ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Naval Station Rota and spoke with Sailors and Marines about current programs and initiatives that will strengthen the two forces during an all-hands call June 28.
Mabus opened the event by discussing how and why the Navy and Marine Corps give the American people a unique presence.
"We're not only in the right place at the right time, we're in the right place all the time," said Mabus. "It has given our leaders options in times of crisis. It's being around the globe, around the clock. The way we get that presence, the way I try to organize the Navy and Marine Corps is with the 'four Ps' -- people, platform, power and partnerships."
In his first topic, Mabus discussed the importance of taking care of the people. He stated the Navy and Marine Corps were doing this by various programs that are already in place, like the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative and upcoming changes to include the Pentagon lifting the ban on transgender troops.
"I think it's a good policy change; we should open up our force to the maximum as much as possible," said Mabus. "I supported the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and I supported putting women in ground combat divisions. Every time we diversify our force, we get stronger."
He then spoke about the platforms throughout the Navy and Marine Corps. He discussed the decline of active warships between 2001 and 2008. During that time the Navy decommissioned 38 ships. This was in spite of a huge military buildup during those years. He stated he believes that is not enough to complete the Navy and Marine Corps mission without the risk of wearing out the ships and their Sailors and Marines. SECNAV's goal is to get back to a fleet of 300 ships by the end of 2019.
One of SECNAV's most important priorities came in the form of power -- power to operate ships, aircraft and installations. His goal is for half the Navy's energy usage to come from alternative sources by 2020. On the shore side, more than 50 percent are already operating on alternative fuels.
And last but not least, Mabus spoke about the importance of partnerships.
"Partnerships is what Naval Station Rota focuses on everyday," said Mabus. "It's building the partnerships with our friends and allies. The deployed Sailors and Marines are America's away team. The American people need to know how dangerous your jobs are and how well you are at doing them, because they need to understand why we need to keep the Navy and Marine Corps as great as it's been."
Mabus took a few questions from some of the Sailors and Marines in the audience and provided answers on topics such as paternity leave for fathers, rating title changes, and the Navy's plan to hire civilian experts mid-career as chief petty officers in growing areas like cyber warfare.
Before he departed, he had a few words for Rota's Sailors and Marines.
"Thank you Rota for what you do every day," said Mabus. "Thank you for your willingness to wear the uniform. America has so many reasons to be so proud of what you do because you're better than anyone in the world at doing what you do. Nobody touches the Marine Corps or the Navy in any capability or any capacity. Bravo Zulu to your dedication to training and education and your excellence in doing your job."
Mabus is in the area as part of a multinational tour of the European Command area of responsibility to meet Sailors and Marines, and government and military leaders.
Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for Commander, Navy Installations Command in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia.
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