Sea Services Rise to Tough Challenges Ahead
If past is prologue, 2004 will be a challenging year for the Navy League.
Our nation remains at war against a vicious, unpredictable foe that is
determined to dim the great beacon of freedom America shines across the
world. Our enemies watched, shocked and embittered, as the American spirit
so quickly rose from the ashes of the World Trade Center. Recent events
indicate that the terrorists and those who support them have redoubled
their efforts. We must do the same.
We have learned since 9/11 that our successes in Afghanistan and Iraq
were initial battles in what will be a long, difficult campaign. Adm.
Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, said in his Nov. 1 remarks at our
Winter Meeting: “We face an enemy who doesn’t like the fact
that the United States of America … emboldens people to believe
in something called freedom. …We need to understand that this is
not a conflict and a competition of ideas that is going to last for just
a few minutes. This is a conflict that, in my view, is the new Cold War.
This is going to last for years because there is a generation of people
who despise what we are all about.”
Our armed forces—regulars and reservists—remain in harm’s
way in many parts of the world. They need us now, more than ever. Our
chief mission in 2004, as always, is to support our sea services by educating
the media, the public, and the Congress about the requirements and accomplishments
of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine.
Our support of the sea services begins in Washington and extends to the
grass roots of the Navy League. Our councils are legendary because of
the terrific hospitality they extend to military members in all parts
of the world.
Our organization is in an excellent position to fulfill its obligations
in support of the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation. The
Navy League’s relationships with members of Congress have never
been better. Our partnerships with sea services leaders will help us shape
a future even more productive than the past.
President George W. Bush recently returned Gordon R. England to his rightful
post as Secretary of the Navy. The president also extended the tour of
Adm. Clark as chief of naval operations. They will continue to build a
surge Navy capable of projecting the right kind of power quickly to world
Adm. Thomas H. Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard, has been at the
forefront of the Deepwater project since its inception, and will propel
it forward in years to come. Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the
Marine Corps, is building an even faster, more flexible force able to
project power far inland. And Adm. James M. Loy (ret.), the former Coast
Guard commandant, has been named deputy secretary of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS). We look forward to working again with Adm. Loy
in support of DHS initiatives. My recent visits to the U.S. Merchant Marine
Academy and discussions with its superintendent, Vice Adm. Joseph D. Stewart,
have helped me refocus our organization in support of the Merchant Marine.
To accomplish its mission, the Navy League must be lean, vigorous, and
financially robust. In 2004, we will take major steps toward completion
of our new headquarters building in Arlington, Va. Most of its space will
be leased, generating future cash flow that will support our mission-oriented
activities for years to come. Our portfolio of investments is generating
substantial returns, and we foresee a rise in advertising revenue in 2004.
For the long term, the Navy League will grow and thrive only if we build
the membership. Each of our 71,000 members has one friend, one neighbor,
one business contact eager to volunteer for the war on terror. They can
do that by joining the Navy League, the best support group in the fight.
We must seek out those who share our values and beliefs and recruit them
into our organization.
In 2004, as every year, we will run a tight fiscal ship. Under the direction
of our new National Executive Director, Steve Pietropaoli, we will examine
every aspect of our structure and operations and make changes necessary
to better support the day-to-day functions of our Navy League, ensure
better communications between our national headquarters and our councils,
and increase our value to the sea services.
As a means to that end, we have made substantial improvements to Sea
Power, our best means of communication with our target audiences. We have
revitalized the design, shortened the articles, added monthly special
reports on key defense topics, and increased our coverage of military
men and women. Edited for both lay readers and defense specialists, Sea
Power is a vibrant voice of the Navy League.
We will continue to hone our legislative efforts, which achieved important
successes this year on issues such as encroachment and improvements to
the National Defense Reserve Fleet. We are proud to have played a part
in Congress’ approval of $11.5 billion for Navy shipbuilding in
2004. It includes $168 million for the Littoral Combat Ship, a program
the Navy League has championed on Capitol Hill.
The sea services are rising to meet the challenges that confront us,
and so is the Navy League. Working together, let us ensure that 2004 is
remembered as a year of great challenge and profound accomplishment.
Sheila M. McNeill, National President