San Diego

Navy Secretary Visits San Diego to Speak With Sailors on USS Gabrielle Giffords

He talked about a need to widen a shrinking technology gap between the U.S. and its global enemies

Secretary of Navy Richard Spencer is in San Diego for what’s being described as an "all hands" discussion with sailors on board USS Gabrielle Giffords.

Spencer toured the recently commissioned littoral combat ship at Naval Base San Diego. He was escorted by the ship’s commanding officer for a tour that lasted about 45 minutes.

He then spoke to the ship’s 74 crew members, even answering several questions. Afterward, Spencer addressed a wide ranging number of issues currently impacting the Navy.

"My priorities are quite simple: people, capabilities, and process," said Spencer.

He talked about moving the Navy forward to its "next generation" in a "resource confined environment." He emphasized a need to focus on the quality of life for service members.

"Our challenge is to make sure we offer an environment that is challenging enough, [and] provides enough education to succeed so our sailors are top notch and want to stay in the enterprise," said Spencer.

While at Naval Base San Diego, he called the base an "integral part of the enterprise." As part of a focus to hold on to service members, Spencer pointed to an effort to modernize the current retirement system.

"It’s a step in the right direction. I think what you’re going to see is a system that is sustainable, and allows for flexibility as we go into this new generation of staffing and manning the Navy and Marine Corps," said Spencer.

He's held his position for less than a month and is facing major issues, including a continued threat from North Korea. But he also said there are plenty of other global threats.

"We have the threats from Iran, we have the threats from Korea, we have the threats from China, we have the threats from Russia, we have the threats from ISIS. The threats are there, and they’re live," said Spencer.

He talked about a need to widen a shrinking technology gap between the U.S. and its global enemies. To that end, he pointed to his visit to SPAWAR in San Diego.

"What they’re working on over there is fascinating. There is great hope that we are going to widen the technology gap, but we have to put the resources and the manpower against it," said Spencer.

Spencer addressed two recent ship collisions at sea and said there is currently a comprehensive review being completed on exactly how they happened. He said the review process involves active duty service member, "gray beards," and members of the private sector.

On the topic of transgenders in the military, Spencer said a new policy is currently being created under the guidance of President Donald Trump.

"We are going to take guidance from the president, who has given guidance, but now we’re going to develop a policy, and we’re going to socialize that policy. And when that policy comes out of DOD, service secretary’s will march forward on that policy," he said.

During his talk to crew members on board USS Giffords, there was one light hearted moment. The secretary was asked what "single life event" contributed to getting him to where he is today.

"You won’t like the answer, but it was my time in the Marine Corps," said Spencer.

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