what are those solutions?  You know, MDA, maritime domain awareness.  Here in Southern California, Captain Tim Barelli is in the audience.  You know, he’s got different threat vectors that come in here, and there’s gaps in what we see, what we understand.

You know, pivoting to, you know, the large capital assets that the CNO was just talking about, you know, we’re in the most prolific shipbuilding period since the Second World War.  So we’ve taken nine of 11 national security cutters, we’ll christen the 10th here around 1 June – or, 4 June.  We’re building offshore patrol cutters.  That’s a fleet of 25 ships at the end of the day.  We’re marching out about 48 ships into a 64-ship fleet of fast response cutters.  I think for industry, you know, in an organization like the Coast Guard, that’s smaller and does a lot of our ship sustainment on our own force, it’s thinking it through the sustainment piece.  So the great capital assets, fantastic.  But, you know, what’s the sustainability look like and can we sustain those ships?

We tend to be a commercial off-the-shelf-type organization.  Not a lot of bleeding edge technologies.  We’re looking for proven technologies and the sustainment piece on that.  But I think for industry it’s keep the lines of dialogue open.  We’re going to be awarding phase two of the offshore patrol cutter contract here in the coming months.  We’re going to award a contract on what we call the Waterways Commerce Cutter.  That’s a fleet of 30 vessels, three different derivatives, to work the coastal and inland waterways of the nation.  So we’re excited where we’re at.  I think our dialogue with industry has been good.  I think the transparency, keep that coming.  That’s been very productive for us.

GEN. BERGER:  Can I just add one – I know we’re going to go to questions.  But one of the things I’ve learned in the past three years especially is I think I looked at industry as manufacturing.  I’ve learned, there’s a lot of organizations here who think and have – they have organizations in their organizations that are thinking.  We should tap into that more.  In other words, between us and them we can probably get to a better concept before we build the thing.  But I think I wasn’t aware of it, and then I probably undervalued it.  Now I’m more – that’s the first place, now, I go.  It’s, like, what are you guys thinking?  Not what are you building; what are you thinking?  Because they have tremendous minds.  We need to tap into that.

ADM. GILDAY:  If I could just add real quick just a couple of points.  One is that, you know, obviously most of the best R&D is going on in industry.  And so where in the past you asked us what our requirements are, you’re generating requirements that we can’t even think of yet I think, to the commandant’s point.  And so we really need those insights.  I think that, you know, if you look for silver linings with respect to COVID, I think it is – I think that the relationships between industry and the services are a lot less opaque because of COVID.  Supply chain dependencies are an example, where we’ve really had to gain insights from you, and you from us, on where those critical vulnerabilities lie.

The last thing I’d say is that I just use the area of unmanned as an example, where we are sprinting inside the FYDP to break down, to find – to break down, or to get better solutions against limiting factors, let’s say, that might be an engineering plant and an unmanned surface platform.  Or it might be integrating payloads on a – on an unmanned ariel vehicle.  But helping us inside the FYDP experiment, turn fast, DevSecOps kind of – kind of solution set, where we can then outside the FYDP, when we prove that something works as an informed customer, then double down in an informed way and scale it, right, in a way that we’re really going to be benefit not just the Navy, but maybe the Coast Guard benefits from it, maybe the Marine Corps, and vice versa.

ADM. DALY:  OK.  Let’s open it up to the first question.

Q:  Hey, thank you all very much for your comments this afternoon.  Very much appreciated by myself and I’m sure all of us.  Dixon Smith.  Prior Navy guy.

We talked a little bit earlier about the workforce on the uniformed side.  And I think in general we’ve got career development, management, mentoring down reasonably well.  I’d like to ask a question on the civilian side.  I reflect back to my time.  I probably didn’t know – I know I didn’t know the things I needed to know about the civilian workforce.  And so my question to the panel is, where are – where do you think we are right now with career development – the same three things – career development, management, and mentorship on the civilian workforce for where we need to go for the skillsets and the talents they bring?  Because it is one team, one fight.  Thank you.

ADM. DALY:  Thank you.  Maybe throw that to – who wants to take that one on first?

ADM. GILDAY:  So I’d say – I’d say that we can do a lot better.  Some of the things that we talked about with respect to retaining talent on the uniformed side, that we’re really putting a shoulder into, obviously many of those types of ideas are easily translatable on the civilian side.  And I personally think I can do better job at paying closer attention to that, getting feedback, and improving things.  It’s an area where we have leadership development plans for the – for civilian sailors.  I’m not sure we’re putting money behind those programs.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  And I would add, Dixon, you know, for us we’re about 9,000-plus civilians.  One thing we can do is hire quicker.  You know, we normally average about a 10 percent lapse rate.  We’re about 15 percent right now.  We should be bringing civilians on board in, you know, 120-130 says.  I think we’re north of 150-60 days.  So we get folks interested, we court them in the process, and then, you know, something else comes along.  And they really want to be on the team, but we can’t act quick enough.  And we’ve got to put more human resource people against that problem set.  And we’ve identified that.  We’ve got act here.

And we’ve got to put the resources where our rhetoric is so that you want to be on the team, let’s not let someone else come around because you just got tired of waiting to join our team a little bit.  So there’s some opportunities for us.  And then we got to look at – one of the things when we started my tenure, back in June of 2018, was we wanted to have a couple things.  For us, it was professional development for our civilian workforce.  We just took that for granted that they sort of solved that.  And I think it’s going to be a little bit more flexibility here in this post-pandemic era as well on what does work look like. 

We still want to have the civilians in the mosh pit.  They do tremendous mentoring, particularly for our mid-grade junior officers.  And when they’re in a headquarters environment most of those men and women never met a civilian employee.  But when they work alongside of one, there’s tremendous growth for – I think on both sides of the equation.  But I think our uniform folks really win that equation.  So we got some things to figure out here as we sort of emerge out of COVID-19 as well, hopefully in the coming months.

ADM. DALY:  General Berger, anything on that?

GEN. BERGER:  If you question is driven by is it going to be sort of on the same parallel as the uniformed side, is it going to be more challenging going forward, I’d say absolutely yes.  And we have – I agree with the commandant of the Coast Guard.  We haven’t taken our civilian workforce for granted, but we also didn’t have a career development with the resource behind it that would incentivize someone to stay.  And I think going forward, if the trends stay the same, people are going to be much more transient between jobs than they were 20 years ago. 

So if we’re going to keep the good ones working in the government, we can’t take them for granted any longer.  And it can’t be, well, get your own development/education on your own, and just let me know how it’s going.  No, we actually have to treat individual on a path, which, again, I don’t think we ever took them for granted, but it’s going to have to be a lot more deliberate and intentional if they’re going to retain the talent that we all know we have to.

ADM. DALY:  You know, just hearing Dixon Smith’s question reminds me – Dixon is a former chief of Naval Installations Command – Navy Installations Command.  Just a quick – a quick answer question.  When we did – when the country did the infrastructure bill, did the military get a chance to put projects into the – what’s Admiral Schultz’s – the mosh pit?  Did you get a chance to put in on that?

GEN. BERGER:  Yeah, absolutely.  We came out not a little bit shy of a half-million dollars of money for the Coast Guard there for some things that normally we would be trying to build into out-year budgets.  So there was conversations there –

ADM. DALY:  We got a bite?

GEN. BERGER:  We got a bite of that, absolutely.  There was some good advocacy on the Hill for that too.

ADM. GILDAY:  You bet we’d try to take advantage of that.  It didn’t – it didn’t quite pan out.  Where there was a lot of interest was in the SIOP program.  So for those of you who may not be aware, it’s reinvesting in our public shipyards that do all that important work on our nuclear-power ships.  And so we are renovating 97-year-old drydocks in all four of those facilities.  So that was an area that there was interest.  But I think there was a political dynamic there where those projects were better left in the defense budget at the end of the day.  But definitely interest from the Congress, yeah.

GEN. BERGER:  Same.

ADM. DALY:  Thank you. 

OK, next up.

Q:  Brent Sadler from the Heritage Foundation, again.  Thank you, gentlemen, for your time today.

The question is really for you, CNO.  I really appreciate you sharing the numbers for where you see the future fleet.  But I might have missed it, I’m kind of curious as to what your targeted timeline is for that?  And maybe if you could share some of the math that went behind that, where forward presence fits.

ADM. GILDAY:  Sure.  Yeah.  So with respect to that work, it was 2040.  And 2040, with respect to the requirement, informed by Joint War Fighting Concept, the Joint Military Net Assessment that the J-8 does on the Joint Staff, with respect to taking a look at 13 of 15 key areas against potential aggressors.  So that type of work informed it.  Now, as I mentioned, the Shipbuilding Plan is really the roadmap with respect to resourcing.  But I think the way that we’re – the way that we intend to fight has matured pretty well. 

As we – every single strike group and ARG that gets underway to deploy or is returning is doing a fleet battle problem to test part of that.  We’ve transitioned to a fleet-centric Navy, right?  Instead of just carrier strike groups and ARGs, we’re going to fight as a fleet, lockstep with the Marine Corps.  And so that’s what’s informed that view.  We feel that we have a pretty good understanding of how we’re going to fight.  We think it’s very consistent with the Joint Warfighting Concept and the new strategy that the secretary of defense is going to roll out fairly shortly.

ADM. DALY:  OK.  Next up.

Q:  Thank you.  Lieutenant Commander Ian Starr, U.S. Coast Guard.

The nation’s shipyard and ship repair capabilities may not be strong enough to return ships quickly to the fight if war breaks out in the Indo-Pacific.  As a Coast Guard officer who recently served up in the Bering, I can attest to that difficulty of getting logistical support and parts, on a good day, up there.  My question is:  Are our nation’s facilities robust enough to handle the next fight?  And if not, what needs to change?  Thank you.

ADM. GILDAY:  Well, so I think the answer to that is likely not.  I don’t know if – we can’t expect excess capacity to just exist out there that’s going to be sitting there idle.  There are some bright spots.  So I just mentioned the reinvestment in the public shipyards.  In terms of the private shipyards, I give an example of a path that we’re on.  In 2019, in terms of delay days coming out of private shipyards, we were at over 7,000, about 7,700.  Right now, in terms of delay days out of private yards we’re at about 2,500, OK?  Our goal is to drive that down to zero.  So there is capacity there that we need to – that we need to take advantage of.  There are processes that need to be fixed.

That reduction in – that reduction in delay days, one would think that we just lathered the process with more money in terms of driving those numbers down.  That’s not the case.  You know, based on a substantial amount of data we understood that nearly 30 percent of that delay was due to bad forecasting and planning upfront.  And anybody that’s served on a ship, that won’t stun you.  So there’s – I think that we’re headed in the right direction.  And I don’t mean to paint too rosy a picture.  We have work to do.  I think that – again, that opaqueness that has probably existed between the United States Navy and private yards is getting a lot better.  But we have a long way to go, and none of us are satisfied with where we currently stand.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  And if I could just jump onto that, so for the smaller service competing, you know, we’ve been under a continuing resolution about 43 percent of the last eight, nine years.  And we just got some recent, couple year ago, multiyear authority, two-year authority for ship repair work.  But that’s a small percentage of our budget.  So we have essentially stopped, you know, contracting for ship repair work 1 September through December.  We’re almost into part of the second quarter.  This is one of those consequences of a continuing resolution every year.  That is painful for the Coast Guard.

And then we’re competing in some of those contract shipyard availabilities with the Navy, who’s coming in with bigger ships, deeper pockets, bigger contracts.  So they’re sort of holding out for us.  We’re finding it very competitive.  I would tell you, I’m concerned about the capacity.  Where we go in we’re getting good work, but it’s a smaller part of the calendar year, or we’re contracting that work.  And if there’s bigger, you know, contracts that are coming from the Navy, you know, you might hold off a little bit.  And then we also compete with the commercial sector.  And everybody wants the Coast Guard work.  They go to their members of Congress.  And then when we sort of push the work that way there’s some commercial stuff that’s actually more lucrative.  So I would tell you, I’m concerned about it.  We’re meeting our needs, but it’s barely.  And it’s a lot of juggling of schedules and stuff.

ADM. DALY:  Just to insert here is that we had a gentleman get up, I believe it was yesterday, and say that he is the last supplier for about 300 NSNs, Navy stock numbers, that would cripple about five to seven different platforms.  So related to Ian’s question is the question of it’s not just the strength and capacity but the industrial base.  And just a quick – I’d throw it over to you to tell us, is there something – is there a piece of that puzzle that bears on this?

ADM. GILDAY:  In terms of – could you clarify that a little?

ADM. DALY:  Well, just a – you know, you have the repair capacity, but do we have the industrial base that feeds it.

ADM. GILDAY:  Parts, yeah.  Yeah, yeah.  I would say that there are likely – there are likely issues that were brought up yesterday.  I also think that we need to be more self-sufficient, right?  So can we leverage additive manufacturing, right, in a way that could be a game-changer out there at sea?  And let’s say a vessel I spent some time yesterday on, an ESB – for anybody that hasn’t gone on one, they’re almost the size of an aircraft carrier.  They’re just huge, with all kinds of space.  And your mind’s eye can just kind of run with the possibilities of a ship like that.  And so I think we shouldn’t self-limit in terms of trying to fix our own problems with respect to some of that stuff.  I don’t think we’ll ever fix all of them, right, particularly with ships that we’re trying to get 30 years out of.

ADM. DALY:  Thanks.  Commandant Berger, do you have anything on the industrial base issue on the Marines side?

GEN. BERGER:  There is clearly much more attention being played on the whole supply chain – (audio break) – points, the single points of failure, the fragility, where those.  Knowing where they are now we can diversify, it won’t turn around in a year.  But the point you highlighted, and the capacity of the shipyards goes beyond into the parts, we are learning where those single points of failure are.  That’s not healthy. 

ADM. SCHULTZ:  You know, as an anecdote, Pete, on our 45-year-old heavy icebreaker we have to figure out sometimes how we find the part on eBay and get that into a vendor we can legally buy that part from.  So, you know, we live on some of that on our oldest platforms, some very creative contracting work to buy the parts we need here.

ADM. DALY:  That’s a tenuous chain.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  I probably just got myself in the acquisitions jail here a little bit here when I leave today.  (Laughter.)

GEN. BERGER:  Can we go back to the room?

ADM. DALY:  OK.  Next question.  Thank you, Ian.

Q:  Good afternoon, gentlemen.  My name is Lieutenant Junior Grade Ben Barsom (ph). 

My question is for all three of you, but particularly for Admiral Gilday, because I’m sort of most plugged into the surface warfare community.  The honorable Robert Work recently published an article in Proceedings entitled, “A Slavish Devotion to Forward Presence Has Nearly Broken the Navy.”  In this spirit of the preservation of the force, aspects that that article raises – I’m thinking about low morale, high op tempo, and burnout, even down to mental health and suicide – how does the conversation we’ve been having all week about the crisis at hand and the ramp up that’s going to be required to address it fit into the effect it’s going to have on our force?

ADM. GILDAY:  So I’ll just speak to the behavior I’ve seen from this administration, the secretary of defense, since they came on board in early ’21.  There is definitely a sensitivity to the readiness piece.  Our opinions are asked directly when we have to move forces around the globe, and if we have to extend the force what the potential effect is on readiness, what the potential effect is on a ship that’s been in deployment for, let’s say, eight months.  Our opinions are being sought.  What we have tried to do is to leverage – is to leverage the new paradigm that was really put into place in 2018 when Secretary Mattis signed the ’18 NDS.  And that was to flip the model from a demand-based model to a supply-based model.

Earlier I talked about the fact that the Navy has about 100 players in the field today.  That’s the readiness that we are directed to produce by the secretary of defense.  And then how those 100 players are used, that’s – the secretary of defense makes those decisions based on risk to mission, right, in terms of what’s going on around the world.  And he is advised by the chairman and the Joint Chiefs.  And so I think that process could be a little bit better, but I do think that it’s being – that it’s being used right now in a very responsible way.  We have tried to maintain the seven-month deployments.  It’s been a little bit easier for us after we’ve had these vaccines that have come out for COVID that allowed us to – that allowed us to cut back a little bit on the COMPTUEX-and-go model that we’ve been relying on in 2020.

With respect to the slavish devotion to forward presence, forward is where we need to be.  Forward is where we make a difference.  It’s doing it in a way that, you know, is meaningful.  So it’s presence with a purpose.  We’re not just putting ships out there, right?  I do think that that top-down approach does maintain readiness in a much more responsible way than we have in the past.

ADM. DALY:  CNO, before I go to the others, I just wanted to jump in.  There’s one issue, which is you put people forward and are they ready?  And you seem pretty satisfied that you’re – that 100 players you’re putting on the field are ready.

ADM. GILDAY:  Mmm hmm, yeah.

ADM. DALY:  But, you know, if you go back, like, 10 years, you know, we used to have three carriers forward and then you could do three more in 30, and maybe two more in 90 on the surge.  And we called it six plus two.  That was a shorthand for it.  And there are times more recently where you’re putting the same premium force out there for that 100 men on the field, or 100 people on the field.  But the group behind them is less ready.  Do you feel you’re making progress there?

ADM. GILDAY:  We absolutely have invested more in the surge capacity.  And so what you’re seeing now is the ability to relieve on station, particularly in hot spots, without having to extend ships on station, OK?  And so during the – during the ramp up with Iran in 2020, it became particularly acute when we only had – and China at the same time was a problem.  So we had two carriers out there both locked in position and difficult to get them relieved on time because we just didn’t have that throughput. 

That’s not to say that that surge capacity should really only be used in crisis. It should be used in a situation like today, as an example, where the secretary of defense may need additional forces to flow in order to make a point with Putin with respect to deterrence.  So I think that using the capacity that he’s directed on a day-to-day basis, steady state, it’s important to manage that force.  And I think it’s also important to have a surge force so that we don’t overextend those that are forward.

ADM. DALY:  And thanks.  For Commandant Berger, you’ve – the Marines and your predecessors set up this Special Purpose MAGTF.  You’re looking at the literal regiments.  You’re actually, in my view – maybe I’m reading this wrong – structurally being more forward over time with those elements.  Can you talk about this?  You know, are we going to exhaust ourselves?

GEN. BERGER:  No, structurally being forward but also not Special Purpose MAGTF ashore – stuck ashore, but as a maritime naval – as an expeditionary embarked element, because that’s the strength, right?  You can move it around.  So we have to go back to our roots here, give the nation the advantage that they need. 

There’s one other element.  That’s a great question.  I think sometimes lost though in that discussion is the human – the people part.  It’s easy to say families are stressed, suicides are up.  And all of those are valid concerns.  They have to be.  But nobody joins the Marine Corps to stay home.  So we have to balance – Marines and sailors, they want to deploy.  They want to go do.  So there is an aspect, absolutely, of watching the indicators and where we’re pressing the limits.  But we also – they came in – they came in for a reason.  They want to be forward.  We need them forward.  We just have to balance it against the other indicators you highlighted.

ADM. DALY:  And, for Commandant Schultz, it seems like it’s becoming more of a thing to take, like, an NSC and push it all the way up in the western Pacific, maybe to deal with certain aspects of the China challenge.  And of course, you’ve had those WPBs that are now being replaced, you know, in the Gulf.  How do you see this?  Are we asking the Coast Guard to be too forward?  Or is this the right thing to do?

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Yeah, I’ll tell you what, Peter.  I would tell you, I think asking and pressing the Coast Guard to be forward is absolutely appropriate and the right answer.  What we have to do is we’re going to grow 2,000 sailor billets in the coming years.  You know, in an organization of 42,000, that’s not insignificant.  There’s a lot of different things you can do in the Coast Guard, but 2,000 additional sailors.  Where we’re not winning is, you know, we program our major assets for about 185 days.  So you’re gone half of every year.  You know, when you roll that up, I think that’s probably a pace even beyond, like, what your sailors do.  It’s a lot. 

What we’re losing is in port, you know?  So they’re not finding balance in port.  It’s the extra days, those days when you come back from patrol where you should have some downtime, the chance to go off to school, we’re eating into that.  So we’ve got to – our three-stars are heading up to the what we call the sea duty readiness council.  We’re really looking at what does it take some bring some balance to that?  We’re putting some more mission assurance, more maintainers, wrench turners, some more folks there.  I think when you look across the non-surface community, you know, our reserve force was deployed about 50 percent last year. 

I think that’s a pretty unsustainable rate to have 50 percent of your reserves on watch every day.  Whether that’s disaster response – you know, look, 2020 was the – you didn’t have the big, giant storms like you had in Harvey and Maria previous years, ’17 and stuff.  But we had 20-plus, you know, hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin.  It was a record.  And we got many Reservists deployed there.  We got folks out in COVID vaccine sites.  We’re doing allies welcome with, you know, Afghanis being welcomed to our country and Reserves in that place.  And there’s a high demand there.

So I think writ large we’ve got to focus on, you know, the Coast Guardsman standing the watch, his or her family.  We brought on 13 – and that’s a small number – but 13 new, you know, psychiatrists and, you know, medical, mental health professionals, nurse care managers, behavioral techs.  We’re bringing much more mental health capacity into Coast Guard.  I say much more, not big numbers numerically but from an impact standpoint for us.  We got to do more of that.  We’ve got to support the force we have.  We got to recognize the demands on them.

You know, I think every one of us at PCS, the Coast Guardsmen and Marine and Navy person last year, how many communities do you go into where your housing allowance matches the crazy nature of the housing market right now?  And that’s a stressor on people’s minds.  So we’re working with, you know, our relief organizations, Coast Guard mutual assistance and foundations to sort of bridge some gaps.  But then we got to put a voice into the folks that look at the model rates and things like that to make sure our sailors and their families are navigating, you know, the society we live in and operate in as well, Peter.

ADM. DALY:  Makes sense.

ADM. GILDAY:  If I could just make one follow-on comment.  I really do appreciate the question.  We have a new National Defense Strategy that’s going to drop here in the next month or so.  And to the comments that the commandant of the Marine Corps made a few minutes ago about readiness, I really think this is perhaps an opportunity for us to reexamine the model and see – the strategy is one thing.  The implementation of that strategy is a whole different – is a whole different problem set.  And so I think we’re responsible for taking a close look at how to implement that strategy, and doing it in a way that’s going to be effective.  And whether or not the models that we currently have in place and have had in place for a long time, whether or not they’re sufficient in mastering the strategy and fit for purpose.

ADM. DALY:  OK.  Next up.

Q:  All right.  Thank you.

ADM. DALY:  OK.

Q:  Gentlemen, good afternoon.  Captain Wazowski, Comms Squadron 48.

My question is I want to go back to a document that you’re all very familiar with, which is the Maritime Tri-Service Strategy that was written in December of 2020.  So my question is, since that document was written, what feedback have you all received with regards to its implementation?  And the second part of my question is, as a small unit leader, what advice do you have – because we have a lot of small unit leaders in the audience – on how we can implement your strategy at the tactical level?

ADM. DALY:  I’d like to start with CNO on that one.

ADM. GILDAY:  Sure.  I’ll make a couple of comments on that.  The level of interaction I see at – I mentioned earlier the Seventh Fleet commander and the Third Fleet commander working together, putting together an integrated concept of operations.  We’re seeing that across the operational force at a pretty high drumbeat.  With respect to the Coast Guard, we don’t have to tell a Navy fleet commander twice, hey, could you use a Coast Guard cutter out there to help you?  I think that that is a – that says a lot about the integration across our services.  I think at a headquarters level we probably have a little bit more work to do in terms of making sure that we’re resourcing the spirit of that strategy adequately, leveraging all the best parts and pieces of the Navy and the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard in order to achieve – to achieve objectives that are outlined in the new strategy.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  And I would tell you, I think that document, you know, was at the start.  I think it codified where we were and actually a little bit of aspirational how we think forward.  You know, we just – Mike’s team and my team met earlier in the week for the National Fleet Board.  And we are supposed to participate in that, and then there was a D.C. snow day, and I think we ended up sort of not being able to find it.  But our teams met.  And, you know, some of our higher-end capabilities in the ship are supported by the Navy.  And we’re having great discussions.  I think that document is very helpful.

When you say how do you as future leaders, I think it’s how do you take a world that’s increasingly maritime – we’re talking about free and open oceans, talking about the impact of, you know, the Indo-Pacific on the global scale in terms of trade.  The seas are going to always matter.  And I think how the Marines, how the Coast Guard, how the Navy complement each other, don’t have redundant capabilities but layer in the right capabilities at the right places – if the CNO’s short a missile shooter and it’s not a missile shooter, and we can put a National Security Cutter into a mix to do some things here, boy, that probably makes a lot of sense because, you know, till Michael gets to that fleet of the future in 2040 a little bit, you know, there’s going to be gaps.  And I think that’s the lens that we’re thinking through.  I think future leaders are thinking, you know, sort of creatively into that same – into the same line of thinking there.

ADM. DALY:  General Berger, are you satisfied that the strategy is being implemented and you’re satisfied with the results?

BEN. BERGER:  First of all, if you had the last question congratulations because, like, two people behind you were like, what?  (Laughter.)  If you look at what’s happened in the East China Sea and South China Sea for the past four or five years, we’re doing – we’re working together in some – driven somewhat by the way that the adversary’s operating, where they blur the lines between law enforcement and what we would call Title 10.  OK, they don’t like it when we work together.  It throws them off their game.  That’s a good thing. 

So it’s – in some cases we’re substituting for each other.  But in other cases, we’re actually overmatching them, because this is playing their game, only better.  Because we have decades of doing this.  They’ve been doing it for four or five years.  We have to do this, because if we stay in our own silos we’re not going to match up as well as we could.  So we need to combine our capabilities, our advantages, and then completely overmatch in playing their own game.

ADM. DALY:  So if the panel will put up with it, we’d like to just let this gentleman ask his question.  You’re up.

Q:  Good afternoon, one and all.  My name is Harkins.  I’m a retired Marine sergeant major. 

And I would like to ask each of you a question.  In order not to feel that I am going to ambush anybody, including the audience, I would like to ask the question, and then after I ask my third question if the commandant of the Marine Corps could go back to the Coast Guard for your response, so that there’s not a knee-jerk reaction, if you don’t mind, sir.

My first question goes to the commandant of the Coast Guard.  Yes, you have 42,000.  You have a great number – a number of new ships coming online.  You’re spread out around the world with 42,000.  You’re sending your Coasties out for six months, maybe a longer period of time.  How are you going to continue that momentum?  When the Marine Corps sent us to Vietnam for a year at a time, two and three and four times, we had a lot of problems.  How are you going to overcome those particular problems with only 42,000?  I understand you said that you have a manpower request for 2,000 more.  I may have misunderstood that.  But that’s my question for you.

For the CNO, I have spoken to many of the chiefs and command master chiefs here and police chiefs.  Don’t get upset.  In the Marine Corps, what we do at the rank of gunnery sergeant, which is equivalent to chief, is we start deciding and looking at the individual Marine to find out if he should be a master sergeant, and a master gunnery sergeant, which is an expert in a field.  And we also look at a leadership side, which is called a first sergeant and a sergeant major.  They have collateral duties and they come across quite well.  But sergeant major and the first sergeant are responsible for too the commanding officer, for the moral, discipline, and other aspects of that particular element, that particular command. 

You have command master chief.  As I understand it, there is a problem acquiring command master chiefs.  Many of your chiefs are reluctant to leave their communities, for whatever reason I have no idea.  Can you please tell us how you’re going to overcome that particular problem of command master chiefs, because I served on the USS Ranger, I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a command master chief.  And they, just like a sergeant major or a – just like a sergeant major, they have the responsibility of keeping the commanding officer informed of all different aspects of that particular command, just like a sergeant major does.  Or a first sergeant and a senior chief.

For the commandant of the Marine Corps, my question goes like this, sir:  The Marine Corps for many years, starting with Korea, has become a land army.  And I have always stated that the United States cannot support two land armies.  Vietnam, Korea – Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, et cetera.  As I remember the mission of the Marine Corps, which has probably changed all these decades, is to secure advanced naval bases.  And I have no problem with that, except that the Navy does not wish to come any closer to shore than 10 to 12 to 15 knots. 

The Marine Corps has to go from that particular direction into the shore to secure that Navy base.  We have amtracs.  Well, the Japanese shot up amtracs on their way to the beaches.  And then when the LSGs got to the beach, they shot them up, just like the Germans did in Normandy.  So that was one aspect.  Now you have the Ospreys.  Great airplane, and I understand it goes up and down, it goes faster, it goes greater speed at greater distances, and so forth.  But if we look back at Afghanistan, when we gave the Afghanistan army while they were fighting the Russians all of those missiles, and the Afghans shot down more helicopters, then the Russians decided they had to do everything by landmass rather than bring in helicopters.  I’m afraid that the Ospreys might be in the same picture.

So going back to the Coast Guard, would you please expound upon –

ADM. SCHULTZ:  Yes, sir.  That was a while ago, my question.  But the question I remember –

ADM. DALY:  Tempo.

ADM. SCHULTZ:  I would tell you, sir, the tempo – your point is a great point.  And what we need to do is – so we’re looking across when we make resource allocations, that’s at the enterprise level.  It’s not just at the fleet level, Atlantic and Pacific.  We pull that up.  So we are not doing this on the back of our folks.  We can be places but in finite capacity.  There’s choices.  And then every solution doesn’t have to look like a Coast Guard cutter in a place.  We can send a disaggregated member of our Deployable Specialized Forces community.  It could be an MSST team.  We have some of our folks here in San Diego we call the Maritime Security Response Teams.  We send – we put some forward Coast Guard attach├ęs in different locations.  And we send trainers.  We send mobile training teams.

So I think when we talk about an increasingly global Coast Guard, it’s not necessarily just Coast Guard cutters plying the world’s waters.  Those are choices.  We’re sending some finite capacity to support the CNO and the Seventh Fleet commander to the Indo-Pacific.  We have a persistent bases in the Arabian Gulf in the Fifth Fleet, 365 days a year, you know, on 14 – almost 17-18 years into that.  But we are very judicious that we schedule our ships 185 days are our major assets.  Sometimes it bleeds a little more than that, but we’re very mindful.  It comes down to, you know, maybe taking some risk domestically to send a ship for a unique opportunity to go up until Black Sea, which we did last April. 

But we are very cautious, sir, to not do this on the backs of our men and women because, honestly, I think every single one of us would tell you the human resource is the talent management, that is probably the toughest challenge is finding those young Americans, I talked about how competitive it was, bringing them in, giving them meaningful work, and then valuing them so they want to stay.  I think that’s where we win or lose.  So we are not looking to do this inside the Coast Guard lifelines on the backs of our people.  We just think we have some unique capabilities that complement the joint force and complement the whole-of-government effort, particularly in this competitive, you know, great power competition model we find ourselves increasingly, you know, kind of living amidst.  So thank you for the question.

ADM. GILDAY:  Sir, I appreciate your question.  If I could summarize, it was about what you perceive to be a waning interest in the command mastery program, is that true?  So I was not aware that that’s a problem, but I’d like to muster all the chiefs that spoke with you up here after this even, so that I can get some quick feedback directly from them.  I have the master chief petty officer of the Navy here.  He’s on the edge of his seat.  He’s very interested in well.  (Laughter.)  So I am honored.  I appreciate.  Thank you for the I&W.

ADM. DALY:  General Berger.

GEN. BERGER:  Sergeant Major, the nation doesn’t need, can’t afford, two land armies.  I agree with 100 percent.  That’s not what we have today.  And that’s – the strength of the Marine Corps is its ability to integrate – to be a combined arms team, to integrate with the Navy, and do things that no other element can do.  We have to capitalize on that.  We were in Iraq and Afghanistan because the nation needed us to be there.  And of course, we’re going to do what the nation needs us to do. 

Right now, the nation needs us to be a naval expeditionary force, a crisis response force.  And everything – if you had a chance to fly on the MV-22 it would change your complete outlook.  And every platform, every capability that we buy, is with – in mind with an overmatch over the threat.  We’re not going to drive it into the threat that you’re talking about and take attrition like that.  No way.  Our tactics are much better than that.

ADM. DALY:  Thank you, Sergeant Major.  

MS.:  Before I recognize this distinguished panel, Admiral Daly and I would like to thank a few groups here.  And to start with, to my right is this amazing staff at the San Diego Convention Center, who’s here before sunrises and well past sunset.  And they’ve done a tremendous in supporting us this week.  So thank you very much.  (Applause.)  We want to thank our industry and academia partners.  We would not be here today without your support and your sponsorships.  And it’s greatly appreciated with our partners here.  In fact, our floor space this year is larger than it was in March of 2020.  So thank you for coming back very much.  

And thank you to our government leaders for all the hard work and the challenges that face you every day.  The four to six that Admiral Daly pointed out at the beginning that you have to face every day.  And we want to especially thank our men and women who continue to serve in uniform to a very grateful nation.  So thank you for your service, and to our government.  (Applause.)  To our – to our tremendous leaders on stage today, you’re facing challenges that are difficult from many angles.  And we appreciate your leadership.  And we all feel safe as a nation because of you.  So on behalf of AFCEA International and the United States Naval Institute, we would like to present you with a token of our gratitude, “The Sailor’s Bookshelf,” by Admiral James Stavridis.  Thank you again for being with us today.

ADM. DALY:  Thank you to our panel.  (Applause.)

 

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