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Point of View: Navy plays important role in Oklahoma

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Greg Slavonic
Greg Slavonic

During the past decade, much of our attention has focused on military forces in the Middle East. America’s Navy has continued to be a global force critical to the security of our nation and our interests — no matter where they are.

The importance of the Navy is nothing new to Oklahomans. More than 1,700 sailors are at Strategic Communications Wing ONE at Tinker Air Force Base, the NROTC Unit at University of Oklahoma, several JNROTC units and there are 600 Marines at Fort Sill. We have a submarine named USS Oklahoma City, a surface ship named USS Tulsa, an amphibious transport ship named to honor a fellow Oklahoman Lt. Richard McCool (Medal of Honor recipient), and a battleship named USS Oklahoma that was attacked and sunk at Pearl Harbor. This is a Navy state.

On any day, the Navy and Marine Corps might be called on to attack a terrorist camp, keep watch over a potential conflict, capture a pirate vessel, or deliver emergency relief anywhere in the world.

The Navy is ideally suited for this kind of mission because it’s fast, agile and flexible. It can go anywhere on the ocean on short notice, and do all its work from water.

Our Navy is the military branch that fights on the water in ships, under the water in submarines, and over the water in planes that take off and land on Navy aircraft carriers. This capability is vital and gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests — any time, anywhere.

Think 70-80-90: Water covers about 70 percent of the earth’s surface. About 80 percent of the world’s population lives near the ocean. About 90 percent of all international trade travels by sea. What happens on the water is critical to American security, preservation of American jobs and peace worldwide. It's vital to national defense and our ability to protect our interests on, under and over the water.

Navy planes fly about half the aerial combat missions in Afghanistan. Navy SEAL teams carry out special operations worldwide. In a humanitarian crisis, the Navy can provide supplies and hospital-quality medical care.

For these missions, the Navy requires courageous, highly trained men and women. Fortunately, that’s exactly who we have.

Oklahoma City hosts Navy Week from May 27 to June 2. It's designed to show Americans the investment made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that don't have a significant Navy presence. Sailors come to the city to share their stories, and remember the importance of a fast, flexible force provided by sea power and the Navy. This way, the Navy protects America more than ever.

Slavonic is assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower & reserve affairs.

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