A strong Navy is a recognized United States commitment to the world.
Your Navy is unique among all others in that our fleet is not garrisoned in U.S. home ports but is spread across the globe. There is no question that there is a high demand for the naval forces from our political leaders and combat commanders worldwide. The visible power of your Navy, steaming just over the horizon in areas of high tension has a significant impact on our opponents as well as our allies and friends.
Your Navy protects and defends America on the world’s oceans – it operates from the sea. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now, standing the watch. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there standing the watch around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.
That they are there is critically important because, as in virtually any global endeavor, being there matters. It matters in business: it is why American firms maintain a presence in their overseas markets. It matters in politics: it is why the State Department maintains a diplomatic contingent in nearly every other nation on earth. It certainly matters to our national defense: it is why U.S. forces are stationed around the world.
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time.
When America’s national security is threatened by the existence of a weapons facility or a terrorist camp on the other side of the world, being there matters. Where these threats exist, chances are high that Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and Special Forces are very close by, with the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland.
When the decision is made to act on one of these threats, the solution may involve launching attack jets or unmanned aircraft from aircraft carriers, firing cruise missiles from ships or submarines, inserting a team of Navy SEALs to do what only Navy SEALs can do or sending Marines ashore to do what they do best. In any case, the Navy can do all of these things, and do them all from the sea, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders.
More than 90 percent of the world’s commerce travels by sea. When piracy threatens innocent lives and disrupts shipping traffic in the Indian Ocean, when rogue nations threaten to deny access to vital Middle East waterways through which much of the world’s oil is shipped, being there matters. America’s Navy is there, patrolling what is essentially the world’s interstate ocean highway system, ensuring the free flow of global trade and, in turn, preserving America’s economic prosperity.
Following a humanitarian crisis, like the devastating typhoon that ravaged the Philippines in 2013 or the tsunami that struck northern Japan in 2011, being there matters. Because the Navy is always deployed around the world, it can (and often does) provide nearly immediate humanitarian relief in the wake of a disaster, ferrying supplies, medicine and trained medical personnel ashore from Navy ships via helicopters and landing craft.
When narcotics traffickers use speedboats and rudimentary submarines to ferry illegal drugs across the oceans and into America, being there matters. Navy ships and submarines work the waters near Central and South America with law enforcement agencies to intercept shipments of illegal narcotics before they reach our shores.
As the world’s geopolitical and economic climates continue to evolve, the case for America maintaining a strong Navy only gets stronger. Indeed, the President’s national security strategy calls for a renewed focus on enduring threats in the Middle East region, as well as an increased American commitment in the Asia-Pacific region — a vast, mostly ocean-covered area of the world ideally suited for operations from the sea and in which the Navy maintains a robust presence.
When it comes to protecting and defending America, being there matters. And America’s Navy is already there – always on station, always ready, always standing the watch.
Navy Capt. Keith G. Moore, a native of Winona, a 1982 graduate of Kilmichael High School and a 1990 graduate of The University of Mississippi, is Deputy Commander of Amphibious Squadron ONE/USS BOXER (LHD 4) Amphibious Ready Group.