But our naval might is about much more than cutting-edge technology. It’s about the Sailors who make up our force. It is about their ingenuity, their can-do attitude and fortitude in the face of hardship.
For the past 240 years, the strength of our Navy and our greatest edge has been our people and our leadership.
Our mission and priorities may change, but the backbone and enduring strength of our Navy has been and always will be our people and leadership. Leaders like Admiral Bud Zumwalt who displayed tremendous moral courage during his term as CNO. When we struggled through the racial tensions of the sixties and seventies, Admiral Zumwalt worked in the face of strong criticism by his peers and a highly resistant culture to make the Navy do the right thing and make the Navy one of the most colorblind institutions in our entire Nation.
Leaders like Chief Logistics Specialist Brady Fuller who just pinned on Chief a few weeks ago and is now a member of the Goat Locker, are expected to provide a higher level of technical knowledge and provide junior Sailors crucial deckplate leadership.
Today’s sailors are more reflective of our country’s make up in terms of race, gender, religion, and orientation…and I assure you we are a stronger, more relevant force because of it.
And Today’s Sailors are the smartest and best trained in our history. They are tasked to operate the world’s most technically complex weapons systems and execute the mission in a severely compressed decision cycle. It is the Sailors who make it all happen, and who make the real difference in the Navy’s effectiveness.
So, while tonight we salute our Naval history, I also tip my cap to the men and women of all ranks and rates who man our ships, keep our planes flying, build and fight, cook and repair, and keep us safe.
America will need a strong and global Navy well into the future…and we will be ready. Our nation has grown from a group of struggling colonies to a nation that stands as the preeminent in the world.
We are positioned around the globe, and are re-positioning, to meet the threats and challenges of tomorrow.
America’s Navy is continuing our Rebalance to the Pacific. We are increasing presence from approximately 50 ships in 2014 to about 65 in 2019. We are moving our newest, most-capable vessels to the region including the new P-8, the F-35. We are adding perhaps three more attack submarines to be home-ported in Guam and basing the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships in Singapore. BY 2020 we will have allocated 60 percent of total Navy assets to the Pacific Fleet rather than the 50 percent currently devoted to the region.
We are increasing our presence in the Middle East…ten of our Patrol Craft operate out of Bahrain and four Littoral Combat Ships will join them by 2020.
And in Europe we have four destroyers forward station in Rota, Spain to provide a critical Ballistic Missile Defense capability. In fact, the USS Carney (DDG 64) departed Mayport for Rota in early September as the final of four DDGs to be forward deployed to Spain. The USS Carney, along with the Donald Cook, Porter, and Ross, will enhance the security of the European region.
We are even planning to build a sustainable, Arctic-capable force as the region become more accessible in the coming years.
We are coming out of 14 years of war. As we move forward we must plan for the continual increase in tensions around the world, on a substantially reduce budget, with a smaller military in need of considerable investment. At the same time, significant advances in nation state and non-state military capabilities across all the domains…air, sea, land, space—as well as in cyberspace, continue.
Our enemies, both nation state and non-nation state actors, are dynamic and unpredictable, both tactically and strategically. They continue to invest in long-term modernization of their strategic capabilities and have goals of obtaining and proliferating Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The space domain is becoming even more congested, contested, and of course competitive… and while we have increased our own cyber-space capabilities, the worldwide cyber threat is growing in scale and in sophistication, with increasing numbers of cyber-attacks on U.S. networks on a daily basis.
To win, the US Navy must have the equipment, training and technological resources that will utilize our technological superiority. We need to build a relevant and capable future fleet, staying within tight budgets, while meeting or surpassing environmental standards.
We are working toward building that capable fleet. We’re witness to the birth of many cutting-edge technological advancements including advanced aircraft designs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and our unmanned aircraft programs. And revolutionary ship designs such as CVN-78 class carriers, Virginia class submarines, and of course DDG-1000, the Zumwalt-class destroyer. We are also testing innovative systems like the rail gun, EMALS (the electromagnetic aircraft launch system), and new and more efficient operational energy solutions that power our ships.
These weapon systems and innovative energy solutions are pushing the design envelope and delivering incredible capability to our fleet. They are changing the nature of how we will conduct warfare in the future and forcing our enemies to reconsider their intentions.
We are making every preparation, looking over the horizon, to ensure we are ready always.
This year marks another special anniversary in naval history…that of our Reserve Force. For more than 100 years we have repeatedly called upon the dedication and talent of the Navy Reserve Force. Our reservists have been called upon in times of crisis, whether it’s to support humanitarian assistance operations or boots on the ground conflict. They have augmented our active Navy in every operation since May 1915, offering surge capability and rapidly expanding our capacity. The Reserve Force has been and will continue to be a key part of our growth and our future.
So today, 240 years after the birth of our Navy, we watch as our past influences our present and as our present helps shape our future.
But let us not forget that we are a service steep in traditions. Our traditions serve as an anchor for us well into the future – as we face new threats, new challenges, and new opportunities. Admiral George Anderson our 16th CNO got it right when he said, “The Navy has both a tradition and a future – and we look with pride in both directions.”
Tonight we celebrate one of those traditions, and that is our Navy’s Birthday. We remember those who came before, we mourn those we lost along the way, we celebrate their successes and we applaud the new generation of Sailors among us. You can all be proud of the profession you chose…it is a calling to the sea with a long and distinguished history…with an amazing future ahead of it.
Let me conclude by invoking President Kennedy’s words to the Brigade of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy from decades ago. His words more than ever apply today, “…any man, or woman, who may be asked … what they did to make their life worthwhile, I think, can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’
I thank all of you for your leadership, your service and your unyielding commitment to maintaining this nation’s maritime security. We are “America’s Away Team”…we keep the conflict far from our shores. We are ready and present around the world, prepared for action in times of crisis, and working with our allies and partners in times of peace.
We are grateful for the presence of spouses and family members tonight. Our wives, husbands, and children provide the love and support that enable us to do our job, day in and day out.
May God bless you and your families, may God bless all those serving in harm’s way, and may God continue to bless OUR United States Navy.