Forbes Receives President Teddy Roosevelt Leadership Award
ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., was recognized as a leading congressional naval strategist during a Dec. 7 ceremony at the Army Navy Country Club before an audience of national and maritime security experts and sea service leaders.
Forbes, the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, was presented with the President Teddy Roosevelt Leadership Award, also known as the “Big Stick” Award, by retired Navy Capt. Dale Lumme, president of the Navy League’s National Capital Council.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were former Secretary of the Navy William Ball, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, national security expert Christopher Lehman and senior executives from the Maritime Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Big Stick Award citation stated that, “Randy Forbes understands the legacy of President Teddy Roosevelt spurring the rise of the United States as a great naval power, and for the creation of the blue-water United States Navy, and its deployments to promote worldwide freedom of the seas.”
In his remarks during the ceremony, Forbes discussed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 and the urgent need to address new force structure and shipbuilding plans. A seven-term representative from Virginia’s 4th district, Forbes has been an outspoken advocate for American seapower and in 2012 led a nationwide “Defending our Defenders” conversation with America about maritime security.
“Randy Forbes has long been acknowledged by his congressional peers as the lead naval strategist. The Navy League of the United States’ National Capital Council Awards Board, consisting of former chiefs of naval operations, U.S. Marine Corps and Coast Guard commandants, and former Maritime Administrators chose Chairman Forbes for this prestigious award for his understanding and articulation of maritime strategy to audiences across the country,” Lumme said.
Forbes stated that this is a critical time for maintaining freedom of the seas. In order to minimize risk, the nation must maintain forward presence to keep the world’s sea lanes open for commerce, he said.
Forbes said President-elect Donald J. Trump has outlined his goals for maritime and national defense and his desire to increase the Navy to 350 ships. The current 30-year shipbuilding plan calls for 308 ships by 2021. Forbes said that when he has met with world leaders, they described the security challenges the world is facing as more complex than in recent history. The United States needs a strong, robust, forward-deployed naval force to assist in lowering acceptable risk for our national security, he said.
“The number of ships, and their capabilities matter, but we need to ensure as a nation we have the right maritime strategy,” he said. “Rapid innovation, distributed lethality and improving acquisition are important, but our strategic national strategy must align to face the complex global challenges to our maritime domain.”
The Big Stick Award citation also stated: “Randy Forbes truly understands what the forward-deployed ‘in the arena’ maritime forces definition of what this Big Stick Award truly embodies.”
The American public needs to understand that maritime security ensures economic prosperity, Forbes said, “and the American people need to be reminded that our naval forces are the backstop for freedom of the world.”