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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral VERN CLARK released the following message for the 227th birthday of the United States Navy:

As we celebrate our 227th birthday, it is a good time to reflect on where the Navy is and where we are going. This is an incredible time to serve. Now more than ever, the Navy needs you and the nation needs the Navy. First and foremost, we are at war. During the past year, all of us have either served in or supported the global war on terrorism. We are taking the fight to the enemy. That is what our Navy/Marine Corps team does best. Eight carrier battle groups, five amphibious ready groups, numerous other ships, and thousands of SEALS, Seabees and Marines have seen combat in Operation Enduring Freedom. Yet, this war is not isolated to one country or one theater. The threat of terrorism is borderless. You have carried out your global missions on, under, and above the seas, as well as ashore, without complaint. You have provided critical intelligence, uninterrupted deterrence and built support from allies through exercises and engagements. Your persistent projection of decisive combat capabilities has deterred terrorists around the world, while at home and at bases around the globe you have steadfastly provided the training and support required to keep our Navy at its peak.

We will never know what terrorist strikes have been averted because of our service, but we know we are winning this war and we know our fellow citizens support and appreciate us.

Second, we are serving at a time of record retention. We continue to make great progress in personnel programs and training initiatives. From Task Force EXCEL and the Revolution in Training to Project SAIL and the Revolution in Personnel Distribution, we are seeing a tremendous cultural improvement in the way we grow and develop our people. Third, we are experiencing record-setting readiness rates. With the fleet's initiative, the ships and squadrons are ready to take the fight to the enemy. With the help of the Congress, the Navy has committed the right amount of resources to maintenance, spare parts and fuel to ensure we have the tools to fight and win. The future is bright. Sea Power 21, the vision that will guide our Navy, gives us cause to be optimistic. The nation recognizes and is committed to the value of our Navy. And most importantly, we are the greatest Navy in the world because of our people. Our future shines like a beacon of excellence for the world to follow.

America needs your service today like few other times in our history. Make no mistake, your service matters. Our Navy needs talented young Americans who want to serve their nation and make a difference. From the most junior to the most senior, we all have a role to play now and in the future. So Happy Birthday Navy. Your service is appreciated.