Figure 1-2.U.S. ships blowing up oil platform in the Persian Gulf.
the world. The north-to-south span of the Pacific is
more than 75,000 miles. The Pacific separates Asia
and North America by only 67 miles at the northern
extremes. These two continents veer sharply away
from each other at the southern extremes with more
than 10,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean between them.
By its very size, the Pacific influences the strategic
thinking and planning of every nation bordering it.
A third ocean bordering the North American
continent has achieved strategic importance because
of the development of nuclear power. Nuclear
submarines can remain submerged under the polar
ice pack for long periods of time. Therefore, their
entry into the Arctic Ocean has made this a 5.5-
million-square-mile potential battleground. The
Arctic Ocean is also important because the Soviet
Unions longest coastline borders it. Since the Arctic
Ocean has become a naval operating area, the whole
Eurasian continent, including the Soviet Union, has
become vulnerable to sea power. The southern
borders of the Eurasian continent have always been
susceptible to pressure from the sea.
For centuries, the Indian Ocean has been an arena
for competing sea powers vying for the riches of south
Asian and Middle Eastern shores. Twenty-eight
million square miles of the Indian Ocean stretches
from Malaysia to Africa, countries that occupy a third
of the worlds population.
Most of the populated land areas of the world are
no more than 500 miles from the sea. In the event of
armed conflict, virtually no spot on earth is beyond
the range of attack from the sea. This is the most
profound change in the total history of warfare. Sea
power can be deployed over three-fourths of the
boundaries. The sea is unownedbut it is jointly
owned by all sovereign nations.
Because the sea is so important in the event of
armed conflict, the U.S. Navy needs to remain strong.
However, a strong Navy is also important in support
of our national objectives for the following reasons:
Two of our states (Hawaii and Alaska) are