This post is by the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus.
In this, the inaugural blog entry on the Navy Live blog, I thought it appropriate to both reflect on the importance of the Navy and Marine Corps to our nation’s defense and look ahead to the challenges confronting the department in the coming months and years.
The Navy and Marine Corps remain America’s Away Team, ready to respond to crisis or deliberate action wherever we are called. Our forces are conducting a multitude of missions all around the world. Among them, we are:
- Guaranteeing security in southern Afghanistan. Our 20,000 Marines in Afghanistan are successfully combating the Taliban and increasing security, supported by our expeditionary aviation assets and by aircraft flying off of DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. They are joined in CENTCOM by 13,000 Sailors deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Middle East and by 9,000 Sailors on our ships and subs at sea.
- Celebrating a successful flight of the Green Hornet on Earth Day. The Green Hornet, an F/A-18 tactical aircraft more accustomed to catapult launches from our carriers, flew today on a camelina-based biofuel blend in the skies above Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Southern Maryland. In completing the airborne test, including the first-ever afterburner assisted supersonic test of an aircraft on biofuel, the Green Hornet visibly demonstrated our commitment to energy security and set the stage for expansion of biofuel testing to our ships and tactical vehicles.
- Guaranteeing the safety and security of the high seas. In the Somali Basin, the Arabian Gulf, off the coast of South America, and in the Western Pacific, our ships are on station deterring and combating piracy, stemming the flow of illegal trafficking into the United States, and providing a persistent nuclear and ballistic missile defense deterrent.
- Conducting regional engagement and building relationships. In our partnership stations across the globe, we are forging new friendships with new allies and cementing our ties with long-time friends.
In the ten months I have served as Secretary, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many of our ships, stations and Marine units around the world and I’ve met tens of thousands of Sailors and Marines. At every command, I am constantly inspired by the courage, professionalism, dedication to duty, and commitment to our country demonstrated by every Sailor and Marine. And I am touched by the individual stories of heroism I hear when visiting with our personnel on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with our Wounded Warriors recovering from combat injuries.
To our Sailors and Marines: What you do every day is simply incredible. Your service is absolutely critical to the continued safety and security of our country and you are doing exactly what the Nation needs you to do. For those in combat – our hearts and prayers are with you.
To the families of our Sailors and Marines: You are an integral part of the Navy and Marine Corps family, and I recognize the difficulty of the challenges you face every day – as well as the courage you display in meeting them. Thank you for your own service on the home front and the unflagging support you give to your sons, daughters, spouses and parents. You have every reason to be proud of their service and accomplishments.
To the friends of the Navy and Marine Corps: Through your support of the Navy and Marine Corps team, we are able to maintain the most formidable expeditionary fighting force in the world.
The next year will be an important year for the Department of the Navy and for the United States as a whole. It is a year of focus for our forces in Afghanistan, and a year of closure in Iraq. Tens of thousands of Sailors and Marines will continue to do the important work of our country around the world in the Pacific, Southeast Asia, South America, the Horn of Africa and West Africa. We are the world’s only global fleet, and we will continue to stand ready to react as needed to deter international crises and stem humanitarian disasters in the wake of natural devastation.
2010 will also see the Navy and Marine Corps translate intention into action. We will continue to move forward on the energy reform targets announced in October 2009 – keeping in mind the ultimate goal of 50 percent alternative energy usage for the department by 2020. The upcoming year will also see the department continuously reaffirm the initial commitment to controlling procurement costs of our platforms and systems demonstrated in 2009 by our decision to conduct an LCS down-select.
Discussion of these issues and other important matters confronting the Navy and Marine Corps is the purpose behind creation of this blog. It will provide an opportunity for the senior leadership of the Secretariat and the Navy to communicate directly with both the Navy and the public at large, without having to resort to the formality of a naval message or press release. Through the blog, we have the opportunity to begin a conversation in plain language about issues of the day and what the Navy and Marine Corps are doing about them, as well as solicit constructive feedback on our thoughts and policies. I look forward to our conversations! Godspeed.