Retired Adm. James Foggo, the dean of the newly formed Navy League think tank called the Center for Maritime Strategy, said he sees the new organization as akin to the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, to advocate for the maritime community.

Last week, the Navy League announced the new center, to conduct and support policy research and advocacy across a range of maritime issues (Defense Daily, Nov. 10).

In an interview with Defense Daily, Foggo said he thinks about the center growing and moving like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. (Ret.) Mike Mullen used to talk about taking on a new job: “first to listen, and then to learn, and then to educate, and then to lead.”

“I think the sky’s the limit here, we’re just getting started…So we want to be leaders in the business of advocacy for the maritime community. And the way to do that is adopt and get a better understanding of the contributions that all the services, including Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Military Sealift Command, and our industrial base do to support America’s security and prosperity.”

Foggo said while he has nearly 40 years of commissioned service experience with the Navy and many friends there and in the Marine Corps, “I need to learn more about our merchant shippers and our Merchant Marine in order to assist them in their mission, which is getting commerce across the high seas.”

He said part of the center’s task will be assisting congressional leadership and the executive branch with insights and recommendations on American maritime power, whether through expert testimony, symposia, and other forums.

Foggo noted while the Center for Maritime Strategy is intended to be independent from the Navy League while co-sharing their headquarters in Arlington, Va., that means they hope to participate and host various forums on naval issues that already occur in the Washington, D.C., area.

He sees the center as having a mission very similar to the Mitchell Institute and lauds Mitchell Institute dean Lt. Gen. (Ret.) David Deptula, who he has known for years.

“He’s a brilliant strategist and a brilliant advocate for the United States Air Force. I haven’t been over to see him yet, I want to get on his calendar. He’s talked to other folks at the Navy League and I’m told that he’s welcomed this effort and said it’s about time that the Navy had something like we have for advocacy, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Foggo said that since the center was announced, he has been getting strong interest from people in the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as industrial base and shipbuilding capacity.

“I’d like to see a groundswell of support and interest in getting back to building more ships, whether they’re civilian transport vessels that provide lift or whether they’re grey hull Navy ships and I can tell you that the more we have the better we’re off. This is important for our economy.”

Foggo argued that given the importance of maritime commerce and the rising naval power of countries like China, “we need a powerful maritime community, an American community, to be able to conduct our presence operations, our commerce, our transportation, our lift and not be deterred by anybody that would try to prevent us.”

While the organization just started, Foggo said he was working with Navy League CEO Mike Stevens to put together a calendar of events leading up to the next Sea Air Space expo in April 2022.

While Foggo did not say there was any fixed goal for the center’s size, “my intent is to bring on some analysts and some maritime strategists in the net couple of months, and certainly before Sea Air Space, to assist with this mission of American maritime power.  I’m looking for people that have first and foremost an interest and a level of enthusiasm and passion for the sea services.”

When asked about the center’s funding, Foggo said it is starting by coming in-house from the Navy League and from events like the profitability of the Sea Air Space expo, but they will seek to gain more financial independence.

“It is our intent to become more and more independent as we move forward and people have an interest, people want to sponsor events or perhaps some kind of an interest in the Center for Maritime Strategy along the same lines as the Mitchell Institute.”