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Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly issues his weekly Vector message to the Department of the Navy workforce on Fridays. Below is the text of each Vector, the most recent appearing first.

Revisit this NavyLive blog each week for the latest SECNAV Vector.

Vector 18: Serving Our Country – April 3, 2020

One of my early heroes growing up in Cleveland, Ohio was Bob Feller.  Feller was an all-time great pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. Even though his last game in the major leagues happened four years before I was born, his career had sustained its legendary status among Cleveland Indians fans, and across the broad spectrum of baseball aficionados, throughout my entire childhood and beyond. Feller was a baseball prodigy, a young right handed pitcher with a devastating, unhittable fastball.  He was signed by Cleveland out of the small town of Van Meter, Iowa in 1936 at the age of 17, and in his pitching debut with the Indians he struck out 15 batters.  Over the next several years he became one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.  Then came December 7, 1941. 

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on that “day of infamy” changed the trajectory of Feller’s life and baseball career, as it did for our entire nation.  Two days after Pearl Harbor, Feller left the Indians, and joined OUR team, the United States Navy.  He served with honor for the next 3+ years, passing up the prime years of his baseball career in service to our Navy and our nation.  He left the Navy in 1945 as a highly decorated Chief Petty Officer and returned to the Indians where he went on to win the World Series in 1948, and then played in another one in 1954. 

When asked whether he had any second thoughts about putting off his baseball career to join the Navy fight in World War II Bob Feller was characteristically blunt and honest:

“A lot of folks say that had I not missed those almost 4 seasons to World War II during what was probably my physical prime I might have had 370 or even 400 wins.  But I have no regrets.  None at all.  I did what any American could and should do:  serve his country in its time of need.  The world’s time of need.”

In the midst of this global pandemic, both uniformed Americans and civilians alike find themselves confined to quarters, sheltering in place as the virus blooms through our cities and towns.  Many of you in the Navy and Marine Corps team continue to safely navigate the contagion, operating at the forward edge of freedom in the air and on or below the sea, throughout the world.  As Americans, we are all being asked, as Bob Feller said and did, “to serve our country in its time of need” in ways that may not comport to the plans we had envisioned for our lives and careers.  But, serve we must.
In this crisis, America is recognizing what you do for the nation.  It was hard to miss the great pride, and relief, of New Yorkers and Los Angelenos when the USNS COMFORT and USNS MERCY entered their harbors, pulled into piers alongside those renowned cities, and began to render aid this week.  It is telling that within 24 hours of the call going out for reservists to staff the COMFORT and MERCY, we received over 200 requests to volunteer.  The ability to rapidly provide support to these missions is not only a testament to the continual training and mobilization readiness efforts of the Navy Reserve, but also the motivated responses from citizen-Sailors from around the country.
Most of the time, our sea services are out of sight and unknown to many of our fellow citizens.  Not today.  National security imperatives like freedom of navigation of the seas, geopolitical balancing from international waters, and defensive depth provided by a long grey line of American sovereign ships, deployed thousands of miles forward from our shores are not often top of mind.  Today, however, your presence is comforting the nation and you can be proud.
Although the MERCY and COMFORT are the most visible signs of our Navy and Marine Corps team responding to this crisis, there is so much more that we are actually doing to harness our agility and commitment to our fellow citizens throughout this country.  What we are demonstrating is that our team is much broader than the people we see on active duty.  We are a part of an expansive “naval service ecosystem” consisting of active duty Sailors and Marines, reservists, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, shipbuilders, aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, and more.
Here is just a short list of some of things this ecosystem is contributing today in this struggle against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):
We are deploying Expeditionary Medical Facilities (EMFs), which are mobile hospitals designed for austere and challenging environments.  They have full resuscitation and emergency stabilizing surgery capabilities, as well as selected specialty care providers, with over 400 Selected Reserve Sailors ready to deploy in addition to active-duty personnel – in total, more than 550 highly qualified medical professionals in each EMF.  This week we split one of these EMFs into two teams and sent one half to Dallas and the other to New Orleans.

Marine Corps Systems Command and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific teamed to assist the University of California San Diego Medical Center with designing parts for 3D printing capabilities which enable the simultaneous ventilation of multiple patients.

Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve squadrons and aviators have worked around the clock, helping transport personnel and equipment across the globe.  The Navy Air Logistics Office has been pivotal in the prioritization of thousands of missions. For example, they have transported critical test kits from San Diego to Guam in support of COVID-19 response efforts, and moved graduates from Recruit Training Command Great Lakes to their follow-on assignments in the fleet.

The Naval Medical Research Center has hundreds of medical professionals deployed worldwide, conducting COVID-19 diagnostic and surveillance testing.

Navy Facilities Engineering Command is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency/Health and Human Services. This includes assessing facilities and developing standardized design concepts for conversion of hotels, arenas, and barracks to hospitals.

Our Naval University System is providing assistance to broader national emergency effort, from donating laptops to local agencies, to providing scientific research assistance in the Additive Manufacturing of needed masks and other personal protective equipment.

The Department of the Navy scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory are providing vital technical support in several areas, including fluid mechanics and biotechnology.

The Defense Industrial Base, besides continuing to support our Navy and Marine Corps team and our larger national critical infrastructure, has also been active in supporting the national response to COVID-19.  They have been donating N95 masks and other personal protective equipment, using their 3D printing capabilities to manufacture additional equipment such as face shields, working closely with local businesses to support them where possible, and sharing best practices for the health and safety of the workforce during the crisis.

These vignettes tell a larger, more strategic story of who we are as a people.  I am confident that we shall look back at these moments as searing in their challenge and full of mourning in our loss, but also we will recall another age in our history when we once again came together for common purpose.  Our opportunity to show America what we as a naval service can do for our fellow citizens in need could hardly be clearer.  It is up to us to seize it.
My childhood hero, Bob Feller, was born in the thick of the 1918 flu pandemic, and was raised during the polio epidemic that ultimately paralyzed President Franklin D. Roosevelt, so he lived through something similar to what we are all going through today in the midst of a global pandemic.  I am certain he would have recognized that the same level of courage, extraordinary action, and sacrifice will be required by each of us to persevere through this crisis.  After the war, life continued for Feller.  He had his triumphs, albeit on a very different path than he imagined.  So will each of us.  How we respond today, however, may be the one thing we treasure the most about our individual journeys, and the legacy we leave for our country. 
Go Navy and Marine Corps!  Never, ever give up the ship! And once again, and forever more, Beat Army!

Vector 17: Don’t Give Up the Ship – March 27, 2020

Although the news continues to be dominated by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, it is important that we still engage in some of life’s normal diversions.  In this spirit, last week we learned that Tom Brady would be leaving the New England Patriots after two decades as their quarterback.  The news did not come as a complete surprise, but it did cause a major realignment of longstanding perceptions of power in the NFL.  For those of us who follow the league, it is hard to imagine the Patriots without Tom Brady.  Love him or hate him, Brady has become synonymous with the brand of the team itself.  When he entered the league, however, this was not the case.  Brady was the 199th pick in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft and came to the Patriots to serve as a backup behind Drew Bledsoe, a 1st round draft pick and 3- time Pro Bowl-quality quarterback.  In the second game of the 2001 season, Bledsoe sustained a concussion along with serious internal bleeding, and the Patriots fans’ hopes for a playoff run and a return to the Super Bowl were seemingly dashed.  Nonetheless, despite the unexpected and devastating loss of their Pro-Bowl quarterback, the team never lost sight of its ultimate purpose:  WINNING. 

Although Tom Brady only got his opportunity due to an unfortunate circumstance, he seized it and  proceeded to lead the Patriots in that season to the first of six Super Bowl victories that the Patriots would amass over the next 20 years.  He never lost the starting job.  The Patriots never looked back.  What we can learn from this story is that misfortune happens, even to the very best of us.  Crises occur, and will continue to occur.  But high performing teams are resilient and they figure out how to adjust, maintain focus on their mission, and ultimately succeed.  Sometimes even the most unlikely person steps up with an idea, with inspiration, with confidence, and leads when they are needed most.  In this time of national crisis, that person may be YOU.

By the time you read this message, the USNS MERCY will be nearing Los Angeles, CA, and next week, the USNS COMFORT will sail into the harbor of New York City.  In coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Vice President’s Coronavirus Task Force, both of these hospital ships and their medical teams will soon provide critical, compassionate care to our fellow citizens in need.  Additionally, I’ve asked the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to think creatively about how the entire Department of the Navy can further assist our civilian sisters and brothers, directly and indirectly.  They (and we) need to hear your ideas, too.  We have set up an email address to capture all of them – and every one of them will matter, because good ideas have no rank: DontGiveUpTheShip@navy.mil.  It is time to harness the creativity and initiative of our entire Navy and Marine Corps team to help our nation through this crisis. 

Beyond your ideas, I know each of you are already acting now, in many different and important ways, whether it be leading our Sailors and Marines safely through their vital missions or attending to our school-age children now learning from home.  Both are essential to our overall readiness.  But it is also during trying times like these that we as an institution are sometimes tempted to place enormous energy into the tactics of the day, so much so that we might lose focus and energy in driving towards our strategic imperatives for tomorrow. 

When Drew Bledsoe was injured on September 23, 2001 (the first week the NFL returned to action after the attacks of 9/11), the Patriots immediate objective was to win the next game, but their ultimate priority was to win the Super Bowl.  For us today, our immediate objective must be to assist the nation, through whatever means necessary and appropriate, to defeat this virus and return to a sense of normalcy, economic growth, and prosperity.  Through all this, I assure you I will continue to drive our focus on the broad institutional priorities as set forth in my first Vector to the Navy and Marine Corps team:

Designing a Future Integrated Naval Force Structure

Advancing Our Intellectual Capacity and Ethical Excellence

Accelerating Digital Modernization Across the Force

These priorities were developed over the space and experience of years, not days, and build upon the activities of our entire Navy and Marine Corps team to accomplish the tenets of our National Defense Strategy.  In fact, the importance of those priorities is the main reason why I named these weekly messages as “Vectors” — implying a future course and speed towards an intended objective, rather than taking a “bearing” to fix our current location, or gazing “astern” at the wake we create—a wake that only leads in the direction from where we came. 

Indeed, as we protect our people, our families, and ourselves from the unusual challenges of COVID-19, we must also “keep a weather eye” on the horizon, where just ahead of us lies what can be both a bright, and unpredictable, future.  There is much we can do, even when sheltered in place, to apply our personal and collective agility towards preparing for that future. 

Our sacred calling is to defend our nation.  Let our adversaries beware and our allies take heed:  We are ready for anything.  There is no doubt that America will, as we always have done, emerge stronger when this crisis finally passes.  We in the naval profession have a special obligation to think around the corner of COVID-19 toward the broader challenges that we may face as this century evolves, while at the same time doing our utmost to operate safely, train effectively, and learn continuously.  

I could not be more grateful to have the opportunity to serve alongside each of you, right here, right now, in the midst of a crisis that we have the opportunity, and power, to help mitigate.  When the MERCY and COMFORT pull into Los Angeles and New York harbors in the coming days, our citizens will see YOU, their Navy and Marine Corps team, doing what it is meant to do.  The COMFORT and MERCY are just a start.  We can do more, and we will.  For that is our ultimate purpose:  to defend the nation today, and to be prepared to do so well into the future. 

Go Navy and Marine Corps!  Never, ever give up the ship!  And to those who say I should stop saying “Beat Army” at the close of these vectors, I say, forever, Beat Army!

Vector 16 – March 20, 2020: Agility in Time of Crisis

The most predictable thing we can say about the future is that it will be unpredictable. — SECNAV VECTOR 7

During my recent testimony to Congress, and in various speeches and communications I have delivered over the past several years, I have tried to make the case for a more agile naval force, defined by more agile people, to address a future that would be predominantly defined by uncertainty.  I believe this uncertain future will not see a narrowing of challenges to those presented by great powers, but rather an expansion of them along a broader range, from great to small, each with varying capacities to produce disproportionate levels of disruption and destruction on society if we are unprepared. 

Today we are experiencing this phenomenon in real time.  All the threats we have traditionally planned for, and engaged against, over the past several decades are not the ones that present the biggest current threat.  Rather, today’s threat, as a testament to the unpredictable nature of our future security, is a microscopic particle that we can’t see, but whose impact is striking at the world’s economy with the ferocity of a full-scale kinetic war.  As strongly as any surprise attack could, the specter of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has changed just about everything surrounding our daily lives.  These will be trying times for all of us as naval family and as a nation.  But it will also demonstrate how we must continue our focus on greater agility as we fight through this crisis, and learn more about how we should prepare for the next one. 

This moment also underlines why agility matters so much for the future of our integrated American naval force.  We must cultivate the qualities of agility to address challenges posed by known competitors/adversaries, but especially for those threats we cannot see or ever predict.  I have developed a list of these qualities.  I admit there may be more, but these are good ones to think about as you consider your role today and into the future.  These qualities apply to organizations and platforms, but most importantly they are PERSONAL qualities that you should cultivate in yourself and the people whom you lead:

Velocity/Speed:  Ability to think, act, move, and make good decisions faster

Visibility/Transparency:  Ability to communicate with openness, clarity, and veracityAdaptability:  Ability to change missions, functions, and tasks rapidly

Collaboration:  Ability to work across organizational silos and structures

Innovation:  Ability to imagine, design, iterate, and implement new solutions

Humility:  Ability to be honest about deficiencies in order to correct them

Trust:  Ability to be reliable, dependable, and build confidence

Skepticism:  Ability to think beyond the obvious; not accept things at face value

As we prepare the USNS MERCY and USNS COMFORT to deploy to two major American cities, we can see how the agile qualities listed above have contributed to our ability to respond to the nation’s call.  Several weeks ago, we asked the question about whether these ships, designed for dealing with combat casualties, with one currently in extended maintenance, could be used to help in this crisis.  Two to three weeks from now they will be in place providing surge hospital capacity in places no one imagined they would be when those initial questions were asked.  Your Navy and Marine Corps team moved with speed to get the ships quickly through their maintenance programs, were transparent with local officials about timelines, showed adaptability in how these ships would be used, provided collaboration with state and federal officials and the shipyards, used innovation with respect to how to staff the ships to meet the healthcare needs they would expect to see, exhibited humility in understanding our broad role to respond to this crisis, showed trust across the broad teams of people who worked to mobilize and staff the ships, and had healthy skepticism about what some thought could NOT be done. 

As we are all realizing, and every Marine and Sailor already knows, the front lines in our quest for security can be anywhere at any time.  The protection of our nation demands that we may be called into service in ways that we did not imagine the day before.  It is our job to do that imagining—to be agile enough to step up whenever and wherever we are required to do so.  For 245 years, the Navy and Marine Corps team has done exactly that – demonstrating the creativity, resilience, and fortitude to adapt and overcome.  The crisis we face today may be indeed just a warmup for what may come next.  We cannot know what that MAY be, but we have a responsibility to imagine what it COULD be—and how we as a naval force might have to step-in to mitigate it.  That’s how we must approach this particular crisis.  Not as an aberration, but as an opportunity to adapt to the new normal of a far more unpredictable future.

Much will be asked of us on behalf of our citizens and allies.  This crisis centers around the issue of health and the economy; but it is also a military one.  We must maintain our readiness.  We must continue to serve with courage.  We must continue to serve with honor.  Our citizens hold the American Navy and Marine Corps in very high esteem.  They expect great things from us.  They expect our institution to perform with skill and compassion, perhaps more so than any other federal, state, or local entity engaged in this fight.  This reputation is well-earned, and I know we will sustain and burnish that reputation through this crisis.  Although history has thrown all of us a big curve ball, we must recognize that it always will.  Just as in previous crises, we are being asked once again to change our individual ways of life in order to preserve the fullest potential of liberty for those around us, and those yet to come.        

I know that each of you stands ready, willing, and more than capable to protect the American people.  It is what we all signed up for, to serve a cause greater than ourselves, to protect our democracy and our very way of life.  I could not be more proud to count myself among each of you: a Sailor, a Marine, a Department of the Navy Civilian, and an American Citizen.  Together, we will get through this and emerge on the other side as a stronger and more agile Navy and Marine Corps team, and as a direct result of that, a more resilient nation. 

Go Navy, and as always, Beat Army!

Vector 15 – March 13, 2020: Force Health Protection Guidance for the Department of the Navy

In an effort to provide a consistent message to our Navy and Marine Corps team, the referenced ALNAV incorporates the latest information and guidance regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as it applies to the Department of the Navy (DON) response.

I appreciate the collaborative effort across the DON in support of our Service Members, their families, and our civilian personnel.  Recognizing that information and corresponding guidance will evolve, I would like to stress that the safety of our personnel and their families is paramount.  The guidance provided is a resource for you to implement regulations in a common sense approach.  I trust your leadership and risk-informed decisions as we navigate through these uncertainties while ensuring mission readiness.

Vector 14 – March 6, 2020: Financial Accountability

There is a great scene from the movie “School of Rock” in which the main character, Dewey Finn (played by Jack Black), explains why he teaches certain subjects using a technique called “sing-song.” He explains that this method is particularly effective for what he calls “the boring subjects.” It’s a stark and damning admission for an alleged educator—but I think that was the point of the joke! 

In any case, I believe that in the Department of the Navy (DON) we often fall victim to similar thinking about certain jobs or functions that seem tedious and unimportant relative to the bigger life or death missions that are carried out by our front line warfighters. In those cases, it’s easy to justify that certain activities should go to the back burner in deference to the crisis of the day. 

I had a perfect example of this phenomenon over the last several days as I thought about this vector.  For weeks I had scheduled the vector to be about the financial audit, but as events of the week unfolded I became convinced that a message about how we are dealing with Coronavirus should take precedence. The audit, as many might suggest, is just one of those “boring subjects” that should be relegated to a lower priority in the face of bigger challenges. The truth is, however, that the audit really matters for exactly the same reason that any other big challenge does—it has a profound impact on our effectiveness as an organization, and it will hamper our ability to fight and win if we don’t address it. 

Therefore, I will use this vector to inform you about the audit, and I also attach some more detailed information about Coronavirus so that you understand the steps we are taking to address the disease as a department and how you can reduce your risks in this regard. These two subjects are not mutually exclusive in terms of priorities. They both matter.

With respect to the audit, this is our third year of conducting a full financial statement audit of the DON.  Prior to 2018, this had never been done before in the history of our organization. We continue to make progress and have established a number of priorities for Fiscal Year 2020, which are outlined in our Business Operations Plan. One critical initiative, the Navy Material Accountability Campaign, is already having a significant impact on fleet readiness and improved accountability of our equipment and operating material. Clean-up efforts beginning in 2019 have identified $2.9 billion in material that had not been visible across the Navy enterprise. Much of this material was managed locally, but the lack of global visibility prevented us from being able to utilize available inventory in one location to satisfy requirements elsewhere or process for disposal as necessary. To date, this material has filled over 12,000 fleet requisitions valued at nearly $50 million. 

There are many examples of local installation efforts on this campaign, but I would like to highlight a few to demonstrate my earlier point about how the audit is having an immediate impact on our organizational effectiveness and how that has directly translated into better operational readiness. During the audit, Naval Air Station Jacksonville identified $280 million of material for use or disposal, of which $81 million filled 174 requisitions, enhancing aviation readiness and supporting strike fighter recovery. Additionally, the Naval Sea Logistics Center and Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia identified more than 10,500 line items of material. They filled nearly 2,000 high priority requisitions for our ships and submarines at a cost avoidance to the fleet of over $2 million.

These and all related efforts are greatly appreciated. As the work continues, examples like this are growing and the impact of audit on fleet readiness is being enhanced. We still have a long way to go, and yes, some of this work can be tedious and hard. Nonetheless, everyone has a part to play with respect to how responsible and accountable you are with the funds you have to spend, the material you have to manage, and the processes you have to follow and document. While doing this work if we think about how it supports our warfighters there is no reasonable way anyone could refer to the audit as a “boring subject!”

We must continue to press and accelerate these and other audit related efforts, which are foundational to readiness, cybersecurity, stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and the reform line of effort for the National Defense Strategy. As I’ve said before, the financial audit is the lynchpin to monitoring, catalyzing, and improving business operations performance. That is why we in the DON are committed to the audit.

Finally, and sadly, I had the solemn honor to attend the memorial services for two shipmates this week. The first was for 97 year-old Don Stratton, one of the last three survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. The second was for 23 year-old Midshipman David Forney, a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy. At both services, I was struck as to how our sea service is bound together across generations by the same qualities: strength, courage, determination, a sense of adventure, a sense of duty, a sense of humor, and a sense of commitment to teammates and shipmates. Most striking however, was how in grief we gather to acknowledge these qualities in our lost shipmates, while in life we hold back on expressing it. This week, please take a moment to thank a DON shipmate for what they do that you respect, for who they are that you admire, and for what they represent that makes you proud. We all need this recognition and it keeps us connected and committed to each other and the broader mission we all serve.

Don’t Give Up the Ship, Don’t Give Up on a Shipmate, Don’t Give Up the Audit; and don’t ever forget to “Beat Army!” 

On Coronovirus: The CDC website has the latest and most up-to-date information. The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center website also has information.

Vector 13 – Feb. 28, 2020: Education Strategy

Throughout our history, American leaders have championed the power of learning especially when grappling with unpredictable and momentous change. At the turn of the 20th century, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt led through a particularly dynamic era in terms of technology, instruments of national power, and geopolitical risk. Yet in dealing with that change, Roosevelt’s first priority was not the machinery of war, but rather developing the intellects of those who would lead the Navy and Marine Corps. This is the “grey matter” that I have called a key strategic enabler for our force today, and into a more unpredictable future.

Fast forward to the year 2020, and learning is once again considered “the ultimate strategic advantage.” Companies in today’s global economy are increasingly finding that “outlearning” their competitors offers tremendous financial and strategic benefits. To that end, the Chief Learning Officer of Intel Corporation recently wrote, “In the new world of work – where humans team with robots, where the shelf-life of skills is measured in months, where automation is rapidly and permanently changing the way we get things done – learning is the most essential tool in the organization’s arsenal for sustained competitive advantage.” 

We must similarly understand that in order to deter and, if necessary, outfight our adversaries, we must learn how to out-think them. That is why we in the Department of the Navy (DON) have committed to elevating education as a critical warfighting enabler. Next Monday will be the opening salvo in our broad implementation of this commitment across the naval service. Specifically, with the full concurrence and support of the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Naval Operations, I will release the Education for Seapower Strategy 2020, the DON’s first ever comprehensive education strategy to guide our naval force into the future.

Our goals for naval education, as set forth in the strategy are to:

– Develop leaders and warfighters who possess good judgment, creativity, a commitment to ethics, and excellent analytic and problem solving skills;

– Provide naval forces with an intellectual overmatch against our adversaries; and

– Make the naval force more proficient by improving strategic thinking, increasing geopolitical awareness, building key technical and professional capabilities, and deepening our understanding of the conditions in which military force can be used effectively.

– To achieve these outcomes, the Education for Seapower Strategy 2020 is built upon the following three pillars:

Pillar 1: Create a Continuum of Learning for the Entire Force. For our enlisted force, as a supplement to our tuition assistance program, we will create a Naval Community College to offer associate’s degrees in technical fields necessary to fight the wars of the 21st Century. For our officers, we will increase the number of opportunities to pursue professional military education and build new courses of study directly linked to warfighting advantage and ethical excellence. And for our civilian team, we will invest in their skills and intellectual development, with emphasis on technological acumen and financial management.

Pillar 2: Integrate Education into our Talent Management Frameworks. There is a close connection between an individual’s curiosity and aptitude for learning and their capacity to lead. Our talent management systems will incentivize and reward intellectual development and set institutional expectations for continuous learning. This will require prioritization of education in our evaluation, promotion, and school selection processes.

Pillar 3: Strengthen and Invest in our Naval University System. To become a true learning organization, the DON will develop and improve the education infrastructure of our entire organization. We will invest in our learning institutions, our faculty, and the high-performing staff who support them. We will also create new relationships for intellectual sharing and debate between the fleets and Marine Operating Forces, and our cyber, research, and intelligence enterprises to increase the intellectual preparedness or our Sailors, Marines, and Civilians.

The Education for Seapower Strategy 2020 will provide initial direction to our force, as we work to link how we learn to how we fight. As we move forward, this strategy will be adjusted, and updated periodically, to reflect progress as well as new realities. And as we evolve, we will remain constant in our fundamental commitment to intellectual preparedness and warfighting advantage.

Education is our best safeguard to ensure that all of our people are intellectually and ethically prepared for each crisis to come. Education is not just an institutional duty – it is the responsibility of every naval leader, uniformed and civilian alike, to continue to learn throughout their careers, serving as an intellectual role model for those they lead, and taking an active role in guiding the intellectual development of those in their charge.

It is time that we purposefully develop the minds of our leaders, as Navy Secretary Teddy Roosevelt wrote, so they too can “contend for the mastery of the ocean…(with) demands made upon them heavier than have ever been made in any sea fight of the past…it is our duty to see that…the officers upon who this great demand is made are so trained that they shall stand level to the crisis.”

Once we start, this effort must not be allowed to lose momentum. It has tremendous potential to transform the quality of our integrated naval force, but only if YOU care about it and invest your energy into making it real in your own career.

Go Navy, and as always, Beat Army!

Vector 12 – Feb. 21, 2020: Stem to Stern Review

Last week, I was honored to attend the funeral of General Paul X. Kelley, the 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps, held at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony our current Commandant, General David Berger, told a compelling story about the virtue of strategic vision when coupled with principled determination. In his remarks, General Berger relayed how passionately Commandant Kelley advocated for the V-22 Osprey aircraft, and how his forceful defense of the program prevailed despite concerted attempts to kill it. General Kelley understood that the Osprey would provide for the type of inherent flexibility that would be necessary for success in the future. Although he could not be certain what that future might hold, he was confident that the increased speed, range, and adaptability of the Osprey would be critical.

Recently, we learned how General Kelley’s foresight paid dividends decades into the future as Marines were able to respond quickly to the threats against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. As General Berger explained, the superior agility of the Osprey was the main reason why the Embassy and associated Green Zone could be critically reinforced by our Marine forces quickly and when most needed. He praised General Kelley for his creativity and courageous vision, but most importantly for his grit in fighting for the operational agility he knew must define the Marines who would be called to serve well beyond his tenure as Commandant – Marines who had not yet been born.

Those lessons matter more than ever today, as we think about the kind of Navy and Marine Corps team we are currently designing for OUR OWN unpredictable future. Just like General Kelley, we can never know the exact parameters of every capability we may need 5, 10, or 20 years from now. But we DO know that our future naval force must include these attributes:

– More platforms that are lethal, and many that are less exquisite;

– Increased agility and Joint interoperability;

– Greater Navy-Marine Corps integration – from strategic to tactical;

– Much longer-range conventional strike capacity and numbers;

– Continued, increased undersea dominance for the long run;

– Ability to win the competition for information every day, and…

– Resilience to fight and prevail when information is denied;

– Finally, a force that is affordable, planned within the budget we have, not the one we wish we had.

In Vector 6, I discussed my desire to accelerate our path to a naval force structure of 355 Plus ships within 10 years. I am still committed to this goal. Our recently completed Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment (INFSA) provides us with a “North Star” in terms of the direction we must embark in shipbuilding, ship extensions, and new ship development. We will continually iterate and refine this force structure over time as it is informed through analysis, joint plans, war gaming, and experimentation. What has become obvious is that we cannot afford to build or sustain this 355-Plus structure, or something approaching it, within 10 years if we don’t first take a hard budgetary look at ourselves – to determine what we can do without – as we reimagine the future design of a more agile integrated naval force. 

That’s why I have directed the Department of the Navy (DON) to conduct a Stem to Stern (S2S) Review over the next 45 days. During this effort we will engage in an intense, purposeful sprint to find savings that we can reinvest to fill the budget gap that is currently inhibiting our ability to grow a ready and capable force for the future.   

Next week I will join the Naval Service Chiefs on Capitol Hill, defending the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 21. The budget asks the taxpayers, through their representatives in the Congress, for $207.1 billion for the DON for FY21. Admittedly, this is a staggering amount of money. Yet even so, it unfortunately slows the growth of force structure building (i.e., more ships) in order to reinvest in current readiness and lethality. This means we made deliberate choices to increase operations and maintenance funding, acquire more weapons, spare parts, and fund long overdue and desperately needed shipyard repairs.

No one is more unhappy about the fact that we are slowing our growth to 355 ships with this budget submission than I am, but I also know that the tough choices that were made will ensure that our Fleet is more ready than they have been since the attacks of 9/11. As Secretary of the Navy, I will not support a budget that produces a Navy and Marine Corps team that cannot fully defend itself. The safety of our Sailors and Marines should always be our highest priority and we should never compromise on that due to budget constraints. In the end, this budget submission is centrally about our Marines, Sailors, and their families. The resulting increased availability of parts, readiness enablers, weapons and ammunition, and maintenance capacity will better allow our people to do their jobs, defend themselves and their shipmates if they must, and return home safely – and on time.

Beyond this current budget, we now have a mandate, much like General Kelley, to build upon our own strategic vision with principled determination. As we conduct our DON S2S Review, we will also begin the work of assessing and iterating our INFSA, and develop a budget-informed plan to achieve a 355-Plus ship Navy within 10 years starting in FY22. You will be hearing more about this plan as it evolves.  In the meantime, remember that just like in the case of the Osprey, the decisions we make today, and the bureaucratic fights which we may need to take on to defend them, will have profound effects upon the Navy and Marine Corps team we ask to go in harm’s way in the decades ahead. In this work, we must never, ever give up the ship!

Go Navy and Marine Corps, and as always, Beat Army!

Vector 11 – Feb. 14, 2020: Information Management

Very shortly after I left the military and transitioned to the private sector, I learned one of my greatest lessons in business. I was working as the lead corporate development executive for an aviation service company and I traveled all over the country evaluating other companies as potential acquisition candidates for my firm. During this process, someone told me of a nearly foolproof indicator that I should always assess before making a determination as to whether the business I was visiting was healthy and a good candidate to be acquired: the quality of the employee bathroom.

I quickly learned that this advice was profound because the condition of that bathroom invariably told the story of what management thought about their employees – and what the employees thought about their management. A dirty, unkept employee bathroom indicated that neither felt positively about the other. It was a cultural sign that took precedence for me regardless of the many other factors I evaluated in the business itself.

As our entire economy has evolved over the last several decades into one that is highly dependent upon information, I believe a new standard has emerged alongside the “employee bathroom test” to help determine the health of an organization. That new standard is just as visibly measured as bathroom quality. The quality, or lack thereof, is the information technology that is provided for employees to do their jobs. Therefore, across the Department of the Navy (DON), we must recognize that advanced information management, digital modernization, and the technology tools that enable them, must be elevated as core strategic priorities. They will ultimately help define the long-term cultural health of our organization.

Cybersecurity, data strategy and analytics, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing have all combined to create massive opportunities and vulnerabilities across our entire enterprise. A critical element of mission readiness is our ability to access agile, reliable, and secure global communications and information, from the network enterprise to the tactical edge. We cannot lag behind our global competitors in providing the technology standards, networks, and tools for YOU to be able to perform your mission with greater speed, accuracy, visibility, and connectivity.

That is why we consolidated Department-wide information management strategy and functions into a restructured and empowered Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) led by Mr. Aaron Weis. Mr. Weis left a successful career as CIO in the private sector because he was drawn to our mission and he likes big challenges. He came to the right place! Under his leadership, the DON is executing a unified vision driving transformation and operational capability. If we are going to win tomorrow’s fights, we must ensure operationally relevant information is in the right hands, at the right time. We need all hands on deck to execute the following three lines of effort of our new Information Management Strategy:

Modernize – We will modernize the DON infrastructure from its current state of fragmented, non-performant, outdated, and indefensible architectures to a unified, logical modern infrastructure capable of delivering information advantage. We will design a performant, defendable cloud-enabled, network leveraging robust identity management.

Innovate – We will use technologies like 5th Generation wireless and Artificial Intelligence to maximum effectiveness, and field new operational capabilities. We will create Digital Innovation Centers to accelerate software development and leverage best practices in the private sector and industry to fuel our digital transformation.

Defend – We will employ continuous active monitoring across the enterprise to increase cyber situational awareness and institute a security culture where a personal commitment to cybersecurity is required to gain access to the network. We will transform the compliance centered culture to one where security is constant readiness. We will work with our defense industrial base partners to secure naval information regardless of where it resides.

These efforts will be led by the Office of the CIO, but their effective implementation depends upon each of us. Our command of the informational commons must be no less a priority than the lethality of our weapons. Without it, our naval force will be unable to deliver what the American taxpayers deserve – and those in uniform on our Navy and Marine Corps team rightfully demand.

You have my commitment that we will improve our technology and tools to a standard that is visibly recognizable, and comparable to what would be expected of any great organization operating in the Information Age. But I ask that you – every Sailor, Marine, and civilian – take seriously your own role as a guardian of the digital information you have, and will have at your fingertips. Everyone in the DON enterprise must become a Cyber Sentry. The more advanced we become as an Information-Based organization, the more our adversaries will seek to attack and exploit us in this domain. We will not be able to stop them unless everyone does their part to protect the advantages digital information provides, and limit the vulnerabilities it creates.

Go Navy, and as always, Beat Army!

Vector 10 – Feb. 7, 2020: Honorable Service

This week, as a precursor to a difficult subject, I would like to share with you the story of Operation Pedestal.  Operation Pedestal was executed during World War II.  A British convoy set sail from England in August of 1942 with the crucial mission of resupplying the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.  Malta is a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea that had been used by the Allies to wreak havoc on German and Italian naval forces in order to dislodge them from North Africa and pave the way for the expulsion of Nazi forces from the European continent.  The Germans understood that Malta was a critical lynchpin to the Allied war effort and were determined to destroy it.  During one month in the summer of 1942, they dropped more ordnance on Malta than on London, throughout the entire duration of the Battle of Britain. 

By August of 1942, the conditions in Malta were so bad that food rations had dwindled to less than 6.0 ounces of food per person each day.  The island was desperate for resupply so Operation Pedestal was assembled off the Scottish coast.  It consisted of 14 supply ships, one of which, the SS OHIO, contained the most vital resource for the island: fuel.  The convoy was escorted by the largest escort force of any convoy during the entire war: two battleships, four aircraft carriers, seven cruisers, and no fewer than thirty-two destroyers. 

Once the convoy entered the Med, their journey to Malta turned into a massacre.  Two of the four aircraft carriers were sunk, along with four cruisers, several destroyers, and 9 of the 14 supply ships that the convoy was tasked with protecting.  In addition to the loss of ships and supplies, nearly 1,000 British sailors and merchant marines lost their lives.  But one of those supply ships, the one carrying fuel, was still afloat – the SS OHIO.  It had been hit multiple times and was sinking until two of the remaining destroyers, also badly damaged, saddled up to her on either side, and at great risk to themselves, tied lines to her to keep her from sinking and safely escorted her into the harbor in Malta.  This single act of selflessness, risk, and bravery by the crews of those destroyers has been described by naval historians as one of the most significant acts of heroism of the entire war.  It saved the fuel ship, and most importantly its precious cargo, so that Malta could survive and contribute to the ultimate defeat of the Axis powers.

Why am I sharing this story with you in this vector?  Because what the crews of those two destroyers did during Operation Pedestal is a perfect metaphor for the character we see, and need, in each of you.  Beyond all our world-class ships, weapons systems, and global capabilities, what truly sets our Navy and Marine Corps team apart is each and every unique individual of our team.  They come from every part of this country, and they choose to serve, beyond self, with a higher purpose in mind.

Every time I meet a Sailor, Marine, or Department of the Navy Civilian in our force, I walk away renewed and inspired.  The actions you take, whether or not anyone is looking, reflects the pride you take in yourselves, in our mission, and in each other.  And your commitment to these ideals inspires the best in others, both in uniform and in the American people who look to you as an example of all that is good in our nation. 

However, in every organization, and in every society, there are dysfunctional and destructive behaviors that threaten cohesion and trust, and undermine those honorable traits to which we all aspire.  We are no different in that regard, but our pride and commitment convince me that we handle and overcome these issues better than most.

One such issue that unfortunately threatens us is sexual harassment and assault.  This week, I was at the University of New Mexico to meet with civilian and academic leaders to share ideas on how to prevent these destructive behaviors.  We discussed the importance of peer leadership, and the positive examples we see, particularly among our junior enlisted ranks.  We also discussed the collective responsibility we all share to foster a culture that prevents these behaviors, and handle them better when they occur.  The determination in the room was inspiring, and the best practices we shared with each other were innovative and enlightening.  Everyone agreed that correcting and eliminating these behaviors will be a long journey, and that we are only at the beginning.  Still, there was little doubt that the Navy and Marine Corps were setting a strong pace in this process.  

The Department’s focus on building partnerships across the Department of Defense, academia, and industry, as well as our efforts to focus on sexual harassment and assault prevention and how to best measure the effectiveness of our programs, are vital to effecting needed change.  Leveraging the expertise in this arena, we are identifying the latest research and emerging evidence-based tools to address the attitudes, culture, and low-level behaviors that contribute to the prevalence of this intolerable behavior.

Over the past fiscal year, we have organized discussions like the one in New Mexico, building on last year’s National Discussion at the United States Naval Academy.  We are engaging hundreds of universities and collaborating with leading experts to identify actionable recommendations for measurable change.  Each of the Services and every military academy has committed to holding these discussions and producing real and immediate results.

No Sailor, Marine, or Civilian should ever fear for their physical safety or have to fight for basic dignity.  It’s my expectation that leaders in every Echelon demonstrate the same determination as I have to make sure none of our people have to fight for basic dignity in the course of their daily lives.  You have a big role to play in this.  You must be courageous and call out these behaviors, respect and protect victims, and set an example of zero tolerance with regard to sexual harassment and assault. 

Most importantly, we all must spend time getting to know our shipmates and fellow workers.  We must build personal relationships, particularly when they appear isolated and/or troubled.  We must model ourselves after those destroyer captains who risked it all in Operation Pedestal by saddling up next to the sinking SS OHIO and helped her make it to shore safely.  You will never ever regret doing this.  That shipmate or coworker is precious cargo to someone, and when they are victims of sexual harassment or assault, they are often distressed, confused, and ashamed.  They do not deserve to feel this way, and they should not feel isolated in dealing with those feelings.

Any instance of harassment or assault on our watch is a tragedy for our entire Navy and Marine Corps family.  It will take a lot of work and time to shift the cultural issues that contribute to this.  Some of these are societal, but some of them WE own.  Nonetheless, I am convinced that the positive elements of our culture are much, much stronger than the negative ones – and they will prevail.  So thank you for all you’ve already done on this issue and for all you do to uphold our sacred honor and time honored oath.

Go Navy, and of course, as always, Beat Army!

Vector 9 – Jan. 31, 2020: Hypersonic Technology

Just over 62 years ago, out of the darkness of the Cold War, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite into space. The resulting “Sputnik Moment” alerted Americans that a vast technological leap had been scored by an aggressive adversary. How we responded as a nation appears clear enough today: the United States increased sponsored research and development spending to a height of 3.6 percent of GDP in 1965; we developed three generations of intercontinental ballistic missiles in rapid order from 1957-1962, including the Navy’s Polaris missile on our ballistic missile submarines; and our Navy’s nuclear power program, under Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, ascended to a capacity and safety record still unmatched to this very day.

This historic hindsight should heighten our awareness that major technological breakthroughs such as hypersonic weapons can destabilize the global security environment and pose an existential threat to our nation. In fact, the possible applications of hypersonic technologies have already changed the nature of the battlespace, much as nuclear technology did in the past century. That is why when it comes to hypersonic weapons, our command today must be “All Ahead Full.”

Our research enterprise has developed several recent technological breakthroughs in hypersonic design that will introduce an entirely new generation of capabilities, rapidly changing the way we fight as an integrated naval force. Most importantly, we are redefining the cutting edge of hypersonics with the indispensable help of active duty and reserve naval officers and enlisted experts, working side by side with our workforce civilian scientists and engineers. Marines and Sailors will employ these new weapons, creatively exploring the depth of their operational uses in conventional deterrence and force protection. This is another strategic reason for accelerating our Education for Seapower initiative: ensuring more members of our Navy and Marine Corps team, both uniformed and civilian alike, are able to take advantage of technology-rich learning opportunities, fully leveraging our unique national assets of advanced research and higher education.

The bottom line is that our Navy and Marine Corps team will need to move forward together, reaping the keen intellects and experiences of everyone onboard today in order to fully leverage the full potential of these new weapons in the future. To get there, we are moving decisively through three distinct lines of effort:

Technology Maturity

The development of a Conventional Prompt Strike (hypersonic weapon) capability has been a Joint effort across the Services and industry with the Department of the Navy as the lead designer. Additional tests in support of expanding the capability will be conducted later this year.

Flight Experiment 2 is scheduled for Fiscal Year (FY) 20, 2nd Quarter and will demonstrate the Navy designed Hypersonic Glide Body. Launcher testing will continue throughout FY20.

We will continue to leverage our world-class civilian workforce in Warfare Development Centers and laboratories, refining the Glide Body design while also advancing rocket motor technology throughout our weapons applications process.

We will work to achieve warfighting capability overmatch in all regimes of flight, while investigating opportunities to further extend ranges, maneuverability, and lethality of all our platforms.

Industrial Capacity

As we begin the transition from a development effort to fielding capability, production facilities are ramping up to meet high capacity demand. Initial investments have been made by the Department of Defense and industry to establish production capacity, which will continue under Army and Navy-funded efforts in 2020 and beyond.

The Navy and Marine Corps will continue to pursue increased partnership with the other Services to ensure we maximize opportunities and pursue best of breed solutions.

We will leverage the senior leadership of all three Military Departments to ensure collaboration in our Joint efforts.

We will work closely with Congress as the program ramps up to ensure budget profiles are executable and well understood.

Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and Basing Strategy

Our FY20 analysis will focus on refining future basing strategies and launch platform options that we will incorporate in our FY22 Budget Planning process, clearly marking our path to achieving greater hypersonics tube inventories in the fleet.

Our Navy and Marine Corps team will continually seek opportunities to rapidly evolve our CONOPS and fielding plans through demonstrations, war games, simulations, and lessons learned.

We are fully committed to achieving hypersonic capabilities that reassert our strategic and conventional overmatch. These capabilities will be critical to deterring aggression and maintaining the peace. We are addressing the need to expand current planned hypersonic capacity in the months ahead. Finally, we should all recognize that increased hypersonic capabilities demand a broader national discussion that crosses Services and industry partnerships, and will require significant collaboration from all stakeholders in order to move forward. We’ve been here as a nation before, and the creative genius and work ethic of Americans have always made the critical difference in defending our freedoms and way of life. We will do so yet again, and YOU will be part of it.

Go Navy, and despite our strong partnership with them on these critical hypersonic efforts, as always, Beat Army!

Vector 8 – Jan. 24, 2020: Partners & Allies

Vector 8 – Jan. 24, 2020: Partners & Allies

I recently returned from a trip to the Pacific.  One of my stops was Singapore, where I witnessed firsthand the power of strategic maritime defense partnerships.  As many of you know, Singapore is an economic and political miracle that sits in the middle of one of the most critically strategic locations in the world.  Forty percent of global maritime trade passes through or around Singapore, and that trade is vital to our economy and many others.  Keeping these sea lanes safe and open, and ensuring all those who operate in them adhere to international norms and rules, is critical to regional and global peace and stability.  Our defense partnership with Singapore is the cornerstone of this effort and our Navy and Marine Corps team members are on the front lines, working closely with our Singaporean partners with the common goal of sharing responsibility for security in the region.

This concept of shared responsibility for security with other nations is not new.  Our Sailors and Marines have fought, bled, and made the ultimate sacrifice side-by-side with allies since we first partnered with the French Navy in our War for Independence.  In virtually every conflict over the past century, our success has been achieved alongside allies and international partners who offered access to key locations throughout the world, contributed crucial capabilities, and if necessary, sacrificed blood and treasure for a common cause.  Most importantly, as successful as they have been in war, these partnerships have been even more successful in keeping the peace. 

Perhaps the most predictable thing we can say about the future is that it will be unpredictable.  Strong global relationships and defense partnerships help mitigate the risks of this unpredictability.  However, we must also recognize that different partners will have varying levels of political will, capability, capacity, resources, and unique maritime requirements which they can contribute.  Our job is to maximize those and to find the best points of collaboration for each partner. 

Just as we have prioritized the education of our own forces as a key element of maritime power in an unpredictable era, a top priority of the 2018 National Defense Strategy is to build and maintain a robust constellation of partners and allies to work with us to solve common security challenges which are beyond our ability to predict, or defeat alone.

For the Navy and Marine Corps team, we are fulfilling this objective in the following ways:

International Professional Military Education – Opportunities for military personnel and civilians to study alongside our people at the Naval War College, Marine Corps University, and the Naval Postgraduate School, as well the United States Naval Academy help build personal relationships and cultural understanding critical to our network of maritime partners around the world.  Learning and training together creates greater mutual understanding across generations of military personnel, and in the end, fosters invaluable trust.   

Cooperative International Agreements – Programs to jointly produce, procure, and/or sustain naval armaments.  These agreements reduce U.S. and partner costs, improve interoperability, and forge closer links between U.S and partner nation operating forces and acquisition and logistics communities.

Science and Technology/Data Exchange Agreements – Programs that facilitate research, development, and information exchanges with allied or friendly nations.  These agreements marshal the technological capabilities of the U.S. and our allies and partners to accelerate research, development, and the fielding of equipment for our common defense.

Naval Foreign Military Sales – International purchases of U.S. equipment, training, and services promote interoperability and contribute to the building of personal relationships and trust between our Sailors and Marines and those of our allies and partners.

Collaborative Engagements – As the world gets smaller and our naval presence and operations expand, more Marines and Sailors will have the opportunity to engage with international partners.  For example, ships will conduct more exercises with foreign naval vessels and execute international port calls, deployed Marine Corps platoons will conduct more joint training, and naval aviators will train and fly alongside more foreign partners. 

In every opportunity listed above, the most valuable experiences our partners take away will be from their interaction with each of you.  More broadly, throughout your career of service, you and your families will have many opportunities to serve as front-line diplomats of our naval service—and our country.  How seriously you take your role as a representative of the United States will send a signal that we are a partner worth keeping, and a partnership worth defending together.  No amount of shared equipment and training can surpass your personal ability to build our international naval presence, one relationship at a time. 

Last week, I had the honor of naming our next planned nuclear aircraft carrier the USS DORIS MILLER in honor of an enlisted African-American Sailor—a hero of World War II.

Petty Officer Miller’s bravery under fire during the attacks of December 7, 1941, demonstrated the best of American virtue under the harshest possible conditions imaginable.  He withstood the withering fire of a surprise attack, but perhaps more significantly, he overcame the institutional bigotry that regarded him inferior based solely on the color of his skin.  This ability to rise above prejudice and injustice is what defines us as a nation, and it is what our allies and partners admire about us the most. 

In my remarks last week I said, “Wherever and whenever the people of the world will see the USS DORIS MILLER, they’ll know what we value, what we stand for, and who we are as a people.”  What they will see is YOU—the most diverse, and professional naval force, in the world.  No other nation can come close to us on either of those two dimensions.  Never discount the importance of your example, your professionalism, and your values, and how that influences what other people think about us as a nation.  Like Doris Miller, your courage, competence, and character must always demonstrate what is good about the United States of America.  Take your role seriously in this regard.  It will be rewarding with respect to the relationships you build with others around the world, and it will be invaluable in our efforts to secure a stronger, stable, and more agile network of naval partners united in a desire for enduring peace and security.  

Go Navy, and of course, as always, Beat Army!

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Vector 7 – Jan. 17, 2020: Education for Seapower

We live in a dynamic era. For our Navy and Marine Corps team, this dynamism will present challenges­ – known and unknown, seen and unseen. In fact, perhaps the most predictable thing we can say about the future is that it will be unpredictable. Preparing for that future means investing in more platforms and new weapons systems, but nothing will be more important than the investment that we make in learning, and in creating a force made up of people who thirst for it. Accordingly, the landmark 2018 Education for Seapower (E4S) report recognized that the intellectual capability of our Navy and Marine Corps team and a lifelong passion for continuous learning would be our foundation of any credible deterrent to war.

In the year since the E4S report was completed, we have moved quickly to introduce sweeping changes in the prioritization, integration, and resourcing of naval education. In October 2019, we hired the Department of the Navy’s first Chief Learning Officer (CLO) to lead Navy and Marine Corps education efforts, and earlier last month I issued budget orders to increase current education resources by 22 percent across the Navy and Marine Corps educational enterprise. These increases are happening now, and as we execute the Fiscal Year (FY) 20 budget, finalize our budget proposals for FY21, and begin our planning for the FY22 Future Years Defense Plan, these increases will be visible.

In the next four months, we will also take the following three important steps in implementing E4S:

U.S. Naval Community College

Our highest priority is to create a new United States Naval Community College (USNCC) that offers advanced, online technical and analytic education to our enlisted force in critical areas like IT, cyber, and data science. Free for every Sailor and Marine, the USNCC will fill a long-neglected gap in our educational continuum, and provide a recruiting and retention incentive through degree-granting relationships with major four-year public and private universities across the nation.

Last year, the CLO completed planning for this new effort and identified physical space for the college at Quantico, Virginia, where the USNCC will be based alongside the Marine Corps University. This year, we will hire a President and Provost to lead the USNCC, identify key partners in the civilian higher education community to help deliver world class education, and form the first cohort of Navy and Marine Corps students for enrollment in a pilot program in January 2021.

Naval Education Strategy 2020

In the next thirty days, we will release Naval Education Strategy 2020, the first-ever comprehensive education strategy for our integrated naval force. The strategy will lay out a clear road map to develop a lifelong learning continuum for our entire force, reform our personnel systems to better recognize and reward the value of education, and invest in and reform our schools and education programs.

This new strategy will provide expectations for the Navy and Marine Corps to: (1) develop warfighters and leaders who possess initiative, creativity, analytic capability, and critical problem solving skills; (2) increase our geopolitical awareness, including better comprehension of the intentions and capabilities of potential adversaries; (3) expand our ability to understand and deploy with greater lethality new and emerging technologies; and (4) improve the sophistication of our financial management, logistics, IT, and weapons system acquisition skills.

Strategic Education Requirement for Flag and General Officers

Our commitment to education must begin at the top – and that commitment looms large in our own naval heritage. On December 7, 1941, 82 of the 84 Navy Flag Officers on active duty had graduated from the U.S. Naval War College, and benefited from the chance to think deeply about the naval operational art and science of war. The opportunity to wargame future scenarios and technologies, debate and write alongside peers who will command together at the highest levels, was just as precious then as it is today.

This is why, among many other reasons, that the E4S Decision Memorandum of February 5, 2019 made in-residence strategic studies graduate education a requirement for promotion to Flag or General Officer rank. This month, I will issue new guidelines setting forth the intellectual qualities required for effective leadership at the Flag and General Officer rank and clear standards for strategic studies education, both in military as well as civilian graduate schools.

These steps represent real and necessary change. To deter future conflicts and to win those we cannot avoid, we must operate at or near our full theoretical potential. The only way to reach that level of maximum effectiveness is through education, creating an ever-increasing level of intellectual agility throughout our force. “Out-fighting” our opponents – or better yet, ensuring we never have to fight at all – will always require that at first we “out-think” them. Investing in a lifelong continuum of education is the best way to ensure we will always know how.

Go Navy, and of course, as always, Beat Army!

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Vector 6 – Jan. 10, 2020: 355 Ships

Maritime power is an essential element of the National Defense Strategy, and as we look to a future of greater global trade and greater unpredictability, it has never been more critical to the success of our nation.  For the past several years the debate over defining what enhanced naval power really means has centered around the aspirations for a 355 ship Navy.  Today, this 355 ship goal is the law of the land, as outlined in the bipartisan “Securing our Homeland by Increasing our Powers on the Seas” Act, signed into law by President Trump in 2018.  The 355 target goal was based on our 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA), which recommended not only a total number of ships but also the capabilities required to address emerging security threats.  We have been working towards this goal over the last several years, but I am not satisfied with the progress we have made in terms of reaching it within a reasonable and strategically relevant timeframe.  As a result, I have asked Navy and Marine Corps leadership to come up with a plan to reach this goal within the next 10 years. 

To develop this plan, we will be relying upon the Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment (INFSA).  The INFSA will be the first time the Navy-Marine Corps team has ever worked together to create a truly integrated naval force design.  Despite some erroneous recent reporting, all of these initial plans reflect a continued net increase in ships in Fiscal Year (FY) 21 towards our goal of 355 vessels or more, not a decrease.  As we develop the plan, I believe it is important for all of us to reflect upon, and embrace, the rationale for why a larger and more capable naval force is required for our nation’s security, and the challenges we face in getting there.

The Simple Mandate for a Larger, More Capable Navy

  • Today, our Navy is less than half as large as when it last faced a major peer competitor in the late 1980s.  Meanwhile, U.S. gross domestic product has grown from $5 trillion in 1988 to $19.5 trillion.  Our trade by sea has since tripled, from $230 billion to over $880 billion. Almost the entire internet and trillions of dollars in trade are carried today on a largely unsecured network of undersea cables.  Four decades later, we simply have a lot more to protect from increasingly capable maritime adversaries who will present challenges to our economic security and indeed, our very way of life. 
  • Our global competitors and adversaries continue to grow their naval forces, and they are expanding their areas of operations and collaboration with each other.  China’s battle fleet, for example, has grown from 262 to 335 surface ships over the last decade, and China’s commercial shipbuilding grew over 60% from 2007-2017.  Russia continues to invest in advanced submarines with stealth capabilities, and other nations such as Iran, North Korea, and non-state actors are exploiting asymmetric capabilities to create instability and uncertainty on the global maritime commons.

Math is a Stubborn Thing—And It is Our Biggest Challenge

  • The climb to an ultimate force structure consisting of 355 ships as articulated in 2016 is a steep one.  We currently stand at 293 ships, up from 275 just a few years ago.  To reach, and more importantly sustain, a 355 ship force within a reasonable timeframe could require an additional $20-30 billion in the Navy’s annual budget of approximately $160 billion.  The simple fact is that a fleet of 30% more ships is going to require a much bigger topline to build, man, operate, and sustain.
  • The mathematical truth is that based on current budget expectations, we can only build and sustain approximately 305 ships by traditional measures of what counts as a “battle force ship.”  Therefore, we are compelled to look at the 2016 FSA 355 ship goal differently, and to redefine whether that number is relevant to what it truly means to serve as an effective integrated future naval force.  This is the work of the INFSA team as lead by Vice Admiral Jim Kilby, USN (OPNAV N9) and Lieutenant General Eric Smith, USMC (Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration).  Their mandate is to design a force structure that is both creative and relevant to the emerging, more complex, maritime security environment.

How Agile and Creative Thinking Can Help

  • In reexamining our 355 ship goal, we must consider how to shift costs away from high-end platforms to a larger number of smaller, but still highly capable ships.  In FY18 dollars, the average cost of a ship during the Cold War “600 ship Navy” era was approximately $1 billion.  It is now twice that.  This trend is not sustainable, so we must shift the cost curve on all of our ships in the other direction – and they must deliver the distributed capabilities we require.  Such a shift could allow broader presence, reduced manning, and longer reach through a significant increase in hypersonic weapons, greater stealth, and advanced anti-ISR capabilities.  All this must be achieved through lower acquisition and sustainment costs – a strategic imperative.
  • We are also considering how unmanned surface and subsurface platforms not traditionally counted as “battle force ships” (mostly because they have never existed at scale) should figure into our force mix.  These platforms will not only allow us to distribute and conceal lethality, but also do so at reduced cost and in ways multiplied through its integration and interdependencies with the Joint Force.  Whether it consists of 305 ships, 355, or 500, it is difficult to imagine a future scenario in which American naval power will not be the critical piece of an integrated multi-service, multi-domain national security campaign for lasting peace and prosperity.

The Ship Count Matters, But Ultimately YOU Matter More

  • In the end we must all understand that American seapower can’t be defined merely by ship counts or hardware.  It depends far more upon the talented people who build them, maintain them, crew them, and make them ready to fight, repeatedly and sustainably.  Yes, we want to lead with technology and a necessary number of “gray hulls,” but we also must continue to outpace our competitors by fully investing in  “gray matter” – the skill and innovation our uniformed and civilian teams must deliver to form the most capable, best educated, fully integrated, and most professional naval force in the world.  Without that, our ship count, and ship mix, will be irrelevant.  YOU must be our enduring competitive advantage.

From my perspective, there is no question that as a nation we must urgently commit to invest in significantly more naval power.  Our Navy and Marine Corps team is at work to define more precisely what that naval power might look like, whether the 355 ship goal is sufficient when considering alternate force mixes, and how we are to achieve it affordably within a timeframe that is relevant to the threats we face today and into the future.  Finally, we should all recognize that this determination demands a broader national discussion, not simply one held within the halls of the Department of the Navy or the Pentagon. 

When it comes to the primacy of naval power we, as a nation and a Navy-Marine Corps team, have never given up the ship and now is not the time to start.

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Vector 5 – Jan. 3, 2020: Business Operations Plan

Maintaining our U.S. Naval Forces at the highest possible state of readiness and lethality requires the focus and attention of all those who support the business mission of the Department of the Navy. This cannot be accomplished in silos, but rather through an integrated, enterprise approach to business process improvement and modernization. Critical to this effort is that each of us understands and executes the scope of this work from the same plan. This is why we created the Department of the Navy’s (DON) Business Operations Plan (BOP). This plan is tied directly to the National Defense Strategy and it details the steps we are taking to transform our business operations. The initiatives in the plan have 6, 12, 18, and 24 month milestones that allow us to manage and monitor progress on the path to a more agile and accountable business enterprise. We publish the plan annually in October and update it every six months.

The BOP is OUR plan for business improvement as an integrated naval enterprise. I encourage you to read it, to understand your individual roles in executing it, and to monitor how these initiatives are improving your ability to serve our Sailors and Marines at www.navy.mil/donbop. Also, if you see areas in the BOP that need improvement, it is your job to let me know, via the Office of the Chief Management Officer at Office of the CMO@navy.mil.

While the BOP describes and tracks nearly 200 individual initiatives, I will be paying particularly close attention to the following areas:

Human Capital Strategy

  • We are implementing a new human capital strategy to better access and curate best in class talent. This strategy was developed leveraging leading private sector business practices designed for the new economy. Initial pilot programs in support of this strategy will begin this year.

Supply Chain and Logistics Processes

  • Supply chain and logistics processes are currently disjointed and create issues of poor visibility and accountability of inventory and sub-optimization of our multiple supply chains. We have assembled a senior group to develop a long-term strategy to address these deficiencies and will start executing reforms this year.

Digital Transformation

  • With the creation of the new Office of the Chief Information Officer, we will be exploring ways to accelerate business process modernization across the naval enterprise through the use of advanced digital tools and technologies. These tools and technologies have the potential to substantially improve business process performance, speed, accuracy, and data security.

Financial Management and Audit

  • The financial audit is the lynchpin to both monitoring, and catalyzing, improved business operations performance. We have completed our second full scope financial audit as an enterprise, and we continue to learn more about our financial management and business process deficiencies. Most importantly, because of the audit, we are learning a lot more about how to fix these deficiencies. This has been a painful and revealing process, but we must keep at it.

Just as rapid change in the global security environment is the new normal, the business mission of the Department of the Navy cannot be allowed to stagnate. Rather, we must continuously improve how we do business in order to keep up with changes in the “outside world” and to sustain our competitive advantage as a naval force. In the private sector the bottom line is profitability. For us in the naval service the bottom line will be measured by our agility and accountability-as they will determine our ability to achieve victory if called upon. Agile and accountable naval forces are impossible without agile and accountable business processes that support them. We should all expect that reaching that standard will require change, and that change itself will be a never ending process. So, let’s get comfortable with that reality and get after it as a team!

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Vector 4 – Dec. 27, 2019: December Honors and Remembrance

Earlier this week I announced our decision to name the next two Virginia-class submarines, SSN-802 and SSN-803, after the great states of Oklahoma and Arizona, respectively. These two ship names have special meaning for us as a nation, and particularly for those of us with any connection to the U.S. Naval Service. The previous USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37) and USS ARIZONA (BB-39) were tragically and memorably lost 78 years ago on December 7th during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lost with those ships were over 1,606 Sailors and Marines – selfless patriots of the Greatest Generation who never had the opportunity to taste victory as our Navy and Marine Corps team and the nation did some four years later. Their sacrifice should never be forgotten and these two new warships, our most modern and lethal, will set sail into unpredictable waters where we will count on them to maintain stability and peace. In so doing they will honor those lost 78 years ago, along with the two states who have sent so many into service to defend our nation.

It is fitting that we name these ships in December as we close out one year in remembrance, and look forward to the possibilities of the next. Just a few weeks after the previous USS ARIZONA and USS OKLAHOMA were lost at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the nation from Washington in late December, in a joint Christmas address with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The nation was shaken by the Pearl Harbor attacks and the advance of Nazism across Europe. In the midst of this great uncertainty, the President sought to encourage the country’s unity and resolve:

“The year 1941 has brought upon our Nation a war of aggression by powers dominated by arrogant rulers whose selfish purpose is to destroy free institutions. They would thereby take from the freedom-loving peoples of the earth the hard-won liberties gained over many centuries.

The new year of 1942 calls for the courage and the resolution of old and young to help to win a world struggle in order that we may preserve all we hold dear.

We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage. But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us.”

As we celebrate the holidays and close out 2019, President Roosevelt’s December prayer for national resolve in the coming year is just as relevant as it was 78 years ago. We as a Navy and Marine Corps team must focus our collective confidence in the goodness of the nation we defend, and on our ability to defend it with vigilance and agility. We must continue to be grateful for, and mindful of, our Sailors, Marines, and their families, who make sacrifices daily across the globe to keep the light of freedom bright. We must honor them with how we approach our jobs and in what we do every day to make our Navy and Marine Corps the finest and most powerful in the world – both today and into a very competitive and unpredictable future.

Thank you in advance for making a commitment to doing so in the coming year. Your individual efforts, your passion, your creativity, your sacrifices, and your patriotism matter. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year.

Go Navy! And of course, as always, Beat Army!

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Vector 3 – Dec. 20, 2019: Making Ford Ready

Thanks to the ingenuity and tireless efforts of thousands of Americans over many years, the USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) aircraft carrier represents a generational leap in our nation’s capacity to project power on a global scale. With the successful completion of CVN 78’s Post Shakedown Availability and subsequent Independent Steaming Events, finishing our work and delivering this capability to the fleet as quickly and effectively as possible is one of my highest priorities. The American taxpayers have invested significant capital into this ship, and they deserve nothing less.

We are going to make FORD ready with all hands on deck, as one team, relentlessly focused on achieving the following tasks and timelines:

Exercise the Full Spectrum of Air Wing Operations

  • We will complete Aircraft Compatibility Testing for all aircraft planned for deployment (Q2FY20).
  • We will attain Flight Deck Certification for the planned deployment air wing (Q3FY20).

Achieve Full Ship Functionality

  • To enable access to magazines, we will complete Lower Stage #5 and #I elevators (Q4FY20).
  • We will complete the remaining five A WEs prior to Full Ship Shock Trials (Q3FY21).
  • Then we will complete Combat Systems Testing and Certification (Q3FY21).

Man, Train, and Certify the Crew

  • Our manning levels will support all planned operations for key events and deployment (Q3FY20).
  • We will complete training for crew to support certification and deployment (Q1 FY22).

Ensure Materiel Readiness

  • We will reach and maintain ship visual and material conditions to the highest standards (Q2FY20).
  • We will ensure all maintenance documents are delivered (Q2FY21).
  • We will deliver the parts needed to enable CVN 78 deployment (Q2FY22).

The Program Executive Office (PEO) Aircraft Carriers, RADM Jim Downey, will be accountable for this Vector as the supported activity. Effective immediately, he will establish a permanent presence in Norfolk to ensure that these efforts proceed expeditiously. Supporting organizations include: PEO Tactical Aircraft, PEO Integrated Warfare Systems, PEO C41, Naval Reactors, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and OPNA V N9. Additionally, the U.S. Fleet Forces Commander has assigned RADM Roy Kelley, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, as the responsible leader of all fleet-supporting organizations for this Vector.

Our first “Make FORD Ready” summit will occur on January 9, 2020, with every stakeholder in government and industry present. From that point forward, I will receive a monthly status update along with the CNO and ASN (RD&A). My expectation is that we will work with diligence and speed to accelerate each deadline if possible. The FORD is just the first ship of this new class. It must set the standard for those that follow–and with our diligence and commitment, it will. Let’s finish the job.

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Vector 2 – Dec. 13, 2019: Unified in Grief, Heroism, and Resolve

In the last two weeks, our entire Navy and Marine Corps family was struck by three tragic acts: Little Creek, Virginia; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Pensacola, Florida. These crimes targeted us all, and I know I speak for every Sailor, Marine, and Civilian in the Department when I say that our prayers are with the families of the fallen and with the wounded. It is our solemn duty to find the causes of such tragic loss and ceaselessly work together to prevent them. As we reflect on these tragedies, I ask that we focus on the following:

Grief. We must understand, and stand in grief, alongside the families of those who lost their lives in these tragic incidents. The families of Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Master-at­Arms 3rd Class Oscar Jesus Temores, Mr. Vincent Kapoi, and Mr. Roldan Agustin are a part of OUR broad naval family. They are suffering from the loss of their loved ones. We must pray for them and keep them in our thoughts. For those who witnessed these events, and/or were injured, we must be committed to help them in their journeys back to normalcy. It is all of our jobs to help them recover from their injuries, visible or not.

Heroism. We must never forget the heroism of those who ran towards the danger in these incidents, exhibiting the finest warrior ethos and quick decision-making that doubtless saved many lives. On Tuesday, I traveled to Naval Air Station Pensacola to meet with the patrol officers and Naval Security Force personnel, who were the first responders on the scene and confronted the shooter, along with heroic civilian officers from the Escambia County Sheriffs Office. I learned about countless acts of heroism from the first responders, and many of the victims themselves which will come to light as the facts of these tragedies are revealed. I assure you that we will all be proud of these heroes and what they did in moments of terror and extreme danger.

Resolve. Even as we grieve together as a community, we must stand united in our resolve that these attacks will not deter us from fulfilling our sacred obligations to protect and defend our fellow citizens. The facilities at Little Creek, Pearl Harbor, and Pensacola remain fully operational and mission-focused. Around the world, our people still maintain the watch in protection of our nation, securing the sea lanes, and responding wherever there is need alongside our allies and partners. From these incidents, we must take renewed purpose, learning where we can to ensure-greater protection of our assets, information, infrastructure, and most importantly, bur precious people. It is my expectation that each of our facilities will review physical security and emergency response procedures to minimize the risk of a recurrence. And it is my expectation that all of our people – military, civilian, and contractor – be provided with the training, information, and motivation to maintain the vigilance we must all have to spot the warning signs that are often precursors to tragedies such as these.

The events at Pensacola, Pearl Harbor, and Little Creek were very different, but each represented an attack on our naval family and our ideals. These incidents will not hold us back but will serve as a constant reminder of our common responsibilities to each other and the nation we so proudly serve.

I have never been more honored to serve at your side than I have over the past two
weeks, as I witnessed how senseless tragedies have elevated within us the values that define our force and unite us all.

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Vector 1 – Dec. 6, 2019: Priorities and Near-Term Objectives

It is the honor of my lifetime to serve as your Acting Secretary of the Navy. Although no one, other than the President and his Secretary of Defense, can positively determine how long this tenure may be, I fully intend to execute their strategic vision. I consider the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), ADM Mike Gilday, and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), Gen Dave Berger to be the right leaders at the right time in history to lead the Navy and Marine Corps, together, through a set of immediate changes designed to ensure that Integrated American Naval Power will continue to enable our economic and physical security for the rest of the 21 st century.

I am convinced that dominant naval force is the primary engine of our National Defense Strategy (NDS) and we must plan for it, and most importantly, resource it, accordingly. As those most trusted with planning for our naval requirements, programming, and systems acquisition, it is our time now to seize this opportunity with relentless intellectual focus and dedication. This memorandum is first in a series of weekly “vectors” that I will send to the integrated Navy and Marine Corps team, each addressing my focus and direction on our way forward in achieving specific critical enterprise-level objectives.

I have three broad priorities for which I expect alignment from naval military and civilian leadership up and down the chain of command:

  • Designing a Future Integrated Naval Force Structure
  • Advancing Our Intellectual Capacity and Ethical Excellence
  • Accelerating Digital Modernization Across the Force

My top five immediate objectives are the following:

  • Put All Hands on Deck to make the USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) ready as a warship as soon as practically possible
  • Establish an Integrated Plan to achieve a 355 (or more) ships, Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs,) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) for greater global naval power, within 10 years
  • Increase Engagement with Emerging Naval Partners and Allies in the Pacific Region
  • Fully Fund Our New Naval Education and Information Management Strategies
  • Drive Measurable, Accountable Results to Resolve Public Private Venture (PPV) Issues for our Sailors, Marines, and their families

Successful implementation of all these first objectives will depend upon an integrated Navy and Marine Corps leadership team. I will meet with the CNO, CMC, and senior members of their teams together, starting immediately and then twice a month in order to lay the foundations and set conditions for these changes, among others. I am committed to supporting the Commandant’s Planning Guidance (CPG), and expect that the CNO’s forthcoming vision will complement it, in coordination with my staff. All future high-level strategies, visions, and guidance emanating from our Navy and Marine Corps team must start and finish as integrated efforts, not as final phase “bolt-ons” from one to the other.

Additionally, my staff and I will become involved in the current Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment (INFSA). The INFSA will serve as the main analytic and planning effort upon which our integrated plan for a larger, more capable naval force will depend, especially in terms of force design and future fleet architecture. This will occur immediately in any recommended changes made to our budget for FY 21, and in current planning for FY 22 and beyond. The INFSA must be based on an accurate understanding of our current and future national industrial base, advanced technological capability, and digital domains. I will require regular briefings on the progress of the INFSA and expect it to be published no later than January 15, 2020.

Thank you for your leadership in building the Integrated American Naval Force we need to set sail safely into an unpredictable future. Above all else, it has always been our people and their combined intellects, striving for agility and accountability, which have historically marked the Navy and Marine Corps team as leaders in adaptation for new operational and strategic environments. As we work in pursuit of the above goals, the nation requires we embody the qualities of velocity, collaboration, visibility, adaptability, innovation, humility, trust, and yes, skepticism in order to create the kind of agility necessary for continual learning and any eventual success we might earn as a team. It is up to us today to hold each other accountable to display the best of these attributes, and take fullest advantage of this opportunity to build the Navy-Marine Corps team of the future.

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