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110119-N-6523K-027 KINGS BAY, Ga. (Jan. 19, 2011) Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, addresses submariners at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on their role in U.S. strategic deterrence. Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is home to six ballistic-missile submarines conducting global strategic deterrence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber/Released)
KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Strategic Command held an all hands call aboard Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. , Jan. 19.
Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton addressed the importance of the ballistic-missile submarines' (SSBNs) role in strategic deterrence and how vital each submariner's responsibility is to the "silent service. "
"What you do for U.S. Strategic Command, how you train to do that mission for Strategic Command, how you maintain that equipment to do that mission for Strategic Command, where you are and what you're doing when you're at sea for U.S. Strategic Command, is on my radar scope every day," said Chilton. "Every day that I come into the office, I check on the health and status of the SSBN fleet. "
Chilton then explained to the submariners why deterrence is so important, and why the SSBN is critical to the security of the United States.
"We're preventing warfare with this deterrent every single day," said Chilton. "We use our SSBNs every single day. The deterrent underpins our entire Department of Defense operations. It's no coincidence, in my mind, that's there hasn't been a conventional World War III on this planet.
"You read back in your history books, all the way back, to the birth of history there have been conventional global scale wars. Whether they're the entire continent of Europe involved in them when that was considered the world or beyond that. But suddenly in August 1945, the thought of having another war like World War I or World War II with the existence of nuclear weapons started to fade away from people's minds. "
Chilton said deterrence has two essential elements - capability and will. Without the capability to back up the language or to not have the will to use the capability available, the mission of strategic deterrence fails.
"[Deterrence] underpins our conventional might," Chilton said. "It provides the backbone and the foundation for our nation's political leaders when they stand toe-to-toe with potential adversaries and stare them down in the better interest of the United States and prevent wars from happening. Our leaders provide the will, you provide the capability. "
Missile Technician 2nd Class(SS) Michael Melendez, USS Alaska (SSBN 732), said this message especially rang true with him.
"We keep the missiles ready to go and our leaders know that we do our job fully and correctly," said Melendez, the Fayetteville, N.C. , native. "MTs (missile technicians) play a huge role in strategic deterrence because no one wants to go to war. When we do our job, everyone else can do theirs confidently. Gen. Chilton really makes you take the time to look at what you do and how important it really is. He's very motivational. "
The SSBN mission is to preserve world peace by remaining an undetected, battle ready presence as the most reliable deterrent against attack.
"The old Teddy Roosevelt moniker 'speak softly but carry a big stick' has never been more appropriate," said Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, commander, Submarine Group Ten. "The submarines in Kings Bay and Bangor are our country's big sticks. The crews that man them, the families and commands that support them are critical to their success. "
Chilton told the submariners that the fact there is little recognition for the work they do every day is fine, if they remember they are part of something bigger than themselves.
"It really bothers me that there are no ticker-tape parades for the nuclear-deterrent forces," said Chilton. "Heck, we take you guys and put you underwater. There are no fly-bys for you on Armed Forces Day or Memorial Day. In fact, we're not even allowed to talk a lot about what you do. Along with that comes, in the 'silent service,' a sense of pride that what you do is special. "
"It was really good to know that someone that high up really understands what we do," said Culinary Specialist Seaman (SS) Jaron Wright, a security watch for Naval Submarine Support Center Kings Bay who also served aboard USS West Virginia (SSBN 736). "Even though he knows no one can really talk about us, he took the time to give his appreciation for our service and I really appreciated his effort. "