Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
It’s a great pleasure to be back in Newport. I’m proud to say that my family has roots in Little Rhody. My mother grew up 20 miles from here in Barrington, and she first met my father down the road from here on Bellevue Avenue when they were both performing as actors in summer stock theater here. My grandparents retired to Little Compton, so I’ve been coming up to this area ever since I was born. I want to welcome this evening’s Little Compton contingent, including my Uncle Chris and Aunt Suzie Burns, as well as their friends Captain Ron and Jane Bogle. Chris and Suzie were kind enough to allow me to officiate, as a seven year-old on the lawn of our rental house in Little Compton, at a make-up wedding event for those who weren’t able to attend the real thing. I’ve always considered this my first official public event.
This is my second visit to the Naval War College. Last summer, I had the honor to attend the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Course, or JFMCC, to spend a week being taught by the Navy’s leadership, with many of the Navy’s up-and-coming leaders as my fellow students. I can honestly say that I was awed by all of the talent that surrounded me. All of these folks were experienced warriors with cool nicknames like "Bull" and "Tree," and they also happened to be brilliant and thoughtful. Our nation’s naval security really is in the hands of our best and brightest. It made me even more proud that my nephew and godson was experiencing plebe summer at the Naval Academy at the same time that I was in JFMCC.
Now, I didn’t always know what was going on in the JFMCC. As a career diplomat, I speak foreign languages, but I don’t speak Navy. So there were some things that I didn’t really understand. Some of them, I could figure out. The fifth time or so when someone commented that they were "out of Schlitz," I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, but I concluded that the expression meant something bad, as in "it is lamentable that I no longer have a beverage."
So even though I am still a novice on Navy lingo, I am very interested in the work that the Navy does, and what that work means for our nation’s security and foreign policy.
One of the great strategic advantages of the United States is that, as "America, the Beautiful" reminds us, our nation stretches from "sea to shining sea." The oceans have been part of our identity – and our protection – since the founding of the country. They have been the path through which we became both a great commercial and a great military force. I may be a diplomat, but I believe in naval power. It makes my job easier. I grew up on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. My professional background is in trade. So it’s very natural for me to see the oceans and our maritime security as essential to our continued prosperity.
Defining Maritime Security
Ninety-percent of world trade is conducted on the oceans. Our food, our fuel, our imports and exports all travel on these global economic highways. Maritime trade is our nation’s life blood. Keeping the oceans free for commerce – in two words, maritime security – is key to our national security.
Alfred Thayer Mahan
I know that every invited speaker to this institution must genuflect to Alfred Thayer Mahan. I thought I would take care of that early in my speech.
Broadening Our Definition of Maritime Security
Many things have changed since Mahan was teaching here. One is our definition of maritime security. It has broadened a lot. Today, this phrase encompasses a complex set of issues, including both public and private activities, sometimes with diametrically opposed interests. The maritime domain faces threats from nation states, terrorists, unregulated fishing, natural and environmental disruption, mass migration, and organized criminal activity like smuggling and piracy.
Mother Nature reminded us that she still controls some aspects of maritime security. Navies could not have stopped the tsunami in Japan or the typhoon just a few months ago in the Philippines. Leaking oil from ships and tankers that ran aground pollutes the oceans. Oil and mercury from damaged vessels endangers the food supply chains in both fresh and salt water bodies.
Climate change is affecting the Arctic. As the ice cap shrinks, old shipping lanes are expanding and,
in some cases, new ones are opening. Opening these Arctic lanes to commerce and keeping them free will be important. As the lanes open, we’ll see more demand for access to the Arctic’s natural resources, which in turn may raise the stakes on territorial disputes.
Off the east coast of Africa, it is not nature but mankind causing the biggest problems. Restoring safe transit for shipping off the coast of Somalia has been a particularly daunting challenge, but it’s also an area where we have had significant success. Navies have been part of the solution, but not the whole story, which I’ll discuss in a few minutes.
U.S. Government Partners in Maritime Security
Today, I will talk to you about three ways that the U.S. government is promoting security at sea. First, we teamed up with governments, NGOs, industry, and civil society to deal a blow to pirates off the coast of Somalia. Second, we created a common language for partners at sea to use known as the Maritime Security Sector Reform guide. And third, we at State crossed the Potomac River to work with our DoD colleagues to build partner capacity in the Asia-Pacific.
The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia
I am proud of my bureau, but I have to admit that we’re very, very small compared to DoD. Pol Mil currently has five people working full time on maritime security. They are a microcosm of the Pol-Mil cooperation of which I just spoke. We have two former Navy Captains, who know the military side of things, and two Foreign Service Officers, with expertise in political and diplomatic issues. We also have an active duty Coast Guard Captain on detail to us.
Maritime Security Sector Reform
The success of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has led to closer cooperation between the United States and the European Union when it comes to defining maritime security.
The Financial Tools Available To Us and the Rebalance to Asia
As the Departments of State and Defense develop ways to cooperate on maritime security, we might consider the thoughts of John Maynard Keynes: money is a link between the present and the future. The Departments have two primary financial links.
Section 1206 Authority
The first link is Section 1206 Authority. Under this program, State and DoD work together to create proposals to train and equip security partners for counterterrorism missions or missions in which U.S. forces are participating like Afghanistan. The funding for 1206 resides in DoD, but the Secretary of State must approve any expenditure.
Global Security Contingency Fund
The second financial tool is the Global Security Contingency Fund or GSCF, a four-year pilot project authorized by Congress in Fiscal Year 2012 to help us carry out security, counterterrorism, and rule of law training in hot spots around the world. GSCF is new, and it’s going through some growing pains like any new government program. State and DoD can use GSCF to bring the breadth of the U.S. government’s consolidated capabilities to bear on an emerging problem. In what is perhaps the first real step toward a national security budget, the GSCF requires State and DoD to fund, formulate, plan, and approve all proposals in a completely joint manner.
The Rebalance Toward Asia
Consider the Asia-Pacific region, home to many of the world’s most heavily traveled trade and energy routes. Twenty-first century capitalism cannot function unless these sea lanes remain secure. Our 555 billion dollars in exports to the Asia-Pacific last year supported 2.8 million jobs here in America. The security and prosperity of the United States are inextricably linked to the peaceful development of the Asia-Pacific, including in the maritime domain. You don’t get trade with Asia without open sea lanes.
That brings us back to maritime security. My argument is that phenomena like typhoons and tsunamis, climate change, and man-made problems like piracy have all broadened the way we look at maritime security. The U.S. government has attempted to take on our many new challenges at sea through closer cooperation between the Departments of State and Defense. At the Political Military Bureau, State-Defense cooperation is all that we do.