W. MOORE JR.
Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee, I sincerely
appreciate the opportunity to be here today and provide you my perspective
on the fleet, as an operational Fleet Commander.
Although I will address FIFTH FLEET operations and my mission
assessment in detail, I want you to know up front that FIFTH FLEET is
fulfilling our national security requirements and that the nation should
be proud of the job that our Sailors and Marines are doing in the Central
Region. Just a few weeks ago,
I briefed our yearly Training Assessment to General Zinni,
Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command.
In preparation for the brief, as my staff and I reviewed and
assessed 1999, even we were amazed with the magnitude and breadth of
operations that our naval forces had successfully conducted in the Central
Region. From engagement with
our regional partners, to enforcing United Nations sanctions, to Desert
Fox combat operations, our naval forces have met every mission, every
time. As I summed up in my
brief to General Zinni, FIFTH FLEET forces today are operationally capable
and combat proven. We have
the necessary numbers and mix of forces in-theater, the naval forces
rotating into theater are fully trained and combat ready, and our Sailors
and Marines are professional, motivated and committed.
In short, FIFTH Fleet is being given the right tools to get the job
To adequately assess FIFTH FLEET's ability to fulfill National
Security Strategy requirements, I would like to provide some background on
FIFTH FLEET, the region, and our mission.
As I stated, FIFTH FLEET is currently being given the right tools
to get the job done. Since FIFTH FLEET combat forces are all sourced from outside
the theater, I am not the right commander to address naval force
pre-deployment training issues, pre-deployment combat readiness issues, or
evaluate the overall adequacy of the Navy global force structure. Admirals Lautenbacher and McGinn are much more qualified to
address those areas. I am the
operational end user, and therefore, I will limit my assessment to what I
know - the readiness and combat capability of the naval forces I receive,
and FIFTH FLEET's ability to fulfill national security requirements.
To provide that assessment, I need to put some specificity to our
national security interests in the region.
The United Sates recognizes that it is in our vital national
interests to ensure the survival of our key allies, maintain a global
economic and energy equilibrium, and stem the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction. We
demonstrate our commitment to our regional partners though our combat
force presence. It is our
military presence in the region that reassures our friends, demonstrates
our resolve to those who would threaten peace, and provides an immediate
combat capability to respond to crisis.
It is also our military presence that ensures unrestricted access
to the critical resources in the region.
I consider the Strait of Hormuz as the most critical strait in the
world. More than two thirds
of the world’s known oil reserves lie in the region surrounding the
Arabian Gulf, and 43% of the world's oil passes through the Strait of
Hormuz. 75-80% of Japan's oil
passes through the Strait of Hormuz.
In the case of a major theater war, 90% of our joint military
capability will need to flow, by ship, through the Strait of Hormuz, as it
did during Desert Storm. Threats
to regional stability include states that either have or are developing
weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological and nuclear.
Additionally, these same states have a demonstrated theater
ballistic missile capability, which they desire to marry up with their
weapons of mass destruction. The
threats to regional stability are clear, as is the fact that our military
presence has been the stabilizing force.
The continuous presence of one Carrier Battle Group, and periodic
presence of two Carrier Battle Groups, over the last 2˝ years has not
gone unnoticed by our friends or potential adversaries.
Regardless of world crises, Kosovo being the latest example, the
decision by the United States to maintain a robust combat force level,
reflects our understanding of the importance of the region, our commitment
to our regional partners, and our desire to deter, and if necessary
respond, to any destabilizing opportunistic action.
To fulfill our National Security requirements and Central
Command’s objectives, FIFTH FLEET has six mission areas.
First, keep the chokepoints open.
Although I have three chokepoints in my area of operations – Suez
Canal, Bab Al-Mandeb, and Strait of Hormuz - as stated, I consider the
Strait of Hormuz as my most critical. Protecting the sea lines of communications is a historic and
enduring naval mission. Only
naval forces can operate in the littoral and physically clear mines.
With the presence of a Carrier Battle Group, the availability of
follow-on contingency forces, the increased in-theater Mine Counter
Measure capability, and a developing organic Mine Counter Measure
capability, I am confident of our ability to deter, and if necessary,
respond to any attempt to hinder passage through the Strait.
Second, FIFTH FLEET is a primary contingency response force for
national and transnational threats. As
demonstrated by operations Desert Fox and the anti-terrorist strikes into
Afghanistan and Sudan, FIFTH FLEET’s current force structure is adequate
to meet national security objectives during crisis.
FIFTH FLEET units fired 330 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles during Desert
Fox, and over 70% of the operation’s aircraft combat missions originated
from the carriers ENTERPRISE and CARL VINSON.
FIFTH FLEET units also fired 79 Tomahawks in support of the
National Command Authority’s decision to retaliate for the terrorist
bombings of our Embassies. FIFTH
FLEET forces arrive combat trained and ready, they leave the theater
While FIFTH FLEET has the proven capability to meet contingency
response requirements, there are areas of concern.
First, the need for increased Amphibious Ready Group/Marine
Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU) presence in-theater.
During Desert Fox, one ARG/MEU was ordered to the Central Region to
provide the immediate in-theater capability to land ground forces in the
defense of Kuwait, while a second ARG/MEU, already in the region on a
scheduled deployment, positioned three separate afloat units to respond to
possible non-combatant evacuation operations in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and
Djibouti. Since an ARG/MEU is
only present in-theater approximately 50 percent of the year, FIFTH
FLEET’s contingency response can not always be as robust. My second concern is our ability to surge to meet a Major
Theater War. FIFTH FLEET has
the forces in place to assure access for follow-on forces.
I am not certain that we, as a Navy, have the necessary global
force structure and sustainment capability, especially in precision
weapons, to meet the force flow requirements for a Major Theater War.
The third mission area is support of Operation Southern Watch –
enforcement of the southern no fly zone over Iraq.
Our Carrier Air Wing provided 60% of the strike aircraft, 100% of
the EA-6B electronic combat aircraft, 50% of the coalition tactical
reconnaissance aircraft, and 100% of the U.S. tactical reconnaissance
capability when UAVs were not available in-theater.
Additionally, Carrier Air Wing and Maritime Patrol Aircraft
provided 40% of the overall Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
capability supporting Operation Southern Watch.
This translated into an average of 750 sorties a month, which only
scratched the surface of the Air Wings capabilities.
Additionally, the Carrier Air Wing brought the CINC’s only
available standoff precision weapons, JSOW, JDAM, and SLAM-ER.
Fourth, FIFTH FLEET conducts maritime interception operations in
support of United Nations Resolutions 661, 665, 687, 986 and 1284.
Maritime intercept operations enforce the economic embargo on Iraq
and facilitate and discipline the Oil for Food Program. In conducting
these operations, multi-national maritime forces have to date conducted
28,746 queries, 12,551 boardings, and 695 diverts.
FIFTH FLEET’s ability to conduct intercept operations was
recently demonstrated with the intercept and subsequent divert of the
Russian flagged tanker Volganeft 147.
We had the in-theater Intelligence, Surveillance, and
Reconnaissance capability to identify Volganeft 147 as a smuggler and
continuously track her progress. We
had the surface combatants, Naval Special Forces, and helicopter boarding
capability organic to the Carrier Air Wing to board and divert her.
Additionally, because of our regional engagement, we were able to
coordinate closely with coalition partners to close off avenues of escape.
Our fifth mission is to engage our regional partners and support
General Zinni’s regional engagement plan.
In Fiscal Year 99, FIFTH FLEET units conducted 47 exercises with 12
countries in the AOR. These exercises not only demonstrated our commitment and
friendship in the region, they also increased our regional partners’
military capability, increased operational interoperability between FIFTH
FLEET forces and regional navies, air forces, and ground forces, and
helped to sustain the training and readiness of our own forces.
Another invaluable aspect of our Theater Engagement Program is our
Port Visit Program. These are port visits specifically designed to open up new
ports, and reinforce our relationship in ports where we already have
access. In FY 99, FIFTH FLEET
ships conducted 472 port visits, opening up 2 new ports.
My final mission area is force protection.
I view force protection from two perspectives.
First, operational defense, or FIFTH FLEET's defensive capability
to protect itself and Joint and Combined Forces across the spectrum of
warfare. Second, our ability
to provide protection for our shore infrastructure and personnel ashore
from terrorist attack.
FIFTH FLEET units are trained and equipped for Joint and Combined
Force defense. The Carrier
Air Wing brings 50 combat aircraft and supporting E-2s to coordinate the
air battle. The Surface
Combatants bring Harpoon anti-ship missiles, SM-1 and SM-2s surface-to-air
missiles in great numbers, and the Aegis Combat System.
Organic to the Carrier Battle Group are anti-submarine and
anti-surface warfare helicopters, and an attack submarine.
The force protection capability of a Carrier Battle Group is
formidable. The Amphibious
Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit bring 2100 Marines, 25
helicopters, 6 Harriers, 5 LCACs, and 40 armored vehicles.
As demonstrated during Desert Fox, these forces are available for
the immediate defense of Kuwait and other regional partners, or for
non-combatant evacuation operations. The forward presence of naval combat capability ensures the
access for follow-on Joint Forces to flow into theater in the event of a
Major Theater War.
From a terrorist force protection perspective, FIFTH FLEET and the
Navy have expended a great deal of resources to protect our personnel.
The new MILCON at Naval Support Activity Bahrain is state of the
art for force protection. FIFTH
FLEET's Force Protection Program is recognized as the best in the Navy.
We recognize force protection as an operational issue, and
therefore, we factor it into our daily operations.
Yes, FIFTH FLEET is meeting our national security requirements –
but the cost is not cheap. Our
mission requirements make it necessary to maintain a robust, full spectrum
combat capability in-theater; a substantial strike capability – be it
air, surface or sub launched; operational
defense capability – to protect our forces and assure access;
numbers of forces – not only for strike and defense, but also to
conduct Maritime Intercept Operations and engage our regional partners;
sustainment capability – to ensure the necessary combat power in types
and numbers of weapons for contingency response; Mine Counter Measures
capability – to keep the straits open; and
an Intelligence, Reconnaissance, and Surveillance capability – to
ensure the situational awareness and common operational picture to
effectively fight our forces. This
robust, full spectrum combat capability translated into the following
the last two years, one Carrier Battle Group was assigned continuously and
two Carrier Battle Groups for a quarter of the same period.
Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit assigned for 207 days in FY99.
- two Surface Combatants, above what is organic to a Carrier Battle Group,
to conduct Maritime Intercept Operations and ensure we meet in-theater
- two attack submarines conducting anti-submarine missions, fulfilling
Tomahawk requirements, and conducting national and tactical Intelligence,
Reconnaissance, and Surveillance missions.
P-3s for anti-submarine warfare, and especially tactical Intelligence,
Reconnaissance and Surveillance, and Maritime Patrol.
soon to be four, Surface Mine Counter Measure ships and four Mine Counter
Measure helicopters permanently stationed in-theater.
Combat Logistics Force task element comprised of a T-AFS, an AOE, and a
TAO to provide underway replenishment for the combat force.
Even with these forces, FIFTH FLEET operational tempo was higher than the Navy standard of 51 days per quarter while deployed. While assigned to FIFTH FLEET, the average carrier was underway approximately 74 days per quarter, surface combatant 71 days, ARG/MEU 72 days, and submarines 76 days. The operational tempo is high to stretch the limited forces to meet operational mission requirements.
Unfortunately, FIFTH FLEET force levels are being maintained at the cost of other numbered fleet operational requirements. SIXTH FLEET’s carrier presence is at an all time low. In the last two years, SIXTH FLEET’s carrier presence was 40-60% of CINCEUR’s requirements. When THEODORE ROOSEVELT was held in the Mediterranean for Kosovo, KITTY HAWK was surged from SEVENTH FLEET to ensure FIFTH FLEET maintained one carrier in-theater. The ripple effect left the Western Pacific without a carrier presence.
Although I am receiving the necessary forces to meet FIFTH FLEET obligations, the fleet is stretched and I am uncertain how much longer the Navy can continue to juggle forces to meet the varied regional requirements, including FIFTH FLEET’s. I am also uncertain that we have the surge capability to meet a major contingency, or theater war. Eventually, the increased operational tempo on our fewer and fewer ships will take its toll on their availability and readiness. Eventually, the immediacy of contingency requirements in other areas of the world will limit the Navy's options to surge a carrier to support the Central Region. As Vice Admiral Murphy states – numbers matter.
As I noted in my introduction, I have the benefit of receiving my
forces fully trained and combat ready.
I can not over emphasize the importance of training and deploying
our forces ready for combat. As operations Desert Fox and Southern Watch demonstrate,
forces need to be ready to conduct sustained combat operations on arrival.
Therefore, we need to continue to ensure that our aviators, surface
warriors, and submariners are fully trained to conduct all aspects of
their mission. Only fully
trained combat personnel can meet mission objectives at minimum risk, and
with minimum collateral damage.
We need also to ensure that we are capable of sustaining the combat
force once it is in theater. Currently,
the Carrier Battle Groups, Amphibious Ready Groups, Marine Expeditionary
Units, and Middle East Force Ships arrive in-theater with the necessary
ordnance to meet contingency requirements.
But, I am not so certain that we have the necessary precision
weapons to sustain the force in the event of a major contingency, or Major
Theater War. Again, it may be
a case that we will have to dangerously draw down the stocks in adjacent
theaters to address the most immediate threat.
FIFTH FLEET will continue to successfully meet national security
requirements as long as we are assigned the necessary forces, and those
forces are properly trained and ready.
The following points summarize my concerns for the future:
count - We need to ensure we have the necessary forces to meet our global
interests, including surge capacity for Major Theater War.
is essential - We must maintain our combat training level, unless the
forces are combat ready we can't complete the mission.
keeps us in the fight - Without the precision weapons, we can't fight and
Naval forces have developed into the force of choice for the
Central Region. Naval forces,
operating in international waters, have the freedom of operation to
conduct unilateral operations when necessary - be it in support of
Operation Southern Watch, clearing the strait, or any other contingency
operation. The mobility, strike and self-protection capability of naval
forces provides the forward combat presence to deter, fight, and assure
access to follow-on forces. Operating
from the sea allows naval forces to minimize shore footprint, which
minimizes host nation sensitivities and shore force protection problems.
The same forces that conduct strike operations and maritime intercept are
flexible enough to be a primary engagement instrument with our coalition
partners. Considering the
vital national interests at stake, the naval mission in the Central Region
is only going to grow. We
need to ensure we have the necessary forces, trained, ready and
sustainable to meet that challenge.