Secretary of U.S. Navy Discusses His Focus Areas
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus rolled out his new “Four Ps” during a speech at the 25th Annual Surface Navy Association Symposium in Arlington, Va. Jan. 17.
Mabus said the Four Ps of “People, Platforms, Power and Partnerships” are a way to bin key areas that are interrelated priorities for the Navy.
“A top priority of mine and of our Navy is people…taking care of our people,” said Mabus. “Unlike most organizations, we push responsibility down… down in rank, down in age, and day-in, day-out we get the type of positive results we need and expect.”
Mabus added that although the majority of Sailors are responsible and successful, leadership realized that there needed to be more attention paid to programs to ensure their mental, emotional and physical well-being. In response, the Navy introduced the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative to maintain or improve the resilience of the force.
Recognizing abuse of alcohol was a common factor in sexual abuse, domestic violence, suicide and other issues, breathalyzers were brought into commands to help prevent alcohol-related incidents.
“This is not intended to be punitive. But, if you pop positive when reporting for duty, we’re going to get you into a program to help you,” he said. “We don’t want a career or life-threatening alcohol-related incident, and because of that we have to focus on health – physical, mental and emotional.”
Mabus also noted that part of maintaining the health of the fleet means taking steps to help Sailors as they transition out of the Navy by ensuring they have access to education, training and employment opportunities. This is especially true for wounded warriors.
“Last year, we set a goal to hire one wounded warrior a day in the Navy,” he said. “We tripled it… we hired over 1,000 wounded veterans.”
The Navy is also helping those want to join the military, by reestablishing the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in universities such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia, and implementing it for the first time at other colleges like Arizona State University.
“No one should be denied the honor of serving this country,” said Mabus.
The second P, platforms, refers to the ships, aircraft, submarines, unmanned vehicles and hardware the Navy buys and builds. For the Surface Navy Association audience, Mabus focused on shipbuilding programs as a strategic priority for the Navy today and in the future.
“I think that we have made great strides in ship building,” said Mabus. “We’re getting the ships we need, the mix we need and the numbers we need while being good stewards of the taxpayer’s money. I’m proud of where we are.”
“We owe the shipbuilding industry transparency… I feel we’re giving them that,” he said. “In turn, they owe us that every ship built without major design changes, should cost us less than the one before it. This is happening, and we currently have 288 ships.”
Additionally, Mabus noted that the Navy has 42 ships currently under contract and is making steady progress toward building a fleet of 300 ships by the end of the decade.
The third P, power, focuses on Mabus’ five energy goals which include pursuing energy efficiencies and alternative sources of energy.
“The U.S. military is the largest single consumer of fossil fuels in the world,” he said. “Every time a barrel of oil goes up one dollar, it costs the Navy 30 million dollars.”
Mabus illustrated that additional cost in terms of steaming days, saying it was roughly the equivalent of 142 steaming days for LHDs or 293 days of combat operations for an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.
Last year the Navy demonstrated the Great Green Fleet in Hawaii, as part of RIMPAC. The Great Green Fleet included a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, aircraft and ships operating on 50/50 blends of traditional and advanced biofuels, and several firsts such as underway and air-to-air refueling using biofuels.
“Something truly remarkable happened when we demonstrated the Great Green Fleet,” said Mabus. “Nothing. Not a single engine or process had to be changed. They simply did not know the difference,” continued Mabus. “I don’t want to fly less, steam less or deploy less. And I don’t think we have to, but we have to make this move.”
Partnerships may be the last P, but they’re a top priority according to Mabus who links it back to our new Defense Strategy and its focus on innovative, small footprint engagements around the world.
“The Navy is America’s away team,” he said. “When we’re working, we’re usually a long way from home. Because of that we need to build partnerships, build capacity around the world. Our presence around the world, working with our friends and allies, is important, and the demand will continue to increase.”
Mabus concluded by telling the audience the Navy and Marine Corps team, America’s Away Team, stands ready to answer all bells.
“We are and will continue to be the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” said Mabus.
Naval Today Staff, January 18, 2013; Image: US Navy