The submarine fleet has shifted its focus from operational readiness to warfighting readiness, and with that new mindset has come changes in how the fleet conducts training, acquisition and maintenance, several officials said last week.
After a post-Cold War focus on intelligence missions, “I think we had slipped a little bit on just having the knife-in-the-teeth ability to think about warfighting and making sure we were ready to deliver lethal effects to adversaries when called upon. So that’s been a cultural shift we’ve been working on this past year,” Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, the commander of Naval Submarine Forces and Naval Submarine Force Atlantic, said last week at the Naval Submarine League annual symposium.
“We’ve tweaked our fleet readiness training period and pre-deployment training to focus on high-end warfighting. We’re trying to balance that with a peacetime mission set to make sure that, sure, we can still go into shallow water, high-contact density, do those collects that we’re known for – but we’re really focusing now on delivering lethal effects,” he said.
Caudle noted several ongoing initiatives to help with this shift in focus: shoring up the fleet’s inventory of advanced capability (ADCAP) torpedoes, as well as growing the inventory of other new tools like unmanned vehicles; establishing a submarine aggressor squadron to ensure the force is training for the right kind of peer adversary capability; and bolstering maintenance capabilities at home and in expeditionary locations to ensure the subs are in fighting shape.
On the issue of maintenance and material readiness, Caudle said the force was testing “expeditionary weapons-loading and resupply forward. We’re doing that through all sorts of different methods using unique ports, flyaway teams to bring the kit, and actually loading Mk 48 ADCAPS and doing resupply in various innovative ways.”