OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. â€“ U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commander, hosted Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. Raymond J. Griggs, Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force, at USSTRATCOM Headquarters, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, for the latest in a series of bilateral meetings between the two leaders.
While here, Griggs toured the USSTRATCOM Global Operations Center and met with Haney and subject matter experts within the command for a series of discussions on topics of mutual interest, including space, cyberspace, strategic deterrence and a variety of security issues.
“We covered a lot of the common ground that we have,” Griggs said. “It just reinforced what a massive mission set Adm. Haney and the team manage on a day-to-day basis.”
Griggs said key leader engagements, like this one, and international partnerships and collaboration are fundamentally important to stability, whether in the Asia-Pacific region or anywhere else. He noted that the defense relationship between the U.S. and Australia dates back to 1917, the year the U.S. entered World War I.
“We have fought side by side in just about every major conflict since then,” he said. “The alliance is crucially important to us.”
During their previous meeting in Canberra, Australia, in November 2014, Haney expressed a similar sentiment about the close relationship between the two nations when he and senior Australian defence leaders, including Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Australia's Chief of Defence, met to discuss ways to further strengthen the combined efforts in areas of common interest, including the U.S’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and the importance of regional stability.
Griggs highlighted regional stability as the “bedrock” of prosperity because it enables a free and open global maritime trading system, which has regional and global benefits.
“From an Australian perspective, 98 percent of our trade goes by sea,” Griggs said. “If that system is uninterrupted, we can have an efficient global trading system: on-time delivery of products, manufacturing cycles and many other things some people take for granted. Anything that helps keep that system operating smoothly is really important for us.”
Both Haney’s 2014 visit to Australia and Griggs’s visit here this week were firsts for the leaders in their current positions; but the two naval officers have known each other for years and developed a close working relationship, according to Griggs.
“We’ve worked together over two jobs; when I was the Chief of the Australian Navy and [Adm. Haney] was the Pacific Fleet commander, and now in our respective roles here,” he said. “When you’ve built a relationship, it really helps get the things that need to be done, done. There is nothing like being able to pick up the phone, send an email or sit down and talk through issues with someone you know.”
"Australia is an ally that shares our foundational values and has the capacity and capability for cooperation," Haney said. “We understand each others' perspectives regarding key issues, and our personal and professional ties are second to none."
Haney described his discussions with Griggs as “deep and rich” and said they are indicative of the robust partnership the U.S. shares with the Australian Defence Force and the nation as a whole.
“These engagements reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-Australian alliance, its strategic importance to regional security, and our shared commitment to combating regional and global security challenges," he said.
Admiral Haney added that he has been impressed with the pride, professionalism and excellence displayed by Australia’s military throughout his career.
After Griggs’s visit to USSTRATCOM Headquarters, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations and others. He offered a final message before departing Offutt Air Force Base.
“Today’s activities were excellent,” Griggs said. “It was my first visit to Nebraska and hopefully not my last.”