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Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer: Time to update our strategic vision and goals

Ships with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group transit the Philippine Sea during dual carrier operations, Nov. 16, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/Released)

After two years serving as your Secretary of the Navy, it is time to update the department’s vision and goals. We’ve accomplished a lot together, and we need to keep looking forward.

The return of great power competition is testing our readiness and capabilities in ways we haven’t seen in a generation. We have to be ready to fight tonight in every part of the world, and in every domain, as one integrated naval force.

The department’s new vision gets to the heart of this. The credible and immediate presence of the Navy and Marine Corps within all operational domains ensures the security and prosperity of the American people and preserves open access to the global commons. The expeditionary character of our Sailors and Marines is an indispensable component of the Joint Force. As such, we can expect America’s adversaries to continue to erode our maritime advantage through every means at their disposal.

With this challenge in mind, we must make every effort to retain and expand our competitive edge. We have to embrace a more integrated naval approach to developing our people, capabilities and processes.

We’ve already made significant strides in integration through many of our functional elements, and we’ll continue to do so, innovating where we can and adapting where we must. I see innovation and adaptation as complementary strengths. Adaptation adjusts to the security environment, while innovation transforms it. To succeed in today’s complex world, we must do both.

That’s why I’ve tasked the department with six strategic goals:

1.      Invest in Human Capital

Instead of assuming we will attract the right talent, our soon-to-be released Human Capital Strategy will meet the market where it is. We’re looking to access the best people by employing the private sector’s best practices and technology in recruitment. We’ll augment our traditional workforce with outside experts, temporary employees, and crowd-based solutions. And we’ll curate our workforce, engaging our people so they understand their opportunities and have the flexibility and training to build a career that works.

 2.      Prioritize Learning as a Strategic Advantage

Innovation and intellectual readiness have become the new battlefields of what we describe in the Education for Seapower initiative as the “cognitive age.” We must be a continual learning enterprise, for one simple reason: Our adversaries are learning too. The era of great power competition will be driven by investments in gray matter as much as gray hulls. To ensure our future competitive strength, I’ve appointed a Chief Learning Officer, Mr. John Kroger, and charged him with synchronizing the efforts of our higher learning institutions, exploring new avenues for education and training, and expanding opportunities for our researchers, officers and civilians to learn from the private sector and academia.

 3.      Develop a Fully Integrated Process for Our Budget Priorities

We’re redesigning the budget process to meet all of our needs as a single force, Navy and Marine Corps, establishing priorities that make sense across both services. That means reforming our processes to ensure documents like the Program Objective Memorandum, or POM, reflect the true immediate and projected needs of the department, and that we maintain visibility of our risks, requirements and strategic decision points throughout the year.

 4.      Modernize Business Operations

As I mentioned at the top, we must be one integrated naval force, and that applies as much to our business operations layer as much as it does at the warfighting level. Through aggressive implementation of the Business Operations Plan, we’re building on the results of our department-wide audit to streamline and integrate our supply chain, financial and logistics operations. We’re getting into our “systems of systems” to ensure both the relevance and integrity of our data. And we’re using the best practices of the private sector to reduce downtime and return capabilities to the fight quickly and effectively.

5.      Elevate Information Management

Good information management is a strategic imperative. This means we must unify our digital enterprise to deliver secure, reliable and resilient warfighting capabilities across the services and the information spectrum. Our integrated effort will be led by a fully empowered and mission-oriented Chief Information Officer. I have named Mr. Aaron Weis to this role, and charged him with addressing the critical vulnerabilities the cyber security review identified up and down the supply chain, and responsible for every aspect of our digital transformation.

6.      Design an Integrated Naval Force Structure

We’re modernizing our naval force, as well as our supporting infrastructure, to maximize interoperability and warfighting capability with our partner nations. That includes developing an Industrial Base Management Plan proposal for a modernized naval force and supporting infrastructure capable of global projection. It means getting ahead of global trends, and ensuring interoperability with partner nations and lethal overmatch for our warfighters. That also means providing both the capability and capacity we need to confront our many challenges. A 355-ship Navy is an important aspirational goal, but more important is ensuring we have the maximum capability to address every challenge under existing resource constraints.

The return of great power competition leaves no room for complacency and no time for inefficiency. Together, we must out pace, out think, and out innovate all who threaten the American people and challenge our global interests. Together we will do just that.

This article was originally published by the U.S. Navy.