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17 Association of the United States Navy lines are that cannot be crossed. We need to remember what is at stake with all of this: we are the backstop of freedom for the world. e maritime industry knows it is our national sea services, the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and U.S.-flagged Merchant Marines that help ensure freedom of the seas for the world community. Under- standing the facts of America's maritime heritage - 70 percent of our globe is covered with water. Nearly all of our world's population - 80 percent - lives near an ocean. And, the fact that most don't realize, but take for granted - is that 90 percent of world commerce travels by water. In addition, over 95 percent of global communications travel via underwater cables. ink about that for a moment. Practically every product we import, export, use or consume came, or departed, the U.S. by ship, and nearly all of our global communications travel under the world's oceans. e current maritime strategy [A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, En- gaged, Ready], describes how the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will design, organize, and employ naval forces in support of national security interests and homeland security objectives. It articulates maritime priorities while emphasizing forward naval presence to advance national interests and describes required war fighting capabilities. Our maritime forces operate in the world's oceans to protect the homeland, build security globally, project power, and win decisively. is ability to maneuver globally on the seas and to prevent others from using the sea against our interests constitutes a strategic advantage for the United States. In today's security environment, all domain access is increasingly contested by state and non-state actors that can hold even our most advanced forces and weapon systems at risk. Maritime security protects U.S. sovereignty and maritime resources, supports free and open seaborne commerce, and counters weapons proliferation, ter- rorism, transnational crime, piracy, illegal exploitation of the maritime environment, and unlawful seaborne immigration. Our current Navy force structure, driven in part by sequestration budget cuts, forced the military to execute its maritime strategy at increased levels of risk for some missions, resulting in decreased forward presence, and therefore allowing other foreign actors to assert their presence on global shipping lanes. In build- ing America's future maritime force, fleet architecture and force structure changes must be made while our nation balances security investments in combat readi- ness, capability, and forward presence. As you read this, there are more than 40,000 cargo ships at sea. Most of the ships very likely traveled through one of the world's maritime choke points such as the Straits of Malacca or Hormuz, the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal to get to their final destination. Any disruption, even temporary, to the flow of commerce in these areas would have significant impact on our global economy. Our American maritime industry plays a unique and ex- traordinary role in promoting our economic, national and homeland security. e maritime shipping industry provides jobs for almost a million Americans in every corner of our nation — from longshore- men in ports along our seacoasts, to towboat operators navigating the Mississippi, to shipbuilders in east coast dry docks, to the men and women who crew Ameri- can-flagged vessels of all types. Maritime shipping has proven to be the most cost effec- tive and environmentally-friendly way to ship material. In summary, from their historic role in the found- ing of our nation, to ensuring homeland security, our sea service mariners will continue to deploy aer the land forces have come home to provide maritime secu- rity and help our nation ensure economic prosperity. America's maritime primacy is the presence with the capability to engage and is the strength of the sea ser- vices. Our national security demands that our maritime forces are where it matters, when it matters, achieved though the global movement of our ships to provide diplomacy, humanitarian and disaster assistance or, if needed, combat capability. n Dale Lumme is president of the Navy League of the United States, National Capital Council, a retired Navy captain, Corporate Secretary, Naval Historical Foundation, and immediate past chairman of the National Maritime Policy Committee. Our American maritime industry plays a unique and extraordinary role in promoting our economic, national and homeland security.

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