Dominance on the seas cannot be guaranteed. With the return of great power competition, we must pay greater attention to sea control and maritime superiority. Operating ships in a complex maritime environment demands tactical expertise, and everyone reading this article is a supporting member of that very important mission. As are the contributing constituencies who support our 284 ships, 327,000 active duty Sailors; 97,000 ready reserve Sailors; and 210,000 civilians. Together, we make up America’s Varsity away team – focused on keeping those who seek to do us harm away from American soil and our shores.
I hear many questions, when I travel the force, about the complementary documents known as the Comprehensive Review (CR) and the Strategic Readiness Review (SRR). Together they provide the guidance necessary to build a better, more talented, and more ready fleet, which is the path to increased naval power. For context, the outcomes of those two efforts (and associated GAO and IG recommendations) started with 147 specific recommendations, representing a broad range of proposed changes. After consolidation and review, the Readiness Reform and Oversight Council (RROC) combined them into 111 recommendations. We’re moving out on this. In fact, our Navy, through the RROC, has made significant progress in implementing recommendations from the CR and SRR with the ultimate purpose of improving readiness to ensure that our fleet remains a lethal, global maneuver force ready to execute the National Defense Strategy.
To this end, our goal is not to continue looking back to see how we should have avoided mistakes; but rather to address any systemic shortcomings as we evolve to meet the complex, evolving threats of tomorrow. We owe it to our Sailors to keep them safe and, more importantly, ready to fight and win across the range of military operations as we return to great power competition.
Operationally, our goals are clear – we want our ships to deploy with 92 percent fit, 95 percent fill, casualty report (CASREP) free, and fully certified. And as a staff, in addition to supporting those expectations, we want to carve out more time for Commanding Officers’ discretionary training, which we know helps our commanding officers reach these goals.
Here’s how you should view the continuum of SWO career efforts, training and experience:
As a Division Officer, learn how to Drive the Ship
As a Department Head, learn how to Fight the Ship
As an Executive Officer, learn how to Manage the ship
As a Commanding Officer, be ready to Command ships from day one.
We’ve also revised the SWO career path, increasing schoolhouse training, as well as increasing experience aboard ships at sea to driver towards proficiency rather than sufficiency.
To that end, our over-arching focus remains support to you, our waterfront warfighters. We recognize that what makes us the best Navy in the world is not our ships, missiles, jets or technology, though all of those things are important and indeed impressive. We know that what makes us so great is our people --- our Total Force team of active and reserve Sailors, and our civilians. And that’s why we focus on you as our community’s most important leaders.
We as Surface Warriors are a special a community. We serve with integrity and lead with humility, compassion and professionalism. We embrace the traditions that are the foundations of our service and nation. We are highly adaptable, lethal and tough in today’s fight. We are courageous, disciplined and accountable maritime professionals. We are the Best, the Fastest, the Toughest, and the Smartest Naval Surface Force in the World. Embrace these tenets, and own the fight!
I remain steadfastly appreciative for everything you’re doing to prepare to fight and win – and to keep our Navy the strongest, most capable and effective force the world has ever known.
Keep up the great work leading the world’s finest Navy. I’m proud to serve with each of you, and I look forward to seeing you on the waterfront.