The New Era Will Be the Maritime Century

January 26, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Support for naval operations is not unusual among U.S. Navy officials, but Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work made a cogent argument that the 21st century will be the maritime century. Speaking at the Thursday morning plenary address at West 2012 in San Diego, Work explained that the need for global reach mandates a strong and versatile maritime force, and the U.S. Navy is being structured to meet future challenges. Work stated that the center of gravity of the new defense strategy is a true maritime strategy. New basing agreements extend the Navy's reach and provide support for a plethora of potential missions. Work emphasized that the new basing activities in the Asia-Pacific region are not being done to contain China; they are being done because the United States is a Pacific power and it is in the country's national interest to remain a Pacific power. He pointed out that the Navy has ships that are being modernized to be able to accommodate the growing variety of new missions. instead of building expensive ships that cover all the bases, the Navy is incorporating modular technologies so that platforms can be adapted to mission needs. This saves money and increases mission flexibility. While Work endorsed the budget cuts that are in the works, he warned that proposed sequestration cuts could be a problem. He also cautioned that some recent cuts may have gone too far. "We may have leaned our bases and surface stations too much," he offered.

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