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Greenert: Forward Deployed Ships, F-35s USN’s Future

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Adm. Jonathan Greenert addressing a crowd in March. US Navy Photo

Adm. Jonathan Greenert addressing a crowd in March. US Navy Photo

In a time of fiscal “reduced visibility” the Navy’s strategy remains “to be where it matters,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said on Monday in a speech to the Navy League Sea Air Space Exposition 2013 at National Harbor, Md.

In two separate Monday addresses, Greenert said the Navy remains about $4 billion short in its operations and maintenance accounts. That is down from a $9 billion shortfall that existed before a President Barack Obama signed a defense bill in late March as part of a Continuing Resolution extension

“Just moving from one place to another was an all-hands effort,” Greenert said. Now, “we got the training going [and] got the maintenance going,” for the ships and aircraft that are to deploy this year and next.

The Navy has a lot of ships under contract, he said, expecting to receive 13 to 16 new vessels by the end of the decade. The Littoral Combat Ship, Joint High-Speed Vessel and Maritime Landing Platform programs also offer a host of capabilities to a forward-deployed force in ports such as Rota, Spain; the Republic of Korea; Diego Garcia; and Singapore, while being available for missions in the Africa and Southern commands.

Greenert said that if the Navy were not deployed forward, he would need a 376-ship fleet using deployment rotations to carry out the maritime strategy. The Navy currently has 283 ships in the Fleet.

Looking to the future on how to cut overhead, he said in answer to a question, “I define requirements,” but “there are too many people touching requirements” that drive costs up and delay delivery of new systems. Greenert said that the service chiefs needed to remain involved as these programs move into the acquisition process. He said that the system as it now exists prevents acquisition authorities from working together.

Greenert and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos also both voiced support for the controversial Joint Strike Fighter F-35 Lighting II program as the way ahead for tactical aviation for both services.
“I need the fifth generation strike fighter,” said Greenert, and “I don’t believe it’s time to look for an exit ramp for the F-35C.”

Amos sees “no alternative for the Marine Corps.” Delays in development of the F-35B, the vertical takeoff and landing variant, have occurred in every other weapons buy.
“I think the airplane is performing well for us as it moves from developmental testing to operational testing,” he said.