Carrier Strike Group Commander Stresses Interoperability, Partnerships
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 9, 2008 While transiting through the Strait of Magellan on board USS George Washington today, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 8 explained the importance of interoperability and partnership building in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Strait of Magellan is located along the southern edges of the South American continent.
“Because the world is mainly ocean [and] no one nation and really no one navy can meet all of the world’s maritime challenges, we simply have to work together,” Navy Rear Adm. Philip Hart Cullom said during a teleconference with online journalists and “bloggers”.
He added that is the overarching reason why the strike group is participating in U.S. Southern Command’s “Partnership for the Americas” program.
Cullom noted that Portuguese adventurer Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, was on a voyage of discovery when he accomplished the feat in 1520.
“He found a path between the Atlantic and the Pacific, much like we’re duplicating once again 488 years later,” the admiral said. “We’re on our own voyage of discovery, but this one’s different. It’s about hemispheric partnership.”
Cullom stressed the importance of achieving three goals while the strike group transits around South America.
“We want a hemisphere that is secure for all. The threats to our security from the maritime are real, such as criminal organizations, violations of the fishing grounds, pandemic diseases and piracy,” he said. “We all suffer devastating natural disasters … [and the] threat that earthquakes, storms, floods and mudslides may impact us.”
Cullom added that two other important goals of the strike group are fostering equal and cooperative relationships with the other nations in the hemisphere and supporting prosperity for the hemisphere and the world.
“We care greatly about those relationships, and this is the third year that the U.S. surface units have participated in Partnership for the Americas,” he said. “This represents our ongoing commitment to building partnerships with other nations in the hemisphere.”
Every day, hundreds of container ships, such as the ones that were transiting through the Strait of Magellan as Cullom spoke, rely on the open shipping lanes for worldwide trade purposes, he said.
“They transit the globe for specific purposes, for worldwide trade that directly promotes prosperity for all nations,” he said. “As long as the shipping lanes are open for trade, commerce can flourish.
“When commerce is strong, economies are robust,” he continued. “And a rising tide of commerce is what floats all boats.”
He added that building partnerships with nations in the southern hemisphere is a key way to promote successful commerce.
“Seventy percent of the world is covered by water, 80 percent of the population lives probably within about 100 miles of a coastline, and finally, 90 percent of the world’s trade directly depends on the oceans, the seas, bays, inlands, islands, coastal areas, rivers and even the airspace above them,” Cullom said.
He added that even though 90 percent of the world’s trade already travels through the ocean, that percentage will only increase over the next 10 to 20 years. “The maritime matters; the maritime is important. In a globalizing world, it’s more important than ever.”
He noted that the strike group’s recent participation in UNITAS 49, a multinational naval exercise that promotes interoperability, contributed to the hemispheric partnership, providing valuable training with regional partners.
“We’ve conducted flight ops with Brazilian naval and air force units for combined air defense and strike group training, and we’ve tested our interoperability, and we’re learning from each other’s capabilities and experiences,” Cullom said.
The strike group conducted training not only with Brazil, but also with the Argentine navy, participating in a series of anti-submarine warfare, air defense and surface exercises.
After transiting through the Strait of Magellan, the strike group will participate in bilateral task group exercises with Chilean air and surface units.
(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)