In this two-part interview from WEST 2019, Under Secretary of the U.S. Navy Thomas Modly provides an update on the Navy’s leadership reorganization, and discusses proposed changes to the naval education system.
The Department of the Navy is undergoing a major reorganization. Since early 2018, the Navy has been working to streamline their offices, change roles and eliminate organizational silos. Under Secretary of the U.S. Navy Thomas Modly leads this restructuring effort. At the WEST 2019 conference, Modly said that one of the biggest changes involves the Navy’s technology leadership. “By law, we have to have a fourth assistant secretary, but we don’t have to have one for installations. We thought that If we had the opportunity to move that portfolio into the property side, what would we do with that other ASN? We really wanted to elevate an asset category for management and we concluded that it was information management. So, digital strategy, our cyber efforts, looking at our business systems strategy, everything we are doing in terms of digitization. We didn’t feel like we had enough top-level attention to that, and the ability to recruit people from the private sector to help us,” Modly said. “We are currently in conversations with the Congress to go forward with that. The secretary’s committed to make that happen and he is having discussions privately with Congress on this. We have had very good reaction to this inside the building from the DoD CIO. He is supportive of this effort. The other services are talking to us about this too. We are going to be a pilot to see how it works.” One of the other projects that Modly is working on is a retooling of naval education. The Under Secretary serves on a board that compiled the first deep dive into the subject since the 1918 Knox-King-Pye report. Modly said that the Navy’s overarching recommendation from the “New Education for Seapower” report is to create a new naval university system that will interface with other institutes of higher education. “We have tremendous, tremendous support across the Department of the Navy for this. Particularly from the senior officers who were saying they have been waiting for something like this for a really long time. We are really excited about it, and we are looking forward to the next steps and keeping the public informed. Part of it is creating a much better linkage to civilian universities. How do we take advantage of the research, the expertise and technology that is being used to deliver academic content, and realty to prepare our people, enlisted and officers alike, to be better prepared to deal with uncertainty and uncertain environments? That’s where we think the future is heading,” Modly said.