By U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs Reserve Component
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) – This past August, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) Reservists welcomed eight foreign navies to Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida, for the Specialized Inter-American Naval Conference on Naval Control of Shipping (SIANC-NCS), an off-set of the bi-annual Inter-American Naval Conference (IANC), usually held by rotating host nations every other year. The directives produced by the IANC are exclusively managed by the Navy Reserve through the Navy’s Naval Cooperation for Guidance and Shipping (NCAGS) organizations. In keeping with that precedent, and to showcase of the breadth of skill and capacity in the reserve force, the conference itself was managed entirely by reservists from Buffalo, Chicago, Houston, New York, Norfolk and Washington, DC among other cities across the nation.
The reservists, who had been planning every aspect of the international conference since February of 2016, fully embodied the mission of the Navy Reserve to “deliver strategic depth and operational capability.” As testament to that diverse experience, the 23-person team included industry executives, New York City police officers, an exotic pet distributor, a Harvard graduate, an aesthetician, a Notre Dame alumni association board member, a food service staffer, a former Fulbright Scholar, and a champion runner.
Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Bravo, a Broken Hill Proprietary Billiton Completions Engineer, remarked: “The skillsets we develop in our civilian roles enhance our military training and enable us to quickly adapt to any scenario. We are ready now, anytime, anywhere.”
The reservists’ broad base of experience was immediately recognized and appreciated by the naval delegations in attendance. Capt. Jesus Lopez Vallejo of the Mexican Navy explains, “Lt. Anthony Bravo is an excellent example – he was there the moment I arrived in Florida, helped us overcome a tri-lingual language barrier throughout the conference, and ensured I had a positive firsthand experience with the U.S. Navy.” Lopez Vallejo was surprised to learn that Bravo was a reservist, due to Bravo’s depth of Navy knowledge. “Reservists’ ability to be a civilian and then a navy officer the next day is very impressive. If reservists didn’t exist our national friendships wouldn’t exist.”
This year marked the first time in more than 12 years the U.S. has hosted the conference, which first convened in 1959. NAS Jacksonville was selected due to its importance to the U.S. Navy, waterway shipping, and all that it offers as a destination conference city. The conference underscores the U.S. Navy’s position as a key contributor to inter-American shipping as well as the value the Navy places on its productive maritime partnerships.
Accordingly, this year’s conference focused on the sharing of knowledge, the exchange of ideas, and the development of insights among each country’s navy towards greater hemispheric solidarity. In addition to the U.S., navies represented include those of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. Over the course of the conference, each attending nation delivered a presentation focused on this year’s theme, “Exchanging Information to Strengthen Partnerships.”
Rear Adm. Chris Sadler, USFFC reserve deputy director of maritime operations served as senior U.S. Navy representative.
“This conference is a great example of how we support the Fleet. Since NCAGS is a 100 percent reserve mission, it only makes sense that we should play such a large role in this conference,” said Sadler. “The maritime shipping and language expertise our reservists bring to the plate are essential to getting the job done and building the relationships that are so valuable in working with our partner navies.”
While they were in Jacksonville, conference organizers also arranged for delegates to visit a static display of the P8 Poseidon aircraft hosted by Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16), a trip to American retail shops, and eating American hot dogs at a Jacksonville Suns baseball game.
In the Reserve and among our international partners, “trust cannot be surged,” concluded Sadler, quoting a familiar saying.
So, as intended, with the help of reservists, the conference reinforced participants’ and organizers’ appreciation for and trust in each other, well in advance of need.