CRYSTAL CITY, Va. (NNS) -- Naval leaders, government officials and members of private industry gathered to discuss the surface navy's future at the 26th Annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) Symposium in Crystal City, Va., Jan. 14. This year's theme is Surface Warfare--Warfighting First.
The symposium kicked off with a general membership address by SNA President Vice Adm. Barry McCullough and various board members who addressed the association's plans for 2014, the state of the association, and the SNA Award Programs.
The symposium was also the host to an enlisted roundtable, where top enlisted leaders were able to hold question and answer sessions with both junior and senior enlisted members on the challenges and current affairs facing the Navy. Topics included the Navy's efforts to combat sexual assault, drug abuse, and Littoral Combat Ships.
Secretary of the Navy the Honorable Raymond E. Mabus, a keynote speaker at the symposium, spoke to attendees about the importance of a naval surface force.
"Presence is what we do," said Mabus "Presence is what the Navy and Marine Corps is all about...Our Presence gives our leaders options."
Mabus cemented his point by pointing to naval support of the Syrian uprising in 2012.
"In Syria it was the incredible combat power of the U.S. Navy that opened the door for diplomacy," said Mabus. "The Navy and Marine Corps are ready before day one of any crisis."
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert agreed in his own address, which covered new innovative ships and upcoming technologies, important focus areas, and quality of service.
"The surface warriors have been the backbone of the navy since the beginning," said Greenert, "Simply, our mandate is presence."
To improve the capabilities of Navy's warfighting presence Greenert went down a list of new ships and provided a program status of each - ships such as the Littoral Combat Ship, the Mobile Landing Platform, the Afloat Forward Staging Base, and the Joint High Speed Vessel. He described each as having unique capabilities, and then charged the surface community to embrace these ships of the future. He emphasized that these ships are coming to the Fleet fast and the Surface Community needs to decide innovative ways to incorporate them into our Navy.
"We need to integrate and embrace these new platforms," said Greenert. "We need to develop the concept of operations, and tailor these new ships to the mission and operating area."
Mabus also pointed to the importance of progress and technology to keeping the Navy the most powerful fighting force in the world.
"When we get locked into 'that's how it's always been done'...it's not a rationale; it's an excuse," said Mabus, "and we've never been big on excuses."
Greenert also discussed the topic of sexual assault in the military.
"Sexual assault will remain an initiative [in 2014]" said Greenert, "we're going to have to do this together."
Members of the private sector, including companies like Maersk, Lockheed Martin and Boeing also had booths showing off present and future technologies.
Other first-day speakers include Fleet Master Chief April Beldo, Navy Total Force, Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education, Rear Adm. Peter A. Gumataotao, Commander U.S. Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The symposium continues through Jan. 16.
The Surface Navy Association was incorporated in 1985 to promote greater coordination and communication among those in the military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in Naval Surface Warfare and to support the activities of Surface Naval Forces.
For more information about the SNA, visit http://www.navysna.org/.
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