CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Jul 21, ’23] Ep: 104 Convo BJ Armstrong & POTUS Makes Historic Naval Leadership Announcements


Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello…a weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world. This week…we are joined by return guest CDR Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong to discuss his latest monograph Naval Presence and the Interwar US Navy and Marine Corps: Forward Deployment, Crisis Response, and the Tyranny of History–which will be released in the next week. We discuss interwar lessons, how to balance preparation with presence and the importance of learning the right lessons at the right times.

At the end of the show we discuss President Biden’s latest naval leadership nominations, including the pick of Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be CNO and Adm. Sam Paparro to be INDO-PACOM.

Please send us feedback by DM’ing @CavasShips or @CSSProvision or you can email or

This Week’s Naval Round Up:

The top news: the White House announced its long-delayed nominations for several top US Navy leadership positions on July 21. Admiral Lisa Franchetti, currently the vice chief of naval operations, is being nominated to become the 33rd chief of naval operations. If confirmed, Admiral Franchetti would also become the first woman to hold the position and the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vice Admiral James Kilby, now the deputy commander of US Fleet Forces Command, will be nominated for a fourth star and to become vice chief of naval operations. Admiral Samuel Paparo, currently head of the US Pacific Fleet, will be nominated to head up US Indo-Pacific Command. And Vice Admiral Steve Koehler, currently director for Strategy, Plans and Policy, J5, at the Pentagon, will be nominated for a fourth star and the command of the US Pacific Fleet. We’ll discuss these moves a bit more later in the podcast.

The US has taken special steps in recent days to publicly reveal the operations of at least three deployed ballistic missile submarines. The USS KENTUCKY arrived at Busan, South Korea, July 18, the first US missile sub to visit Korea since 1981. While the move was forecast earlier this year by US and South Korean leadership, the KENTUCKY’s visit was heavily criticized by North Korea, even after the communist country conducted a launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile on July 13. The US also publicized the visit on July 12 by the missile submarine USS MAINE to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Meanwhile, in the European Theater, the ballistic missile submarine USS TENNESSEE was operating off western Scotland. British Royal Navy submarine commodore Paul Dunn and US European Command chief General Christopher Cavoli embarked the submarine at sea on July 18.

France on July 20 assumed command of Combined Task Force 150, the Multinational Naval Task Force patrolling the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean, taking over from the British Royal Navy. On July 17 the US announced that the deployed destroyer THOMAS HUDNER would be sent to the region to beef up US forces in response to increased Iranian moves against merchant ships in international waters, and on July 20 the Pentagon said the amphibious ships BATAAN and CARTER HALL, recently deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, would also be sent to the area to, the Pentagon said in a statement, “ensure freedom of navigation and deter Iranian destabilization activities in the region.” US Air Force F-35 and F-16 aircraft also are being sent to the MidEast.

The littoral combat ship USS CANBERRA LCS30 was commissioned July 22 in a ceremony at Sydney, Australia. The unusual setting for the ceremony is in tribute to the heavy cruiser HMAS CANBERRA which was sunk in action during 1942 fighting with US forces in the Solomons campaign. Both Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday attended the ceremony. In addition to the CANBERRA, four other Independence-class littoral combat ships are currently deployed to the Indo-Pacific region – the JACKSON, GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, MANCHESTER and MOBILE. At least two Freedom class ships also are deployed: the INDIANAPOLIS is operating in the Mideast/Mediterranean region, while the LITTLE ROCK is deployed to the Caribbean and Central America.

July 22 also marks the beginning of Exercise Talisman Sabre, held every two years by US and Australia forces in and around Australia. This year’s Talisman Sabre is the 19th and largest-ever event, with forces from Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany taking part.

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