In this two-part interview from WEST 2019: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson outlines innovation priorities at the U.S. Navy, and why the Navy is reexamining the 355-ship fleet.
The collisions of two ships in 2017 caused the Navy to reexamine many parts of how they do business. The self-examination sparked a new blueprint for training and education of officers. According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, the Navy is putting a greater emphasis on personnel improvement. “We have to learn faster than our adversaries, really as fast as we can. We’ve got tremendous challenges ahead and we need to be improving in every way… Certainly our schools, but also our wargames, our exercises, our experiments, our innovation in every way that we can,” Richardson said. “We have to make sure that as a Navy we are learning in a coherent way, so that the east coast and the west coast are informed of what each other is doing. To do that, we are standing up a new three star admiral position to be our director of warfighter development.” Richardson told Government Matters that as the United States enters a new era of great power competition, the Navy needs to adapt and change to the new threat environment. “There are areas that exist now, domains of competition that simply weren’t even there last time we had great power competition. One goes to cyber right away. The term cyberspace was in a science fiction novel in 1982. That was the last time we were in this type of a competition. Now it shapes everything that we do, this information warfare dimension. Similarly, to space. There’s a completely new appreciation for space as a competitive domain and the speed of things is moving so much faster, fueled by this information revolution.” Richardson said. “As we consider and learn to compete in this new environment, we have to appreciate that not only the competitors have changed but also the rules of the competition have changed. We don’t want to be irrelevant by virtue of not being sensitive to these rules.” Richardson recently announced that the Navy is reevaluating their plan for a 355-ship fleet. Richardson told Government Matters that changes in the environment necessitate going back and looking at the plan again. “This is exactly what I think the American people expect the United States Navy to do in view of the changing security environment. We’re going to go back and take a look at our assumptions, our analysis. Things have changed since the last time we did this assessment, even in 2016. We want to make sure that we validate all of that and come up with the most current assessment of naval power. What is the best way to get after that? Not only the security environment, but the technology environment has changed, so the quality of those platforms is what we need to consider.”