Department of the Navy
1999 Posture Statement
America's 21st Century Force
A century ago, the United States Navy defeated the Spanish fleet in the Caribbean Sea
and the Pacific Ocean. Nine years later, the Great White Fleet sailed around the world
and dramatically demonstrated America’s will and means to assert its influence
worldwide. “Speak softly and carry a big stick” became the prevailing American
philosophy as the Navy-Marine Corps team emerged as the nation’s most visible symbol
of international power.
Throughout the 20th Century, our naval services adapted to new geo-strategic
circumstances and major technological and operational changes. Our 100-year record of
success played a major role in America’s emergence as the only superpower at century’s
end. And just as our Navy and Marine Corps embraced the changes in warfare brought
about by the turbulent era of the early 1900s, today we are again undergoing a
Department-wide transformation that addresses tomorrow’s significant challenges.
The overarching objectives for the Navy and Marine Corps — to shape the international
security environment, to respond to the full range of crises, and to prepare now for the
challenges of a new century — have not changed markedly through the years. In this past
century, we were concerned with building a force that could protect this nation’s citizens,
rights, and interests, a force that could enforce America’s will across the oceans. Today,
the objectives remain the same, but the security environment is much more complex,
characterized by rapid globalization, economic inequality, and political uncertainty.
At the same time, lightning-quick communications, space-based systems, precision
weapons, and global reach are making warfare capabilities more lethal than ever before.
Sustaining our ability to quickly implement new technologies and adapt to new
requirements and missions will require an increasingly sophisticated array of forces and
talented people. This is essential to our preeminence as a forward deployed,
operationally proficient, and technologically advanced force — capable of responding
anytime, anywhere from the sea.
This Posture Statement portrays the Navy-Marine Corps Team of the 21st Century. It describes the Department of the Navy’s mission, our direction for the future, and the
priorities that must guide our decision-making. We invite you to read on. You will see —
as events in 1998 so vividly demonstrated — that the Navy and Marine Corps are leaning
forward, adapting to change, and are always there for America.
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