I hope you had the good fortune to attend our inaugural meeting of the 2018-2019 Speaker Season last week at Connecticut College. After our Annual and Board meetings at which Milt Walters recapped our last season and plans for the future, and officers were nominated and elected, we all were treated to an in-depth presentation on the role of the submarine in US military affairs by Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commander of the New London Submarine Base.
Captain Whitescarver was introduced by SECWAC member John Padgett – the first time a SECWAC speaker has been introduced by an Admiral! – who also contributed to the Q&A, especially in relation to the Pacific theater of operations where he was commander of the submarine fleet. Indeed, the Q&A was a fascinating part of the evening, especially over dinner, as Captain Whitescarver expertly fielded questions while maintaining appropriate confidentiality regarding sensitive issues of military strategy and operations. But he nonetheless delivered a fascinating account of how our submarines probe the oceans in silence, monitoring key areas of geopolitical interest and often providing key advance information for subsequent above-water operations. As noted by Board member Sandra Rueb, the timing of Captain Whitescarver’s presentation was excellent as we read on the front page of the New York Times on Friday, a story about one of these areas (“As Beijing Flexes Muscle, Waves of Risk Churn South China Sea”). It is clear that while the reporting of military operations in the past 20 years has focused on ground and air troops involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, the importance of a blue-water fleet that can stealthily maneuver across and beneath the oceans that cover over 70% of the earth will be of great significance.
Captain Whitescarver also reminded us of the importance of the New London base to the local economy and prestige of Southeast Connecticut – surely no other region of the US can boast a major submarine base, a manufacturer of nuclear-powered submarines, and a Coast Guard Academy (and a chapter of the World Affairs Council of America!). He also alluded to the long history of the base on the Thames, and the evolution of submarine technology as it strives for ever greater silence in performing its mission. In his introductory remarks, John Padgett spoke to the caliber of the dedicated individual who commands this important base; this was also evident in the professionalism and quiet delivery by Captain Whitescarver as he told us of that little seen, but critically important, arm of our defense forces.
We hope to see you at the next SECWAC meeting on October 24th at the Old Lyme Country Club, when Rob Morgus, Senior Policy Analyst & Deputy Director at the New America think tank, will present on “The Battle for the Global Internet”.
Executive Director & Program Committee Chair,
Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council
The mission of the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) is to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs by study, debate, and educational programming, primarily through a Speakers Series of 8 to 10 monthly meetings.