Dear Members and Friends,
Our nation and the world’s naval power, is based in Norfolk, Virginia at the crux of the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay and its entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. The United States Fleet Forces Command headed by Admiral John Harvey is located at the U.S. Norfolk Naval Base and is home to five United States Navy Aircraft Carriers, ten U.S. Aegis Cruisers, 28 U.S. Aegis Destroyers, 23 U.S. Los Angeles Attack Class Submarines, six Ballistic Missile Submarines, five Carrier Air Wings, 17 Attack Squadrons and numerous more landing crafts, frigates, ships, helicopters, and early warning aircraft.
This naval force supports the defense of North America, the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf in its role to train, certify, and equip combat ready naval forces to their respective combatant commanders and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jon Greenert. Their collective mission of mobile responsive multipurpose extensive force projection platforms defends our nation’s national security away from our shores.
These platforms work to deter enemies, enhance alliances, and protect international waters, sea lanes, and airways with offensive and defensive capabilities. The lethality, reliability, and deployment of these mobile platforms, in multipurpose roles, is unprecedented and unmatched in the world today. It is however not these highly sophisticated technological naval systems that can project power and ensure peace, it is rather the sailors and officers of the United States Navy that man, operate, and serve on these naval platforms, for six month tours, that enables the United States Navy to dominate in and around the oceans of the world today and most likely in the future.
The United States Fleet Forces assets out of Norfolk include 109 ships, 1,200 plus aircrafts, 32 submarines, and 143,000 people. This integrated team provides multi-mission platforms, in battle groups, to single ships or boats in a 24/7 persistence as well as direct action in the world’s most volatile and unstable regions that challenge our national interests. In a majority of these volatile regions, around the world, ballistic missiles are proliferated at an exponential rate and having U.S. Naval Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) platforms, that can surge upon this threat, provides the most efficient and mobile defense on international waters to deescalate entities who threaten with missiles while protecting and defending against those missiles if they are used.
By the end of 2012, out of the 26 total BMD capable ships in today’s United States Navy, there will be eight based in Norfolk, Virginia and one based in Mayport, Florida. The BMD mission is a critical and challenging one for the Fleet Forces Command as the Chief of Naval Operations assigned the second phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) that will protect portions of Southern Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles by 2015 to the Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command on March 16th of this year.
Phase II of the EPAA involves the deployment of a new Navy land based platform in the country of Romania replicating the Aegis BMD portion of the current U.S. sea based Aegis BMD destroyers and cruisers. This portion of Phase II of the EPAA would include the sensor, SPY-1 radar, 24 vertical launch cells in three MK 41 Vertical Launching System Modules that have eight cells per module, a new 5.0 processor, and a new missile (SM-3 Block IB). The Aegis Ashore system will be required to have the ability to adapt to the future new missiles, the SM-3 Block IIA and SM-3 Block IIB.
The Romanian based Aegis Ashore site is being built in Moorestown, New Jersey and will be tested out of another Aegis Ashore site being built at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. Around 30 United States BMD certified sailors and officers would be needed to operate the system as well as an additional manning force protection for the site provided by both the United States and the host country, Romania. This system will have to also coordinate and integrate with the U.S. 6th Fleet Naval Command in Naples, Italy, U.S. European Command out of Stuttgart, Germany, and the Air Combat Command and 10th Army AAMDC out of Ramstein Germany as well as NATO. The system in Romania would hope to help relieve U.S. BMD ship missions in the Eastern Mediterranean and be a permanent and persistent 24/7 capability that would link into the forward based U.S. AN/TYP-2 radar currently deployed in Turkey as well as Aegis BMD Ships in the Eastern Mediterranean to enable launch and/or engage off the Turkey based AN/TYP-2 radar tracks giving it a greater capability and an enlarged defensible area. The Commander of Fleet Forces out of Norfolk, Virginia is responsible for having to train, equip, and ready this system to be deployed by 2015.
Logical reasoning, in the form of the protection of our sailors, full use of the Aegis system and stewardship of U.S. tax dollars would have to question the exclusion of SM-2 Missiles for terminal missile defense as well as air defense for the Aegis Ashore Site in Romania for adequate and cost effective force protection rather than the additional cost of a required Patriot and or THAAD battery located nearby for protection of the air space. Reliance of Romania to adequately protect the air space from aircraft which the Aegis BMD system is specifically designed to do will incur risk to the Aegis ashore site and our men and women stationed there. Without the Aegis fully operating and functional air defense system with comparable interceptor missiles of which these multi mission Sailors and Officers are well trained to operate, we run the risk of not being defended. When Iran or another entity has the capability to strike Southern Europe they certainly will be targeting this Aegis Ashore site first if they choose to threaten Europe.
This challenging milestone of Phase II along with making four additional U.S. Aegis BMD Ships capable and deployed in Rota, Spain by 2015, as well as converting another four ships to Aegis BMD by 2014 while sustaining the current nine East Coast Aegis BMD ships makes the Fleet Forces Commander out of Norfolk, Virginia an absolute critical and essential component of our nation’s missile defense future.
In addition, the future defense of the United States Homeland prior to the completion of Phase IV of the EPPA, now scheduled at 2021, may involve looking at terminal sea based defense off of New York and Washington D.C. in particular by Aegis BMD Platforms linked into a AN/TPY-2 Radar deployed on the East Coast as a needed capability if Iran develops deployed ICBMs with nuclear weapons by 2021. An Aegis Ashore site may also be in consideration for an East Coast location. This tremendous responsibility would go with the Fleet Forces Command out of Norfolk, Virginia.
The responsibilities, in addition to Ballistic Missile Defense, are truly immense for the United States Navy. With only 286 Commissioned Ships and 112 of them deployed around the world, it would be very challenging and near impossible to have any of them become single mission ships and it would only seem rational, logical, and reasonable to increase ship numbers in their mobile multi-mission role to best shape our future internationally, ensure peace, and be responsive in deescalating conflicts around the world.
This morning, the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (SAC-D) passed its version of the FY2013 Defense Appropriations Act. While the Bill and Report are still unavailable, Chairman Senator Daniel Inouye’s opening statement provided the following details about the bill which adds funding to the United States Navy for increasing its current fleet:
o $2.4B added to reverse Navy’s proposal to prematurely retire 9 ships
o $1B to fully fund an additional Destroyer
o $777B Advanced Procurement for an additional Virginia-class Fast Attack Submarine
o Additional funds were added for Early Warning Radar and SM-3 Interceptors that were removed from the request.
It was an true honor and privilege to be with the sailors and officers of the Fleet Forces Command across the spectrum of their different ship and boat platforms to recognize them and thank them for their selfless duty and service to our country earlier this month in Norfolk. Without them our Navy could not be the preserver of peace that they are today around the world.
They are truly a Ready Fleet with a Global Reach.