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CNO Says Navy Will Increase Operational Capability, Availability

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040311-05

Release Date: 3/11/2004 11:26:00 AM

By Chief Journalist Walter T. Ham IV, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- At a March 10 Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Vern Clark told senators the Navy is accelerating investment in Sea Power 21 to ensure the Navy Marine Corps team remains the preeminent naval force in world.

Appearing together with Secretary of the Navy Gordon England and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee, the CNO said the Navy will invest in the technology and the Sailors who will employ it--America's asymmetric advantages. Clark also said the Navy will produce the right readiness at the right cost, while being able to deploy more of the force faster in support of the Fleet Response Plan (FRP).

"Our job is to make sure we get the most bang for the buck for the taxpayer of America," Clark said, adding FRP increases the Navy's operational availability through phased training and new maintenance concepts. "We will be able to provide 50 percent more operational capability to the president if a national emergency occurs."

The Navy has re-cocked the force that deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Clark added, and is ready to respond as required.

"When it came time to do Operation Iraqi Freedom, we surged over 50 percent of the fleet," the CNO said. "Mr. Chairman, I can tell you this morning, if a requirement came today, I could surge that force forward again."

England said the FY05 budget is an investment in the Navy Marine Corps team of the future.

"This year, we have established the future course for our naval forces to quickly respond to and to quickly defeat future threats," England testified. "The FY05 proposal before you is more than just a budget. This is a naval roadmap for the future, and it should provide the foundation for many successive administrations."

The commandant thanked the senators for their support, and he said the Navy Marine Corps team's performance in Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrated the advantages naval forces bring to the fight.

"Exploiting the operational speed, reach and the inherent flexibility of sea power, your Navy Marine Corps team, closely integrated with joint and coalition partners and special operating forces, engaged in 26 days of sustained combat operations, fought 10 major engagements, and destroyed eight Iraqi divisions before stopping north of Baghdad in Tikrit, almost 500 miles inland," Hagee said.

The CNO said the FY05 budget funds platforms that will revolutionize naval warfare. Among these are DD(X) [next generation destroyer], with guns that provide precision fire support from 100 miles away; LCS [littoral combat ship], which can take on the enemy in the near-land areas; and LHA(R) [landing helo assault (replacement)], which will carry more Marine Corps aviation assets. MPF(F) [maritime prepositioning force (future)] will also be more than "floating warehouses," Clark said, adding that they will play a key role in the future of sea basing.

During his opening statement in his fourth appearance before the subcommittee, Clark thanked the senators for their on-going support of the Navy Marine Corps team.

"A year ago this time when I appeared before this committee, we were an important part of the joint team that conducted major combat operations last spring in Iraq," said Clark. "No other navy in the world can deliver this kind of decisive combat capability. It highlights our fundamental mission, and that is to take credible, persistent combat power to the far corners of the earth, anywhere, anytime we need to do so, without a permission slip."

Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Ted Stevens thanked the leaders of the Navy Marine Corps team.

"The three of you make us proud," Stevens said. "We've seen a lot of teams at that witness table in my time on this subcommittee. I think that you're the finest we've seen."

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