Ships Were in Position for Odyssey Dawn, Roughead Says

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 — While Oper­a­tion Odyssey Dawn brewed up quick­ly, the U.S. Navy already was posi­tioned for oper­a­tions over Libya, the chief of naval oper­a­tions said here today.
Navy Adm. Gary Roug­head told the Defense Writ­ers Group that hav­ing Navy ships and sub­marines in the Mediter­ranean Sea enabled a quick response to the order that began Oper­a­tion Odyssey Dawn.

“The need, for exam­ple in the open­ing rounds, for the Tom­a­hawk strikes, the shoot­ers were already in place,” Roug­head said. “They were already loaded, and that went off as we expect­ed it would.” 

The Navy’s top offi­cer said he is pleased over­all with the oper­a­tion so far. The actions against Libya marked the first time the con­vert­ed bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­ma­rine USS Flori­da was used in com­bat, and bas­ing the coalition’s joint task force aboard the USS Mount Whit­ney has pro­vid­ed flex­i­bil­i­ty, he added. 

Roug­head said he also is pleased with the per­for­mance of the EA-18G Growler, the Navy’s newest elec­tron­ic war­fare air­craft. The five-jet squadron had been fly­ing mis­sions over Iraq, but was quick­ly moved and began fly­ing mis­sions in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Odyssey Dawn just 47 hours after recov­er­ing from oper­a­tions over Iraq, he said. The admi­ral also praised the tac­ti­cal recov­ery of two F‑15E Strike Eagle air­men who eject­ed over Libya when their jet had mechan­i­cal prob­lems. The USS Kearsarge launched a V‑22 Osprey that got in quick­ly and made the recov­ery, he said. 

“The way it came togeth­er, the syn­chronic­i­ty of oper­a­tions, the involve­ment and coor­di­na­tion among the dif­fer­ent par­tic­i­pants [went] quite well,” he added. Roug­head said the Navy can con­tin­ue sup­port­ing oper­a­tions as long as it takes. 

“That’s what you get when you have a glob­al Navy that’s for­ward all the time,” he said. “We don’t surge, and we don’t ride to the sound of the guns. We’re there, and when the guns go off, we’re ready to con­duct com­bat oper­a­tions, or, as you see in Japan, ready to con­duct some pret­ty exten­sive human­i­tar­i­an operations.” 

In the run-up to the oper­a­tions, the admi­ral told the group, the Joint Chiefs of Staff delib­er­at­ed on the mil­i­tary actions that would be required. Roug­head said he was par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned about Moam­mar Gadhafi’s inte­grat­ed air and mis­sile defense sys­tem. Though the sys­tem was old, he said, “I don’t take any of that for grant­ed. If some­one is going to put a mis­sile in the air, you don’t say, ‘Oh, it’s an old one, I’ll wor­ry about it later.’ ” 

Logis­tics was anoth­er con­cern, Roug­head said, but the Navy’s robust pres­ence in the Mediter­ranean comes with re-sup­ply ships afloat and depots ashore. The glob­al sup­ply chain has worked well, he said, adding that he antic­i­pates no prob­lem in keep­ing oper­a­tions going. From a fund­ing stand­point, Roug­head told the defense writ­ers, the oper­a­tions are not espe­cial­ly costly. 

“When you look at the expens­es of what we in the Navy incurred, giv­en the fact that we were already there, those costs are ’sunk’ for me. I’m already pay­ing for that,” he said. The ser­vice did incur addi­tion­al fly­ing hours, and the Tom­a­hawks will be replaced from the exist­ing inven­to­ry, Roug­head said. More than 3,200 Tom­a­hawks are in the inven­to­ry, and the mis­siles used in the oper­a­tion rep­re­sent “rel­a­tive­ly minor increas­es in cost,” he added. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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