Mullen Sees 3 Main Challenges Facing U.S. Navy
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2005 Adm. Michael Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that if he is confirmed as the next chief of naval operations, he will fight for the sailors who are doing so much for freedom around the world.
Mullen, who would succeed Adm. Vern Clark, said he knows of "no higher honor" than to serve as a sailor in the U.S. Navy. Mullen currently commands U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Allied Joint Force Command Naples.
He said today's sailors are the best ever. He praised their talent, patriotism and courage and thanked their families for their sacrifices. He told the senators that there are more than 38,000 sailors deployed across the globe in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and in support of East Asia nations hit hard by natural disaster. "And they are performing magnificently," he said.
He said the Navy faces three challenges in the years ahead. First and foremost, the Navy must preserve its current readiness. The service must be able to, "answer the bell for the president and this nation with exactly the right combat capability, for exactly the right cost today," he said.
Second, the service must invest in the force for the future. A challenge is to create a fleet properly sized and balanced, able to meet the uncertainty and dynamic security environment that awaits the United States.
"And third, underpinning everything else is the need to shape the Navy's uniform and civilian manpower system for the 21st century," he said. The service must "transform our assignment distribution and compensation system into one that is more reflective of, and quite frankly more responsive to, the men and women serving our Navy."
Mullen said his experiences in Naples helped him understand the dynamic changes being made in the world. "Fledgling new countries in the Balkans (are) taking democracy on the wing," he said. "West African nations (are) learning new ways to cooperate with each other. Old and new NATO allies (are) helping train Iraqi security forces.
"The face of the future is being drawn in colors and shapes and sizes we wouldn't have dreamed of just a few short years ago," he continued. "But the one constant, and what made the biggest impact on me, has been the need to create a safe and secure environment that allows democracy to flourish and in so doing, creates opportunities for millions of families to live better, safer, freer lives."
The Navy helps provide that security. "We take the power and the will and the commitment of this nation wherever we go," he said. "And we can go on short notice. We can stand watch over large areas of the globe, exert influence from near or far. We can be where the nation needs us, when it needs us to be there."