nial Defense Review (QDR)
Review Panel recommended
increasing the size of the
Navy. What your thoughts?
WORK: Welcome to my world. If
you had one study that said we
ought to have the Navy at 230 ships
and you have another study that says
the Navy [should be] at 346 ships,
obviously we side on the side of the
I think the Sustainable Defense
Task Force actually took some of my
own writings out of context. They
say, “Oh, well, the Navy that we
have is more powerful than the next
10 largest navies, so therefore we
can cut.” I actually have said that
our Navy is very powerful in comparison to other navies, but we’re a
global navy with far more responsibilities than any other navy in the
world. Four different force structure
reviews since 1997 have essentially
said we needed a Navy of somewhere between 305 and
323 ships [323 target under the 2010 QDR] with an average of somewhere around 313-314 ships.
We are building from a fleet of about 286 ships today
to a fleet of 320 ships by fiscal 2024. We are very confident we can do that provided there’s no major reduction in top line. So, between the two, the Alternate QDR
was much closer to the mark. A fleet of somewhere
between 320-323 ships is the Navy we need.
How would you address concerns that the
Navy is undermanned in terms of being able to
properly maintain its ships?
WORK: The Navy is trying to settle out at about
324,000 Sailors and officers. That is enough to properly man our fleet and our shore installations with some
changes, with some shuffles of people.
With regard to how this affected the surface fleet, the
Navy — on its own — decided to do a detailed review on,
“Did we get it right [with] optimal manning and mainte-
nance structures?” [Retired Vice] Adm. Phil Balisle, the
former commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, was
assigned to do this report. He approached this almost like
the Schlesinger Report on nuclear weapons. He went
down to all of the different decisions that have been made
inside the Navy since the early ’90s and he said, “Look,
[with] the cumulative impact of these decisions, you
probably got some things wrong.”
The commander of Fleet Forces Command has taken
this aboard and the Navy is now addressing this in a very
SEAPOWER / SEPTEMBER 2010
systematic way. I think we’re on a very good track on that.
As a former Marine, what’s your take on the
Corps’ forcible entry capability? Does it have a
WORK: Absolutely. I often ask a crowd, “Hey, if you had
a choice between an amphibious assault or landing where
the enemy isn’t, which one would you choose?” And
everyone raises their hands and says, “I’ll choose the landing where the enemy isn’t.” But an amphibious assault is
nothing more than landing a force that is intact and ready
to fight on a hostile or potentially hostile shore. Any time
you think that you may be fired upon, it’s injecting a
ready-to-fight force, not a force that has to assemble,
bringing the equipment by sea and the people by air.
Going ashore as an intact combat force, people don’t see
that as an amphibious assault. Therefore, I say, “OK, let’s
not talk about assaults, let’s just say will the Marine Corps
need to maintain the capability to inject intact combat
forces from the sea to the shore?” And the answer is, “Yes.”
You want to do a noncombatant evacuation operation
in a hostile environment? We got 14,000 citizens off of
Lebanon because we had combat forces there to do it. You
want to conduct a raid to intercept the WMD [weapon of
mass destruction] warhead? You want to conduct a
maneuver ashore to deny a sanctuary for a terrorist camp?
In all of those cases you want to be able to inject intact
combat forces from the sea. That is the definition of an
amphibious assault and we will always have that and it
will always be a viable mission of the Marine Corps.