Organization and Missions
Today’s Navy: “On-Scene, On-Call,
The U.S. Navy’s mission—to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready
naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining
freedom of the seas—has not changed for 2004, although modern challenges
have required new approaches to meeting the mission’s requirements.
Based in part on the lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom in
2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the Navy has taken a new look
at how it prepares the national fleet to meet the requirements for increased
effectiveness, capability, and greater flexibility as the military and
other organizations pursue the global war on terrorism.
Adm. Vern Clark’s tenure as chief of naval operations (CNO) was
extended in 2003 for another two years, with Clark renewing his commitment
to improving the readiness and capability of the force. With more than
70 percent of the fleet deployed last year for wartime duty, the Navy
developed a new way to reconstitute the force that returned home. “If
we can put it back together in a way that is better than what we started
with, wouldn’t that be a good thing to do?” Clark said. “The
goal of the leadership of the Navy is that we want to build a culture
In October 2003, former vice chief of naval operations Adm. William J.
Fallon took charge at U.S. Fleet Forces Command, which leads the implementation
of Clark’s Fleet Readiness Program. The program may replace the
familiar 18-month interdeployment training cycle and deployment schedule
with a flexible training and deployment schedule lashed to “real
world” events and requirements. “The Navy has become too predictable,”
Clark said, and requires a new concept for providing power and presence
on demand in response to crises, while husbanding resources to surge as
many as eight aircraft carrier strike groups to fight a large-scale war.
Today’s Navy includes more than 380,000 active-duty men and women
(more than 55,000 officers and more than 320,000 enlisted). The Navy’s
ready reserve ranks include more than 150,000 reservists. More than 180,000
civilian employees work for the Department of the Navy. The active fleet
includes 295 ships and more than 4,000 operational aircraft.
Today’s Navy inherits the legacy founded Oct. 13, 1775, when the
Continental Congress established the fleet’s predecessor. As the
Naval Historical Center states in its monograph on the period, “Beginning
with early 1775 actions in coastal waters, followed by Commodore Esek
Hopkins’ 1776 amphibious assault to capture military stores at New
Providence, the Bahamas, and reaching a climax in 1781 when French fleet
actions off the Virginia Capes led to victory at Yorktown, the war at
sea was decisive in the nation’s struggle for independence.”
With victory in hand, and independence secured, the new republic had,
by 1785, sold off the last ships of the Continental Navy. Navies were
then, and are today, expensive to build and maintain. The past was prologue,
however. The folly of such shortsighted strategic thinking was starkly
revealed by the depredations of Mediterranean pirates and by other attacks
on American overseas commerce beginning in the 1780s; these were followed
by confrontation at sea with France during the 1790s.
In 1789, the U.S. Constitution empowered Congress “to provide and
maintain a Navy.” Congress eventually was moved to action (in 1794)
following repeated attacks on American interests abroad: it authorized
the procuring and manning of six frigates. Three ships—the USS United
States, the USS Constellation, and the USS Constitution—were launched
in 1797 and the U.S. Navy was born, along with its primary mission of
defending U.S. commerce overseas. In April 1798, Congress established
the Department of the Navy, and Benjamin Stoddert was its first secretary.
The Secretary of the Navy
In October 2003, Gordon R. England returned to his post as Secretary
of the Navy after a year with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
England said his tenure as undersecretary of the DHS has informed his
approach to leading the Navy. The Department of Defense and the DHS must
be aligned in mutual support for the global war on terrorism, England
said. Also, he envisions the establishment of international coalitions
to form a new approach to mutual security.
“It will take all of us in the international community working
together to defeat terrorism,” England said. With the war against
terrorism characterized by “a thousand fights across the globe over
a number of years, rather than a single Trafalgar,” he emphasizes
the value of naval forces in prosecuting a new kind of warfare.
The Navy Department includes two uniformed services: the U.S. Navy and
the U.S. Marine Corps, and England told Sea Power his goals, as well as
those of the CNO and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael W. Hagee, are
built on team efforts. A key objective for the years ahead is to take
advantage of the current administration’s and Congress’ support
for Defense requirements, “to get everything done we can to leave
a solid foundation for the Navy and Marine Corps team going into the future.”
England is the second person to twice hold the office of Navy secretary,
after John Y. Mason, who served two terms between 1844 and 1849. The secretary
conducts all of the affairs of the Department of the Navy including recruiting,
organizing, supplying, equipping, training, mobilizing, and demobilizing.
Also, the office oversees the construction, outfitting, and repair of
naval ships, equipment, and facilities, and is responsible for the formulation
and implementation of naval policies and programs that are consistent
with the national security policies and objectives established by the
president and the secretary of defense.
Within the Office of the Secretary, four assistant secretaries are assigned
functional responsibilities for policy formulation and oversight related
to the full spectrum of the tasks of organizing, building, outfitting,
manning, and training the Navy and Marine Corps of today and tomorrow.
The assistant secretary of the Navy (research, development and acquisition),
for example, is the department’s acquisition executive responsible
for all research, development, and procurement of defense systems for
the Navy and Marine Corps: aviation, ships, weapons, ground systems, and
The Department of the Navy’s senior uniformed staffs, serving under
the CNO and the Marine Corps commandant, define force-structure requirements
in their roles as warfare-resource sponsors—guiding the direction
of, and priority for, Navy and Marine Corps acquisition programs in the
defense budgeting processes. The secretary’s three principal civilian
assistants oversee responsibilities for Navy shore installations and environmental
matters, financial management, and manpower and reserve affairs. Other
staff assistants provide expert support in legal, program-appraisal, legislative-affairs,
public-affairs, and criminal-investigative matters.
The Chief of Naval Operations
Adm. Vern Clark has served as the CNO since July 21, 2000. He is the
senior naval officer in the Department of the Navy and serves as a member
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CNO is responsible to the secretary
of the Navy for the command, use of resources, and operating efficiency
of the operating forces of the Navy and of the Navy shore activities assigned
by the secretary.
The post of CNO was established by act of Congress in 1915 on the eve
of the U.S. entry into World War I. Adm. William S. Benson was appointed
the first CNO. During World War II, Adm. Ernest J. King held the dual
titles of CNO and commander in chief, U.S. Fleet, directing the worldwide
operations of the Navy in coordination with the nation’s other armed
services and with U.S. allies.
According to the official history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS),
combat operations during World War II revealed the need for a formal joint-command
structure, and the wartime JCS arrangement offered a workable model. The
first legislative step was the passage of the National Security Act of
1947, which formally established the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It laid the
foundation for the series of legislative and executive changes that produced
today’s U.S. defense organization.
As a member of the Joint Chiefs, the CNO is the principal naval advisor
to the president and the secretary of defense on the conduct of war, and
the principal advisor and naval executive to the secretary of the Navy
on the conduct of the activities of the Department of the Navy. The CNO’s
assistants include the vice chief of naval operations (VCNO), the deputy
chiefs of naval operations (DCNOs), and a number of other high-ranking
These officers and their staffs are assigned to what is called the Office
of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV). The CNO’s responsibilities
as a member of the JCS take precedence over all of his other assigned
Early in his assignment, Clark reorganized OPNAV to improve the Navy’s
ability to define and achieve warfighting requirements and provide stronger
advocacy for fleet readiness at the Navy’s highest policy levels.
His staff realignments separated staff responsibilities for resources
and requirements in an effort to generate more rigor in the Navy’s
In August 2001, Clark directed that the commander in chief of the U.S.
Atlantic Fleet would serve concurrently as commander, U.S. Fleet Forces
Command, with responsibility for the overall coordination, establishment,
and implementation of integrated requirements and policies for manning,
equipping, and training Atlantic and Pacific Fleet units during their
interdeployment training cycles.
Clark has placed special emphasis on improving the current readiness
of deployed and non-deployed naval forces and continuing the acquisition
of new long-range, highly accurate and all-weather weapons systems. These
efforts paid rich dividends during combat operations in Afghanistan. The
Navy also continues to expand its ability to use networked information
systems to share information instantaneously over broad geographic areas.
This transformation to network-centric warfare centers on knowledge superiority
and battlespace dominance.
His five top priorities include: manpower; current readiness; future
readiness, including the Navy’s ongoing transformation; quality
of service for Sailors and their families; and organizational and message
alignment to ensure that the Navy’s actions match what its leaders
The Operating Forces
The Navy’s operating forces are composed of the ships and the aircraft
assigned to the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, U.S. Naval Forces Europe,
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, as well as those of the Military Sealift
Command. Additional operating units fall under the command of the Chief
of Naval Reserve, the Naval Special Warfare Command, and Operational Test
and Evaluation forces.
The Navy’s primary operational commanders have a dual chain of
command. Administratively, they report to the CNO and provide, train,
and equip naval forces. Operationally, they provide naval forces and report
to the appropriate regional unified combatant commanders (formerly known
as commanders in chief or CINCs) for U.S. combatant commands. As units
of the Navy enter the geographical area of responsibility (AOR) of a unified
command, they are operationally assigned to the appropriate numbered Navy
fleet. All Navy units also report to their appropriate type commanders
(air, surface, or submarine) for administrative purposes.
U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Atlantic
U.S. Fleet Forces Command, based at Norfolk, Va., was created in 2001
as a new command responsible for overall coordination, establishment,
and implementation of integrated requirements and policies for manning,
equipping, and training all Navy operational units. The Commander, U.S.
Fleet Forces Command, based at Norfolk, also is responsible for the missions
of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, including its mission to provide combat-ready
forces to support U.S. and NATO commanders in regions of conflict throughout
On Oct. 1, 2002, Atlantic Fleet became the Naval component commander
for the new joint U.S. Northern Command, and Fleet Forces Command now
inherits responsibility for all Navy operational and training matters
under Northern Command. Additionally, Fleet Forces Command is the senior
fleet organization with authority over the requirements and readiness
processes of fleets on both coasts and those based overseas.
The fleet is led by Adm. William J. Fallon and consists of more than
111,503 Sailors, 17,534 civilians, 156 ships and 1,189 aircraft. Also
under Fallon’s command are 50 shore stations providing training,
maintenance, communications, and logistics support, as well as assistance
to Navy and Marine Corps families.
The AOR of Atlantic Fleet remains unchanged, covering a massive expanse
that encompasses the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to the South Pole,
the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean waters from
Central and South America to the Galapagos Islands. The Norwegian, Greenland,
and Barents Seas, and the waters around Africa extending to the Cape of
Good Hope also fall within the AOR.
The primary operational command at Norfolk is the U.S. Second Fleet.
The East Coast’s shore-infrastructure management is located at three
regional commands headquartered in New London, Conn., Norfolk, Va., and
U.S. Naval Forces Europe
The commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVEUR), Adm. Gregory G.
Johnson, provides overall command and operational control of all U.S.
naval forces assigned to the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM). From his
headquarters in London, Johnson coordinates his forces with other U.S.
and allied forces operating within the European Command’s AOR to
carry out the command’s assigned missions.
In addition, as a naval component commander, COMUSNAVEUR develops operational
plans and policy and coordinates logistics, communications, legal, and
administrative support among naval forces operating in the USEUCOM AOR—which
encompasses Europe and its contiguous waters, the Mediterranean Sea, and
the continent of Africa. Johnson also is the commander of NATO’s
southern region, headquartered in Naples, Italy.
COMUSNAVEUR’s operating forces are composed of the ships and aircraft
of the U.S. Sixth Fleet operating in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black
Sea, and adjacent areas. Divided into task forces, the U.S. naval forces
forward-deployed to the Sixth Fleet usually include an aircraft carrier
strike group, an amphibious ready or expeditionary strike group, a Marine
expeditionary unit, and various support ships as well as land-based patrol
aircraft and nuclear-powered submarines.
U.S. Pacific Fleet
Adm. Walter F. Doran, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, commands naval
forces in a geographic AOR covering more than 50 percent of the earth’s
surface—just over 100 million square miles. Each day, Pacific Fleet
ships are at sea in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and Arctic Ocean,
from the West Coast of the United States to the Arabian Gulf. The Pacific
Fleet is the world’s largest naval command, extending from the West
Coast of the United States to the eastern shoreline of Africa, and from
the North Pole to the South Pole—an area home to more than half
the world’s population.
The Pacific Fleet, with its U.S. Third and U.S. Seventh Fleets, numbers
192 ships, 1,434 aircraft, 140,366 Sailors, and 29,638 civilian employees.
Collectively, these forces keep the sea-lanes open, deter aggression,
ensure regional stability, and support humanitarian-relief activities—providing
a stabilizing influence in a vast area during periods of tension and conflict.
The Pacific Fleet’s contribution to the Navy’s heritage dates
back to 1821 and the establishment that year of the Pacific Squadron,
the first permanent U.S. naval presence in the region. This small force
initially confined its activities to the waters off South America, but
expanded its scope to include the Western Pacific in 1835, when the East
India Squadron joined the force.
From its headquarters at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, today’s U.S. Pacific
Fleet has increased operations with friendly and allied navies, helping
to ensure freedom of the seas for all nations. The Pacific Fleet’s
AOR also includes the Indian Ocean, where aircraft carrier strike groups
and amphibious ready or expeditionary strike groups operate in support
of U.S. national interests. U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy and Marine Corps assets
are regularly assigned to the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces
Central Command, and to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, for deployments to the Persian
Gulf and North Arabian Sea.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
Vice Adm. David C. Nichols Jr., commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central
Command (COMUSNAVCENT), serves as both the naval component commander for
the U.S. Central Command and commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet (COMFIFTHFLT).
From his headquarters in Bahrain, Nichols is responsible to the commander,
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), for the conduct of naval operations in
the CENTCOM AOR and to the CNO for training and equipping his assigned
U.S. Navy forces.
NAVCENT’s AOR reaches from the Horn of Africa through the Arabian
Gulf and into Central Asia, and includes 25 nations representing diverse
political, economic, and cultural elements in an area encompassing 7.5
million square miles, four major bodies of water, and three strategic
choke points (through which pass 70 percent of the world’s oil production),
making it one of the most important, but potentially most volatile, regions
of the world.
As a numbered fleet commander, Nichols exercises overall command and
control of his assigned forces including carrier strike groups, an amphibious
ready or expeditionary strike group with an embarked Marine Expeditionary
Unit, surface combatants, submarines, maritime patrol and reconnaissance
aircraft, and logistics ships. The U.S. Fifth Fleet maintains a highly
visible presence in support of the overall U.S. National Security Strategy.
The Shore Establishment
The commands and organizations of the shore establishment support the
fleet through the repair of ships, aircraft, weapons, machinery, and electronics;
communications; recruitment, training, and education; legal services;
intelligence; meteorological and oceanographic research; the development
of naval doctrine; storage and supply support for repair parts, fuel and
munitions; and medical and dental care for active-duty personnel, retirees,
and their families
In October 2003, the Navy established a single authority at the Pentagon
responsible for all aspects of shore installation management. A new command
called Naval Installations Command, under Rear Adm. Christopher E. Weaver,
reporting directly to the CNO, has been organized to oversee fleet readiness
requirements related to facilities and shore station management, 10 regions
in the continental United States, and six regions overseas.
Recruiting and retaining Sailors, both enlisted and officers, are the
highest priorities for the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS). Vice Adm.
Gerald L. Hoewing leads the Bureau, serving as chief of naval personnel
and deputy CNO (manpower and personnel). BUPERS—located in Washington,
D.C., and Millington, Tenn.—oversees Navy recruiting, assignment
policies and programs, and the enlisted advancement and officer promotion
processes as well as personnel pay, bonus, and retention policies.
Similarly, the Naval Education and Training Command, under Vice Adm.
Alfred G. Harms Jr., is responsible to the CNO for the education and training
of Navy and Marine Corps personnel, both officer and enlisted. Harms manages
a network of training and education programs throughout the United States
and on ships at sea. One of the largest shore commands in the Navy, the
command is composed of approximately 22,000 military, civilian, and contract
personnel stationed at 190 facilities nationwide.
A daily average of more than 47,000 military, civilian, and foreign students
are in training in more than 3,600 different courses at 30 installations.
The training command also supervises and manages 57 Naval Reserve Officer
Training Corps (NROTC) units at colleges and universities throughout the
United States and 570 Naval Junior ROTC units at civilian high schools
in 43 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Italy, and Japan.
The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, under Vice Adm. Michael L. Cowan,
provides health care service to more than 550,000 active-duty Navy and
Marine Corps personnel, and an additional 2.6 million retired and family
members—at a little more than half the national per-capita average
cost for medical care. Navy health-care professionals also provide medical
support during contingency, humanitarian, and joint operations around
the world—most recently during the Operation Enduring Freedom missions
The Navy’s plan for providing health care to its personnel is based
on the Force Health Protection (FHP) plan. This is a focused, integrated
approach to protect and sustain the service’s most important resource—people.
Under the plan, medical care at U.S. Navy facilities has improved. In
recent years, average objective accreditation scores for Navy hospitals
were in the 90th percentile—significantly exceeding the average
scores for civilian hospitals.
Navy medicine continues to find innovative ways to provide convenient
and cost-effective medical and dental care to service members. Pierside
clinics, deployments of health-care practitioners with the operating forces,
and new programs at recruit training activities all save valuable time
and help to keep U.S. Sailors and Marines in good health.
The Systems Commands
The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), commanded by Vice Adm. Phillip
M. Balisle, is the Navy’s central activity for designing, engineering,
integrating, building, and procuring U.S. naval ships, shipboard weapons,
and combat systems. Its expertise in these areas historically stems from
the Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and Repair and the Bureau of Ordnance
and Hydrography, created in 1842, and the Bureau of Ships, which was established
NAVSEA’s responsibilities include the maintenance, repair, modernization
and conversion of in-service ships and their weapons and combat systems.
Additionally, the command provides technical, industrial, and logistics
support for naval ships and ensures the proper design and development
of the total ship, including contractor-furnished shipboard systems. Other
important NAVSEA functions include Navy salvage-and-diving operations,
explosive-ordnance safety and disposal, and the support of ship construction
for the Maritime Administration.
NAVSEA is the largest of the five Navy systems commands. Accounting for
nearly one-fifth of the Navy’s budget (approximately $20 billion),
NAVSEA manages more than 130 acquisition programs assigned to six affiliated
program executive officers (PEO) and various headquarters elements. The
nearly 50,000-person NAVSEA staff serves the fleet in four shipyards,
the undersea and surface warfare centers, nine supervisors at major shipbuilding
locations, and NAVSEA headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington,
D.C. NAVSEA also administers more than 1,400 Foreign Military Sales transactions
worth about $16.7 billion and involving 80 countries and four NATO organizations.
Based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., the Naval Aviation Systems
Command (NAVAIR) team, led by Vice Adm. Walter B. Massenburg, develops,
acquires, and supports naval aeronautical and related technology systems
for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. NAVAIR is composed of six
elements working as a fully coordinated team: the Naval Air Systems Command,
the Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP), and four naval aviation PEOs.
The latter are responsible for the acquisition and full life-cycle management
of most of the aircraft and weapons used by the fleet. The NAVICP is responsible
for providing spare and repair parts throughout the life cycles of all
naval weapons systems. Although it retains its core capabilities in-house,
the NAVAIR team executes most of its work (nearly 80 percent) by contracting
with private industry.
Approximately 31,600 civilian and military personnel are assigned to
NAVAIR, its four affiliated PEOs, and facilities at eight major sites
throughout the United States. NAVAIR manages more than 148 acquisition
programs and supports more than 4,000 active aircraft in the Navy and
Marine Corps inventory.
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), commanded by Rear
Adm. Kenneth D. Slaght, is headquartered in San Diego. SPAWAR’s
more than 7,600 employees support a $4.7 billion program for developing,
delivering, and maintaining Navy command, control, communications, computer,
intelligence, and surveillance systems. SPAWAR has additional responsibilities
to provide management-information systems, infrastructure, and communications
applications for Navy force-wide combat-support systems. The command’s
mission includes developing and acquiring undersea-surveillance systems,
global weather and oceanographic-forecasting systems, and navigational
On Oct. 1, 2003, the Navy established a new PEO within SPAWAR for command,
control, communications, computing and intelligence (C4I), and space programs.
The new office, under civilian executive Dennis M. Bauman, is responsible
for supervising Navy C4I and space acquisition program management, and
integrating these capabilities with those provided by other program executives.
Meanwhile, the DoD June 3, 2003, restructured the management for military
space programs under the U.S. Air Force secretary as executive agent responsible
for all major space acquisition programs.
The Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) manages logistics programs
in the areas of supply operations, contracting, conventional ordnance,
resale, fuel, transportation, security assistance, food service, and other
quality-of-life programs. NAVSUP commander Rear Adm. Justin D. McCarthy
also is the chief of the Navy Supply Corps.
The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), led by Rear Adm. Michael
R. Johnson, manages the planning, design, and construction of facilities
for U.S. Navy activities around the world. NAVFAC provides technical,
engineering, and program-management support for public works, family housing,
and public utilities for the Department of the Navy. It also acquires
and disposes of the Department of the Navy’s real estate, and is
the program manager for Navy bachelor housing.
NAVFAC provides technical, engineering, and program-management support
to expedite the realignment and closure of naval bases, and the command
manages all of the Navy Department’s environmental projects and
The 21st Century Navy
The U.S. Navy of the new century is evolving to meet the challenges of
the era after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
These challenges include countering an enemy that is dynamic and unpredictable,
both tactically and strategically, and overcoming the risks associated
with transforming a large military organization in real time. Having learned
from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the DoD is
redefining the military’s roles. A new approach is not only joint
in character (in the sense of depending upon cooperation from all the
military services) but also in the realization that future success shall
depend upon the achievement of effects, including but not exclusively
the effect of success in battle. Increasingly the military will work with
other government and non-government organizations to affect change in
A key role for the Navy to play in the military’s transformation
effort is to mature the concept of using the sea base as the foundation
for joint and combined organization operations. From the relatively uncontested
maneuver space of international waters, the U.S. Navy will host the emergence
of powerful task forces comprised of assets from all five U.S. military
services, other organizations (such as the Department of State and the
International Red Cross), and allied nations. The Navy Department is sponsoring
the development of a new set of capabilities to operate from the sea base.
This set of capabilities includes operating within and through the littoral—the
intertidal zone near shore and adjacent to most of the world’s population
and commerce. To succeed in the littoral, the Navy is developing new ships,
aircraft, and weapons, as well as new kinds of organizational and operational
With uncertainty and risk ahead, the Navy has set course for transformation
even as its essential mission remains intact: to deter through strength,
and, when required, to fight and win in war.