While change is inevitable in every election cycle, also
present is opportunity. The Navy
League of the United States takes
very seriously our responsibility of
educating the American public and
their elected leaders on the impor
tance of strong maritime forces to
national security and economic
One document instrumental in
our legislative outreach and engage
ment is the biennial Maritime Poli
cy, which provides analyses and
recommendations on funding, force
size, equipment, training and other
priorities critical for the sea services
and the industrial base that supports them.
The 20172018 Maritime Policy, to be published
this month, focuses on “Ensuring Strong Sea Services
for a Maritime Nation.” It is imperative that the new
administration and the 115th Congress understand that
the U.S. sea services — the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast
Guard and U.S.flag Merchant Marine — must be sup
ported and adequately funded to keep the world’s sea
lanes open and secure.
“The Navy League believes that if adequate funding
is not provided to support the sea services, American
naval forces will be trapped in a cycle of decay from
which they will be unable to escape,” the policy states.
“Without adequate, steady and predictable investment,
the United States will be less secure and more vulner
able to threats. The wise path is to invest in our sea
services now for a more secure future.”
The United States is a maritime nation dependent on
a strong naval force to preserve freedom of the seas for
all, while maintaining maritime superiority. Insufficient
funding means longer deployments, deferred mainte
nance on missioncritical assets, less training and a host
of other issues that result in more stress on our forces
and a less secure America. We cannot let that happen.
The Maritime Policy recognizes the importance
of our international partnerships, which “signal U.S.
resolve. The visible exercises that we conduct with
our allies remind potential enemies of our capabilities,
so that they reconsider any tendency to challenge the
United States at sea.” Engaging in
exercises and operations at sea with
our allies and friends extends our
reach, promotes stability and peace,
and increases the agility and respon
siveness of our naval forces.
The policy drives home the fact
that budget must not drive strategy.
Free and open access to the seas
and our economic prosperity and
national security are inextricably
linked, and underfunding the sea
services puts all of that in jeopardy.
Year after year, the demands made
on our naval forces increase, yet
funding remains stagnant, insuffi
cient. The policy notes: “The fact
that the capabilities of the sea services are in such high
demand speaks to their usefulness.”
Our forces must operate forward, appropriately
trained and equipped, ready to respond to crises or
conflict. They cannot sustain that level of readiness
with austerity spending. The term “acceptable risk” is
often used in the acquisition world, but when it comes
to readiness, no risk is acceptable.
Above all, our elected officials must understand that
our most important assets are the people serving in
our allvolunteer force and the loved ones who support
them. We recruit the best and the brightest, and we
must strive to retain them with competitive compensa
tion and benefits. We must keep faith with them, show
them what their service means to this nation by setting
them up for nothing less than success, for if they are
successful, we — as a nation — thrive.
Yes, national elections bring about change as well as
some uncertainty, but today we have an opportunity to
inform, advocate and educate.
Navy League members across the country and
around the world, armed with our Maritime Policy and
other educational tools, welcome the opportunity to
engage in thoughtful discourse about the way forward
for our sea services and for this nation.
The Way Forward
By SKIP WITUNSKI, Navy League National President