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Citadel News Service
31 Oct 2002

Admiral F. L. "Skip" Bowman: The submarine force in an era of consequences

PhotoThank you, General Grinalds for that kind introduction and for your gracious hospitality. Mrs. Bowman and I look forward to a rare combination today: Charleston charm and Citadel efficiency-courtesy of the president and the commandant. General Grinalds and General Mace are soldiers and scholars in the best American tradition. The nation is fortunate to have benefited from their honor, wisdom, and leadership. And I know that Cadet Colonel Neikirk and the Corps of Cadets benefit today from those same traits.

On the academic side, I would be remiss not to recognize and thank your distinguished provost, General Carter, and also Ambassador Philip Lader for his generous invitation, in his capacity as the Citadel's John C. West Professor of Government and International Studies, to address the Corps of Cadets today.

I am truly honored to be here with you today, but also a bit daunted. Following in the footsteps of President Bush is quite a challenge: His addresses here at The Citadel have come to be viewed as central national security documents of his administration.

Yet, as I considered and reviewed the President's messages, I thought it appropriate to present a "case study" in the transformation of our nation's defense that he has argued for with such passion.

I've been asked to discuss the ongoing transformation of the United States Submarine Force as it meets the challenges of conducting a global war on terrorism today, while building the capabilities needed to navigate the violent horizons of tomorrow.

To set the strategic stage for my remarks, I'm proud to tell you that the submarine force right now is doing what American submarines have been doing since December 1941: They are taking the fight to the enemy.

As I speak, there are about 10 U.S. submarines forward deployed, many engaged directly in the war on terror. In the days and weeks after 9/11, the demand by the theater combatant commanders for submarines jumped by 30 percent. Today, the submarine force is doing more than ever before, and I'm proud of our contributions to national defense and to the Global War on Terrorism.

But, as a naval officer, I'm not just proud of what the submarine force is doing, I am equally proud of the incredible achievements of our large-deck carriers, our Marine Corps, and of our Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Afghanistan and in the Arabian Gulf Region. I'm proud of every element of the Navy/Marine Corps team.

In fact, as a senior military officer, I'm proud of the entire Joint Team that has responded so magnificently to unrehearsed challenges around the world. But I must say that never before in my career can I recall a time when the enduring qualities and expeditionary culture of the Navy-Marine Corps Team are so congruent with the Nation's security strategy and the world situation.

The essentials of this strategy are found in the Pentagon's 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The strategy envisions a joint force that is capable of:

  • Defending the United States.
  • Deterring forward simultaneously in four critical regions.
  • Swiftly defeating aggression in two overlapping conflicts, from a forward deterrent posture and with an immediately employable force.
  • Preserving the President's option to decisively defeat an aggressor, including the possibility of regime change or occupation.

If this isn't the ideal prescription for our forward-deployed Navy/ Marine Corps Team, I'd be hard-pressed to find a better one.

But let me be clear. The QDR and associated Defense Planning Guidance military missions require joint cooperation. My proposition is that these missions, as never before, require a forward deployed, expeditionary Navy/Marine Corps team as a necessary, but not sufficient part of our nation's military arsenal.

The Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard must also bring to the table their unique strengths and capabilities. Yet because of who we are and how we deploy, the Navy/Marine Corps team will already be at the table when the others arrive.

In this new strategic framework, the Navy has worked hard over the last year to align our expeditionary culture and concept of operations to the new strategic framework. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark's, Sea Power 21 vision, which he unveiled this summer at the Naval War College, has been a key result of this intellectual effort.

Its extension of the traditional concepts of Navy sea control and power projection into a 21st?century joint context centers on the three pillars of Sea Shield, Sea Strike, and Sea Basing.

Sea Shield goes beyond control of the sea to exerting battlespace dominance from the sea. The Sea Shield is used to defend and protect not only naval forces, but also joint and coalition sea, land, and air forces. Indeed, Sea Shield includes defending the United States of America.
Sea Strike is about providing responsive, long-range, persistent striking power to the joint force throughout the course of a joint campaign. It is especially about preparing the battlespace early on for subsequent insertion of the joint team.

Sea Basing is fundamentally about using the sea as a secure base for sustained joint operations. It's about providing the joint force commander an integrated, networked force at sea and being able to put the "teeth" ashore while keeping the command and control, fires, and logistics at sea-especially early on, in denied areas.

In this sense, Sea Basing is the key that unlocks a theater for sustained joint operations ashore-just as it did in the initial phase of our war in Afghanistan.

In all of these concepts, the Submarine Force has had, and will have, a key role to play. And once again, let me hasten to add that I see the submarine as a necessary, but nowhere near sufficient, part of the Joint team.


Following the Cold War victory and the break up of the Soviet Union, as we evaluated the changing world and the submarine role in that world, it became apparent that we needed to develop further capability. I've come to call those capabilities "the Four Gets." They've served as technology goals for disciplining the submarine research and development efforts for the past 5 years or so:

  • GET PAYLOAD - Payload that goes over the horizon where the enemy lives . . . more than bombs, or missiles, or torpedoes. It includes off board sensors that will extend the eyes and ears of the joint force wherever they are needed. It includes covert submarines launching these sensors from under the enemy's defensive umbrella and then, in some cases, turning those sensors over to our forces ashore.
  • GET CONNECTED - so we can share what we see and hear on the submarine, transfer that knowledge (not data bits) in real time to the Joint Force Commander and his Carrier Strike Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups-contributing unique knowledge to the Common Operating Picture (COP).
  • GET MODULAR - so we can custom-tailor submarines precisely to the mission at hand-support of Special Operating Forces (SOFs); covert strike; persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); minefield sanitization; or antisubmarine warfare (ASW)-maximizing the use of the precious submarine volume to better serve the strike group or joint commander's needs.

  • GET ELECTRIC - So we can shift from turbine gear drive to electric motor drive in our submarines and utilize the full reactor output to power an integrated propulsion plant and weapons suite. And so we can get to the next level of acoustic superiority.

In the submarine community, this way of thinking has been very useful in nurturing new and forward-looking submarine-based capabilities that can enable expeditionary warfare and support Special Forces and other Army troops and Marines ashore and Air Force long-range bombers from CONUS. We've been looking for ways to turn over some capability to our shore based forces.

Let me give you a thumbnail sketch of the more promising of these developing capabilities:

Long-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS) and follow-on Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) - a part of our "get connected and get payload."

The LMRS is an extended range, autonomous UUV designed to map out minefields and chart beach contours. Given some imagination, we can deploy a variety of unmanned packages from the UUV to extend the sensor reach and knowledge base of the submarine and therefore of the joint force.

Submarine-launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) - more of getting connected and getting payload-covert, long-dwell, extended-range, semi-autonomous aerial vehicles outfitted with an array of payloads designed to provide the joint force with its earliest UAV options during conflict, as well as extend the submarine and the expeditionary force and ground-based troop's horizon inland.

Launched from a stealthy SSN or SSGN, the UAV will support joint forces ashore by providing them with real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and giving them a redundant means of communications to "call for strike."

VIRGINIA-class submarine - getting modular and connected and payload. A first step for a stealthy littoral warfare focus that, to use Secretary Rumsfeld's term, is "born joint," including a robust communications suite; a dedicated Special Forces delivery and recovery system; and a mission reconfigurable torpedo room capable of delivering mines, unmanned undersea vehicles, torpedoes, and cruise missiles.

And, by leveraging payload concepts demonstrated in the SSGN, we could fit a Payload Interface Module-a plug-into the VIRGINIA class to further enhance the sub's flexibility to operate with joint forces anywhere, anytime.

SSGN - the big getting modular and payload-this is shorthand for a guided missile nuclear submarine. These four submarines, converted from our highly successful Trident class ballistic missile submarines, are really a submarine "system of systems" that takes the Submarine Force "conventional triad" of Strike, Special Operations Forces, and ISR to deliver a new level of expeditionary capability.

This transformational platform will allow a SOF campaign to be conducted, for the first time, from a submerged platform. In addition, by using the large-diameter interface with the sea provided by a reconfigured 8?foot diameter Trident missile tube, and a little more imagination, we should be able to deploy other transformational payloads, such as tactical ballistic missiles or long-dwell UAVs.


Now, although impressive, this list of goals and capabilities needs to be bound into a concept of joint and expeditionary operations to be truly useful. Given our intense submarine culture, we are often at risk of just talking to ourselves about what we'll do and how we'll do it.

This is fine fodder for submarine happy-hour discussions, but it doesn't best serve the joint force. These advanced capabilities must fit in with some larger purpose. Simply put, we need to "GET EXPEDITIONARY" as a fifth "get" and ask how we can better enable long-range Air Force bombing missions and how we can better support Army troops and Marines ashore.

In this regard, the naval expeditionary warfare team is well placed. As I already argued, the new defense strategy is predisposed to the employment of naval expeditionary capabilities. The Navy and Marine Corps visions and Operating Concepts are good bases to build upon in crafting and testing joint operating concepts.

But much work lies ahead-conceptual, experimental, technological, and operational. The Submarine Force has tackled some of the conceptual challenges by working within its own lifelines.

We got a start in Millennium Challenge 02, where we experimented extensively with a "virtual SSGN" based in a Newport, Rhode Island, laboratory and an "emulated SSGN" that was actually an operating SSN at sea.

We learned a lot about the potential of an SSGN to respond rapidly to tasking in a wide variety of missions. We also learned a lot about the challenges we must work through to realize this potential.

Along these lines, we would all do well to take our cue from Secretary Rumsfeld and his ideas about joint warfighting. Speaking on August 21 at Fort Hood, the Secretary indicated his desire that a joint operational concept be fashioned to test various proposals by the services to see the extent to which they can be rationalized and harmonized in a joint concept.

In response to Secretary Rumsfeld and building on this Millennium Challenge experience, we will be conducting a series of SSGN demonstrations very soon, using off-the-shelf equipment to test this covert littoral capability package.

The first one, code named "Giant Shadow," is scheduled for this coming January, and will include Special Forces insertion and recovery from the SSGN, a prototype unmanned undersea vehicle leading the Special Forces through an implanted minefield, Tomahawk missiles for enemy air defense suppression, and ISR support provided from both a UAV and a specially outfitted P3 linked through the SSGN.

Eventually, we intend to incorporate organically launched experimental UAVs in a future Sea Trial.

We must next consider proof-of-concept future demos of supporting fires for the SOF team we just put ashore using tactical ballistic missiles or high-power guns, eventually expanding this to support the Marine Corps and the Army ashore as well.

These are important first steps, but the Submarine Force needs to get outside its own lifelines to ensure we're delivering capabilities relevant to the expeditionary team and the joint campaign. Let me just ask a few questions to stimulate your thinking here:

What is the best role for submarines to play as the advanced elements of the secure Sea Base? How can we link submarine-embarked, prepositioned equipment with their Army, Marine, and Special Operations Forces rapidly and securely?

How do we work to extend the range and mobility of our Marines and Special Forces units once the submarine and ASDS has delivered them to the beach? And how do we resupply them, and our Army units, once ashore, to extend their campaign abilities?

How do we make the Expeditionary Strike Group concept work in practice? How can its associated submarine best support the ESG commander and how can it best support our joint forces ashore?

Which sensors and weapons from the submarine will best support the emerging Marine Corps expeditionary doctrine and mesh as well with supporting the Army Future Combat System in its follow-on role; these forces are the tip of our future expeditionary spear.

For those of you being commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps, the Army, or the Air Force, you don't know what we can do-and we don't know what you need done. We need to talk.

In fact, last week in Panama City, I invited members of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and the Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC), to contact and work with these ideas with our submarine operational commander, VADM John Grossenbacher, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.


As you can see, there are promising submarine capabilities in the near-term pipeline, warfighting concepts in embryonic development, and urgent challenges the Nation and its expeditionary team are facing.

Consider the challenges encountered in UAV deployments in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM-basing rights, base accessibility, logistics, and site preparation-all of which contributed to delaying operations until mid-October when the Predator then provided invaluable coverage over Northern Afghanistan.

An SSGN, equipped with a UAV of requisite range and endurance-and operating close-in where other platforms were potentially vulnerable-could have provided surveillance data weeks earlier.

This is just one example in which cooperation between the Submarine Force and our joint partners could yield great benefits for the joint force and the Nation. There are many others.

Consider the following scenario: It's helped me focus these ideas, and I think it's a useful "thought experiment," to paraphrase Einstein (I'm required by law to cite Einstein in all public speeches-it comes with the Naval Reactors logo).

Let's assume we're up against a reasonably robust enemy who is doing everything within his power to deny access to his claimed 200 NM "territorial waters" with surface-to-surface missiles, mines, quiet diesel submarines, and even a chem-bio shield. In response, consider a joint expeditionary campaign of the future, with submarines and submariners as full partners:

A forward element VIRGINIA-class SSN (virtually immune to these anti-access threats) gathers intelligence covertly from close in, controlling a UAV and deploying its UUV to
target the key nodes of enemy's area-denial capability-including mapping out safe Q?routes for special forces insertion through, or around, a minefield.
Data from these onboard and offboard sensors are processed and fed into the Global Information Grid, supplementing national and organic Air Force and other Navy ISR assets.

A deployed SSGN covertly launches a SOF unit, using its Advanced SEAL Delivery System and launches its own UAVs and UUVs to pinpoint additional enemy assets to target-

Command-and-control nodes, weapons of mass destruction like the chem-bio shield being employed, or ballistic or cruise missile launchers, carefully hidden from our overhead satellites.

At the President's direction, informed by the intelligence gathered to date, the Joint Expeditionary Team begins its full campaign, marked by:

DD(X), VIRGINIA-class submarine, and SSGN Tomahawk missiles knocking down enemy air defense and key communications nodes and neutralizing the chem-bio capability targeted by the forward-element SOF team and by the submarine-launched UAVs and UUVs.

The Navy's fast Littoral Combat Ships and High-Speed Vessels, configured for anti-mine operations, begin neutralizing the defensive minefields.

Joint air and space expeditionary forces striking against deep or mobile targets.

UAVs previously launched by SSGNs and SSNs and now shared with Marines, Special Forces, and the Army provide tactical intelligence while these units conduct deep-insertion operations ashore.

Naval fires strike in support of the land forces ashore, using 155 mm advanced guns on the supporting DD(X) and tactical ballistic missiles with brilliant munitions for time-critical enemy armor engagements.

Persistent, precise, and pervasive combat air support with men and eyes in the loop from our joint combat air forces operating from our carriers, from our big-deck amphibs, and from expeditionary airfields ashore, allowing the adversary no respite.

In closing, I think it is fitting that I quote from President Bush's speech here at The Citadel in September 1999. He said, "Moments of national opportunity are either seized or lost, and the consequences reach across decades. Our opportunity is here. . . ."

As we think about our country's security challenges, the power of teamwork becomes a dominating theme. Our opportunity is here to blend capability heretofore not brought together. Let's seize that opportunity to effect consequences across many decades.

Thanks for your time and attention.

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