Whenever I think about our Navy and what we deliver for our nation, the same three words always come to mind – READY, RESPONSIVE, and RELEVANT. Recent events in Libya demonstrate the fundamental truth of those words.
With very little advance notice, our ships and aircraft were placed in position to deliver effects ashore in support of our national objectives, from Tomahawk strikes to knock down the Libyan air defense network to launching the quick reaction TRAP mission from KEARSARGE to rescue downed aviators.
At the very same time, half a world away, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet is leading the effort delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief to Japan in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami as well as providing assistance in recovering from the nuclear accidents that occurred in the wake of the natural disasters. The same words apply in relief efforts for Japan – our naval forces were READY, RESPONSIVE, and RELEVANT.
The types of ships we’re using for those vastly different missions are very similar – Amphibious Ready Groups with embarked Marine forces, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers capable of launching Tomahawks or helos with food and water, and MSC ships supplying the logistics support to keep our ships at sea indefinitely. Built into our ships is the flexibility and agility to respond to a wide variety of missions enabled by the fundamental fact that our Navy is truly expeditionary and routinely forward-deployed around the globe.
Think about what else is going on in addition to Operation ODYSSEY DAWN and Operation TOMODACHI – we have two Carrier Strike Groups in the NAVCENT AOR supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, our SSBN force is deployed to the Atlantic and Pacific conducting strategic nuclear deterrent patrols (as they have for over 50 years), USS CLEVELAND (LPD 7) is deployed in support of PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2011 to sustain our strategic relationships with a host of nations in the South and South West Pacific Ocean areas, USS STEPHEN W. GROVES (FFG 29) and USS ROBERT G. BRADLEY (FFG 49) are deployed in support of Africa Partnership Station and the USNS COMFORT will soon depart Norfolk in support of Operation CONTINUING PROMISE to conduct a wide array of humanitarian operations and partner capacity building exercises throughout Central and South America.
Our Navy – a global force, routinely forward-deployed and inherently expeditionary – executing the key tenets of our Maritime Strategy every day.
Our Navy – a READY, RESPONSIVE, and RELEVANT force – able to operate across the spectrum of conflict because of the professionalism, initiative and quality of our PEOPLE.
And now our challenge – sustaining this expeditionary capability to respond globally, rapidly and effectively to whatever mission comes our way. We must ensure our ships, submarines and aircraft are well-maintained, our magazines and parts lockers are full, and our Sailors are well-trained despite the nation’s ongoing fiscal crisis and the inevitable impact this crisis will have on our operations and maintenance funding over the next three years.
Just as our Sailors and our forces are up to the missions they’ve been given, so must we be up to the challenge to sustain our Navy into the future and ensure we remain READY, RESPONSIVE, and RELEVANT in this chaotic and violent world.
All the best, JCHjr