By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brittney Kinsey, Defense Media Activity Public Affairs
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) — Sea service chiefs and civilian defense leadership discussed myriad opportunities and challenges commanders face while operating on land, sea and air during the first day of the 54th annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition (SAS), May 6, 2019.
Derived from the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0 (Design 2.0), this year’s exposition theme is “Sustainability, Agility, Superiority.”
CNO Adm. John. M. Richardson, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz and Administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration retired Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby each addressed during the sea service chiefs panel the specific obstacles their services contend with in the current maritime environment.
Richardson explained that rapid changes in technology and maritime security requires a level of trust and confidence in leaders tasked with commanding maritime forces.
“It’s very important that our leaders are people of character and integrity so that when we put them in front of our Sailors to lead them, not only do they know their business in warfighting but also that we would be proud for our sons and daughters to follow them,” he said. “Whether at sea or near the sea, responding to any man-made or natural crisis, [they] are so much more than a maritime warrior, [they] are also diplomats and are securing our prosperity.”
Richardson also stressed the importance of improving the logistical capabilities, stating that services will only maintain an upper hand in the maritime environment by becoming more agile.
‘’We have got to get capabilities into the hands of our soldiers, Sailors, airmen and Marines – more and faster,” he said. “It’s important that as the pace quickens, as new technology enters the fray, as the security environment manifests itself in a really fast-changing world that we don’t forget those fundamentals in terms of providing sustainable forces. ”
During a panel on the Arctic, speakers explained why partnering with other services is also crucial to maintaining superiority, particularly in places like the Arctic Circle where there hasn’t been a large naval presence.
“When it comes to maritime readiness in the Arctic, we cannot and should not go alone,” said Rear Adm. John A. Okon, commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “Collaboration is key. Resources and access points are limited, so we must work with our maritime partners to be successful.”
Richardson echoed Okon’s comments during his keynote remarks at the Sea Services Luncheon.
“The Arctic is a very dynamic situation,” he said. “There are seaways that are open that were not open before, continental shelves that are being exposed that weren’t exposed before, so I think that merits a response from our maritime forces and there’s tremendous value in partnering with our fellow services such as the Coast Guard.”
Keeping the waters open for Indo-Pacific trade routes, which bolster global economic prosperity, also remains a top priority for the Navy.
“A third of the world’s trade flows through the South China Sea, 90% of the world’s trade flows by the sea, tens of trillions of U.S. dollars flow through that body of water,” said Richardson. “It’s extremely important that those lines of communication and sea lanes remain open, and that’s why the United States Navy is there and that’s why we’re going to stay there.”
Other scheduled keynote speakers and panelists include Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James “Hondo” Geurts and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith.
Founded in 1965 and the largest maritime exposition in the United States, SAS brings together the U.S. defense industrial base, private sector U.S. companies and key military decision makers for an annual event to share the most current policies, programs, information and technology relevant to maritime service. SAS takes place May 6-8 and will include speaker and professional development sessions and dynamic maritime and defense exhibits on the latest technology and military equipment.