“Lastly, and most importantly, I
accept this award on behalf of the
U.S. Navy and the SEALs. Their
capability, professionalism, patriotism and pride in their duties are
truly inspiring. It was a great
honor to sail on the Bainbridge and
the Boxer, as I’m sure many of you
in this room know. They are the
true heroes in this story.”
Discussing fiscal 2010 budget priorities and the challenges ahead at
the June 12 Sea Service Panel
Luncheon were Rear Adm. Charles
Michel, director of governmental
and public affairs for the Coast
Guard; Capt. Steve Vahsen, deputy
chief of legislative affairs for the
Navy; Col. Brian Murtha, the
Marine Corps’ deputy legislative
assistant to the commandant; and
Kevin Tokarski, the Maritime Administration’s associate administrator for national security.
Michel noted that among the Coast Guard’s top priorities are recapitalizing operating assets and sustaining infrastructure, accomplished under the umbrella
of the ongoing $24 billion Deepwater modernization
“We learned some hard lessons with Deepwater. I think
we’re much better for it. We’ve taken over oversight of the
Deepwater program and we’re delivering assets.”
The Coast Guard also is focusing on enhancing
maritime safety and security, modernizing its business
practices and optimizing work force capacity.
Vahsen emphasized the importance of working with
the Navy’s sea service partners, employing the “
Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.” Among the
Navy’s budget priorities for 2010 are, “first and foremost,
shipbuilding,” he said, and provided an overview of the
ships currently under construction and planned for the
next several years, as well as the challenge ahead addressing an anticipated strike fighter shortfall.
Murtha said the Corps’ main priority is the health
and well-being of its personnel, noting in particular
the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic
brain injury and the dramatic rise in suicides.
“We’re working with our Navy brethren and the
medical profession” to address these issues, he said.
“We’re going to take care of those people who take care
of our national security.”
Murtha also discussed budget priorities, including
the commandant’s No. 1 priority on the ground — the
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle —
and the V- 22 Osprey, and the transition of Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Tokarski said maritime issues
factor heavily in U.S. policy, particularly in the areas of security, economic and national defense, the
Marine Transportation System and
training and support for maritime
stakeholders. He noted the Maritime Administration maintains information on the current security
situations in the world’s piracy
hotspots, to help vessels be more
self-aware and, therefore, secure.
Elsewhere, Coast Guard Capt.
Karl Schultz, chief, Congressional
and Governmental Affairs, spoke to
the Coast Guard Affairs Committee;
Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Benes, the
Marine Corps’ director, Expeditionary Warfare Division, spoke to
the Marine Corps Affairs Committee; Navy Capt. Fer-nandez Ponds, former commander, Amphibious
Squadron Eight, spoke to members of the Public
Education Committee; and speaking to the Public Affairs
Committee were Cmdr. Ronald A. LeBrec, chief of Coast
Guard Public Affairs; Lt. Col. Peter Markakos, Marine
Corps Public Affairs; and Cmdr. Todd A. Martin from ACI
Navy Community Outreach, Navy Office of Information.
In other business, the board elected Branch president-elect at the main board session June 13. Branch is expected to succeed McGrath as national president during the
National Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas, in
Amendments to the Navy League bylaws that were
approved by the directors included the following:
■ All dues will be paid in full to National Headquarters,
including dues from overseas councils.
■ The chairman of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps will serve
as a member of the Navy League’s Steering Committee in
an ex-officio capacity, provided that he/she is a member
of the Navy League.
■ Failure by councils to comply with state regulatory
laws may be cause for revocation of the council’s charter.
■ Councils demonstrating one or more causes for revocation of their charter on the last day of a calendar
quarter will not be entitled to rebates for that quarter.
Other approved amendments included provisions for
merging and splitting councils.
More information about the recent Board of Directors’
meeting and the upcoming National Convention can be
found at www.navyleague.org. ■
Col. Brian Murtha, the Marine Corps’
deputy legislative assistant to the commandant, speaks during the Sea Services Luncheon June 12.
SEAPOWER / AUGUST 2009