The Navy League of the United States, commonly referred to as The Navy League, is a national non-partisan association that advocates for a strong U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Merchant Marine. The Navy League describes itself as “a civilian organization dedicated to the education of our citizens, including our elected officials, and the support of the men and women of the sea services and their families.” It was founded in 1902 at the suggestion of Theodore Roosevelt.
The Navy League organized the first Navy Day in 1922, holding it on October 27 because it was the birthday of the navy-fan President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, the United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on October 13, 1775. Then on October 27, 1775, a special committee of the Continental Congress issued a report favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of the American Navy.
It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious. —George Washington
President Warren Harding declared on the first Navy Day, “From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.” In 1923 over 50 major cities participated, and the United States Navy sent a number of its ships to various port cities for the occasion. The 1945 Navy Day was an especially large celebration, with President Harry S. Truman reviewing the fleet in New York Harbor.
Our ships are our natural bulwarks.—Woodrow Wilson
You may have seen news reports lately on the subject of “sequestration” and the Navy. The 2011 Budget Control Act set up a “super committee” to recommend ways to lower the budget deficit over the next 10 years. The law requires $1.2 trillion in lowered spending – half from defense and half from non-defense. Sequestration is a mechanism built into the 2011 Budget Control Act that will trigger an additional half-trillion-dollar cut to defense spending over the next 10 years if Congress doesn’t otherwise identify spending reductions.
GOP nominee Mitt Romney, in Monday night’s presidential debate, suggested that Barack Obama was attempting to “gut” the military. During a tense exchange regarding the future of the military, Obama said that sequestration “will not happen.” He expressed contempt for Romney’s alleged ignorance about the military, saying that because the nature of the military is changing “we also have fewer horses and bayonets.”
Governor Romney: “Our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now down to 285. We’re headed down to the — to the low 200s if we go through with sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me. I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy.”
President Obama: “I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships. It’s — it’s what are our capabilities.”
FACT CHECK: First of all, Obama referred to submarines as ships. They are classified as a boat. Secondly, the modern military does still use bayonets and horses. But beyond that, at the beginning of Obama’s term as President the Navy’s goal was to produce a 313-ship fleet by 2013. That target has long since been abandoned. Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mark Ferguson said with regards to sequestration of the military:
“Our role is really about the flexibility of forces, that they can move to various regions, both in this region in the Gulf and outside the Gulf… Should sequestration be enacted, the Navy would not be able to support the current national defense strategy and it would cause a reduction in the size of the fleet to the point that we would have to relook at the strategy. [The Navy] would be reduced both in size and in its presence around the globe.”
When a crisis confronts the nation, the first question often asked by policymakers is: ‘What naval forces are available and how fast can they be on station?’—Admiral Carlisle A. H. Trost
The strength and status of any nation can be measured in part by the will and might of its navy. That’s not an outdated thought; it’s a modern reality. For more information, go to http://www.navy.com.
Did You Know…? National Maritime Day is a special day set aside to honor the Merchant Marine. (The Merchant Marine consists of civilian-owned vessels that engage in water-based trade and commerce. In times of war, the Merchant Marine is an auxiliary to the Navy, and can be called upon to deliver troops and supplies for the military.)