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"I look forward to serving together as we tackle the challenges ahead—challenges that will require all of us to know our mission orders, keep a keen and continuous periscope search, and act with boldness and initiative to seize opportunities as they arise—all part of our genetic make-up as submariners!"

VADM Richardson

 

 

Vice Adm. John Richardson, USN, Commander, Submarine Forces

 

As this is my first contribution to UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine, let me begin by saying what an honor and privilege it is to be the Commander of our Submarine Forces. I look forward to serving together as we tackle the challenges ahead—challenges that will require all of us to know our mission orders, keep a keen and continuous periscope search, and act with boldness and initiative to seize opportunities as they arise—all part of our genetic make-up as submariners!

As I write this, we are in the midst of responding to two world crises: the disaster in Japan brought on by the earthquake and tsunami, and the situation in Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi and his government are firing on their own people, who are striving for freedom. As you would expect, the Submarine Force—our boats and our individual people—were among the first responders to these crises. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and all the responders.

Before I get too far into this letter, I would like to wish VADM Jay Donnelly "fair winds and following seas" as he and Mimi move on to seize new challenges and opportunities beyond our Submarine Force! They were fantastic leaders and leave behind a Force capable of executing the most challenging missions in our nation's maritime history. Sir, we are all very grateful for a job well done!

I'd also like to recognize and congratulate several other key officers who are newly in leadership positions in the Submarine Force. A terrific submariner and my good friend, RADM Frank Caldwell, has taken command at COMSUBPAC, and I could not be more thrilled about the chance to serve with him. His predecessor, RADM Doug McAneny, developed and turned over a force in the Pacific that is tuned for high-tempo operations and is ready for combat if called. Many thanks, Sir!

Our other new operational commanders, RDML Bob Hennegan (COMSUBGRU NINE) and RDML Jamie Foggo (COMSUBGRU EIGHT), join the team that includes RADM Mike Connor at OPNAV N87, RDML Barry Bruner at COMSUBGRU TEN, RDML Mike McLaughlin at COMSUBGRU TWO, and RDML Robert Thomas at COMSUBGRU SEVEN. Also, since the last issue of UNDERSEA WARFARE, VADM Scott Van Buskirk is now serving as Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet; VADM Joe Leidig has assumed duty as Deputy Commander, U.S. Africa Command; and VADM Cecil Haney has assumed duty as Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command. It is a complete privilege to be serving with these leaders.

In 2011, as we execute the CNO's Maritime Strategy, we continue in an era characterized by increasing worldwide demands on the U.S. Navy in general, and the U.S. Submarine Force in particular. As the demands grow, we will be expected to meet the challenge—and we will. Our future will be characterized by providing expanded decision space to our leadership with a wider range of response options through our unique attributes of stealth, endurance and firepower. Our top responsibilities include:

Sustaining the nation's sea-based strategic deterrent. The fleet of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs is approaching 26 years old and will remain a critical element of the nation's deterrent force for the foreseeable future. The program to replace the Ohio-class SSBN achieved Defense Acquisition Milestone A approval to commence construction later in this decade to ensure uninterrupted survivable deterrence.

Fulfilling our attack and guided-missile submarine commitments. Los Angeles-class and, increasingly, Virginia-class submarines remain deployed around the world, advancing our national interests. SSGNs remain vital to the warfighter for their strike and special-forces payloads.

Aggressively and intelligently pursuing technology that will continue to advance unmanned underwater systems, with increased endurance and capability.

Developing the Undersea Warfare Commander's Concept, which will bring synergy and purpose to operations and warfighting in the undersea battlespace.

But the challenges do not stop there. Coincident with increasing responsibility, we are entering an era that will likely reduce available resources at all levels of government. With the 2010 budget deficit exceeding $1.3 trillion and the interest on the national debt consuming more of the budget, there will be tremendous pressure to execute more efficiently. We have little recent experience with managing requirements in an era of declining resources—the defense budget has steadily grown for more than a decade. We must reconcile these diverging trends of increasing demand and declining resources through a balanced approach that strives to succeed at doing what is essential, understanding where we need to make changes, and eliminating what we can do without.

To answer this challenge, our leadership team is in the final stages of designing a Submarine Force Campaign to guide our thoughts, shape our mindset, and direct our decisions and actions. As with all campaigns, a key ingredient to success will be communication, alignment and execution. I look forward to your contributions as we embark down this path together.

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