On Feb. 7, 2006 the special-operations/guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN-726) returned to active duty, her crew anticipating a spectrum of operations and adversaries that no one could have predicted when she was first commissioned in November 1981. Then, at the height
of the Cold War, Ohio was armed with 24 of the most powerful weapons ever conceived and was a vital component of the Nation’s “Triad” of nuclear deterrence – along with land-based missiles and manned bombers – against a seemingly implacable Soviet Union.
Today, Ohio represents a significant milestone in transforming our Joint Force for the “long war” that the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) predicts as the future of America’s military. Ohio
and her three modified-sister SSBNs, which will soon rejoin the operating forces as SSGNs, will be instrumental in helping to wage what the QDR calls “long-duration unconventional warfare,
counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and military support for stabilization and reconstruction efforts.”
In this regard, and from the vantage point of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I want to underscore three key points as the Submarine Force charts its course for a future laid out in the QDR.
My first point is to celebrate and congratulate the far-sighted leaders of the past whose foresight and hard work made this SSGN both possible and affordable. For more than two decades, the Ohio-class submarine – and the associated training and maintenance systems ashore and afloat – have been the “crown jewel” of the deterrent capability of our Joint Force. Designed with more than 40 years of certified hull life...incorporating the stealthiest reactor plant ever...built with care at Electric Boat by skilled artisans from throughout the submarine industrial base…and maintained and operated by some of the most motivated and dedicated Sailors found in our Navy – the Ohio-class submarine remains a unique national asset for tailored deterrence, this time against different, more ambiguous, but still-
Without the margin for growth, scalability, and change – as well as the superlative maintenance record – we would never have considered transforming these platforms into new uses for the Joint Force.
Such innovative leadership like this will be critical to maintaining and expanding the capability provided by the SSGN and her associated weapons systems and
elite warriors. So this is no time to rest
on our laurels.