by Sarah Smith, Naval War College Public Affairs
NEWPORT, R.I. -- The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, delivered remarks before nearly 1,100 participants at the U.S. Naval War College's 60th annual Current Strategy Forum (CSF), on June 16.
Mabus, who was sworn in as the 75th secretary of the Navy on May 19, reflected on his position nearly a month after his initial swearing-in.
"I never dreamed I would be standing here when I began my naval service nearly four decades ago as a junior Surface Warfare Officer," Mabus told the audience in Newport. More recently, Mabus served as the governor of Mississippi and the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
"I am proud beyond words to finally return home to the Department of the Navy," Mabus told forum participants.
Mabus' opening remarks praised the benefits of a yearly strategy conference like CSF. Hosted annually by the Secretary of the Navy, the two-day conference presents the perspective of the nation's leading experts on how the Navy can both meet future challenges and identify opportunities to promote a more stable world with this year's theme, "Seizing Strategic Opportunities: Challenging the Paradigm."
"Your deliberations take place at a crucial time," said Mabus. "While we focus on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we also must answer the call...to look beyond the horizons."
Mabus referred to the piracy attacks off the Horn of Africa when explaining the need to look "beyond the horizon" for unexpected security threats.
"When 90 percent of global commerce is transported by sea, and 95 percent of global communications go under the sea, we can see the immense importance of ensuring the freedom of those seas."
Mabus also stated that the military, "must not only meet the traditional security challenges posed by the military forces of other states, but also get ready for the important role we will play in the struggle against violent extremism. We are in the midst of a rapidly changing security landscape and increasingly complex world."
Mabus explained that most security threats are difficult to detect in advance and praised the Naval War College for hosting the CSF and providing a venue for "fresh ideas." He spoke of the unpredictable nature of security threats.
"If you had been in this room 20 years ago, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and made a thoughtful analysis of the challenges we would face in 2009, most likely every one would have been wrong. If you were to come back 10 years later, in 1999, and do the same good, deep analysis, it would have still been more wrong than right...Odds are,over the next two decades, we will face threats and challenges we cannot see today."
Mabus lauded the opportunities awaiting guests at the forum. "As you listen to a most impressive array of figures over the next two days, from top military commanders to some of the brightest minds in academic and policy circles, I think you will find the Current Strategy Forum to be enormously useful in understanding and confronting these challenges."