Campus & Community

GSIS students discuss strategy with naval officers

High ranking officers of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard brought their new sea-power strategy to the landlocked University of Denver campus on March 26 to convince students of the importance of global engagement to peace, security and commerce.

They were preaching to the choir.

“We need to build the type of connections they see with the U.S. military,” said Leah Martin, Rangel Fellow and first-year student in the Graduate School of International Studies. “Defense and diplomacy can and should work together.”

The standing-room-only DU event was part of a nationwide “Conversation with the Country” that the three service branches initiated to communicate their new strategy for using the nation’s maritime resources to protect the homeland, fight terrorism and engage in regional and global conflicts. The strategy, dubbed “Protecting the Global Commons: A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea power,” was, for the first time in history, signed by the chiefs of all three sea services and communicated with the American people in public venues across the country.

“The reputation of the Graduate School of International Studies drove us here,” said Capt. Dan Cloyd, director of the Navy Strategic Actions Group. “Many of these students will be the future leaders who drive this strategy.”

The new strategy calls for a “layered defense” that balances homeland security with “forward deployment” in global hot spots, such as the Middle East and China. It calls for force readiness for full-scale battles as well as targeted responses to threats such as smuggling, piracy and arms proliferation. It also calls for international cooperation and military humanitarian assistance in natural disasters.

The unrivaled sea power of the United States can be used for hard or soft missions, said Vice Admiral John Morgan, deputy chief of Naval Operations. The new naval strategy raises the prevention of war to a level equal to the conduct of war, he said. With 90 percent of the world’s commerce sailing across the seas, he said, international cooperation becomes critical and international trust essential.

“You’re a globalist whether you like it or not,” Morgan said. “There is a growing recognition that we’re in this together.”

DU’s graduate students in international studies agreed with Morgan’s sentiments but pressed him on details. They hammered him and his officers with questions about U.S.-China conflict and cooperation, the latest submarine and ice-breaking ship technologies, human trafficking, disaster relief, averting friendly fire tragedies and combating piracy.

“These are some of the best questions we’ve had so far,” said Morgan, as he engaged students in answering them. “We’ll be depending on some of you to solve these problems.”

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