SeaPower March2014.QXD_Seapower March2014 2/25/14 12:37 PM Page 10
Foreign Area Officers promote access, forge relationships around the world
RADM Douglas J. Venlet, director of international engagement
for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, is the Navy’s first
flag officer in the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) community. A former
enlisted Marine and Russian linguist, Venlet became a surface warfare officer and served in three cruisers and three frigates, eventually
commanding one of each.
With degrees in political science and national security and strategic
studies, Venlet has served in several staff assignments where his
understanding of foreign affairs has been applied, including duty as
the Asia/Pacific regional manager at the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization; an executive assistant to the director of the Navy
staff; deputy executive secretary of the National Security Council
in the Executive Office of the President; a fellow with the Chief of
Naval Operations’ Strategic Studies Group; and the branch head
for Strategic Concepts, Strategy and Policy Division, Office of the
Chief of Naval Operations. While serving as senior defense official
and defense attaché to Russia, Venlet was tapped to become the
first flag FAO and shepherd the community as it moves toward full
Venlet discussed the Navy’s international engagement and FAO program with Managing Editor Richard R.
Burgess. Excerpts follow:
How important is international engagement to
our naval operations?
VENLET: Relationship-building with our counterparts
around the world is an extremely important thing to do,
even more so with our current budget challenges. You’ve
heard the cliché, “no one nation can do it alone, no one
navy can do it alone.” We all have different-sized navies
and different capabilities, but whatever capabilities can be
brought to bear certainly helps out in the global commons.
About 90 percent of trade passes on the waters of the
world and a significant portion of it moves through
choke points. The disruption of those choke points
could certainly cause economic issues around the world.
The ability to work with our partners in the maritime
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environment allows our capabilities to be synced up,
tied together and shared with each other to help ensure
that the global commons are stable and secure.
Is the “thousand-ship navy” concept still valid?
VENLET: The concept is one that I think is still alive and
well. ADM [Mike] Mullen [then chief of naval operations
(CNO)] initially coined that term [for] the ability to tie
together the navies of the world — to be able to have
navies that are interoperable and that are able to communicate, which is critically important. When we speak of
the “thousand-ship navy,” what I believe it describes is
the concept of working together as either members of a
coalition or through cooperative deployments.