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CHIPS Articles: Rear Adm. Peter A. Gumataotao, Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic

Rear Adm. Peter A. Gumataotao, Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic
COMNAVSURFLANT Talks about the Optimized Fleet Response Plan and More…
By Sharon Anderson - October 21, 2014
There has been a lot written lately about how the U.S. Navy is stretched too thin in responding on numerous fronts in an anti-access/area denial environment in multiple hot spots around the world, but Rear Adm. Peter A. Gumataotao is optimistic about defeating A2/AD strategies.

“The sky is not falling,” Gumataotao said at an AFCEA event in Norfolk, Virginia, Oct. 14. “I was the JTF at a wargame in Newport, Rhode Island, last month. I am familiar with fighting in an A2/AD environment as the Nimitz strike group commander. It is hard, but we have the technology and the people… We fought a peer-to-peer adversary in the wargame, and it can be done.”

The admiral reminded the audience that the last time the U.S. Navy faced a near-peer adversary was World War II. “Japan had the Navy to beat then.”

Many of the demands on the fleet are still the same, Gumataotao said. The A2/AD challenge can be mitigated using cyber and a variety of countermeasures.

“State and non-state adversaries learned from our previous wars that they can’t go toe-to-toe with us. It is too expensive, but they have done their homework and have been developing anti-access weapons... When I think about the 21st century I am very excited about accessing the global commons — we have the range of warfighting capabilities: surface, subsurface, air, cyber and space,” Gumataotao said.

The admiral emphasized the Navy’s air superiority, precision flight deck operations and unsurpassed ability to put weapons on target which took years of training and dedication to perfect. However, there is room for improvement.

Gumataotao explained the efforts of the weapons tactics instructors at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) at Naval Air Station Fallon. NSAWC is the center of excellence for naval aviation training and tactics development. It provides service to aircrews, squadrons and air wings throughout the Navy through flight training, academic instructional classes, and direct operational and intelligence support.

Speaking of NSAWC, Gumataotao said, “We need to get back to our technical roots. We don’t want to wait for our Trafalgar… We don’t want to see an adversary on par with us.”

The admiral emphasized the importance of developing tactics, techniques and procedures, TTPs, with equal emphasis on the proficiency and dedication of personnel.

“We are a fighting team… We are the best not because of our equipment but because of our ideals, because of what we stand for. Freedom is never free, but we have it thanks to our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen,” Gumataotao said.

There are several facts that you should know about Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao:

  1. As the type commander of SURFLANT, it is Gumataotao’s Title 10 responsibility to generate readiness. SURFLANT mans, trains and equips Surface Forces.
  2. He is an inspired speaker and true patriot who believes in the future of America.
  3. He is a surface warfare officer and has deployed extensively to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf.
  4. He is an enthusiastic and dynamic supporter of the current crop of Sailors.
  5. He is committed to the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).
  6. He understands and embraces the power of cyber in military operations.
  7. He is passionate about SURFLANT’s continual pursuit of excellence.

Optimized Fleet Response Plan

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Adm. Bill Gortney unveiled the new OFRP in January 2014 to address quality of service blending both quality of work and quality of life efforts. The intent is to provide stability and predictability to deployment schedules over a 36-month OFRP cycle, Gumataotao explained.

“It is all about predictability for our Sailors, and we haven’t had good predictability for the last three or four years,” Gumataotao said. “We are trying to lock in eight-month deployment schedules for Sailors.”

These changes are intended to return a sense of normalcy to a Sailor's schedule and family life and increase retention rates.

The OFRP places emphasis on readiness through training. Roll out will begin in 2015 with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group work-ups, Gumataotao explained. It will initially be focused on carrier strike groups and eventually will roll out to all U.S. Navy assets from the ARG/MEU to submarines and expeditionary forces.

Predictability is also critical in completing maintenance on schedule, Gumataotao explained. The Navy has had challenges with maintenance the last few years which affects readiness.

“We haven’t had a good record with maintenance, and we have to find out the root cause,” Gumataotao said. “It affects everyone; it affects the readiness kill chain and everyone has a role to play down to the echelons 4 and 5, the OPNAV resource sponsor and the BSOs 60 and 70 (Budget Submitting Offices Atlantic and Pacific)… The fleet has to be fully trained before they are deployed.”

For the maintenance schedule to work all the entities, including contractors and the Navy, must be ready, systems must be fully integrated and operational. There must be discipline in the process, Gumataotao said. Delays consume more resources and place more pressure on commanding officers and Sailors.

At the same time, Gumataotao praised those who fail and try again and eventually succeed referencing a Teddy Roosevelt speech, “The Man in the Arena.”

“It is easy to criticize but you have to give credit to those who get their face dirty, who fall and fail and try again,” Gumataotao said.

Naval Surface Force Atlantic Voyage Plan 2014-2019

Gumataotao is passionate about surface warfare and issued a Voyage Plan to define how he will make “an exceptional fighting forces even better.” His priorities include:

  • Improving Surface Warrior Tactical and Technical Competence.
  • Deliver Combat-Ready Warships.
  • Manage Wholeness.
  • Synchronize Lines of Effort.
  • Promote Navy Family Wellness.

SURFLANT’s mission is to deliver combat-ready ships and Sailors to the warfighter ready and able to achieve decisive victory at sea.

Bottom line: “My job is to produce readiness: certify, train and equip — start to finish,” Gumataotao said.

For more information, go to www.surflant.navy.mil/ or contact COMNAVSURFLANT Public Affairs Office at cnsl_nflt_pao@navy.mil.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.
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