October 13, 2019 marks the 244th Birthday of the U.S. Navy with the theme of ‘No Higher Honor.’ From our very beginnings the Founding Fathers recognized that a strong Navy was essential to our nation’s security. Since 1789 the Navy has operated alongside the Department of State to promote and project the strength and resolve of the United States. Indeed, from 1879 to 1918, the Navy and the State Department shared office space in the current-Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which was formerly the State, War, and Navy Building.
Today, the close interagency coordination and sense of partnership between the Navy and the Department of State has never been stronger. Currently there are 29 Navy personnel serving at the Department of State as Military Advisors (MILADs). They fulfill a diverse set of roles in over a dozen bureaus. These men and women range in rank from junior NCOs to a one-star admiral. They are crucial to the Department of State’s mission as they offer unique insights based on their substantial military experience and knowledge of Department of Defense budget and planning processes. In return, 6 mid- to senior grade Foreign Service Officers are also assigned to work as Foreign Policy Advisors (POLADs) at Navy higher headquarters in the United States and overseas at commands like Naval Forces Africa and Naval Forces Central Command, where their diplomatic and regional expertise is invaluable to senior commanders.
The Department of State and the Navy work together to support our allies around the globe through bilateral and multilateral exercises and by patrolling key chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz or the Malacca Strait, through which the majority of the world’s commerce flows. We also partner on important humanitarian missions like the Enduring Promise Initiative in Latin America and the Africa Partnership Station, which enhances maritime safety and security in Africa by increasing partner nations’ maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure. These key programs could not provide the essential support for health care and medical capacity-building or counter-smuggling, drug trafficking, and illegal fishing that they do without daily close coordination between U.S. Navy forces at sea and U.S. diplomats at our Embassies and Consulates in all their ports of call.
From the frigid Arctic to the wide Indo-Pacific, the Navy has been crucial in maintaining our national security as we provide our allies and partners with the means to safeguard themselves. The Department of State is proud of our longstanding and successful partnership with the U.S. Navy; we salute toughness, initiative, integrity, accountability and patriotism of all Sailors, past and present.
Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy!
About the Author: Shunnosuke Hikosaka serves in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.