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Chief of Naval Operations Visits Sailors Throughout Iraq

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071029-01
Release Date: 10/29/2007 8:59:00 AM


By Lt. Justin Cole, Multi-national Force Iraq Public Affairs

BAGHDAD, Iraq (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead met with Sailors in Baghdad's International Zone on Oct. 27.

In his first trip to the region since assuming the office earlier this month, Roughead stressed his priorities as CNO and thanked Sailors for the contributions they are making as individual augmentees (IAs).

"I'm excited to be here, and I'm very honored and humbled by the opportunities we have ahead of us as a Navy," he said. "It is no coincidence that my first trip as CNO was to this region to see for myself the sacrifices you are making and challenges we have ahead of us."

Roughead reiterated his top three priorities as CNO: Maintaining current warfighting readiness, building a Navy for the future and providing for the service's people. He said that from his recent experience at Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Command, he could tell that the Navy has never been more ready than it is today.

"Our Sailors and our ships have to be ready to go at a moment's notice, and I've seen them do just that over the last few years since the implementation of the Fleet Response Plan," he said. "Sailors and their families know the challenges we face around the world, and they continue to step up to meet these challenges every day."

Roughead also discussed the future size and makeup of the Navy. While the number of Sailors may drop to around 322,000, the number of ships expects to climb to at least 313. He stressed the need for a more versatile and highly-trained Sailor than ever before. Capability, not size, will be paramount.

"I intend to continue to build the fleet to the size I think we need to do our mission around the world," he said. "I believe there is no more potent service than the Navy-Marine Corps team, and the future missions we will be asked to do require a diverse, versatile force to answer the call."

Diversity was another key issue the CNO said will be one of his focus areas. Roughead stressed that America needs to see itself when it looks at the Navy. He added that leadership must take measures to ensure that both the officer and enlisted ranks reflect the demographics of the country.

Roughead took this opportunity to discuss some of the challenges the Navy faces in the 5th Fleet area of operations. Maintaining open sea lanes, reducing international smuggling, and combating piracy were just some of the missions he said naval ships will continue to perform in the region.

After taking questions from both commissioned and enlisted IAs, Roughead thanked everyone in attendance for their service and sacrifice.

"I am so proud of each and every one of you for the job you do every day," he said. "Thank you for everything you do for your country and for your Navy."

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