Jonathan W. Greenert,
DOD: Navy at Its Best When Forward-deployed
November 21, 2012
With warfighting the
central focus of the Navy's mission, the Navy is best when it is out and
about, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations.
"Operating forward means using innovative ways to make sure the ships
that we have are where we need them to be," the admiral said during a
speech at a National Press Club luncheon.
Readiness to conduct forward operations requires more than just parts,
maintenance and fuel, he added. "It also means that we have competent
and proficient crews that are ready to do the job," he said.
For about 10 years, around half of the Navy's ships have been
forward-deployed in the Asia-Pacific region, Greenert said. Half of
those ships are home-ported there, he added.
That forward-leaning posture helps to build international relationships
and reassure U.S. allies, he said.
Partnerships between the United States and Asia-Pacific nations are
maturing and growing, Greenert said. For example, in Japan and South
Korea, U.S. Navy operations personnel are collocated with their host
nation counterparts, he said.
In addition, a longstanding series of talks with the Chinese navy have
been expanded to include flag officers, not just captains, Greenert
"We in the Department of Defense have now a deliberate strategy for
engagement of the Chinese military," he said.
missile-equipped Arleigh Burke-class ship
The Asia-Pacific region has been a longtime focus for the Navy, the
admiral said, so it makes sense that the U.S. defense strategy would
include a rebalance toward the region. Part of the rebalance includes
Spain's recent agreement to allow four Aegis missile-equipped Arleigh
Burke-class ships to home-port in Rota, effectively freeing up six ships
to deploy elsewhere, Greenert said.
In addition, more ships will be based on the West Coast. By 2020, 60
percent of the Navy's ships will be based on the West Coast or elsewhere
in the Pacific, he said.
send one ship forward, Greenert said, requires four other ships: one in
the region, one that has just returned, one that is preparing to deploy
and one that is in maintenance. It makes better economic sense to keep
ships home-ported in those regions, he said.
About a third of the deployed ships are in the Middle East and the
Arabian Gulf, and about 18 are in the Mediterranean Sea, the admiral
said. That arrangement helps to ensure access to maritime crossroads
such as the Suez Canal and the straits of Hormuz, Malacca and Gibraltar,
"We have to have access to those places. That's where the lifeblood of
our world economy travels through," he said.
It can take several days, sometimes two or three weeks, to reach these
places from the United States, he noted, underscoring the importance of
operating from forward locations.