I started this blog when I assumed command of US Fleet Forces Command because I wanted to get feedback from the deckplate on the current state of the fleet as well as different perspectives and ideas on particular topics. I have been very happy with the comments you have provided me and your feedback has really helped shape my thinking.
Now that I am approaching my six month mark in command, I would like to change the format of this blog in a manner which I hope will benefit us both – but particularly increase what you get out of the time you devote to reading and responding to my posts.
For the past six months, I have asked questions that can pretty much be mapped to one or more of my three primary concerns as Commander, USFF: to provide forces ready for tasking to our Combatant Commanders, to sustain those forces (including our people) so that we may fight today’s wars, tomorrow and get our ships, submarines, and aircraft to their expected service life, and to ensure our force deploys confident in their readiness to execute their missions through adhering to the tried and true standards that have benefited our Navy throughout our history.
Based on the picture of Fleet conditions I’ve developed over the past six months, I intend to transition away from predominately asking questions to letting you know my thoughts and informing you of the decisions I’ve made. The value of your comments will not diminish, quite the contrary, but hopefully this will give you a better opportunity to understand what is on my mind and the actions I am taking.
That said, one area I have significant concern with is the confusion between “taking risk” and lowering standards. As Navy made hard decisions over the past six years to meet growing Combatant Commander force demands, come off the manpower glideslope, and fund recapitalization after the “procurement holiday” of the 1990s; we began to use phrases such as “taking risk.” Taking risk was often used to describe the actions that must be taken to “do more, with less.” What really occurred in some instances was we did more, but we did it less well and we lowered our standards.
As we recapitalize the fleet, meet Combatant Commander demand, and properly invest in the sustainment of our ships, submarines, and aircraft, we cannot lower the tried and true standards which have served our Navy for over 230 years. Recent incidents - HARTFORD, JAMES E WILLIAMS, and flight discipline lapses - are just some examples that illuminate areas where we must re-educate, reinvigorate, and reinforce the bedrock importance of our tried and true standards that run the gamut from how we operate, to how we maintain, to our conduct, and the concept of accountability. As a Fleet Commander, fewer resources means that there are things we will do less, but that must not result in doing things less well. More to follow. All the best, JCHjr.