During a speech this week at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro called for a “new maritime statecraft” strategy in the face of heightened strategic competition.
In his speech, Secretary Del Toro emphasized that maritime statecraft involves not only naval diplomacy but also a comprehensive effort by the entire U.S. government, as well as allied nations, to build both commercial and naval maritime power.
“Our new maritime statecraft should be bold, founded on a strong Navy and Marine Corps to fulfill our national security interests,” said Secretary Del Toro. “It should also be equally strong on engagement in areas of economic development, trade, and climate diplomacy to enable us to compete more successfully on a global scale.”
Secretary Del Toro said he chose John F. Kennedy School of Government for delivering his message because of the expertise in defense and international security and its legacy in training government and military leaders.
“Like President Kennedy, my time as a naval officer and now as Secretary of the Navy has been defined by a deep appreciation for and personal commitment to the ‘power of naval diplomacy’ to make the world a more free, democratic, and prosperous place for all to benefit,” said Secretary Del Toro. “And that is why I stand before you today, to call for a new vision of maritime statecraft to address the challenges our nation faces in the 21st century. Your Nation calls you once again—our best and brightest strategic thinkers at the intersection of academia and policy making—to help us build our maritime statecraft of the future.”
Secretary Del Toro suggested several steps to revitalize the nation’s maritime industry, including invigorating U.S. shipbuilding, building coalitions with other maritime nations, and developing a maritime statecraft strategy through education and training.
He also suggested updating the nation’s current “Advantage at Sea” strategy, which guides the integration of our Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, to include the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and NOAA for a more comprehensive approach to maritime statecraft.
“In the words of President John F. Kennedy, ‘we stand today on the edge of a new frontier, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils’,” said Secretary Del Toro. “Your Department of the Navy is at flank speed on this journey, and I ask you to join us.”
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