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CHIPS Articles: Beyond Iraq

Beyond Iraq
By Adm.Walter F. Doran, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet - April-June 2005
I'm going to give you a picture about what the U.S. Pacific Fleet is doing beyond Iraq and how we are getting transformation right.

Keeping the direction the Chief of Naval Operations has given in mind, I would like to outline some of the contributions that the Pacific Fleet is making to our nation's defense. Specifically, how we are working to prevent the development of a strategic void by changing our behavior patterns while concurrently conducting a wide array of missions across the security spectrum.

The U.S. Army and Marine Corps remain heavily engaged in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom — and for good reason. They are doing exceptional work and making tangible progress every day. Our national and military leadership are dedicating tremendous energy to supporting these critical missions, and you see this reflected daily in the media worldwide.

Others read and hear this same media coverage and might be inclined to view this focus of American attention as an opportunity for malevolence in other potentially volatile regions of the world. This would be a grave miscalculation. The current U.S. level of effort in Iraq must not be misinterpreted as a diminishing of focus elsewhere.

Beyond Iraq, today's U.S. Navy holds significant strategic relevance to the defense of our nation. We are providing "presence with a purpose," preventing any would-be adversary from making the mistake of perceiving that a strategic void exists in U.S. military policy or capability. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Western Pacific, where the U.S. Pacific Fleet is actively working to "dissuade and deter" any potential threat.

To this end, we continue to transform our Navy into a more persistent and agile force for the 21st century, a force better prepared to overcome future security challenges. As a result, we have changed our behavior patterns to increase our visibility in the Western Pacific, and we are preparing and operating our forces much differently than we have in the past.

For the last decade, the preponderance of Pacific Fleet units have trained and worked along the western coast of the United States, then sailed straight through the Pacific en route to the Arabian Gulf region. This is no longer the case. Pacific Fleet training and deployment efforts are now focused on our most difficult, potential theater warfighting scenarios. Across naval warfare communities, and with the close coordination of our Numbered Fleet Commanders – 3rd and 7th Fleets – we are conducting increasingly complex training at both the unit and integrated levels to refine the skill sets necessary to execute these challenges.

This new deployment pattern displays our commitment to maintaining a responsive, highly credible, persistent presence in the Western Pacific. The 2004 deployment of the John C. Stennis Strike Group was the vanguard of this multifaceted effort. Following completion of an intensive pre-deployment workup, Stennis participated in a series of exercises: Northern Edge in the Gulf of Alaska, RIMPAC in the Hawaiian area of operations, and the Joint Air Sea Exercise (JASEX) in the Western Pacific. Each exercise had increasingly complex tactical elements embedded in the event.

Additionally, the exercises demonstrated U.S. support for multilateral/combined maritime operations. Forty ships and submarines from seven nations participated in a robust RIMPAC exercise showing our capacity to conduct advanced dual-carrier strike group operations forward in the Pacific as displayed in JASEX. To ensure we continue to enhance the effectiveness and reach of naval forces, we have instilled an equally strong commitment to technological experimentation and rapid technology insertion.

During the Stennis deployment, we operated with several emerging technologies that industry provided, and they are helping improve the coordination, integration and implementation of our warfighting efforts. Some examples of what we were able to operate and train with are the variety of new sensors and equipment particularly in the area of antisubmarine warfare (ASW). These included the Automated Rapid Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD) System, Low Frequency Active (LFA) Sonar, and net-centric programs such as the Composeable FORCEnet and the Undersea Warfare Decision Support System, to name just a few.

The results were encouraging and will provide invaluable vectors for future programmatic decisions, for example, accelerating investment in sonar processing improvements and training, such as Advanced Active Analysis Adjunct (A4I) for PC Interactive Multisensor Analysis Training (PC-IMAT) to reduce false contact generation rate over legacy systems. I observed A4I in action aboard Stennis Strike Group ships and it works; moreover, our Sailors believe in it based on performance at sea.

The Undersea Warfare Decision Support System facilitated sonar planning in the Stennis Strike Group, and it is an excellent example of a system with the potential to improve the flow of information, environmental modeling and prediction, data fusion and contact correlation. These tools and applications will allow us to better integrate our ASW assets and get the best use from our sensors in the water column of interest. I'm encouraged by our technology progress and hungry for further developments.

The Pacific focus of the Stennis Strike Group deployment was not a one-time event. The flexibility inherent in the Navy's Fleet Response Plan was showcased when the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group commenced a surge deployment this past fall. Following completion of integrated training in the Middle Pacific, Lincoln moved forward to operate in WESTPAC waters. Lincoln's deployment reinforced to both our friends and potential adversaries, that despite the intensive level of effort in Iraq, the U.S. military — specifically the U.S. Pacific Fleet — continues to be fully committed to the security of this critical region.

As a result of the tragic December earthquake and tsunami in South Asia, Lincoln formed the centerpiece of the Navy's significant contribution to the international humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operation, which included the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Maritime Preposition shipping, logistics forces and medical personnel. Working closely with our coalition partners and host nation, the State Department, United Nations and nongovernment (NGO) officials, Navy forces provided invaluable support to Operation Unified Assistance including delivery of more than 4 million pounds of food, water, and medical and relief supplies to affected areas.

The Navy's contribution to this relief effort is a persuasive display of U.S. military responsiveness to the farthest reaches of the globe, and as with all of our operations, technology played a crucial role. Unified Assistance was an impressive display of Sea Basing. The surveillance, command, control and communications capabilities embedded in Navy platforms, were critical to the success of the expansive relief effort, providing maximum capabilities with no supporting infrastructure or footprint ashore.

While we are continuing to compile lessons learned, technological challenges were handled swiftly and effectively. The need to send broadcast quality video over a finite quantity of satellite bandwidth was expertly handled by SPAWAR fleet systems engineers and Navy Combat Camera with the rapid application of new video compression and transmission software.

Looking past the relief effort and across the spectrum of military operations, Pacific Fleet forces are engaged in a myriad of efforts. In support of the National Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System architecture, we are expanding the horizons of naval warfare. Pacific Fleet AEGIS combatants recently completed modifications to support long-range ballistic missile surveillance and tracking. These ships have begun periodic operations in designated patrol areas to support mission risk reduction and exercise joint command and control in preparation for National BMD System activation.

To further enhance our capability and system reliability, we are working closely with the Naval Systems Commands and the technical community to provide additional pathways for missile track data, as well as radar and support system improvements. We are also preparing to introduce a sea-based defensive capability with the fielding of the SM-3 (AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense) later this year. Maritime Interdiction Operations is another maritime-centric effort in our contribution to the global war on terrorism and forms perhaps our greatest area for strengthening our fight. We are advancing innovative uses of existing technologies and platforms to develop and refine tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for maritime interception applications using an Afloat Staging Base concept.

Recently, the Pacific Fleet participated in several efforts to further the growing partnership resulting from the Regional Maritime Security Initiative or RMSI. Willing nations are recognizing our collective need to enhance and leverage capabilities that can identify, monitor and intercept transnational maritime threats. Our goal is to gain increased information sharing and enhanced situational awareness to facilitate international cooperation and synchronization to improve security and cue effective threat responses. Development and fielding of Maritime Domain Awareness tools and applications will be central to this effort.

Command and control remains critical to the execution of RMSI mission sets and the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) is helping us overcome the challenge. In the Pacific, we witnessed recent successes with CENTRIXS during RIMPAC and ANNUALEX in 2004 with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). CENTRIXS remains the primary means for coalition command and control. The realization of RMSI will depend on the technical community and your ability to develop enabling technologies.

As the Navy transforms, we need you to transform our technology, so we are able to acquire speed of response for all operations in the maritime domain. As you work, rest assured that the Pacific Fleet remains fully engaged and highly visible to both our friends and potential adversaries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Editor's Note: Adm. Doran's article is based on his remarks to the AFCEA West Conference Feb. 2, 2005.

Adm. Doran addressing representatives of the media in San Diego, Feb. 2, 2005.
Adm. Doran addressing representatives of the media in San Diego, Feb. 2, 2005.

Jan. 10, 2005 - A U.S. Marine Corps amphibious vehicle prepares to bring Marines and Sailors aboard a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) at the end of the day’s relief efforts in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Helicopters from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and Marines and Sailors assigned to 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are supporting Operation Unified Assistance. U.S. Navy photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Ward.
Jan. 10, 2005 - A U.S. Marine Corps amphibious vehicle prepares to bring Marines and Sailors aboard a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) at the end of the day’s relief efforts in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Helicopters from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and Marines and Sailors assigned to 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are supporting Operation Unified Assistance. U.S. Navy photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Ward.
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