The United States Navy has a history of leadership in energy innovation, from the transition from sail to steam, the development of coal and then oil burning power plants, or the move to nuclear power more than half a century ago. The propulsion of our ships, aircraft, and equipment is a vital operational concern. But power and energy is also an issue of national and international security.
My responsibility as Secretary of the Navy is to ensure that the Navy and Marine Corps have the right people, with the right training and the right tools to defend our country. To accomplish those things, I focus on four priorities: people, platforms, power, and partnerships. In Washington I’m sometimes asked, why is power or energy policy in there? It ought to be obvious. Without the energy to power our platforms, we might not be there when it matters.
Uniquely, naval forces offer the capability to provide presence. Presence means being in the right place, not just at the right time, but all the time. Presence helps deter potential conflicts, while helping to control escalation when tensions begin to rise. Naval presence is persistent and does not infringe on anyone’s sovereign territory. Our Navy and Marine Corps are our nation’s insurance policy across the globe and they give our leaders options in times of crisis.
In today’s world access to energy and fuel can be a diplomatic pressure point and can be, and is, used as a geostrategic weapon. Whether we’re talking about threats against the shipping lanes in the Middle East, or the headlines we see in the papers today about European dependence on Russian gas supplies and the effect on negotiations over Ukraine, energy and power are only becoming more important to international security.
Here in the United States, with domestic production up and new oil and gas reserves being discovered, energy still remains a security concern. Even if we were able to produce every single drop of oil or gas that America needs domestically, we cannot control the price. Oil is the ultimate global commodity, often traded on world markets based on speculation and rumor. Prices run up at the slightest sign of global instability, as we have seen at the gas pump in recent weeks. Commodities traders call this a “security premium.”
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