The challenges of the last few months with the continuing global war on terror, and rescue and relief operations on the Gulf Coast and in Pakistan have shown that Navy capabilities are versatile and agile. In view of the Navy's superb response, CHIPS asked Adm. Nathman to talk about the Fleet Response Plan (FRP) and lessons learned from humanitarian assistance efforts and the global war on terror.
CHIPS: Will there be changes to the Fleet Response Plan in view of the lessons learned from the diversity of requirements the Navy responded to in the last year?
Adm. Nathman: The Navy's response to taskings both in combat operations and the most recent domestic humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions were timely and effective. The Fleet Response Plan meets both rotational and surge needs. We continually review lessons learned from all quadrants in order to evaluate the Navy's responsiveness to any tasking and adjust as necessary. For instance, we are expanding the FRP idea from the original strike group focus to include all types of deployable forces.
CHIPS: In view of the outstanding job by the armed services in relief efforts, do you think the services will play a more prominent role in natural disaster preparedness and recovery operations?
Adm. Nathman: Defending the U.S. homeland and conducting major combat operations, as well as the ability to respond to natural disasters always influence our planning. As I noted in response to your last question, we will study closely all the lessons learned from Katrina and, if indicated, make recommendations to our chain of command regarding training and readiness matters.
CHIPS: Do you see the Navy's role in homeland security and defense expanding?
Adm. Nathman: The Navy is already heavily engaged in homeland defense. A forward-postured Navy is an essential component of defending American soil and American interests. Most agree our nation reaps big dividends by having U.S. Navy ships forward deployed. Homeland defense benefits from ensuring stability on the seas and in protecting against would-be aggressors from entering the United States via the world's oceans.
CHIPS: You mentioned in your October 2005 brief to a U.S. Naval Institute audience in Norfolk, Va., that you are looking at providing Sailors with more Marine-like skills. What kind of training would this be?
Adm. Nathman: Naval Expeditionary Combat Command will develop the expeditionary Sailor to work in the near-coast, near-inshore, and inland waterways to provide a secure maritime environment for the flow of forces and logistics. These expeditionary Sailors will bridge the gap between the 'blue water' Navy and the Marine Corps' offensive force capability to provide an enhanced secure maritime environment for coastal operations.
The term 'expeditionary' captures the essence of U.S. national security strategy this past century and takes on added importance in view of the ongoing global war on terrorism — countering military threats overseas rather than on American shores. Additionally, it extends from traditional environments into the littoral and brown (riverine) water — and any areas where there is a need for maritime influence.
The Marines have always been, and remain, the nation's Naval Infantry. The concept of providing expeditionary Sailors with additional skills to cope with the threats of the post 9-11 world is simply meant as a way to ensure our Sailors can get their jobs done with little to no outside assistance.
CHIPS: What do you think are the focus areas for the Navy to sustain global maritime dominance?
Adm. Nathman: America's combatant commanders are signaling a growing need for two broad categories of capabilities from the U.S. Navy: (1) deterrence, influence and shaping, and (2) maritime security. Every free nation has an interest in keeping the sea lanes open and safe. The U.S. Navy plays a lead role in this important task around the globe. It is important that the world sees our Navy as capable and responsive, and it is equally important we continue to work with allied countries to maintain a partnership that keeps the sea lanes open.
CHIPS: You talked about maritime security being a common interest among nations worldwide. Can you talk about some of the initiatives to promote security in this area?
Adm. Nathman: The U.S. Navy is able to strengthen maritime domain awareness with our partners, and we do this through regional maritime security initiatives. Some of these focus on improving interoperability with coalition partners, with other agencies and non-governmental organizations, for example.
When you sit back and think about the entire global maritime domain, it is clear that we need a broad, cooperative network of maritime nations to assure security in this particular domain.
CHIPS: You mentioned the Navy's ability to dissuade and deter potential adversaries. How does the Navy do this?
Adm. Nathman: The U.S. Navy is optimally poised to positively influence maritime nations. The key to successful dissuasion and deterrence is having the capability and credibility to deliver overwhelming effect if necessary. This really translates into having a highly trained Navy that is visible, forward deployed and ready to carry the fight at short notice.
CHIPS: Can you talk about the current Quadrennial Defense Review?
Adm. Nathman: The Quadrennial Defense Review will address many complex issues, and those entrusted to make the final decisions understand the enormous consequences for the future of our nation. For instance, they realize the necessity to look beyond Iraq. As the clout of some regional powers increases, so does the need for American forces to influence, dissuade, deter and, if necessary, dominate. The QDR itself will provide a roadmap that will help shape the size and capabilities of tomorrow's Navy.
CHIPS: What are your thoughts on building the future fleet including air assets and shore infrastructure?
Adm. Nathman: Today, the Navy faces tremendous challenges in building ships and aircraft that will be both effective and affordable. It is imperative our nation keeps a strong industrial base that can turn out quality products to our Navy.
A key concern continues to be quick advances in technology. It is paramount we find innovative ways to decrease the time it takes to go from design to production and also ways to afford the numbers of ships and aircraft the nation will need for the 21st century. We will also need a deeper understanding of our installations readiness. We have developed a 25-year plan capable of supporting Sea Power 21, the Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy and the Fleet Response Plan.