CHICAGO (NNS) -- In 1938, Winston Churchill addressed members of the Union League Club of Chicago, warning Americans of the gathering storm that would become World War II.
Leaders of the Sea Services met with civic leaders from throughout the greater Chicago area April 18 to engage them in a conversation about defining our country's maritime strategy.
The process of creating a new maritime strategy is not about updating an existing document, but focusing on a new strategy to address current challenges and to guide the Navy in an entirely new, globally-connected environment that has not existed in the past.
"What is very different about the world today is not globalization, but the degree of integration of economies," said Vice Adm. John G. Morgan Jr., Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy. "We need the help of an active American public to formulate our maritime strategy, to help us get it right for our future."
Representatives from the chief of naval operations staff and the Naval War College have been traveling throughout the country in recent months to facilitate the Maritime Strategy Symposium Series. "A Conversation with the County," is an attempt to define a new maritime strategy for the nation, with a global approach to threats and opportunities around the world.
A cohesive strategy is vital today, as 90 percent of the world's commerce travels by sea, 70 percent of the globe is covered by water and 75 percent of the world's population lives within 200 miles of the Earth's shorelines, according to Morgan.
Nearly 200 civic and business leaders attended the symposium at the Union League Club of Chicago, providing input and feedback on the nation's current maritime policies and expressing their concerns for future strategy and policy.
"I think it is very important that you have this conversation and I am glad that you are including commercial entities in your discussions because, with globalization, this affects all of us," said Chunka Mui, an independent business advisor on strategic issues. "I think this is the right approach, because the world economy depends on free trade."
Attendees had the opportunity to listen to leaders from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard discuss current maritime strategy and challenges.
Maritime strategy consists of the defining elements of American seapower. These include supporting U.S. national security while developing a strategy with a ways and means tied to an end which realizes the aspirations of Americans and what they desire to accomplish globally. The strategy must also be based on sound operational principles and serve as a guide to navigate naval forces.
Morgan said a new maritime strategy must recognize the profound changes that have occurred in recent years with the security, maritime relevance and a boundary-less world in which adversaries can gather and disseminate information at the same speed that the United States can.
Destabilizing civil factors such as terrorism, transnational crime, regional hegemony and rising nationalism also must be considered in developing a long-term maritime strategy. The proliferation of missiles, anti-satellite and space-based weapons as well as the proliferation of submarine capabilities and weapons of mass destruction add to the difficulty.
"Today there is a blurring distinction of warfare between secretarian violence, insurgency and intra-state conflicts," Morgan said. "Our strategic ends must be based on national security objectives, vital to the needs and wants for America and its allies and relevant to the key elements of maritime power which include the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and merchant marines."
The facilitators asked the guests to consider whether the maritime forces of the United States should be garrisoned at home or patrolling the world. They also asked about the importance of the use of maritime forces to project power for events happening ashore, control of the seas, building relationships and responding to humanitarian and civic crises.
"The logic of our maritime strategy needs to connect to the American people and build confidence and understanding with the American public," said Adm. John B. Nathman, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, who added that today's Navy is balancing its global force management with growth requirements for maritime security and humanitarian assistance.
The Navy is also factoring in the rise of new demagogues and the reemergence of old ones.
"Our strategy must be about deterrence," Nathman said. "There is little access for the American military ashore in the world footprint. The sea services allow us to deliver a credible and powerful message of dissuasion and deterrence from a venue 12-miles out that does not have to ask for permission. The Navy provides great value to the nation because it is ready and forward."
Nathman explained how the Navy is currently partnering with allies throughout the world in a global concept of the 1,000-ship Navy, drawing on ships and manpower of strategic allies in a mutual effort to maintain freedom of the seas and safeguard open global commerce.
"In the future, more and more of the U.S. Navy will be about preventing war, decades and decades of deterrence, while sustaining the ability to win wars, if necessary to fight," Nathman concluded.
The symposium has visited Newport, R.I., Phoenix, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco and New York. The group's next "Conversation with the Country" will be held in Miami.
Attendees are encouraged to reflect on the presentations and submit comments about their views on maritime strategic policy to the panel. The Navy will then legitimize and validate proposed strategies through the testing and gaming process and analysis of results.
"I want you to think about how seapower has been important to this country and how it will contribute to its future," Morgan said in conclusion. "I encourage you to add your voice to the discussion and not to underestimate your contributions."
For more information from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.