The U.S. Navy is not going to go looking for trouble with Iran, but it knows how to deal with trouble if it comes the Navy’s way.
That was a message delivered this month by Vice Adm. Mark A. Fox, responding to reporters’ questions after assuming command of the U. S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.
Fox took over command of the region’s naval forces, which are supporting ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and combating pirates off Africa’s Somalia coast from Vice Adm. Bill Gortney on July 5. Gortney will become the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.
During a change of command ceremony in Bahrain, Fox and Gortney stressed the importance of the Navy’s mission to keep sea lanes open and maintain stability in a volatile and strategically important region of the world.
Fox pointed out that the “amazing growth” of the global economy makes protecting trade routes and stabilizing the region a priority for all nations. He likened the sea lanes to the body’s life-giving circulatory system and Navy forces to “doctors” who must keep the veins from clotting.
Gortney noted in an earlier interview that the U.S. reliance on a global economy requires the free movement of oil, natural gas and goods. “Buying and maintaining a Navy is vital to our interests.”
Directly in response to reporters’ questions about Iran, which has been sanctioned by the U.N. over its nuclear program, Fox said, “I certainly do not expect a clash. We are not in the business of looking for trouble, but if trouble appears, we know how to deal with it.”
The “Cooks from the Valley,” a Bakersfield, Calif., based volunteer group attended the change of command. The nearly 60-member group was in Bahrain to host military appreciation barbecues for sailors, soldiers and marines at the Naval Support Activity, Bahrain; Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain; aboard the amphibious assault carrier USS Nassau at sea; and at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, near the Somalia border.
Fox’s and Gortney’s comments were included in a longer opinion article written by Dianne Hardisty and published Sunday, July 18, 2010 in The Bakersfield Californian. The entire article also can be read on Hardisty’s blog. Hardisty retired as The Bakersfield Californian’s editorial page editor last year. She and her husband, John Hardisty, traveled with the “Cooks from the Valley” to Bahrain this month.