A View from Manhattan
Naval Institute Commodore Michael Wiseman, managing partner at the Sullivan & Cromwell (S&C) law firm in New York City, hosted and sponsored a reception in late February, featuring as keynote speaker Institute CEO Retired Vice Admiral Pete Daly. The gathering stimulated discussion of the global role of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, while introducing the Institute to a new audience.
Attendees—the 50-plus guests included several dozen of the firm’s partners—looked out at Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty from the S&C headquarters, perched on New York Harbor. More than 100 years ago, founder William Nelson Cromwell represented the New Panama Canal Company while actively promoting the canal’s construction. Admiral Daly made note of the significance in naval history, noting as well former S&C chairman and diplomat Arthur Dean’s role in negotiating the Treaty on the Law of the Sea more than 50 years ago.
To illustrate the point that American sea power is the nation’s first responder, Admiral Daly offered a snapshot of ten days in March 2011, when Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard ships and personnel were called upon to assist with tsunami relief following a major earthquake in Japan; backup and evacuation of U.S. personnel in Bahrain in the face of widespread rioting in Manama; and land-attack missile strikes on Libya to support those fighting for their independence. This was in addition to tactical air operations in the Northern Arabian Sea in support of troops in Afghanistan, as well as combat-alert operations in the Persian Gulf. He made the point that even though none of these operations had been planned when the units trained to deploy, it is the nature and profession of the sea services to be on station and ready to act effectively.
Addressing participants’ keen interest in cyber security—especially as it relates to China’s military capabilities and intentions—Admiral Daly cited panels at the Institute’s recent WEST 2013 conference in San Diego. In response to military, industrial, government, and commercial dangers, the United States has built a cadre of military cyber warriors. Because this threat is already here, the nation is using all means at its disposal to address it.
Admiral Daly tied current news topics to the Naval Institute, highlighting its mission as an independent forum and its 140-year wealth of intellectual materials that provide comprehensive contextual background to issues around the globe. Yet across the nation at major universities, as he mentioned, fewer and fewer faculty teach traditional military history. With less than 1 percent of Americans serving, this implies a serious danger of losing lessons of the past.
The question-and-answer period revealed significant overlap between sea-service issues and those with which Sullivan & Cromwell deals. The Naval Institute Foundation plans to replicate this type of gathering around the country as the Institute introduces a wider civilian audience to topics concerning national security and military personnel. Our profound thanks to Mike Wiseman for getting the ball rolling in such fine style.
In Appreciation: Erna Ericson
Naval Institute Commodore Erna Ericson of Crystal Lake, Illinois, died on 24 January 2013, exactly a month shy of her 105th birthday. She retired nearly a half-century ago as secretary to the president of the A&P grocery chain in Chicago. Erna enjoyed bridge, golf, travel, and square dancing with her late husband, Edward Ericson. She is survived by three generations of nieces and nephews.
Erna Ericson was introduced to the Naval Institute by her brother-in-law, the late William W. Gubbins, who joined in 1930 after graduation from the Naval Academy. When Commander Gubbins entered into a charitable-gift annuity with the Institute in the mid-1990s, he advised his widowed sister-in-law to do the same. She was a charming lady with a sunny, positive outlook—and the longest-standing female Naval Institute Commodore. Erna Ericson will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.