NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert welcomed the world's maritime leaders to the 20th International Seapower Symposium (ISS) at the U.S. Naval War College, Oct. 19.
More than 110 nations, with many of the senior-most officers from their navy or coast guard, are attending this biennial event. With 75 heads of navy and 22 heads of coast guard expected, this marks the largest meeting of naval leaders in the conference's history.
In his remarks, Greenert stressed that success in addressing common maritime issues - such as piracy, terrorism, curtailing the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, and enforcing fisheries boundaries - will come only with maritime cooperation.
"These are enduring issues," Greenert said. "The success [of these operations] is going to be, and has to be, collective."
Noting that piracy in the Gulf of Aden has decreased by 70 percent since 2009, Greenert said nations must continue to enhance partnerships through naval exercises and symposia such as the ISS. "These exercises and partnership are really a testament to progress," he said.
While the threats continue to grow, the challenges among cooperating nations remain similar in scope, Greenert said. By learning, training, and working together, nations will increase maritime domain awareness, which will lead to increased trust among leaders. And that, he said, will allow nations to more speedily work to contain conflicts before they escalate.
"If we trust each other, things will move fast. We'll have that speed that's necessary to be able to react," said Greenert, noting that much of the cooperative focus should be on future leaders of the world's navies. "They'll be where we are today. The friendships they develop today will endure for many years."
In taped remarks to the ISS, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta noted that the symposium is the largest gathering of naval leaders in history. Participants, he said, must continue to build strong trust and cooperation among one another to secure a safe and secure maritime domain.
"This symposium provides a valuable opportunity for all of you as maritime leaders to shape the path forward...and to come up with solutions to current and future challenges," Panetta said.
U.S. Naval War College Pres. Rear Adm. John Christenson said in his welcoming remarks that the first ISS brought together 80 high-ranking representatives from 37 countries, a figure that has grown considerably during the past 42 years.
"We hope that your time here provides an opportunity to think and to build relationships," Christenson said. "Today we gather a new generation of brilliant and penetrating minds."
The theme of this year's symposium is "Security and Prosperity through Maritime Partnerships." As part of the event, three panel discussions will focus on how maritime security prevents disruptions that adversely impact national, regional, and global prosperity: "Global Perspective: Challenges to Maritime Security," "Beyond MDA (maritime domain awareness): Building Responsive Partnerships," and "Maritime Security: Evolving Demands, Adaptive Partnerships."
Littoral combat ship, USS Independence (LCS 2), is also visiting Naval Station Newport in conjunction with ISS.
First held in 1969, ISS has become the largest gathering of maritime leaders in history. ISS provides a forum for the world's maritime leaders to discuss common maritime challenges and to promote international maritime security cooperation. The discussions offer opportunities for future regional and international collaboration in seeking solutions to global maritime challenges.
The Naval War College established programs in 1956 and 1972 for international officers. A number of delegates attending the ISS are graduates of those programs.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is scheduled to address the delegates Oct. 20, with the symposium concluding Oct. 21.
Video Adm. Greenert's address at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eh1QuosbE4&feature=channel_video_title
For more information, visit http://www.usnwc.edu/iss.
For more news from Naval War College, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwc/.