Maritime Leaders Present New Strategy to Portland Community

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kelli D. Roesch, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific, Det. Northwest

Director, Navy Strategic Actions Group, and other Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and civilian officials introduced the new Maritime Strategy to more than 150 community leaders in Portland, Feb. 21 as part of the "Conversations with the Country" program. Capt. Dan Cloyd clarified early in the conversation what the new Maritime Strategy is – and what it is not. "It is not a resourcing plan. I will not talk about numbers of ships or Sailors or aircraft or Marines," he said. "It is a collection of ideas that inform or drive the decisions we make. It determines how we will organize, train and equip ourselves. And we want you to be a part of that."

"Conversations with the Country" is a series of public forums held around the United States designed to communicate the new unified maritime strategy known as "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower." Linking the past with the future, Dr. Karl F. Walling, professor in the department of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College, began the discussion of future strategic possibilities by presenting a "Backward Look at Forward-Thinking Strategies." Walling discussed historical approaches to maritime decision-making and highlighted fundamental issues faced by the country's forefathers.

"We look to history to see the present and future more clearly and find that it is normal and proper to have these conversations, as these are the same conversations previously had by former leaders," he said. "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" emphasizes core capabilities from previous strategies – forward presence, deterrence, sea control and power projection – in addition to two maritime strengths that have been newly elevated to core capabilities – maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response. The audience included a diverse mix of former and current service members, community leaders, and local residents who were simply interested in hearing more about the strategy. "It's important [because] what happens in our country is an extension of what happens in the world," said Dan Folwick, a civilian member of the Naval War College Foundation, who responded when asked why he decided to join the conversation. Rotary International member David Jay wanted to know if avoiding war was incorporated into the strategy.

"One of our principal goals is world peace, and one reason I'm here is because I'm interested in how the Navy is going to help [the Rotarians] reach our goal for world peace," he said. In response, Cloyd explained that the new strategy makes the deterrence of war as important as winning wars. "The maritime services believe we can do more to prevent war," he said. "First and foremost the strategy addresses why it's important to us as Americans and why it's important to people all over the world, whose lives are inextricably linked by the virtue of the age in which we live."

Graduate student Taissa Sobolev was impressed with the direction of the new strategy. "It takes vision and it really takes people to sit down and think about [Maritime Strategy]. I think it's a good idea that they are actually doing it," said Sobolev. Margaret Lee, a member of the Portland World Affairs Council, was surprised with the information presented. "The information they shared with us was impressive and very eye-opening," she said. "Especially the strategy – it is really a collective of wide areas of consideration." The new strategy stresses an approach that integrates seapower with other elements of national power, as well as those of U.S. partners and allies. Although maritime forces can surge when necessary to respond to crises, trust and cooperation cannot be surged. Cloyd said, "We have to be engaged with global partners every day, finding common ground."

Finding common ground between the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps is a key component of the new strategy, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. David P. Pekoske, assistant commandant for operations. "We have agreed that we will coordinate our shipbuilding programs very closely, so when we go before Congress and the American people, we can assure them we don't duplicate efforts," he said. "This fleet is interoperable and built with the intent of having a national fleet – not a Navy fleet and not a Coast Guard fleet." Implementation of this strategy will require that the sea services demonstrate flexibility, adaptability and unity of effort in evolving to meet the enduring and emerging challenges and opportunities ahead. At the end of the conversation, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert D. Papak, director, Joint Capabilities Assessment and Integration Directorate, challenged the audience to continue the conversation about maritime strategy with others.

"Go out to your Rotary meetings and your sphere of influence and try to educate them on what's happening now, and tell the story about what we are trying to do," said Papak. Vice Adm. John G. Morgan Jr., deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy, quoted Abraham Lincoln when he said, "'Because the challenges are new, we have to think and act anew.' "That's what this maritime strategy is trying to do," Morgan said. "It is really trying to think and act anew about the unique challenges that face us."

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