I hope this update finds all the Sailors and civilian employees of the Surface Force well and in high spirits. We have a lot to be proud of in our community, and we have a lot to anticipate in the weeks and months ahead.
Two months after our latest Surface Navy Association Symposium, and I am still getting emails from active duty, retired, and industry attendees talking about the palpable energy present there. The release of the Surface Force Strategy “Return to Sea Control” provided the backdrop for discussions about offensive operations, electronic maneuver warfare, and distributed logistics—all of which provide the means for the operational and organizational Distributed Lethality principles at the heart of our “return” to sea control. Since the symposium, there have been encouraging signs from political leadership about the commitment to Surface Force readiness and modernization; theseelements are essential to everything we do.
Another key to everything we do is “Toughness”—one of CNO’s four core attributes meant to guide Navy leaders (the others being Integrity, Accountability, and Initiative). I think it is worth spending a little time with you on what toughness means to me. Toughness is not bravado. Toughness is not bluster. Toughness is not—as the CNO says—an excuse for excess, or abuse. No—toughness is a thoughtful and deliberate approach to preparing oneself and one’s shipmates for the rigors and stresses of combat. That being said, toughness is more than resilience. Toughness provides a crew with the means to fight through an attack and then battle back. Toughness in the Surface Force is a by-product of training—realistic, stressful training—that builds upon skills already mastered and continuously challenges watch-teams to improve.
When I think of toughness in action, I think of the crew of USS MASON, USS NITZE and USS MAKIN ISLAND during their recent deployment, and how they were subject to anti-ship cruise missile attacks in the Red Sea last October.