Undersea Warfare The Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force Spring 2004 U.S. Submarines... Because Stealth Matters Cover USW Magazine Spring 2004
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Photo of RADM(sel) Michael C. Tracy, USN “Change and adaptation are central to our
success as a tool for our nation’s leaders. Flexibility and smart problem solving have been key parts of the way we have operated since the beginning of the Submarine Force…”

In this issue, I must leave you with my final thoughts as Director, Submarine Warfare Division. I am moving on to my next assignment as Commander of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. My time at the helm has been short, about 11 months, but extremely rewarding. Your performance has been key to paving the way for the Navy of the future, as well as our ability to articulate the warfighting attributes required for successful joint warfare in the near, mid and far term.

I recently spoke to our future submariners at the U.S. Naval Academy’s celebration of our Force’s 104th Birthday. I discussed the historical pattern of fast paced evolution and unexpected change that has shaped our equipment, tactics and submarines throughout the ages. Change and adaptation are central to our success as a tool for our nation’s leaders. Flexibility and smart problem solving have been key parts of the way we have operated since the beginning of the Submarine Force, and that will never change. Optimization and efficiency are core to our consciousness. An optimist sees a glass that is half full, a pessimist sees a glass that is half empty, and a submariner sees a glass that is twice as big as it needs to be. Bold, smart, dedicated experts… respectful of the environment in which we operate, personally responsible and team oriented, our own toughest critic, with a “behind the enemy lines” mentality… these are our defining characteristics, and they are as important today as they were more than a century ago. We must continue to lead the way in embracing change and perpetuating institutional values. I witnessed these valuable traits, and many more, in the performance of our ships during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the ongoing Global War on Terrorism while in this job.

Operationally, you know the cut of our jib… well documented in the history books and at numerous lectures and speaking venues. But in the area of resourcing, you may understand little of our legacy and contributions on the OPNAV staff. Formerly OP02, N87, and now N77, this organization has led the way in bold and innovative processes and programs for our Navy: Open Architecture; Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion (ARC-I); modular and re-configurable platforms and equipment; concepts-to-reality that optimize propulsion, energy and manpower utilization. With NAVSEA’s help, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is using the Ship Availability Planning and Engineering Center (SHAPEC) process to significantly reduce the cost of availability planning through centralized development and reuse of planning products for our fleet of 688s; Common Radio Rooms with digital crypto; precision high-frequency acoustic development for onboard and off board systems; autonomous vehicles; and there are numerous others. We are at the forefront in developing warfighting capabilities and requirements as co-chair of both the Sea Shield and Sea Strike Pillars within N7, as well as leading the USW Branch of Sea Shield. We are also helping to pave the way in rigorous qualitative and quantitative assessments through our involvement in Modeling and Simulation techniques, as well as in our role as warfighting “subject matter experts.” Access is the key to relevance, both in real warfighting and in influencing future warfare. We have access in N7 - come join us!

In short, it is an exciting time for the Submarine Force and an exciting time to be assigned to OPNAV N77. Our staff is exceptional and our contributions to improving the Navy are well appreciated. Like those of you completing a tour on the waterfront, we share the profound satisfaction that comes from having undertaken an important, difficult job that few people could do well, and we are doing it in the service of our country.

I depart this pulpit with what I see are our two biggest challenges for the future. First, we must continue to manage well our most important resource - our people. Personal and professional growth across the broad spectrum of capabilities needed from today’s Sea Warrior is at the height of our focus. Fortunately, we have some of our best talent working this challenge. Second, we must continue to emphasize the warfighting capabilities we bring to the “right force” with the “right readiness” at the “right cost.” No more and no less – with the appropriate rate of modernization necessary to assure long-term relevance. We will continue our efforts to sustain a Submarine Force sized to meet future joint warfighting requirements (pre- and post-hostilities) without straining our valuable submarine personnel beyond the point of effectiveness.

I am honored and humbled by the faith the Navy has placed in this submarine officer to have served on this staff and to transition to CSG command. I look forward to serving with the men and woman of the Harry S Truman CSG. I will miss the adventure and daily challenge of serving you in Washington, D.C. My exposure to the issues that will define our Submarine Force, our Navy and our military have given me valuable insight as I return to the waterfront.

I leave you in the very capable hands of RDML Joe Walsh, who comes to the Pentagon after a successful tour as COMSUBGRU2/CNRNE. I sincerely thank my entire staff, and in particular, RDML Mark Kenny (77B) and CAPT Bill Hoeft (EA), for their superbly dedicated efforts this past year on behalf of our Navy. The fruits of their study and labor have been significant.

RADM(sel) signature
RADM(sel) Michael C. Tracy, USN
Director, Submarine Warfare