New Navy Secretary Stresses Commitment to Sailors, Marines, Families
By Darren Harrison
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 19, 2009 Navy Secretary Raymond E. Mabus Jr. assumed office yesterday, pledging that commitment to sailors, Marines and their families will be the cornerstone of his service.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left, administers the oath of office to Navy Secretary Raymond E. Mabus Jr. at the Washington Navy Yard, June 18, 2009. Mabus, the former governor of Mississippi, is the 75th secretary of the Navy. U.S. Navy photo by Joseph P. Cirone
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"The law requires me to ensure that the Department of the Navy is properly manned, trained and equipped, fully prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century," Mabus said. "I deeply believe that this involves not just what our sailors and Marines do for us, but what we do for them and for their families."
Mabus made the remarks after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates swore him in ceremonially at Admiral Leutze Park on the Washington Navy Yard. Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden administered another ceremonial oath at the White House.
Senior government and military leaders and roughly 500 guests attended the ceremony at the Navy Yard. In addition, 27 foreign ambassadors attended the event.
"We face great challenges, and we have great friends and allies," Mabus said. "To representatives of the international community here today, welcome. I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen ties that are already strong, and I know our collaboration will advance the interests of peace and a more just and stable world."
President Barack Obama nominated Mabus, the former governor of Mississippi, to be the Navy’s civilian leader March 27. Following his Senate confirmation, he was sworn in during a private ceremony May 19 so he "could be piped aboard immediately," he said.
Mabus oversees almost 900,000 people and a budget of $150 billion His duties include recruiting, equipping and mobilizing to overseeing the construction and repair of equipment, facilities and ships. Mabus also will formulate Navy policy and programs.
During his speech, Mabus spoke of the Navy's "noble and storied legacy," relating episodes in naval history from the capture of the HMS Margaretta in 1775 to the "bravery and skill of the Navy and Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan today."
"There is a long, unbreakable line of heroism that stretches from there, back to the beginning," Mabus said. "The heroes of our country are the heroes of our own families. They come from us. They defend us. Wearing the uniform from 1775 until today, they are the shining fabric of America."
He identified shipbuilding, aircraft production and meeting the needs of the Navy and Marines in an age of nonexpanding budgets as some of the challenges he faces.
Mabus served in the Navy from 1970 to 1972 as a surface warfare officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock. Prior to his active-duty service, he had been a member of the Naval ROTC as an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi.
"I am proud of that first tour of duty on a cruiser, and proud beyond words to finally come home to the Department of the Navy," Mabus said. "Early on, I saw the sacrifices that our servicemembers make every day to defend and secure our country."
Mabus graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor's degree in English and earned a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
The secretary served as governor of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992 and as ambassador to Saudi Arabia for two years during former President Bill Clinton's administration.
"Conscious of this service's long and glorious tradition, with confidence in its men, its women and its mission, I am privileged to assume the office of secretary of the Navy," Mabus said.
(Darren Harrison works in the Naval District Washington public affairs office.)