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Thinking and Acting Anew

Remarks of The Honorable Gordon R. England, Secretary of the Navy, International Seapower Symposium Naval War College, Newport, R.I. October 28, 2003. Source: Navy Office of Information, Washington D.C.

First, a few "thank-you's" and "welcomes".

Admiral Route, thank you for this exciting opportunity to join you and the representatives of 75 navies from around the world here today. Oceans may separate us, but unshakable bonds unite us. Here at the magnificent Naval War College in Newport, the "thinking capital" of the U.S. Navy.

I understand that we also have 55 Navy and 5 Coast Guard chiefs in attendance here today. Thanks to each of you for being here. I know that most of you have traveled a long way.

It's particularly noteworthy that we have a number of Middle Eastern naval chiefs with us, some attending for the first time. As you may likely know, this past Sunday was the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Religious guidance to Muslims during Ramadan is that they should spend this time with family members. Therefore, special thanks to all our friends from the Middle East who have selected all of us to be their family during the first week of Ramadan. Thank you for letting me be part of your family.

And a very special thanks for a very special leader. And a very special personal friend. And someone that I have the privilege and honor to serve with every day. The CNO of the U.S. Navy, Admiral Vern Clark.

I'm sure you've heard that in recognition of his outstanding leadership in these challenging times, President Bush has nominated Admiral Clark to extend his tour in office for another two years. Only the legendary Admiral Arleigh Burke has had such an honor bestowed upon him.

Admiral Clark, we're very proud of you. The entire world will benefit from your experience, leadership and commitment. Thank you for your sacrifice, service and especially for your friendship.

It is indeed an honor and a great privilege for me to be here at the sixteenth Annual International Seapower Symposium. This is a great forum for all of us to come together and discuss shared interests and issues that we face as naval services.

It's also an opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment to the security and welfare of our shared world.

The world has definitely changed since the last time this symposium was held four years ago.

Even though we are different nations from all over the globe, we are now united in a common mission – the war on terror. We will fight together and we will prevail together.

No matter where you're from, all Americans and most people throughout the world will never forget where they were or what they were doing on 9/11 2001. The World Trade Center was aptly named, for on that tragic day, 219 citizens from 35 countries other than America, were killed.

Not only was America attacked that day, we all were. There are probably only a handful of other memories in your entire life that are remembered by so many.

It is important to understand the challenge before us. In my judgment, terrorism in its modern form is one of the greatest threats to a civilized world. The causes of international terrorism are likely diverse and many, but, whatever the causes, they are enabled by new characteristics of our modern world.

I believe there are five fundamental characteristics of our modern world that make international terrorism so threatening and potentially so deadly:

1.  Globalization

2.  Ready access to and an accelerating rate of change in technology

3.  The information age and all it portends

4.  Non-state actors

5.  Conventional and unconventional threats to include weapons of mass destruction

Our CNO was right on target when he spoke here yesterday, saying:

 - That terrorism is a world problem

 - That naval powers must unite for one fight

 - And that Sea Power 21 can help transform the way we act.

Permit me to complement the CNO's view with my own view and my somewhat broader strategic interpretation.

In September 2002 a new national security strategy for the United States was published, with three key themes – generally referred to as the "Bush Doctrine." These three themes are as follows:

1. We will take the fight to the enemy – pre-emptively if we have to.

2. We will fight this war with our world partners – but we will act alone if necessary.

3. We will use all means --diplomatic and economic to fight terror – but we will use military methods if that is the final option.

These three big "ifs" are often the only part of the strategy highlighted by the press and analysts, but I would emphasize the three main themes themselves to you.

Some call this doctrine assertive unilateralism, but none of us can any longer wait as danger gathers. The best defense is generally a swift and devastating offense.

It is an emphasis on action – broad based to include all means. Military, economic and diplomatic.

My conclusion is that our national security strategy is exactly on target.

The United States of America doesn't fight for land. We don't fight for money; and we won't fight simply to impose our will.

But we do take up arms to secure this country and defeat evil when it threatens our lives and our liberty. We do fight for freedom, and we will finish the job once started.

The President in the National Security Strategy wrote, "History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action."

This strategy emphasizes the first imperative of all of our governments – protecting our citizens.

The objective of this strategy is to provide a stable environment for peoples and governments to flourish. We need to recognize that security and economic development are two sides of the same coin. Security is necessary for economic development, but, in the long term, economic development is needed for security. In all cases, security comes first, and that is the fundamental objective of the Bush Doctrine. Peace and prosperity are not ordained, but earned.

 Let's build on our inherent strengths. Navies fight away games – it doesn't matter if it is 10 or 10,000 miles offshore. We're the first defense so that the last defense may not be needed.

Because we bring our sovereignty with us, naval forces are the only part of the larger force that is able to act around the world, around the clock, to execute the commander's intent.

Basing from the sea, coupled with our long-reaching capabilities enabled by technology, make naval forces especially unique and essential.

We should redouble our efforts to harmonize navies and coast guards and other coastal defense systems.

We need to build or strengthen our channels of communication. The rapid and accurate flow of information is the foundation of actionable intelligence. We then need to link our terrorist-related intelligence with the appropriate law enforcement and immigration agencies.

Preventing the use of the sea to transfer arms, or to move WMD components or ingredients, or drugs, is an endless challenge. Just as we use the seas to defend our interests, our adversaries use it to attempt to advance theirs.

The world will always turn to all of us to keep the lines of communication and commerce open in its vital geographic straits. Can you imagine the impact on globalization if the Straits of Hormuz, Gibraltar or Malacca were closed for just a matter of a few days?

The Suez and Panama canals are two of the greatest gifts from the industrial age, which allow free commerce across the world, begetting more freedoms that orderly countries cherish. With every gift comes a responsibility, and that is our responsibility – to keep the great oceans, seas and straits flowing freely and safely.

As you know, I previously served as deputy to Secretary Tom Ridge at Homeland Security. That fascinating experience has strongly influenced my thinking about what kind of systems approach will be effective in the global war on terrorism.

At President Bush's urging, in November of 2002, the Congress approved the largest reorganization of the U.S. government since 1947.

The new Department Of Homeland Security has about 180,000 employees and a budget of some thirty-seven billion dollars.

The President's national strategy for homeland security identifies six critical mission areas for the new department:

  • intelligence and warning;
  • domestic counterterrorism;
  • border and transportation security;
  • the protection of critical infrastructure and key assets;
  • defense against catastrophic threats; and finally
  • emergency preparedness and response.

In just about any complex endeavor, goals are easier to accomplish through partnerships and, in this case, international partnerships are essential.

At the Department of Homeland Security, our international objectives are to:

1.  Promote information and education exchange with friendly nations;

2.  Promote sharing of best practices and technologies, including exchange of information on r&d on homeland security technologies;

3.  Joint training exercises of first responders;

4.  Exchange of expertise on terrorism prevention, response and crisis management.

We will also seek to identify areas for homeland security information and training exchange where the United States has a relative weakness, and another friendly nation or nations have a demonstrated expertise.

Today, the Customs Service is establishing international partnerships with the 20 largest ports in the world within the construct of the contain security initiative. These 20 ports account for two-thirds of our maritime trade.

We are also working with international organizations such as the international civil aviation organization and international maritime organization to establish standards, processes, and systems that will ensure collective security.

Our approach is to closely align the department of defense with the department of homeland security and to establish international coalitions for mutual, shared security.

President Bush is right. It will take the international community working together to defeat terrorism. It will also take the international navies, represented here today, to make this objective possible.

This war against terrorism will be a thousand fights across the globe and across the years. Together, our navies can help to defeat terrorism.

Our goal should not be the avoidance of another 9/11 2001, but rather a freedom from fear of another 9/11 anywhere in the world. This is now our battle, and together, we will be victorious.

 In closing, I would like again to thank Admiral Route and the Naval War College for giving me the opportunity to speak here today and to thank all the Navy Chiefs and representatives for your commitment to securing freedom and liberty throughout the world.

I am proud to stand with each of you for freedom and liberty for all peoples throughout the world.

Thank you for the privilege and honor to be with you today.



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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).