February 1, 2013
Before strategically dotting the globe's waterways with ships, before figuring out how to conduct cyber-warfare at sea, before managing a major defense pillar in a time of budget stress, the Navy's number one leader in the Pentagon sees ending sexual assault and suicide as the key priorities to focus on.
"There are four areas we need to focus on," Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert told students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey today. "Number one, sexual assault. It is probably our top problem out there.
"There are too many, and we’ve got to reverse the trend. It is eating at our readiness."
Greenert addressed students then reporters today, responding to student questions focused largely on the federal budget crisis and Navy operations.
"We’ve got seven months left to find $4.5 billion," Greenert told students, referring to the anticipated operations shortfall this fiscal year.
In addition, he said, "We’re about 2,500 leaders light at sea."
Greenert also spoke about NPS as a place to educate the Navy's leaders in high-tech and financial management. "This institution is a very big part of where I want to take the Navy. Here is where we make jedis on a lot of things that are very special and unique—acoustics, cyber, financial management."
Greenert's strategy is to shift naval focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, with plans to keep growing U.S. presence in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam the Philippines, Australia and India.
There are also an increasing number of resources going to North Africa. "Djibouti is an important place," Greenert said. "Five years ago, we had 500 people there. Now we’ve got thousands."
There was limited discussion of the recent management shake-up at NPS. Former President Dan Oliver and former Provost Leonard Ferrari were dismissed in November.
Greenert told reporters it's still undecided whether the next president will be a civilian or active duty military, and that he's himself ambivalent about the Inspector General report that led to Oliver and Ferrari's ouster: "I have to stand by the decision of the Secretary of the Navy and what he felt was in the best interest of the Navy and keep faith in the process.
"I have not formed an opinion on the whole matter."