Reporter's Notebook: CNO @ Heritage Foundation


Adm. Gary Roughead speaks at the Heritage Foundation's annual series of events aimed at highlighting key national defense and homeland security issues. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst)

Date: May 13, 2010

Location: Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C.

Subj: CNO comments

In a speech and response to questions offered at the Heritage Foundation Thursday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead urged fiscal responsibility yet downplayed talk of further cuts to Navy ships and programs.

He agreed with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ call for greater scrutiny in procurement, and said he is a “proponent” for considering revisions to decades-old laws governing personnel issues. (You can read more about that in Monday’s edition of Navy Times). 

Other highlights:

1. The admiral said he is “perfectly OK” with overmatch and that he “never wants his sailors in a fair fight.” But he added that the Navy is not be built for “a climactic sea battle” alone, but to provide presence and options for the nation. Roughead pointed out that 90 percent of global traffic still happens on the oceans, and that is not likely to change in the near future. As such, this Navy must stay present and engaged in the six key categories contained in the Maritime Strategy: Forward Presence, Deterrence, Sea Control, Power Projection, Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response.

2. His strategies are tied to the Middle East and Western Pacific “in a significant way.” He acknowledged the importance of regional ballistic missile defense and said relationships in the Western Pacific are critical, specifically identifying India and “our stalwart friend and ally” Australia – two countries he has visited in recent weeks. Roughead also spoke of the growth of China’s PLA Navy and his interest in maintaining dialogue with its leaders.

3. He touted the sovereignty provided by the nation’s 11 carriers, pointing out that 30 to 50 percent of daily sorties over Afghanistan are carrier-based. But he added that sensitivities associated with sovereignty are likely to increase.

4. The Navy “has to get the Joint Strike Fighter,” which he called a “terrific capability.” He said he is confident the will stay on schedule.

5. He spoke to the “unique” and strong relationship with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, and said he will be meeting with its leader in the coming month.

6. Defective welds and lapses in the quality of shipbuiling is a concern, but overall quality is extraordinary. “Expect what you inspect,” he said. Past cuts in quality assurance personnel have been reversed.

7. Going green can save costs, but it will take time and require a full committment. 220 of the Navy’s 286 ships will still be in service in 2020. Beyond saving money and being environmentally sound, he is interested in operational advantages to such technology. “If I have fewer fuel convoys, there are fewer opportunities to be attacked.”


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.

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