By Adm. John Richardson
Chief of Naval Operations
America is a maritime nation, and our prosperity is tied to our ability to operate freely in the maritime environment. Today’s strategic environment is increasingly globalized and increasingly competitive.
Global systems are used more, stressed more and contested more. The maritime system, for example, has seen explosive growth – for the first time in 25 years, there is true competition for control of the seas. From the sea floor to space, from deep water to the shoreline, and in the information domain, things are accelerating. The global information system has become pervasive and has changed the way we all do business, including at sea. Technology is being introduced at an unprecedented rate, and is being adopted by society just as fast. And finally, a new set of competitors are moving quickly to use these forces to their advantage, and for the first time in 25 years, the United States is facing a return to great power competition.
These new forces have changed what it means for the Navy and Marine Corps to provide maritime security. And while the problems are much more numerous and complex, our responsibility remains the same. Naval forces must provide our leaders credible options to protect America from attack, to advance our prosperity, to further our strategic interests, to assure our allies and partners, to and deter our adversaries. These rest on the ability of the Navy and our sister services to win decisively if conflict breaks out.
If we don’t adapt, we will perform below our potential, and worse, we may fall behind our competitors. To address this environment, the Navy is focusing on four lines of effort: doing right by our people, broadening naval warfighting concepts and capabilities, strengthening our partnerships, and learning faster.
Unquestionably, the most important part of our Navy is our team. Everything we do starts and ends with our Sailors, civilians and their families. As our platforms and missions become more complex, our need for talented people continues to be a challenge. We need to recruit, train and retain the right people, and our Sailor 2025 initiatives are aimed squarely at that challenge. Those efforts are based in our core values of honor, courage and commitment, and demonstrated through four core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness.
And our Navy team is committed to our mission, which requires us to strengthen naval power at and from the sea. Our investments for the future reflect some very tough choices as we achieve this aim. We have prioritized shipbuilding and the industrial base. First in that effort is the Ohio Replacement Program. We are taking steps to more deeply ingrain information warfare. And we’re also investing in our naval aviation enterprise, rapidly integrating unmanned systems and bolstering our investments in advanced weapons.
In addition to these investments, we are adjusting our behaviors to keep pace with a world that continues to accelerate. We are doubling down on an approach that relies more heavily on experimentation and prototyping. And we are pursuing multiple avenues to drive shorter learning cycles into all that we do. We must learn faster.
For 240 years, the U.S. Navy has been a been a cornerstone of American security and prosperity. To continue to meet this obligation, we must adapt to the emerging security environment. We will remain the world’s finest Navy only if we fight each and every minute to get better. Our competitors are focused on taking the lead; we must pick up the pace and deny them. The margins of victory are razor thin, but they are decisive.