“We are the only ones capable of
providing the type of presence that
gives America a strategic advantage.
We’re just not there when we’re
needed, we’re there all the time. We
uniquely operate around the globe,
around the clock. We ensure stability, we deter potential adversaries,
we reassure allies,” he said.
“We provide our nation’s leaders
with options in times of crisis,”
Mabus said. “We get there faster, we stay on station longer, we
bring everything we need with us,
and, because we’re operating from
sovereign American territory, we
don’t have to ask any other nation’s
permission to get the job done. The
Navy-Marine Corps is America’s
away team. We never get a home
game; we don’t want a home game.
But equally, in times of peace and
in times of war, Sailors and Marines are not just at the
right place at the right time, but the right place all the
time. There is no ‘next best thing to being there.’”
The secretary said presence is critical, and the Navy
achieves presence through people, platforms, power
“We’ve got the best force we’ve ever had in terms
of people,” he said, noting the Navy’s continued commitment to improving the certainty of deployment
cycles, offering professional development and education opportunities, improving diversity, and eradicating sexual assault and suicides.
“If we continue to act the same way, think the same
way, come from the same backgrounds, we’re in trouble,
because a predictable force is a defeatable force,” Mabus
said. “Every time we open it up, not diversity for diversity’s
sake, but just diversity of experience, diversity of thought,
diversity of where you’ve come from, what you’ve been
through, makes us a better warfighting force.”
In terms of platforms, the Navy will “get back to 300
ships by the end of this decade and 306 ships, which
is our current force structure-assessed need, by 2021.
We’re going to have the ships we need to do every mis-
sion that we need to do.”
Power, he said, can be used as a weapon.
“Look at what Russia did to Crimea, what Russia did
to Ukraine. One of the things I don’t want to do is have
it used as a weapon against us.”
Toward that end, Mabus in 2009 came up with the
goal that by 2020, at least half of all Navy power afloat
and ashore would be derived from fuel sources other
than fossil fuel.
“We got there last year on our bases; we’re five years
early. And we’re going to get there, we’re at 30 percent
at sea now. We’re going to get to 50 percent, at least,
by 2020,” he said.
Referring to the fourth “P” — partnerships —
Mabus said his goal in traveling 1. 3 million miles, visit-
ing 152 countries and territories, going to Afghanistan
12 times, was to connect directly with Sailors and
Marines where they’re deployed, “listen to them while
they’re standing the watch. Sailors and Marines will
tell you what’s going on, they will tell you what their
The most important partnership the Navy has is
with the American people and connecting them with
those Sailors and Marines.
“It’s dangerous in a democracy when the people
being protected and the people doing the protecting
get too far apart,” he said. “And that’s why things like
the Navy League, the people that are here tonight, are
so very important to make that connection with the
Over the course of 241 years, the Navy has the same
mindset today as in 1775, Mabus said, “wanting to
know what’s over the horizon, willing to go over that
horizon and meet whatever is there on behalf of this
country. Willing to leave home and family far behind.
Willing to sail and fly and submerge, on behalf of the
United States of America. It is as true today as it was
when President George Washington said, ‘It follows
then, as certain as night as succeeds day, without a
decisive naval force, we can do nothing definitive, and
with it, everything honorable and glorious.’” n
Navy Birthday Ball attendees rounded out the evening by dancing to music
provided by NYX Entertainment.