America needs a strong Navy

By Vice Admiral Charles W. Martoglio

Posted Aug 27, 2012

America’s Navy is our nation’s front line in war and in peace, operating on, above and below the sea.

Think of your Navy as America’s “away team,” deployed around the world, defending our nation’s interests every day, working to deter conflict from starting and being in place if that deterrence doesn’t work.

This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Two centuries ago, America called on the Navy and its warfighting sailors to preserve our country’s security and prosperity. The Navy’s victory along the shores of Lake Erie was enabled by the fighting spirit and boldness of our sailors, our innovation and technological supremacy and the unflinching support of the American people. Two centuries later, that tradition continues.

Today, Navy ships fight on the sea; Navy submarines fight under the sea; and Navy aircraft fight over the sea and ashore, taking off from and returning to our Navy’s aircraft carriers.

This ability to act from the sea gives us the power to protect America’s interests — anywhere, anytime. The United States is a maritime nation, bounded by oceans on both sides. Consider that water covers about 70 percent of the earth’s surface, 80 percent of the world’s population lives near the sea, and 90 percent of world trade travels on the sea.

In other words, what happens at sea matters. Security and stability in the maritime domain are cornerstones that enable a prosperous global economy. As such, a strong Navy is necessary to preserve the American way of life, a life improved by prosperity.

PROTECTING OUR SECURITY

In today’s complex world, the Navy’s job continues to expand. The President’s national security strategy emphasizes our commitment to vast maritime regions in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, in which the Navy already maintains a robust presence.

Unstable regimes are developing nuclear weapons. Rising powers have begun maritime buildups to match their economic growth. Failing states create havens for groups that seek to do us harm, such as al-Qaida in Afghanistan and pirates in Somalia. Climate change potentially creates new friction points as Arctic melting opens shipping lanes and oil supplies previously locked in ice.

Our Navy is ideally suited for this kind of world because the Navy is fast, flexible, and by its very nature, ready and operating forward. We protect America’s interests from international waters — and we don’t need any other nation’s permission to do so.

From the sea, missiles from Navy ships and submarines can destroy targets located far inland. From the sea, strike aircraft take off from aircraft carriers; they don’t need airstrips on someone else’s territory. From the sea, Navy SEALs carry out covert special operations worldwide with precision effects when required … and the Navy can rapidly deliver relief supplies and provide medical care in a humanitarian crisis such as the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan last year, or the earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010.

UNLIMITED ABILITIES

On any given day, the Navy has the ability to attack a terrorist camp, capture a pirate vessel, assure our friends and allies that we are in the neighborhood, deter those who would cause us harm and deliver emergency relief, all in different parts of the world, simultaneously.

Our ready force also requires us to be smart about how we power our ships, aircraft and submarines. That’s why the Navy is a leader in pursuing innovations in energy. By 2016, the Navy will sail the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group comprising nuclear-powered ships, hybrid electric ships running on biofuel and aircraft powered by biofuel. We have tripled our solar energy use and are exploring wind, geothermal and hydrothermal power.

In today’s world, seapower must be ready, fast, flexible and operating forward. This requires sailors who are highly trained, enthusiastic and courageous. Our sailors — your sons and daughters — comprise the best, most capable naval force in the world, bar none. While we never forget that mission accomplishment is job one, we know that bright, dedicated sailors are the prerequisite for all we do.

Your Navy is at sea today, flying the flag of our great nation — around the globe and around the clock.

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