Admiral calls for modernization, adaptation in blueprint to beef up Navy

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Aiming for maximum performance from U.S. military leaders adhering to the highest operations standards, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson released “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” a comprehensive guidance plan, on Tuesday.

Emphasizing adaptation as key to meeting maritime security needs, Richardson outlined his vision of readiness at sea. Topping his list of needs is a new fleet of stealth  nuclear-armed submarines called “boomers” at a cost of $100 billion, which is considered a hefty price tag, even among supporters of the program.

Arguing that the expense is worthwhile, Richardson said that without it, the nation could face threats or coercion from other nuclear-armed nations, such as Russia and China. Opinions are mixed, but most experts agree that submarines fit into the readiness equation.

The admiral’s agenda may seem secondary to current global crises -- such as terrorism, the Islamic State and nuclear testing by North Korea -- but the Navy is crucial to land operations as much as sea security, as it launches airstrikes from carriers, flies reconnaissance missions and directs SEAL teams for special operations in the Middle East. Additionally, Richardson said technological modernization is critical, including genetics and artificial intelligence.

"Our competitors are moving quickly, and our adversaries are bent on leaving us swirling in their wake," Richardson said. Richardson believes the U.S. is facing new competition in the global arena after 25 years of relative quiet since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, including Russian occupation in Eurasia, which may exploit U.S. military deficiencies. Thus, Richardson advocates strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Richardson said the current submarine fleet is dated, having exceeded its 30-year lifespan, and advocates upgrading it to keep the naval arm of the U.S. “nuclear triad” stable.

Richardson said the initiatives laid out in the proposal are the first steps toward achieving goals expressed in the Revised Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century (CS-21R) and describes core values as "integrity," "accountability," "initiative" and “toughness.”

“We don’t give up the ship,” the admiral said. “We will remain the world’s finest Navy only if we all fight each and every minute to get better...The margins of victory are razor thin — but decisive.”

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