DCNO Aquilino: Navy Prepared to Adjust Strategy to Match New Administration Guidance
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — The Navy is prepared to give its strategy a new look to match any strategic guidance from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, the Navy’s senior admiral in charge of strategy said.
The Navy’s strategy — A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready (CS21R) — was formulated in 15 years ago and modified last year to update to the changing conditions of the era, and therefore may go through a new change next year.
“We’re looking forward to seeing when and if the strategy might be updated in the not-to-distant future,” Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, told Seapower Dec. 6. “When the new administration comes in and provides a new national security strategy, we’ll go ahead and do review on whether our strategy needs to be updated. Any strategy is strictly lined up with ends, ways and means and that’s the lens in which we looked at in the development of CS21R.”
Aquilino said that strategy in terms of the Navy’s responsibility “is how we build our capabilities and capacity and how we intend to operate in support commanders.
“CNO [Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John R.] Richardson has put an extreme focus on the strategic thought needed to drive those ends, ways and means … a sound framework of what it is we need to do and how the ways and means support that,” Aquilino said. “It is shaping everything we do and is completely lined up in the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, which is our commander’s guidance on how to view all things with that execution lens. Without understanding truly what it is you want to do, i.e., strategy, you will be disconnected if you are not looking through that lens. The CNO has driven that through all things. We are executing now a strategy-based budget.
“With the strategy of CS21R [and] the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, it frames every discussion we have whether it be POM [Program Objective Memorandum, the budget formulation] or operational,” he said.
Aquilino said his job is to work to get the correct balance of priorities and guidance to implement the strategies, noting that “we have looked through the portfolios to work toward a cross-cutting view of capabilities [versus] a stovepipe view of programs.
He expects the Navy’s new force structure assessment to be briefed to the CNO “shortly.”
“The Force Structure Assessment and the Future Fleet Architectures are all designed to get at what the Navy needs to do today and what the Navy of the future needs to look like, he said. “Those will be things that contribute to that calculus.”
Aquilino said the Navy is fully aligned with the joint force.
“One of our asymmetric advantages is the joint force and the Navy’s contribution to that fight,” he said. “Since 9/11, we have been completely integrated. We can work with any of our partners, plug and play at almost any instance, and we are a stronger force when we operate with our joint-service partners. That said, there are some maritime capabilities we bring that only the Navy can do. We operate in every domain — undersea, on the sea, above the sea, in space and cyber space, and certainly over land. We operate from sovereign territory without the permissions of anyone in international waters.”
He also stressed forward presence as an essential part of the Navy’s strategy.
“We provide instant options for the national command authority,” he said. “We assure our allies. We deter our adversaries. All [of this is] based on having a capable, lethal forward presence, both conventional and nuclear. Forward is a key tenet of the strategy, and all of those things cannot be done if you are a garrison force.”