Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of Naval Forces Europe and Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples outlined the challenges and opportunities in the era of Great Power Competition to industry, academia, researchers, military, and government leaders at the Council on Competitiveness Annual Dinner on, Dec. 17, 2019.
The annual dinner is the first event of the council’s National Competitiveness Forum, which brings leaders representing every major sector of the U.S. economy to assess national competitiveness, and presents these key stakeholders with the challenges and opportunities for U.S. innovation, growth, and productivity in the future.
“We’re in an era of Great Power Competition with two strategic competitors - Russia and China,” Foggo said at the beginning of his remarks. “The Great Power Competition is being waged both militarily and economically … economic strength is foundational to national security – they’re inextricably linked.”
The Navy and NATO commander noted that competition is positive and makes the United States better through the demand for innovation, which can lead to prosperity and success.
“We, as Americans, must continue leading the way as innovators, as well as guarantors of the global economic system,” said Foggo. “The U.S. Navy, along with our partner allies, ensure global stability and security so that we can prosper economically.”
The United States and its European allies have set the example of respecting and upholding the international norms and institutions since the international order that stemmed from World War II. This cooperation and mutual adherence to these principles has paved the way for the free-flowing economic trade lanes currently in existence today.
“The value of naval power has been proven countless times,” said Foggo. “From the Barbary pirates of the early 1800s to the modern Somali pirates, we’ve seen that free-flowing economic trade depends on secure sea lanes. For that, we must have and maintain a strong, global Navy.”
Today’s Navy continues to be of the utmost importance as it protects U.S. national interest throughout the world.
“The world’s oceans are economic superhighways,” said Foggo. “More than 90% of trade by volume transits the seas … if maritime access is cut, global commerce will be devastated.”
He noted that 99 percent of digital economy happens via undersea cables. This data includes phone calls, e-mails, and international financial transactions and is a critical infrastructure on the ocean floor that must be protected.
“The global economy is vulnerable in the maritime domain,” Foggo continued. “Sea power enables power projection, allowing a navy to deter and defend a country’s interests. Maritime power, however, enables access for warships and merchants alike. A strong Navy protects U.S. interests and ensures our goods and data travel when and where they need to.”
Innovation has played a critical part in ensuring that the U.S. remains a world leader and Foggo took a moment to discuss how the Navy was currently addressing innovation through the use of the NavalX and the newly formed U.S. Naval Expeditions Agility Office. These entities work with various academia and industry experts and bring them together in an environment that fosters innovative solutions.
“The National Defense Strategy notes long-term strategic competition requires seamless integration of multiple elements of national power – including economics, information, and military,” said Foggo. “To win, we must be a global leader in technological innovation.”
The admiral told the group about our newest naval platforms and discussed how innovation gives our newest aircraft carriers the ability to provide maritime security in this era of great competition, ensuring our military competitive advantages over other country’s navies.
From USS Gerald R Ford’s electromagnetic aircraft launch catapults, advance aircraft landing systems, and new radar to the F-35 Strike Fighter, MQ-25 Stingray, the Ford class aircraft carriers will be the most successful carrier to sail the oceans. Carriers have long been seen as a testament of a nation’s ability to project power and guarantee maritime access. Last Monday, the British navy commissioned the second Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, into the naval fleet. HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in December 2017.
“Our competitors want carriers because they’re the best way to project power and guarantee maritime access,” said Foggo. “We also use carriers to deter activity contrary to international norms, ensuring free flow of trade and adherence to customary international law. Our job is going to get tougher though, as we embark on this era of Great Power Competition.”
While U.S. innovation plays a part in securing national interests, the true competitive U.S. advantage comes from the relationships built with its partner nations.
“Building alliances and partnerships improves global security and stability,” said Foggo. “We recently celebrated 70 years of NATO – the most successful Alliance the world has ever seen and I can tell you from my roles as both Commander, NATO Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy, and Commander Naval Forces Europe and Africa, that NATO is the bedrock of European and transatlantic security and that we’re stronger because we work with our NATO Allies and partners.”
The admiral ended his remarks by highlighting that security not only impacts everyone in the room, but that everyone in the room has a role to play in the security of the United States and the competitive advantage the U.S. has over any challenger.
“In an era of increasing geostrategic competition -- Great Power Competition -- we need to reaffirm our commitment to allies and partner nations, but also with U.S. industry and research institutions,” Foggo said. “If we’re to be successful, to ensure security and stability, we must have strong collaboration between our technological innovators and our military.”
The Council on Competitiveness addresses national competitiveness, examining a range of critical economic issues, including research and development, advanced manufacturing, access to capital, high-skilled workforce training, trade and the key role of government in enabling a pro-growth environment in which companies compete and Americans prosper.