As in 1812, sailors are crucial to nation’s defense

The Buffalo News

By Gregory Nosal


America’s Navy is our nation’s front line in war and in peace, operating on, above and below the sea. Its members are deployed around the world, protecting our freedom and defending our nation’s interests every day.

This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and many of the qualities that shaped and helped the Navy win 200 years ago still hold true today: the fighting spirit and boldness of the Navy’s sailors, the Navy’s innovation and technological supremacy, the Navy’s key role in preserving American sovereignty and the direct link between a strong Navy and a prosperous America through free world trade.

The commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is a salute to the sailors and Marines who fought gallantly in that conflict, who served in all of our nation’s conflicts since and who are defending freedom around the world today. And on Sept. 11, we will pay tribute to those who lost their lives in one of the darkest days of U.S. history.

The Navy has honored those who lost their lives in that tragedy with the USS New York, which is one of the three amphibious assault ships named after places attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. The steel in their bows is salvaged and reformed steel from the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

The Navy’s tradition continues today, with the USS Buffalo, which is forward deployed conducting training and readiness exercises with our international partners.

The Navy has never been more in demand. We face a terrorist network that has attacked our country before, and vows to do so again. Unstable regimes are developing nuclear weapons. Rising powers have begun military buildups to match their economic growth. Weak and failed states create havens for groups that seek to do us harm, such as al-Qaida in Afghanistan and pirates in Somalia.

Climate change is creating new conflicts, as melting in the Arctic generates disputes over shipping lanes and oil supplies previously locked in ice.

The Navy is fast, flexible and, by its very nature, ready and operating forward. Our ships, submarines and aircraft can go anywhere on the sea on short notice. We can fight or provide aid for a humanitarian crisis like the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan last year, or the earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010.

This week is Navy Week in Buffalo, your opportunity to visit Navy ships and meet the sailors who are on watch every minute of every day. In today’s world, our Navy must operate forward and always be ready. This requires war fighters who are highly trained, highly motivated and courageous. In 1812, the Navy was crucial; in 2012, it is vital.

Rear Admiral Gregory Nosal, Commander Carrier Strike Group Two, is responsible for the Commemoration Bicentennial of the War of 1812 in Buffalo this week.

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