The following post first appeared in the San Antonio Express on October 18, 2011 and was written by Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Juan Garcia III, and one of the senior Navy representatives during San Antonio Navy Week.
While over the last decade much of the nation’s attention has been focused on military forces on the ground in the Middle East, America’s Navy has continued to be a global force critical to the security of our nation and our interests — no matter where they are.
The Navy is the branch of the U.S. military that fights on the water in ships, under the water in submarines, and over the water in planes that take off and land on Navy aircraft carriers.
This ability to act from the water is vital. It gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests — anywhere, anytime.
Think of the 70-80-90 rule:
- Water covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.
- About 80 percent of the world’s population lives near the ocean.
- About 90 percent of all international trade travels by sea.
What happens on the water is critical to American security, the preservation of American jobs, and peace worldwide. Most fundamental, it’s important to our national defense. After all, the United States is bounded by oceans on both sides.
We need to be able to protect our interests on, under, and over the water.
The Navy’s job is getting bigger because we need to be ready to confront the unpredictable and diverse challenges our country faces today.
The importance of the Navy is nothing new to Texans. Like all Americans, Texans have a vested interest in a strong, agile and global U.S. Navy.
On any given day, the Navy and Marine Corps team might need to attack a terrorist camp, keep watch over a potential conflict abroad, capture a pirate vessel, and deliver emergency relief, all in different parts of the world. World events don’t always afford time to arrange support infrastructure on land, or to get another country’s permission to come ashore.
The Navy is ideally suited for this kind of operational tempo, because it’s fast and flexible. It can go anywhere on the ocean on short notice, and can do all of its work from the water.
Navy ships and submarines can shoot at targets and knock out enemy missiles far inland.
Navy planes fly about half of the aerial combat missions in Afghanistan. They don’t need airstrips on the ground. They take off from aircraft carriers.
Navy SEAL teams can carry out special operations worldwide. In a humanitarian crisis, the Navy can deliver supplies and provide hospital-quality medical care.
To handle this wide variety of missions, the Navy requires courageous men and women who are highly trained and motivated. Fortunately for our nation, that’s exactly who we have. With the opening of Medical Education & Training Campus, along with Master at Arms training at Lackland AFB, the Navy’s two largest enlisted rates receive their training in San Antonio. And dozens of sailors and Marines have recovered from war-wounds at BAMC and the Center for the Intrepid. This is a Navy town.
Finally, the Navy is leading efforts to reduce energy consumption and achieve energy independence, which may prove critical in winning, or preventing, our next war.
As San Antonio hosts Navy Week from Oct. 24 to 28, and sailors come to the city to share their stories, remember the importance of a fast, flexible force — provided by sea power and the U.S. Navy. In this way, the Navy protects America more than ever.