One hundred twenty-seven years ago, Lieutenant Charles Belknap called to order the first meeting of the U.S. Naval Institute. Today, we share the same interest with those who assembled in Annapolis in October 1873: the future of our Navy. And while the specific issues have changed, the tradition started then continues today in all that the Naval Institute undertakes. It has earned a reputation of excellence in promoting a vigorous debate and a healthy exchange of ideas on the defense of our nation and practices in our Navy.
I will address three topics that I believe we all consider important to the future of our Navy—retaining our great people, meeting our commitments, and maintaining adequate force levels and readiness.
Retaining Great People
As our Chief of Naval Operations has stated in his messages to the fleet and in his testimony to Congress, we are "at war for our people." And we should be.
This is so important that I devoted the efforts of our most recent Atlantic Fleet Commander's Conference to this issue. Why? Because retention today is especially important. But why now more than before?