Naval Forces More Critical Than Ever
Naval Forces More Critical
Than Ever, Navy Secretary Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.,
American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– March 27, 2014 – The ever-changing global security environment makes the
worldwide presence of naval assets more important than ever, Navy Secretary Ray
Mabus told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
Mabus testified alongside Chief of Naval Operations Adm.
Jonathan W. Greenert and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos about the
current state of the Navy and Marine Corps. “In today’s dynamic security
environment, naval assets are more critical than ever,” Mabus said. “In military
terms, they provide presence worldwide.” “They reassure our partners that we are
there and remind potential adversaries that we’re never far away,” he added.
This presence, the secretary said, provides immediate and
capable options for the commander in chief when a crisis develops anywhere in
the world. “Over two centuries ago, the United States had a crucial role in the
world,” Mabus said. “Today, that role is exponentially greater.”
“Whether facing high-end combat or asymmetrical threats or humanitarian needs,”
he said, “America’s maritime forces are ready and present on day one of any
crisis for any eventuality.”
Mabus detailed global naval operations this past year from
across the Pacific to Afghanistan, and from the Gulf of Guinea to the Arctic
Circle. “The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the newly released [Quadrennial
Defense Review] are both maritime in focus and require presence of naval forces
around the world,” he said.
The secretary explained four “key factors” that have made
that global presence and action possible -- people, platforms, power, and
partnerships. “In these fiscally constrained times, we’ve used these priorities
to help balance between the readiness of the force, our capabilities, and our
capacity,” Mabus said.
Our people are our biggest advantage, he said, and we have to
make sure they continue to get the tools they need to do their jobs. “In
compensation, we’ve increased sea pay to make sure those sailors and Marines
deployed aboard ship are appropriately recognized,” Mabus said.
The secretary noted this budget also seeks to control the growth in compensation
benefits, which “threatens to impact all the other parts of our budget.”
Quoting Greenert, Mabus noted “If this is not addressed, as
the CNO so forcibly puts it, the quality of work for our sailors and Marines
will almost certainly decline.” On platforms, Mabus said shipbuilding and other
platforms remain key elements of maritime power. “The number of ships,
submarines and aircraft in our fleet is what gives us the capacity to provide
that global presence,” he said. “While we have the most advanced platforms in
the world, quantity has a quality all its own,” Mabus said. “I think it’s
important to understand how we got to our current fleet size.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Navy stood at 316 ships, he
explained, and by 2008 that number had dropped to 278 ships. Mabus said in the
four years before he took office, the Navy put 19 ships under contract, but
since then, he has added 60 ships under contract. “By the end of this decade,
our plan will return the fleet to 300 ships,” he said. “We’re continuing our
initiatives to spend smarter and more efficiently.”
The Navy is driving down costs, Mabus said, through things
like competition, multi-year buys and driving harder bargains for taxpayer
money. The secretary said projecting power is a “national security issue,”
central to U.S. naval forces and their ability to provide the presence needed.
“Dramatic price increases for fuel threaten to degrade our operations and
training,” Mabus said, noting the potential impact to the number of platforms
“Having more varied, stably priced, American-produced sources
of energy makes us better warfighters,” he said. “From sail to coal to oil to
nuclear, and now to alternative fuels, the Navy has led in energy innovation.”
In today’s complex security environment, Mabus said
partnerships with other nations, evidenced by interoperability, by exercises,
and by operations, continue to increase in importance. “The Navy and Marine
Corps, by nature of their forward presence, are naturally suited to develop
these relationships, particularly in the innovative, small footprint ways that
are required,” he said.
Mabus said the fiscal year 2015 budget submission seeks to
provide the Navy and Marine Corps with the necessary equipment, training, and
tools needed to carry out the services’ missions as expected.
As he concluded, Mabus lauded the courageous and faithful
service of his sailors, Marines, civilians and their families. “There are never
any permanent homecomings for sailors or Marines,” he said. “In peacetime, in
wartime, and all the time, they remain forward deployed, providing presence, and
providing whatever is needed by our country. “This has been true for 238 years,”
Mabus continued. “It is our task to make sure it remains true now and in the
(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on
Twitter: @MarshallAFPS) :