Good afternoon ... thanks Dr. Till for that kind introduction and thank you for your many years advancing the art and science of maritime strategy.
It is truly an honor to participate in this year’s International Maritime Security Conference and I would like to begin by expressing my deep gratitude to the government of Singapore the Singaporean Navy as well as the many invisible hands that helped facilitate this event. Without your efforts we could not have participated in such rich and productive dialogues here thank you all.
These are unprecedented times and you overcame substantial challenges to make this week happen.
Rear Admiral Beng congratulations to you and your team on bringing us together in this incredible city. With so many countries bordering all of the world’s oceans represented in this audience and virtually I must compliment you for hosting what is truly a global event. Thank you for your leadership, for your hospitality, it has come through in every aspect of this great forum.
The United States and Singapore are more than just military partners, we’re close friends, strategic partners, and we collaborate closely every single day. Our relationship is deep and enduring, and I look forward to continue to strengthen the bonds among our two countries and our two navies.
We gather this week along the world’s busiest maritime corridor a waterway that advances the progress, strengthens cooperation, and fosters the resilience of mankind.
And we come together now in need of all three- progress, cooperation and resilience - for it is the only way we will navigate the challenges and harness the opportunities in our time.
For thousands of years we have used the world’s oceans to expand the reach of human civilization, harness natural resources, and establish trade routes for the flow of wealth, culture, and ideas across the globe.
And in the wake of the Second World War a free and open system emerged that has generated shared security and prosperity throughout the world.
This order has brought about 76 years of great power peace and served as a rising tide lifting billions across the world to a better life.
Indeed, this free and open order floats on seawater, and seawater more than anything else has been the medium for our prosperity powering more than 90 percent of all trade and 95 percent of digital information.
The scale and the scope of our dependence on the seas continues to grow. From the movement of raw and refined products around the world to mining and fishing, to energy generation and our expanding digital infrastructure, the seas are lifting every nation to new heights.
Those of us in naval uniforms see it with our own eyes every day. Over the past 25 years global waterways have become more congested with maritime traffic increasing by a magnitude of four.
On the seabed, transoceanic cables carry nearly all of our digital information and new tools and techniques are making undersea resources even more accessible.
Advancements in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, 5G networks, and many other technologies are reshaping our communities, our economies, and our future.
Indeed, we have reached a point of unprecedented progress, unbounded perception, and unlimited potential.
But at the same time we remain exposed to a host of challenges- including the COVID-19 pandemic, sea level rise, terrorism, violent extremism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Additionally, excessive maritime claims are subverting recognized boundaries, violations of Exclusive Economic Zones are robbing nations of their resources illegally, unreported and unregulated fishing is depleting the world’s oceans of protein, and malign activities at sea are escalating tensions abroad.
Make no mistake, the choices we make today will have a dramatic impact on our collective future. This decade is critical. As I look back at our wake and reflect on the direction of maritime security in the new normal I am convinced that now, more than ever, cooperation…cooperation… is the key aspect to our modern understanding and application of sea power.
Cooperation allows us to prosper from the sea and welcomes every nation to take advantage of what the seas have to offer them not just a select few. It ensures that our most vital economic and social resource - seawater - is shared sustainably and shared responsibly.
Cooperation recognizes the interconnectedness we all share. What transpires here near the Strait of Malacca and along all the coastlines, tributaries, and sea lanes of the world affects the health, security, and prosperity of everyone.
And, most importantly, cooperation when applied with naval power promotes freedom and peace, and prevents coercion, intimidation, and aggression. After all, cooperation breeds trust, and that trust is something you cannot surge.
Safe and secure seas begin with a safe and secure international order and naval cooperation here in the Asia Pacific and across the globe set the conditions for this order to thrive.
Over the last eight decades, Sailors from around the world have shouldered the responsibility of maintaining the rules based order and patrolled the lonely frontiers far from home to uphold the conditions that sustain it.
Many of us gathered here today have shared in this sacrifice. And we - like those who came before us - understand that a strong coalition of maritime nations is needed not only to protect our homelands but also to support a common set of rules to govern life at sea.
This is why the United States Navy is operating in lock-step with so many of you - I would indeed say all of you - from the Black Sea to the Arabian Gulf, from the Arctic to the Indo-Pacific. We are steaming and flying together to keep the peace, safeguard opportunity, and preserve the freedom of the seas.
We see this in practice across the world’s oceans every day:
- With multilateral discussions, combined training and education opportunities, and a host of senior leader conferences, like this one.
- With a host of multi-lateral exercises such PACIFIC VANGUARD TALISMAN SABRE RIMPAC and KOMODO.
- With Task Force Sentinel working to secure the passage of commerce in and around Southwest Asia.
- With the Enforcement Coordination Cell supporting the United Nations’ pursuit of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula through sanctions enforcement.
-And with bold steps towards ever greater interoperability and interchangeability across the globe underscored I think by the recent integration of international naval forces with FS CHARLES DE GAULLE and HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.
All of these strengthen our ability to respond to any challenge and highlight the importance of our Navy-to-Navy partnerships. Because at the end of the day we ALL have a role to play.
For our part, the United States Navy stands ready to deliver naval power any place, any day, and any time.
We reject behavior that undermines the legitimacy of the free and open order. This is contrary to what we stand for - the rule of law, freedom of navigation, and freedom of the seas.
Earlier this year our nation’s Sea Services released a new Tri-Service maritime strategy called Advantage at Sea. In it we prioritize our most pressing concerns, recognize the ways that new and converging technologies are shaping the security environment, and emphasize the need for cooperation with an ever-expanding orbit of allies and partners.
We remain laser-focused on operating, sustaining, and maintaining a ready Navy to demonstrate our global reach enforce common principles and sustain the conditions that enable shared prosperity.
Readiness translates into deterrence, into economic security, and signals the strength of our resolve.
Meanwhile we are evolving our fleet commanders’ ability to employ large, distributed force elements.
Later this summer, we’ll conduct the biggest U.S. Navy exercise in a generation with Large Scale Exercise 2021.
Spanning 17 time zones, approximately 25,000 Sailors and Marines on both sides of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans will leverage the integrated power of our sensors, weapons, and platforms across all domains.
We are also moving to adopt innovative capabilities much more deeply into our fleet. Through autonomy, robust networking, artificial intelligence, directed energy, and weapons of increasing range and speed we are sighted on delivering a lethal, survivable, hybrid fleet of manned and unmanned platforms. This hybrid fleet will operate from the seabed to space and from the littorals to the open ocean.
We will combine our Sailors’ exceptional capabilities with our allies and partners to generate unprecedented an naval force that will deter conflict, bolster diplomacy, preserve security and, if called upon, be ready to respond to crisis or quickly end hostilities.
We are aiming high, along with all of you, our strategic direction is strong and I believe we are accelerating the development of a modernized, integrated all-domain naval force for the future.
I’ll close with this: The challenges ahead may loom large but I am confident in our collective ability to face them together, and because of that, I am filled with optimism, with strength, and conviction.
Through continued engagement and integration we will ensure free and open access in every waterway and the many benefits that flow along with it.
Our relationships are unwavering and the United States Navy is committed to maintaining a steady course of naval cooperation and growing the connections among our nations. Without a doubt our greatest strength lies in unity.
I would again like to express my appreciation to the people and the government of Singapore for welcoming us in your nation this week and to your local community for hosting American ships and Sailors over the years.
Thank you, and I look forward to this afternoon’s discussion.
Adm. Mike Gilday
28 July 2021
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