Back to Maritime Security Conference


  • CDR Philip Walker, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
  • Franklin D. Kramer, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs & Vice Chair, Atlantic Council
  • ADM Jonathan Greenert, Vice Chief of Naval Operations

October 14, 2009

CDR. PHILIP WALKER:  We now come to the final event – item of the day, our keynote speech with the vice chief of Naval Operations.  And with us today to help introduce the vice CNO and moderate the Q&A session we have Frank Kramer, a longtime dear friend of the Atlantic Council.

Frank has a long record of service to our nation as he served as the assistance secretary of defense for International Security Affairs from ’96 until 2001, and before that as the deputy assistance secretary of defense for Europe and NATO Affairs from ’93 to ’96.

Today he’s the vice chair of the Atlantic Council as well as the chairman of the Committee on Asian and Global Security here at the council.  He is also the chairman of the board at the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C., and serves as a Capstone Professor at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.

Frank, thanks for being with us today and helping us to close this wonderful conference on maritime security.  The podium is yours, sir.

FRANKLIN KRAMER:  I’ve got two close friends in the front row who are admirals, and of course the vice CNO, and I have to tell you both that I’ve always wanted to be a Navy admiral, ever since the time Grog Johnson and I were going on the Constitution.  I went on first, just went on.  Grog starts to come on, the bell starts to ring; vice admiral arriving.  God, you know, I want somebody to ring that bell for me.  (Laughter.) 

Well, tonight I want to ring the bell for the vice CNO.  He’s a Naval Academy graduate, nuclear power.  You guys in the Navy know what that means.  Best submarine officer at every command that you could have.  He had the USS Honolulu, he had 7th Fleet, he had U.S. Fleet Forces.  And, more importantly, he’s now working on all these issues that we’ve been talking about today in addition to keeping the Navy in shape, which is no small task.

I think that you all know that we have had a serious set of discussions on a whole variety of issues and what is maritime awareness really all about?  What’s really effective?  What are the operational issues?  What are the political issues?  What are the technological issues?  How does the change in the political environment, the opening up of the arctic, climate change, things like that, make a difference?

I think we couldn’t have anyone in a better position to help answer these questions for you.  He’ll speak and then we’re going to open it up to the audience.  And with that, let me welcome Adm. Greenert.  Thank you very much for being here.  (Applause.)

ADM. JONATHAN GREENERT:  Well, I’m honored to be here today.  Thank you, Frank, for that introduction, and thank you to the World (sic) Council for the opportunity and to the Navy War College for helping put this together.  Maritime Security is a world issue – a growing, growing issue, and our recent experience, our recent discussions up the International Seapower Symposium certainly validated that.

Before I go there, I’d like to say it’s very – it’s an honor to see some old friends and a mentor here, especially Harry – Harry Ulrich – who I’m sure has injected some semblance of controversy somewhere today – (laughter) – unless you’ve changed your tune, Harry.

But, you know, as I was being introduced I’m thinking to myself, golly, vice chief of Naval Operations; does that make me like a heartbeat away from like the chief of Naval Operations, you know, like vice president and president?  Am I qualified to do this job? 

I was talking to Harry and I said, you know – he said, it’s really too bad Gary Roughead couldn’t be here today, and I said, well, you know, he’s very busy.  In fact, he is called away to a tank with all the other service chiefs, which is why he’s not here today. 

And after Harry said it the third time I said, you know, my background is kind of similar to Gary Roughead’s, and he pointed to me and he said, look here, Adm. Greenert, I know Adm. Gary Roughead and you are not Adm. Gary Roughead.  (Laughter.)  So I stand before you today acknowledging that fact, that I am not Gary Roughead. 

I would like to cover some remarks about the relevance of maritime security and how we see it, if you will, the importance of it in the world as we’ve talked to our compatriots out there, especially this past week in these last few months; a little bit on ports, piracy; solutions, conceptual and maybe some specific.

I start off by congratulating Phil Wisecup and the War College for a terrific International Seapower Symposium.  That made a statement, this one, this Seapower Symposium.  In 1969 the first International Seapower Symposium, we had 38 chiefs or their representatives there.  In 2009, 40 years later, we had 103, a gain of 65.  There’s only 200 and some change countries in the world.  A lot of people were there – a lot of people.  In 2005 we had 71 chiefs and representatives, and so, again, today 103.

So the challenges that are out there today are pulling navies together, not apart.  This was the largest gathering of naval leaders in history.  And we’re talking about people joining like Guyana, Maldives, Cambodia, Vietnam and Russia, all for the first time.

If you think about that, where is that in the world and what kind of interest did they have, I think you get the picture.  It’s starting to become a big issue.  And the conversation up there was not about international progress, which is usually what it’s about:  Where are my spare parts, I haven’t gotten the P-3 yet.  It was a focus on maritime security and how we can do better.

The international partners, talking to them, thinking about this, my view – it comes down to three basic categories that we think about when we think about maritime security. 

One, it’s about commerce.  Most of you know 90 percent of the trade, international trade, is on the ocean.  And what we talked about a lot last week is it’s not all legal.  A lot of it is not legal.  A lot of it is illegal.  And that was the message from a lot of the chit chat on the side from the European chiefs, and particularly the chief of the South African Navy, as well as some of the Persian Gulf folks.

Commerce typically is associated with yielding peace.  Countries that trade together don’t fight together, but commerce spurs competition as well.  And the maritime crime that we’re seeing in the world today is bleeding development, particularly in and around Africa, and that message came through with a lot of the chiefs that were there.

Some of you may remember the book “The World is Flat,” Thomas Friedman.  Go to chapter about 16.  He talks about his Dell laptop.  And he said, hey, where was this thing made?  And it was made in and around Asia, of course, most of it in Malaysia, as a matter of fact, but how many of the different parts – the sound card, et cetera, et cetera, the mother board, the straps, the monitor, the keyboard, the DVD player – all of that?

When he went through and itemized all of that, it came from about every free-trading country in Asia made a piece of his laptop that used to write the book.  The point here is commerce and interconnection is still there and it’s alive and it’s a primary concern.

Communication, number two.  And I’m not talking about using the seas to communication, ships going back and forth; I’m talking about undersea, and its undersea cables.  Ninety-five percent of the stuff that we transfer back and forth, our information, comes from undersea cables; $3.2 trillion on the estimate is the trade that annually goes through undersea cables.  They’re important.

Number three, resources are important.  And there is a vast panoply of what those resources make up, but two easy ones to talk about are oil.  There is oil on top of the water, the trade of oil through the various sea lines of communication, the choke points, et cetera, but it’s also the ocean floor, where we’re finding oil today.

The arctic is a new interest.  The Spratlys are renewed competition and a renewed interest, certainly by China, and West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea is a fragile infrastructure and could be a new problem if we don’t do this right.

Food, under the sea and in the sea, and employment by – many of the chiefs talked about that’s an employer for us.  About 43 million people out there, on some estimates, make their living on the sea and, again, the chief of the South Africa insisted a lot of it is illegal on the sea; that is, fishing.

Twenty percent of the protein consumed in Asia and Africa comes from the sea.  Ours is about 8 percent.  And about $4 billion a year, on estimate, is lost at sea due to unreported, illegal or unregulated fishing.  So pirate fishing, some people call that, it’s an issue.  And per our constituents in the African Union of navies, maritime crime is absolutely stifling growth in a lot of Africa and it’s a concern.

So these three all become sort of pressurized and amplified when you get in and around the sea, where many people live – 80 percent of the world – and the densely populated ports, and people continue to migrate to it.  So it’s an issue that’s going to continue.  It’s growing.  It attracts trade.  That’s the good issue; that’s the good point of it all, but also it attracts terrorists and criminals and will continue to be a problem we think.

Ports.  We think – a few comments on ports, perhaps three roles in maritime security and global trade. 

One, ports are the on and off ramps of the worldwide highway, not all that complicated, but if you think about the just-in-time network that we run in our trade back and forth, port access is pretty darn critical – the lessened inventory that folks want to carry.  And you go to Norfolk and you see how long those containers reside there.  They’re not very long.  They’ve got to move.  The inventory is low.

If you recall the 10-day lockout that took place in 2002 when the Pacific Maritime Agency and the International Longshoremen and the Warehouse Union got together – couldn’t get together and resolve it.  Ten days they were off.  There was a lockout. 

It cost us $16 billion, by most estimates; 100 days to get the backlog cleared out, and had about 200 ships sitting off the coast, particularly at Oakland and Long Beach, waiting to come in.  So just a small piece of that, that on and off ramp, pretty important, and that interruption, what that can bring. 

Ports, nodes for legal trade.  We talked a little last week, talking with the chiefs of navy from Mexico and from Colombia.  Last week customs agents alone seized $41 million in just cash in drug smuggling between Manzanillo and Buenaventura – just a clip, just in one week, what’s going on down there.  And clearly drugs and smuggling hubs in Latin America, the Mid-East and Africa present a problem here and there.

Ports are also a catalyst and maybe the buttons for conflict.  They’re hard to secure.  It’s got a huge maritime traffic issue going through them.  They’re diverse.  They’ve got diverse and large populations.  It’s hard to monitor.  The world market is very sensitive to closure.  I just gave you a clip from one instance in the last, say, 15 years, and the ports are attractive to terrorists. 

You remember the Mumbai issue and what that did to Mumbai Harbor?  And there are numerous instances in Singapore where the Singaporean authorities, they’ve uncovered and fortunately resolved terrorist planning in the Port of Singapore.

Piracy plays a part, in our view, and it’s an important part but – well, let me just say it’s the most visible recent part that they play, but I would submit it’s more psychological so far than it is financial, maybe .1 percent of the world trade impacted by piracy.  It’s a symptom, not necessarily a root cause of the issue out there.  Some would say it’s playing “Whac-A-Mole.”  If it’s not in Southeast Asia, it’s at the Gulf of Aden, and it roots itself or shows itself in another area.

We have the mission set to deal with it.  We train on that mission set in the Navy but it’s not really an enduring solution, we feel, in the long term.  The broader area, the broader problem is ashore and we tend to be dealing with a symptom, like I said, than the cause.  Let’s treat the root cause.

Longer-term solutions in maritime security tend to be irregular by nature.  There common themes I would submit are out there for the many challenges that we have.  One, we need to build a global maritime – continue to build global maritime partnerships and capacity.  We don’t have the capacity to go it alone and we don’t see it in the future. 

Coalitions are clearly shown to be more effective in dealing with it, and coalitions are found to be more effective in deterring problems in maritime security.  And that alone – once again, that’s part of why 102 nations showed up at the International Seapower Symposium last week.

Examples of partnership that have been quite effective recently are the Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia partnership on counter-piracy in the last 10 years down in Southeast Asia – dramatic improvement when they got together and formed that partnership.  Operation Active Endeavor after 9/11 was effective, and Operation ATALANTA with the European Union in the Gulf of Aden has been effective.

There is an economic community of Central African states that has just recently formed, we found out in this past week, with some of the African states where they will monitor – they will conduct security and monitor operations from Cameroon.  So again, some of them ad hoc, some of them developing, but we’re moving out in that direction and partnerships are an important part.

Building partner capacity is also important and mandatory in this.  The African Partnership Station – which Harry, during his tenure in Naval Forces Europe, got us going along – has continued to evolve and is building great capacity over there in Africa.

Southeast Asia, counterterrorism cooperation has really developed the skills and brought the Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia partnership in counterterrorism that I mentioned, and counter-piracy. 

And Southern Partnership Station in the Caribbean and Latin America has been going on for about three or four years now and how borne fruit in the counter-smuggling and narcoterrorism, counterterrorism down in Latin America.  So building global maritime partnerships. 

Number two, importance of awareness and maritime domain awareness.  I’m sure you talked about it.  We need to continue to develop it.  It’s a three-dimensional problem; it’s not – or solution, if you will.  It’s not just air and it’s not just on the sea; it’s also under the sea.

There’s many MDA schemes out there today and they’ve been reasonably successful.  The Maritime Safety and Security Information System, MSSIS, has got now 55 nations involved in that, and it’s not that old.  It’s been growing in leaps and bounds.

The Inter-American Naval Telecommunications Network that we were chit-chatting about when I went to an Ecuadorian conference two years ago is now coming online and being used in Latin America.  The Italian Trans-Regional Maritime Network is up and about. 

And the number-one topic when we were in seminars and as folks were talking last week among the chiefs of the navy was connecting these regional networks that I mentioned out there, bringing them together and finding ways to cleverly and innovatively bring together these regional networks around the world.

We need presence out there and we need flexibility in the units that we use to enforce maritime security.  Being there is clearly the best solution, and when we can be there – that is, the Navy – we can be effective.  It’s proven to dissuade and deter if it’s credible.  It has to be credible, that presence.  Our Navy is the smallest it’s been since 1916, so we need flexibility and we need partners out there with us. 

Clearly no more better example of flexibility was out there than the USS Bainbridge and that operation with Capt. Phillips off the Somalia coast.  But there are other examples of flexibility and using our vessels, using our assets, for the best ability.

The Stockham, which was a TAK, a big ship, roll-on-roll-off ship, which was running stock from basically Diego Garcia to the Persian Gulf has been used effectively in Southeast Asia as a float-forward station base for both counterterrorism and for counter-piracy.

High-speed vessels have been used effectively at African Partnership Station and in the Southern Partnership Station.  We’re using SSNs and we’re using our SSGNs in counterterrorism operations.  Our P-3s are both used for piracy, they’re used for counterterrorism and ASW, all in the same theater, all in the same timeframe.  And, clearly, unmanned ISR, using our unmanned aerial systems as much as possible, enables and multiplies the capability. 

Underpinning all of this is the innovation, the professionalism and the intelligence that our officers and our sailors bring to the fold.  Without that force, without those good sailors and a trained sailor and a force, we won’t be able to do this.

All these solutions and elements need support, and two key parts of it are governance and a legal regime.  The U.N. Convention of Law of the Sea is a good framework and we support it, and we have supported it.  But we need legal conventions and agreements to prosecute those that we capture – a viable legal end state, particularly for counter-piracy.

Diplomacy and Department of Defense effort is good, but we need to develop the nations to help us in this to conduct law enforcement at sea.  And our Coast Guard, using their skills, have developed great coalitions around the nation and training in law at sea is continuing to grow.  The U.S. Coast Guard, who took part in the International Seapower Symposium and who are our partners in our cooperative strategy for the 21st century, are in great demand and growing around the world.

So I’ll close by leaving you with just a few thoughts here.  We have many interests from maritime – from large maritime conventional operations to partnerships.  Our cooperative strategy for the 21st century, our strategy has got six core capabilities which really define where we’re going, from strategy to program to budget. 

Maritime security is firmly embedded in that and will be for the future.  We program for it and we budget for it.  We can defend our interests alone but we can’t attain and sustain maritime security alone around the world.

International Seapower Symposium showed tangible evidence that maritime security is viewed around the world as an issue and is of great interest to all our partners.  And as Adm. Nolting said – the German chief of the navy – said, sea blindness, as he called it, is starting to clarify and folks are starting to see that the issue, the real issue out there, is going to be sea-borne.

And, lastly, we’ve got to focus on the roots and not deal with just the symptoms alone or we’ll be behind the problem. 

Thanks for your time here taking remarks, and I look forward to your dialogue.  (Applause.)

MR. KRAMER:  While people are getting their questions ready – and I know Harry has just six or seven he wants to ask you – let me start out with one –


MR. KRAMER:  – because you talked a lot about partnerships.  So maybe the question I would ask is, as we’re dealing with our partners and what they need rather than what we need, are there things that we could do for them?  Are they more operational, more political, more resource-drawn, all of the above?  I mean, in other words, how would you help our partners be the best they can be as opposed to our side?

ADM. GREENERT:  Well, I think we were most – we’ve been most effective when we’re first listened to what they need rather than bringing them a solution to the area which we have studied very closely and this is what you need to do; I think matching what we can bring to them – helping them with the skill sets that they determine they need.

I’d say the Africa Partnership Station is a good example, along with the Southern Partnership Station.  Rather than sending an Aegis cruiser down there, an Aegis destroyer and say, hey, come on aboard and we’ll show you how this cool stuff works, we were better off to send a vessel to match what they needed, which might be basic navigation, understanding the ocean, hydrography, you know, meteorology, and then and awareness of what’s going on out beyond the last sea buoy and 10 miles off the coast. 

Tactics, techniques and procedures in small boat operations, law enforcement at sea, these are the kinds of things – regulation of fishing and how to apprehend one at sea.  These basic things resonate with them.  They build trust, they build confidence, and everything tends to build from that.   

I’ll give you one last clip.  Words are important.  When we went to Southeast Asia – when Pacific Command went to Southeast Asia in 2005 and they wanted to do a Pacific partnership initiative, and some folks went, you’re signing me up to something?  It’s an initiative.  You initiated it.  And they said, why don’t you call it an arrangement?  And we said, well, that’s good.  It can be ad hoc.  It will be only in accordance with mutual needs, kind of looking for the intersection of the Venn diagram.

MR. KRAMER:  Interesting.  Let me open it up to the audience if we have questions.

ADM. GREENERT:  Yes, sir?

Q:  Yes, sir, you spoke very eloquently about the Navy’s acute budgetary pressure, and also, new tasks have been put on the Navy in the BMD realm in the last month.  That being the case, what – we look at Japan, for example, which now, under a new government, wants to reorient its support.  Is there any possibility of attracting Japanese burden-sharing in any kind of a major resource way for the idea of anti-piracy, energy security, et cetera in the Indian Ocean?

ADM. GREENERT:  Well, there is a way to do that.  We have a dialogue with the Japanese right now, standard dialogue.  I don’t know if you know but we get somewhere in the order of 3 (billion dollars) to $5 billion in host nation support now.  To go and revisit that and to ask for more would be, I think, an issue unto itself.

You know the Japanese are providing services to us on Operation Enduring Freedom and have been quite effective in that.  We could certainly have this conversation with them.  It wouldn’t be a problem so much from the maritime sense.  Sailors love to talk to other sailors about doing increased operations.  The opportunity may present itself as we enter into dialogue with the – and reset, if you will, or refocus our mutual defense agreement, if you will, with Japan.

But I don’t, off the top of my head, know of a discreet way to initiate that dialogue other than under the broad umbrella of our defense agreement and how that might expand itself worldwide beyond where we are right now.

Q:  In terms of global warming, what challenges or opportunities do you see for the Navy or maritime security writ large in terms of cooperation or conflict in regards to the arctic area?

ADM. GREENERT:  The challenges are the – to me are the governance of an arctic area which would open itself to increased maritime activity.  It should be – there needs to be a governance of that so that that area, if it’s going to be a trade area – and we’re talking about the international area of the arctic – then we have to extend the governance to that area.

Now, to do that effectively, the cooperation would involve multiple nations, and this would be an interesting problem because if you go to the arctic and you look at how we, at least the Department of Defense, look at the world, we look at it through a global – we divide it up globally. 

You go to the arctic and you’ve got the Pacific element, a European element, you’ve got the Northern Command element, and so just that governance among ourselves is a challenge and we have to understand how are we going to view the arctic?  So that’s kind of one.

Two, if there is global warming to the extent where the arctic becomes an open ocean-like area, you’ve still got a three-dimensional problem of undersea, on the sea and above the sea.  And so, how we determine to engage our partners, be it the Canadians, and all the other stakeholders of the Arctic and under what current treaty structure or what new treaty structure, those are the challenges.

How do we go about doing it?  I’d say we’ve got to lay the arctic issue on the table at our dialogue that we have with those nations as it stands today. 

Q:  I would like you to comment on the restructuring issue.

ADM. GREENERT:  Sure.  The restructuring N2 and N6 is designed to put a focus on information and sustaining information dominance.  We want to attain it and we want to retain information dominance.

The systems that we buy, the systems that we then take to the fleet and organize, train and equip our people to use, are going to be the systems that help us attain and sustain maritime security.  We have to be sure that as we develop those in the N2/6 organization, we’re looking for how those information systems will interoperate internationally with both coalitions and other cooperative agencies – interagency, if you will, out there.

So that piece of it is what will affect N2, N6 and we have to – those that develop the capabilities have to include that.  And as we’ve put the staff together, there is a division chartered to do exactly that. 

MR. KRAMER:  Can I just jump in on that because –


MR. KRAMER:  Could you elaborate a little bit?  You mentioned the undersea cables and the messages and how we just had the N2, N6 discussion –


MR. KRAMER:  – and how does that fit in with the new Cyber Command?  What’s the Navy’s thinking along those lines?  Is that directed towards supporting that approach, Cyber Command, the N2/N6 combination?

ADM. GREENERT:  N2/N6 does align itself very well, and purposefully, toward U.S. Cyber Command.  So as you take it from that which is done at headquarters – procuring stuff, if you will, and systems – through developing capabilities in the Navy and systems, and of course providing that to Fleet Cyber – oh, excuse me, to Cyber Command via Fleet Cyber Command, where underwater cables fit into that, it’s information being processed through a medium.  So there will be that underwater element of that. 

Now, how do we govern that?  How do we protect it?  How do we secure it?  Broader issue, which really has, in its own part, a NORTHCOM because this is – it’s part of the defense grid, if you will.  The discussion that goes on at U.S. Cyber Command on their – how do I call it? – their governance, if you will, their requirements for the Global Information Grid and that limitations, will find its way to us.  And that really hasn’t been completely sorted out. 

If you talk today to STRATCOM, and I have – conversations I’ve had with Gen. Chilton – we’ve talked to the defense element as it affects – you know, the global grid as it affects defense information and security.  Expanding beyond that is a topic we haven’t approached yet.

The governance, the liability of the undersea cables hasn’t been, you know, if you will, fully vetted out there.  But it is a topic of conversation and it is clearly multi-agency and multi-department.

MR. KRAMER:  Sure.  Early days with the Navy getting ready, so to speak.

ADM. GREENERT:  Right.  But there are – we’re finding there’s a lot of technology, there’s a lot of capability out there to monitor undersea operations with unmanned undersea systems, both from the perspective of harbors and inshore areas.

And so the development of that and bringing, really, in the technology aspect and business, if you will, and industry to really, I guess, sort out the liability and the governance of that is where we need to go.

MR. KRAMER:  No questions?  Well, if there are no questions I’ve got questions, so that’s all right.  (Laughter.) 

A question that you – point that you raised and I think was raised earlier in the day was the relationship between, if you will, maritime security and the on-land development.  And what Admiral Ulrich did with the Africa Partnership Station helped, I think, the law enforcement side.


MR. KRAMER:  One of the questions, I think, is what is it that – and you also talked about bringing together these various different coalitions, I think was your word.  Is there something that we might think about, either expanding the Africa Partnership Station or otherwise, that would enhance the Navy’s ability to be part of I’ll call it an integrated capacity for development by adding to law enforcement, by adding to health-type opportunities or anything else that the Navy could do?

ADM. GREENERT:  I think so.  What we’re finding, the Africa Partnership Station, the like – how do I say it?  – operations of the like around the world, we’re finding that they become at times the means for a country’s own interagency to get together.

We had an instance where Adm. Fitzgerald – Mark Fitzgerald, explained that there was a comment made by one of the ministers from one of the African nations that said, isn’t this great?  This is the first time I’ve seen all my colleagues together, you know, in 18 months where we’ve all been in the same room.

Well, they were on one of our amphibious ships, you know, doing staff talks.  And the subject happened to be maritime and port security, but clearly it was the inroads to dealing with anything from roads to, I don’t know, you know, power, utilities, who knows?

So it’s an impetus to something bigger.  The idea, I think, is to find the common issue that brings everybody together and then the momentum tends to roll.  It’s an extraordinary phenomenon that we’ve found.  It’s not perfect but it gets you together and gets things going.

Q:  Sir, in terms of a partnership of another kind, what could the Air Force – I’m sorry – sir, what could the Air Force bring to the party with the Navy to help a little bit on maritime security to ease your current task a little bit?

ADM. GREENERT:  The Air Force has – they understand UAVs, unmanned aerial systems, quite well:  governance, control – command and control therein.  They have developed a lot of the systems.  And I think bringing the unmanned and take the “A”– you know, the unmanned aerial surface rung – take that middle letter out and make it more connected to all the mediums, air surface and subsurface, in the command and control element.

NORTHCOM is a good start.  I think that’s probably a good bed for experimentation.  We’re starting in that regard in a former job when I was down at Fleet Forces Command working with Gen. Renuart’s people.  The NORAD, they’re sort of “NORAMD,” you know, North America maritime defense, North American air defense, and bringing that together in a common operational – like a joint operation center.  That’s where Air Force has skills and experience in that area that we could leverage from.

Q:  Sir, Owen Doherty with the Maritime Administration.  Just talking about undersea, it’s been a while since I looked at the – I think it was the Johns Hopkins study about mining ports and the difficulties in clearing a port, and the idea about mapping just so you see where the anomalies are at.  I just wonder where that’s at now or how our ability is to – if there was such an event, or bladder mines, that sort of thing –


Q:  – how well prepared we are to deal with that.

ADM. GREENERT:  Well, we have recently mapped all the Navy ports.  We found the money to do that and we did it.  We will renew it about – I think about every two years at first.  We’ll see how that goes, see what we find when we go back and refresh, if you will.

So we have a reference point.  What has that gained us?  Probably about 40 to 50 percent are the estimates, and we’ve done some exercises to show that when you have a reference line to compare how much more quickly can you survey the port if there’s a threat that there is a mine out there. 

In my view, that needs to be extended.  We are talking – we’ve offered the services of those that we have used to extend – you know, there’s a lot of, I don’t know, efficiencies gained if we just keep mining.  To go beyond the Navy ports, get out to Long Beach, get to Oakland and do the rest.  And we’ve talked with Northern Command to – and I think the Department of Homeland Security that the opportunity exists to do all the ports. 

But the point here is it does save about half the time, some would argue – a third to half the time if you have to go find a shape or look for a shape.  But it also, getting new stuff wet, getting the stuff in the water, we’re finding there’s extraordinary technologies for also to disable the mine as well as to survey for other things.  And the latency can increase further and further the more we practice.

Q:  Admiral, Capt. Stu Merrill, U.S. Coast Guard at Harvard, national security fellowship.  You used – during your remarks you used the “Whac-A-Mole” analogy.  Do you foresee a time in facilitating commerce that U.S. forces will ever be able to step below a level we’re at, or do you think it will be causing our worldwide partners to come up and that realistically the bad actors, as we work to diminish one venue they will come at us with another venue?

ADM. GREENERT:  Well, I’d love to say I have a dream, you know, and we have all this – I think with – if we can connect the regional domain awareness and partnerships, if you will, that are going on, the networks out there, I think there’s extraordinary synergy in that.

Will that reduce the level of effort in the world?  I doubt it.  Will it make the level much more effective?  I’m pretty certain it will.  I think we have to do this regardless of, if you will, the level of piracy that takes place out there because it’s more than piracy.  It’s smuggling, human trafficking, drugs, et cetera – lots of things we want to get after.

Q:  Admiral, I’m Mary Ellen Connell from CNA.  I believe you’re on the board of directors of NCIS and I was wondering if you would comment on what role you see for them in terms of improving law enforcement capability and governance, particularly in African countries and other developing nations.

ADM. GREENERT:  Well, I’ll leave the vision for NCIS to the director and the new director, but my experience has been, ma’am, that NCIS has grown by leaps and bounds in their capacity to encounter terrorism, and it’s the understanding of what’s happening on the waterfront, to be able to go in and connect the various sources of law enforcement in the United States from, you know, the park ranger service to the guys on the water down in Florida, you know, to the police station.

And to take that – I’ve seen it done successfully in Malaysia.  I’ve seen it done successfully in Indonesia and in Korea where the NCIS has been on the ground using, again, a commonality of what they’re looking for to connect the port with – to your point earlier, Frank – with the police force and further inland and bring the information together.  It’s helped so much more in making arrests and also in prevention.

MR. KRAMER:  Here?

Q:  John Cotton, DRS Technologies.  I’ll be the planted question for you since you put on your budget hat.  We have an insatiable appetite for all these nice things around the world.  As you look forward to what SECDEF says is a balanced force, we’ve got QDR upon us, we’ve got 11 – 12 you’re building right now. 

You know, what can we afford?  What are we going to be able to do?  And I know we’ve got some tough decisions, particularly for the Air Force and the Navy, supporting the land warriors.

MR. KRAMER:  That was the easy question.

ADM. GREENERT:  What can we do?  I think we – we need to continue efforts such as the littoral combat ship.  I mean, that – I think you just read we’re going to deploy the Freedom soon.  I think that remains a centerpiece and I think we need to sustain that investment.  I’m convinced of it. 

I’ve had time on Freedom.  I’ve had some time on Independence – not underway on Independence, the number-two ship, but I had some underway time on Freedom and I’m completely sold on it.  The volume and speed that that provides, in addition to it’s versatility, makes your imagination – not necessarily run wild but it can go a long way.  So I think that will be a key part.

The modularity of it is not yet proven but we like what we see so far.  If we can marry that modularity with what we have in the basics – speed, volume, versatility, maneuverability, I think we have something which can run a larger spectrum of missions that we’ve ever seen before.

So I’m very optimistic about that and that’s an investment.  People run some dollars.  You know, liars figure and figures lie, and I’m a figure so you take it as you want.  If you look at the cost of people – you know, the cost overruns that are frequent discussion on the littoral combat ship – if you run everything to $.09 on that, it is actually still cheaper than a Perry class frigate on its first time.

Its R&D costs are significantly less than Joint Strike Fighter, than Virginia class submarine, Arleigh Burke – it goes on and on.  And so I’m big on littoral combat ships, so I think we’re going to continue that investment.

We have to take maritime security and humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery and the like into consideration as we plan the requirements for future vessels.  And what I mean by that is that thought has to go into how are we going to use this vessel, this aircraft, this unmanned system in the future?

The last piece I’d say is what we’re finding as we’re now taking a look at this N2/6 merger and what we are or are not doing in understanding the information systems out there and the synergy that we can use behind them and focusing on the information system and the information gathering, there’s more synergy there than we originally thought.

I’m not telling you we found – hey, Jon, we found the source of the money.  That’s not what I mean.  But I think we found that there is increased capability out there we just hadn’t realized, and we’re tapping, and it’s resonating with our strategy.

Q:  You mention the cities where we’ve got major – the port cities where we’ve got major Navy facilities.  I’m curious whether the systems are in place so that if customs, for example, is working an event on a civilian facility to inform the Navy so that they don’t – run into it may be the best word, so that you know what’s going on; you don’t end up with a fleet deployment or a training instance right in the middle of something that’s being worked on the civilian side right next to your facilities.  Do you follow the question?

ADM. GREENERT:  Yeah, I think I understand what you mean.  Where we have our Navy ports we now have a Navy Coast Guard Operations Center, and the commercial – the Coast Guard is responsible for security in that port.  They do it extremely well. 

And now they share with us the kinds of things you’re talking about – future developments in the port, increased traffic in the port, underwater construction in the port, and we do the same with regard to what – most of ours is out at sea, that which is coming in, both Navy and otherwise.  So it’s about information sharing and we have that network in place now.

Q:  Is it staffed by any Navy – my understanding is it’s staffed exclusively right now by Homeland Security personnel, that there are not any Navy personnel detailed to that facility.

ADM. GREENERT:  I’m only familiar with Portsmouth station, which is Norfolk, the Hampton Roads area.  I’m familiar with the Jacksonville-Mayport area and I’m familiar with San Diego, and those are co-staffed, if you will.  We have a Navy person there side by side with the Coast Guard.

Q:  King’s Bay.

ADM. GREENERT:  Come again?

Q:  King’s Bay.

ADM. GREENERT:  King’s Bay, I would consider that whole Jacksonville-Mayport-King’s Bay area. 

Q:  Thank you.

ADM. GREENERT:  You’re welcome.

MR. KRAMER:  Let me switch you to another part of the world.  One of the countries that we write a book on at the Department of Defense is called China, and occasionally the Navy thinks about China as a potential adversary and yet we now see the Chinese showing up in the – you know, in the counter-piracy effort.

And I just wondered if you can give us a few thoughts as to how you’d like to see that whole set of activities with the Chinese develop over time.  What are your concerns and what are your – I wouldn’t want to say hopes because that’s not a plan, but what might be your objectives?

ADM. GREENERT:  Well, we were at the same place at the same time in the Gulf of Aden, still are.  When they – they’re professional mariners.  They’re competent.  They’re growing.  They’re curious.  They want to be – they want to do better.  And in that particular area they wanted to be effective, and so they informally, if you will, have checked into the net. 

Our politics, their politics aside, when you operate in the same place at the same time you have to be coordinated for both safety and, again, to be effective.  So we found that to be a real learning experience for us and for them.  It worked out well.  So I think it has great potential.

We’ve been looking for years for an opportunity to build on common interests, in the maritime sense, with China.  Politics – their policies, our policies – have precluded that and we’ve never really gotten beyond search and rescue.  My experience has been – when I was out at 7th Fleet in the Asia-Pacific area, this is an opportunity maybe to build on that where, again, a common interest – counter-piracy, smuggling and the like.

So I’m optimistic that we can continue in that regard, that they join their international brethren and sisters out there in fora like the International Seapower Symposium.  I think that’s a good start.

Q:  Jon, one quick question, was China at the ISS?

ADM. GREENERT:  No, they were not.

Q:  They weren’t?  My question:  You talked about the arctic, and I think it was as a result of a question about climate change.  One of the more important mechanisms that would help us participate in a governance structure should the arctic become more open to navigation is the law of sea convention.

There was a pretty significant effort made in 2008.  It failed, as several other efforts have.  What is your prognosis in the future?  Is this administration going to take that one on, not that they don’t have enough things on their plate right now, and is there some hope that we will eventually get the Senate to ratify this treaty, which I think in greatly in our benefit if we could do that.

ADM. GREENERT:  There is some hope.  The administration, by all of our, if you will, trap lines up on the Hill through legislative affairs, is interested in bringing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the ratification to the forefront for debate and to the Senate floor.  It’s a matter of where it – where it lies in the inbox, and I couldn’t tell you right now where it lies.  It started gathering some steam from the prognosticators and then it slipped. 

But it is not – again, our trap lines, our understanding is the administration is not against it, and I think we have pretty good support.  It’s a matter of getting it on the agenda.

Q:  So the second session of this Congress then?

ADM. GREENERT:  I don’t know. 

Q:  Thank you.

ADM. GREENERT:  You’re welcome.

MR. KRAMER:  Are there other questions?  All right, well, I think we’ve had a pretty good discussion.

ADM. GREENERT:  Thank you.

MR. KRAMER:  I really appreciate your being here.

ADM. GREENERT:  You’re very welcome.

MR. KRAMER:  Very candid and very open, and I hope we have you back here as many times as possible.

ADM. GREENERT:  Thank you.  I appreciate it.  Thanks.

CDR. WALKER:  Yes, thank you.  Thank you, Admiral.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Admiral.  And, Frank, that was a good dialogue.  And I’d also like to thank all the panelists especially.  I think that you really made this conference special.

When Ambassador Yates this morning talked about how bad her head hurt when distilling these issues; well, my head doesn’t hurt, Admiral, they certainly still are complex nonetheless by the end of the day.

I want to echo Mr. Carmel’s comments of pulling up the brow and getting underway here.  And I can’t wait to do that myself, to get underway.  But many of us here don’t have our sea legs, so I think that this dialogue was especially productive here in the D.C. area.  I think that Adm. Crowder, whose farewell I think is tonight, on the OPNAV staff, talked about us military folks as always kind of drinking out of the same bathwater a lot.

And so this is a great opportunity, this partnership between the War College and the Atlantic Council, to sort of broaden or warm that bathwater up a little bit, I guess.  So I thank you all for your participation also throughout the day.  I think it was very productive.  So thank you very much.  (Applause.)

Transcript by Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.

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