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Navy Leaders Discuss COVID Response, Unmanned Intelligence on Final Day of SAS 2021  

04 August 2021

From Mass Communication Specialist First Class Brittney Kinsey, Defense Media Activity-Navy Production  

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Leaders turned their focus to COVID-19, force health protection efforts and security in the maritime domain for the final day of the Sea-Air-Space 2021 Exposition (SAS), an annual event hosted by the Navy League of the United States.

The exposition, held Aug. 2-4 at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, brings together the U.S. defense industrial base, private-sector U.S. companies, and key military decision makers for an innovative, educational, and professional maritime-based event. 

Surgeon General of the Navy, Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham praised the work of the Navy’s preventive medicine teams as a “secret weapon” in the fleet’s COVID response arsenal.  

ear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, speaks during the “COVID Response and Post-Pandemic National Security” panel at the Sea-Air-Space 2021 exposition.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (August 4, 2021) Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, speaks during the “COVID Response and Post-Pandemic National Security” panel at the Sea-Air-Space 2021 exposition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Grandin/Released)
ear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, speaks during the “COVID Response and Post-Pandemic National Security” panel at the Sea-Air-Space 2021 exposition.
210804-N-BC134-1099
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (August 4, 2021) Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, speaks during the “COVID Response and Post-Pandemic National Security” panel at the Sea-Air-Space 2021 exposition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Grandin/Released)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class John Grandin
VIRIN: 210804-N-BC134-1099
“It was an extremely challenging environment and it remains a challenging environment” said Gillingham. “The challenge we faced extended beyond force health protection into public health where we were able to provide support. The USNS Comfort’s arrival in New York was a marquee event and the preventive medicine units were crucial to responding to the Navy’s public health efforts.” 

Vice Adm. Scott Conn, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities (OPNAV N9), shared his thoughts on the future of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and the need within the DoD to maintain a competitive advantage in the unmanned arena. 

“The world’s a different place today. At the end of the Cold War, there was an anomaly in history that the U.S. had a monopoly on key critical technology, and that’s no longer the case. We don’t have a monopoly on range and precision and because of that we need to expand our operational reach,” said Conn during panel discussions. 

Conn said the Navy must look at those challenging operational problems and determine how to use unmanned systems in the air, on the surface, and undersea to achieve the warfighting advantage at the tactical level.  

“Our first job is to prevent crisis and conflict from happening in day to day operations and ISR is a part of that,” he said. 

Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Thomas Harker delivered remarks during a luncheon, urging attendees to continue embracing partnerships among industry, public, and private organizations in order for the Navy to thrive. 

The Honorable Thomas Harker, Secretary of the Navy (acting) speaks at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (August 4, 2021) The Honorable Thomas Harker, Secretary of the Navy (acting) speaks at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams/Released)
The Honorable Thomas Harker, Secretary of the Navy (acting) speaks at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (August 4, 2021) The Honorable Thomas Harker, Secretary of the Navy (acting) speaks at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams/Released)
Photo By: Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams
VIRIN: 210804-N-XA496-3116
“Partnership and trust are at the heart of all we do. Protecting our world also requires mutual support and respect from our allies and partners that serve by our side. True partnership is a two-way street built upon trust; open, honest communication; and the recognition of values that bond us in service. In order to maintain our Fleet we must maintain our partnerships.” said Harker.

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