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By Rick Rogers
SAN DIEGO – Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, closed the three-day WEST 2010 Conference co-sponsored by the U. S. Naval Institute and AFCEA International by commenting on the defense budget and QDR and then laying out his vision for the service he commands.
"I've had the pleasure of driving fleets around – and now in Washington, I drive budgets," said Roughead. "I think that those of you who follow our business would agree that the budget of 2011 and the QDR for the Navy, I'm not displeased at how things have turned out there," he told an audience of 600 service members, defense contractors and military retirees.
Roughead counted funding for conventional ships and planes – including the restarting of the DDG 51 class line, two Virginia Class submarines, as well as Hornets and Growlers – as budgetary success stories.
Then the Navy's 29th CNO outlined fresh initiatives and emerging technologies that the Navy believes are all ready transforming the way it does business.
"We are moving into the world of unmanned vehicles. We, for the first time, have deployed a vertical takeoff unmanned vehicle onboard one of our ships that is currently deployed in drug operations in the eastern Pacific," he said.
"We are also infusing additional money into the carrier unmanned vehicle."
He called the recent creation of the service's office of Information Dominance "a significant step for our Navy" and said he's seen first-hand the potential this new command.
While commanding fleets in the Atlantic and Pacific, Roughead said he found the effectiveness of U. S. operations often hinged on access, the reliability and the exchange of information from many different sensors and sources.
He said operations are often hobbled by the inability to integrate those sensors with weapons and command and control elements.
"When this war is over we will look back on it and see that it is that fusion of intelligence, information and operations that have made the difference and that is where our Navy is going," he said. "I believe our way forward has to be centered on information: how we sense it, how we transport it and how we use it."
Roughead said unmanned vehicles will play a key role in moving that information and that the Navy's Information Dominance organization would "be the integrator, the driver of our unmanned programs."
The Navy also wants to operate unmanned undersea vehicles, but Roughead said it will first be necessary to develop means of powering them for extended periods of operation.
"All the sensors in the world aren't going to do us a lot of good if after 24 hours it has to come home," Roughead said. "We need power and we need power quickly."
On information and manning fronts, Roughead said the Navy must "re-imagine who we are."
To that end, the 10th Fleet was reactivated Jan. 29 as U. S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet at Fort Meade, Maryland. The split name alludes to dual responsibilities. As Fleet Cyber Command, it is the Naval component to U. S. Cyber Command.
As the U. S. Tenth Fleet, the command provides operational support to Navy commanders worldwide, supporting information, computer, electronic warfare and space operations. In addition to joint and service reporting, the command also serves as the Navy's cryptologic commander, reporting to the Central Security Service. Tenth Fleet has operational control over Navy information, computer, cryptologic and space forces.
Today's 10th Fleet is the successor to a World War II command of the same name; the first 10th Fleet was created as an anti-submarine warfare coordinating organization.
"It was a fleet based more on information than firepower," Roughead said. "And so when we were looking to stand up this operational entity that would control our cyber operations, it was pretty clear that 10th Fleet was needed again and so we reactivated it to go after a threat that is not going to be solved by massive firepower."
During a Thursday breakfast address, Ralph Shrader, chairman and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton, an expert in executive leadership, asked the assembly to imagine the future and then lead to shape it.
"It's up to you to save the future… It could be our country or your company or someone you know," said Shrader.
Schrader said leaders at all levels must break the bonds of the status quo and fears so that their organizations might thrive instead of merely surviving.
At the conference's final panel discussion, experts from the Defense Department, the Navy, business and government discussed the topic, "Affordability is the Issue: How Do We Exploit Today's Capabilities to Meet New Threats?"
The Navy budget submission of $160.6 billion was published Monday. The fiscal year 2011 baseline budget is a $4.6 billion or 3 percent increase over the FY2010 level.
The panel agreed that leaner budgets are coming, but for the most part found it difficult to identify any procurement cuts that would likely have broad appeal.
Robert Work, Navy undersecretary, said that even in a flat budget year, the Navy would lose about $8 billion in spending power due to inflation. He said personnel cost are "sky-rocketing" but that the medical portion of such costs is fully funded.
Work said the Navy planned to focus for "acquisition excellence" to pare costs.
In the past, said Vice Adm. Jack Dorsett, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance, information networks were viewed as "bill payers" with the end result being that now those networks are now "frankly inadequate."
Thomas Hone, a former acquisition expert and a Naval War College liaison with OPNAV, said people have been trying to fix procurement for 30 years and it hasn't worked.
He suggested cutting entire programs, such as the Littoral Combat Ship Program, the Zumwalt Class destroyer and reducing the carrier force. Fellow panelists offered no support for taking such actions.
Dorsett said the Navy is looking at possible cuts to legacy systems to save money. He said unmanned aerial vehicles might prove a cost-effective alternative to manned flights.
"We don't have a great track record on this as a department as a whole," Work concluded.
"I don't think Navy procurement is broken," Hone said. "I think it is hamstrung. The acquisition wears on people and grinds them down. That's why I got out of it. I didn't want to take those 14-hour days any more."