San Diego Union-Tribune

June 9, 2001

New Navy secretary putting combat readiness, people first


WASHINGTON -- In his first message to the sailors and Marines he now leads, Navy Secretary Gordon England promised to improve the "quality of service" while declaring that combat readiness "must be our primary emphasis."

England, a retired General Dynamics executive, also stressed the need
to improve the Navy Department's business practices and acquisition
process to accelerate the application of new technology that can "save lives and win wars."

"The president and the secretary of defense have indicated that this is
a time of change," England said in his first All-Navy message. "I ask that each of you join me and them, bringing your talents, innovative thoughts and experience to bear, in transforming the way we do business in order to meet our commitments now and in the future."

The new secretary said he would focus on four areas: combat capability, people, advanced technology and business practices.

"Of these four, the men and women in the fleet and those who support
their combat capability are the most important elements of our team," he said.

"The primary purpose of the Navy and Marine Corps is to deter, train
for, and when necessary, fight and win our nation's battles. Combat
capability, which includes readiness, must be our primary emphasis."

Because ships are of no value without a trained and motivated crew,
England said, "we need to continue to invest in the human capital that makes our Navy and Marine Corps the world's finest."

He endorsed the efforts of Navy and Marine leaders to improve "quality of service" by focusing on "a higher-quality workplace as well as a higher quality of life for our people."

England has never served in the military, but spent most of his career
developing advanced weapons programs, including the Navy's E-2C radar warning and air control planes.

Stressing the importance of advanced technology to capability for
combat, England said he was committed to "the application of technology in the military in a manner and rate similar to the commercial market."

He pledged to simplify the Navy Department's weapons acquisition
process and improve its internal business practices, which should enable the department "to shift more dollars into combat capability and quality of service."