Stackley Stresses Government ‘Sense of Urgency, Commitment’
By OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley warned April 5 that unless the government rapidly improves its ability to meet the national security challenges the nation is facing, “we will lose the competition” with our potential adversaries.
Addressing the 2017 Secretary of the Navy Luncheon on the final day of the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Stackley cited the example of the bold 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo, in which a combined Navy and Army Air Corps force in less than 100 days designed and pulled off an unprecedented operation.
“It is fair to ask, could we pull it off today?” he said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our warfighters could, and regularly do, pull off such achievements today,” Stackley said. “Our men and women in uniform regularly and routinely demonstrate the innovation and initiative to execute missions that just months ago were drawn up.”
“I’m concerned, however, that our organizations and process at home do not match that same sense of urgency, that same measure of commitment,” he added.
An illustration, he said, was the fact that in the third quarter of the fiscal year, the military is operating again on a continuing resolution, that threatens to slow modernization and further erode readiness.”
Stackley noted the congressional hearing that day in which “our service chiefs, sitting side by side,” expressed the necessity of breaking the cycle.
And he quoted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ demand that the military must work simultaneously to rebuild and reform.
“We are today, the most capable fighting force in the world,” he said. But the confused budget situation and the high operating tempo are putting stress on the force, reducing the size of force and threatening its ability to meet the future threats.
Stackley described what the Navy is doing to rebuild, seeking to grow from the current 275-ship fleet to 305 or more, building the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, more littoral combat ships and a future frigate, the Arleigh Burke Tier III destroyers, the new Lx(R) amphibious ship and the F-35 strike fighter.
But they also need to reform, by reducing the price and time of new delivering new systems, demonstrating to Congress “we are being prudent in using the resources entrusted to us” and proving to the warfighters the government can meet their needs, he said.