The author is a native of Schenectady, N.Y. and currently serves as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.
The United States is a maritime nation, meaning that we are dependent on the oceans of the world for our economic health as well as our national defense. That fact is not always apparent to many of our citizens, particularly those who may spend the majority of their life rarely seeing an ocean. We are bordered by three oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. We have the largest maritime exclusive economic zone in the world. And the ocean provides us with food, medicine, energy, recreation, and transportation.
Think of the oceans as major roads that criss-cross the globe carrying our products to market and bringing us the goods we need. Like any major crossroad here in New York, if the maritime crossroads are blocked or access denied, traffic comes to a halt.
The U.S. Navy ensures those maritime crossroads and trade routes remain open, protecting the maritime freedom that is the basis of global prosperity. Over 90 percent of the world’s trade and two thirds of its petroleum supply is conveyed by sea; a venerable tactic in defeating any nation is to choke off its maritime trade.
Since its inception, we have relied on the U.S. Navy to defend our coasts, protect our interests abroad, and engage our enemies well away from our shores. Deployed around the world, naval forces are able to act as first responders to any crisis. Navy ships fight on the sea, Navy submarines fight under the sea, and Navy aircraft launch from aircraft carriers with the ability to reach targets hundreds of miles inland. From the sea, Navy SEAL teams and U.S. Marines can quickly and efficiently be delivered to trouble spots without asking permission to pre-stage troops and equipment, or use aircraft landing strips, on some other nation’s sovereign territory. This ability to act from the sea is critical to national security. It gives the Navy the power to deter potential aggression, quickly respond to natural disasters and to protect America’s interests – anywhere, anytime.