A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Vice Admiral Ray Griggs
In a small military with a tight budget, an overriding imperative is to avoid duplication of effort. A coordinated joint force structure plan is crucial. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is in a unique position in that it has a clearly articulated long-term funding position and a comprehensive force-modernization plan, which is part of delivering Force 2030—the future defense-force structure set out in the 2009 Defence White Paper. While changing economic conditions could alter those plans, they provide a solid basis for the Navy to plan for the future and to frame its strategic objectives.
That is not to say there are no funding pressures. There are, but an expanding force structure presents a vastly different set of challenges to one that is shrinking. The key strategic objective for the RAN is delivering on its part of Force 2030, while at the same time maintaining sustainable capability options for government during some particularly complex transitions in our fleet. Evolving into a much more capable amphibious force, bringing new air-warfare destroyers into the fleet, and doubling the size of the current submarine force are but a few examples of the challenges we face.
With rapidly changing technologies, the importance of a strong relationship between the navy and the defense science community—and by extension, with key allies—is crucial. Ensuring that the relationship remains strong and that this community remains engaged in a range of maritime-related research tasks is a key strategic objective. The navy must be open to technological and scientific opportunities that may include approaching old challenges in new ways.
Another strategic objective is to ensure that the RAN attracts its share of the national skilled workforce required to meet its mission objectives. That relies on sustaining both an attractive employment offer and an effective and contemporary culture that highlights the intangible elements of service in a modern and sophisticated combat force. Our “New Generation Navy” cultural change program, now in its third year, is central to that effort.
A final strategic objective for the navy is maintaining its hard-won reputation for operational excellence. That can be done only through top-quality training, including maximizing the use of simulation, to support the range of missions we may be called on to perform.
The next 20 years will be an exciting time for the Royal Australian Navy.