Who Dominates the Sea, Dominates the World

Article

The natural habitat of human beings is land. However, most of the world is covered with seas and the sea has features that will bring prosperity, wealth and power to human beings. From this point of view, human societies; naturally, at every stage of their sociological development, they first paid attention to the land parts, which are their natural habitats, and then the seas and started to expand their sphere of influence there. ...

Admiral (R) Salim DERVISOGLU

The natural habitat of human beings is land. However, most of the world is covered with seas and the sea has features that will bring prosperity, wealth and power to human beings. From this point of view, human societies; naturally, at every stage of their sociological development, they first paid attention to the land parts, which are their natural habitats, and then the seas and started to expand their sphere of influence there. Phoenicians, Greeks, Byzantines, Romans, Vikings, Ottomans, Spain and Portugal, then England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, then Japan, and nowadays China, India and many other states set their eyes on the seas for the security and welfare of their countries.

Empires and nation-states developed naval strategies and tactics with the existing knowledge and technologies of their time for security, power and wealth within the framework of their own states' possibilities. As information and technology developed, geostrategic and geopolitical views on the sea began to be developed in addition to international terrestrial geopolitical views.

The great admiral of the Ottomans, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha's very famous phrase "Who controls the sea, rules the world" became widespread and was accepted, adopted and supported by the maritime nations, and even centuries later, the American Admiral Mahan spread his thoughts to the world in the same direction.

The most important feature of the seas is the existence of trade routes connecting all continents. This feature; as a requirement of the developing civilization level of humanity, the increasing production and consumption activities allow the products to be transferred in large quantities by the cheapest and fastest ways. Seafood is also extremely important in terms of the global food needs of humanity, whose population is increasing.

In a world whose lands, streams and air are polluted and alarming, the seas are a precious treasure. With the dizzying increase in science and technology, while sea transportation is needed for the worldwide transfer of large quantities of raw materials, food, industrial and agricultural products, energy needs and especially the extraction and transmission of fossil fuels from the sea have come to the fore.

Mankind; passed through the stages of oar, sail, reciprocating steam engines, steam turbines, gas turbines and reached today's nuclear propulsion stage. These are all products of science and technology. The financial resources provided in proportion to the strength of the economies of the countries determined the opportunities at sea and thus the extent of their relevance and interests. However, in all historical development, the sine qua non of maritime is human. This is true today and always will be. It is the person who makes and uses the new.

Sailor; who is a person who knows the sea and its features. Sailor; who is a disciplined, cautious, knowledgeable person. Sailor; who is a team person, a good organizer. A sailor is an international person, who provides speed in execution by explaining the purpose in one word. Sailor; who is a person who loves the sea and does not find it strange to live there. These are all aspects that require the seafarer's "seamanlike" training.

Sea power; it is the sum of a nation's love and interest in the sea, economy, merchant fleets supported by science and technology, and powerful naval forces. However, in the center of power; there are human beings who create all these factors, well-educated sailors who skillfully use the opportunities provided by their nation. The representation and good relations with the public of all seafarers who are constantly on duty in the international arena necessitate that they have - so to speak - diplomatic knowledge and qualifications.

After this general reminder about maritime, I would like to briefly touch on some issues related to maritime in the world and in Turkey. I started primary school in 1943, when the Second World War continued with its maximum violence. Turkey was a country that was trying to eliminate three centuries of innovation in manpower and technology in the 20-year Republican period, amid poverty and desperation.

We did not go to war within the framework of our great founding leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's motto "Peace at home, peace in the world". However, food, clothing, transportation and production were so affected that our primary school life passed with lack and difficulties. We are a nation that has learned by living the impact of wars on humanity. The Second World War was perhaps the last of the most devastating, cruel and ruthless great wars humanity will ever see. Parallel to this situation, naturally, our naval power was also in great weakness according to him.

In 1951, when we entered the Naval High School - then called the Deniz College - there was a bipolar world; NATO, led by the United States, and the Warsaw Pact, led by the Soviet Union. We experienced the Cold War on the seas with its concepts and activities. A new world was established when the United States, which carried its national might and power to Europe with its navy, as the scepter and royal regent of the British Empire, on which the sun never set, brought Germany to its knees. But that world was not a world of peace. In that world, poles were formed under the influence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and although the deterrence of these weapons was dominant, tensions continued.

Submarines, which were historically considered as a strategic weapon for economic warfare, now carried atomic-headed missiles. Therefore, weapons, platforms, concepts, strategies and tactics began to change completely. The air force also developed. The surface forces now needed the support of the air force. There was an obligation to develop new weapons against the threat of the air force. Under these conditions, we were faced with different weapons, different platforms, and different training systems. The conflict between the two poles led to an arms race. This arms race was also supported and strengthened by the ideological war between capitalism and communism, and put the countries in some trouble.

Türkiye did not stay idle either. Meanwhile, we got new ships with the support of the United States of America. Our troubles in the Second World War were partially resolved. We received training support, we benefited from the experiences of the states with war experience in terms of tactics, weapons and new technologies, and we raised new generations, “generations of sailors“.

Türkiye gradually began to feel the need to try to be self-sufficient. With the cooperation of our naval forces with Germany, we started to build gunboats, submarines, and later frigates. As a country surrounded by seas on three sides, Turkey has become a country that has had its say in the world with its naval forces. From this point of view, as a retired admiral, I follow with attention and interest the past and present efforts of our country in terms of self-sufficiency, naval defense and security in terms of naval forces.

Stumbling globalization; the regionalization of problems, rivalries and conflicts, and the spread of unconventional methods such as terrorism in armed interventions did not decrease the value of the naval forces and even increased them. In my opinion, naval power is still the most important security factor for a nation. Unfortunately, our region and environment is still one of the most unstable regions in the world.

The Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, North Africa and all the seas in this region carry potential instability and security threats and signs. In addition to being a deterrent force that will defend the threats from the sea before they come to our country, the navy has to be the logistical support of the economy and possible war by protecting the maritime transport routes in war and peace. As we all know, if we had enough naval power in the First World War, we would not have experienced the Dardanelles War and would not have given our martyrs.

All seas in the world, which is tightly connected with information and trade networks, especially the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, are extremely important for Turkish maritime, economy, peace and survival of the country. Today, Turkey, which is appreciated in the world with its unmanned aerial vehicles and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles; it has succeeded in integrating new corvettes, patrol ships, frigates under construction and amphibious attack ships, missiles, command control and communication systems and many contemporary technologies into its naval forces. I have no doubt that it will continue this success with unmanned naval vehicles, artificial intelligence applications, new weapon platforms, electronic and cyber warfare elements.

Undoubtedly, new technologies and new weapons will cause changes in war strategy and tactics. However, I would like to remind you again that raising sailors for maritime is a basic need. Sailor, traditionally grows in the sea and from micho. We entered the naval high school at the age of 15. We learned rowing, sailing, astronomy and plane navigation, and ship machinery. We internalized the love of the sea between the ages of 15 and 19. It is still my belief that sailors should grow from the small and from the seed. In this respect, while I had the opportunity to address an exceptional audience like you, I would like to express that my biggest wish is that the closed Naval High School will be reopened with the most appropriate and carefully prepared curriculum and that the Naval Academy and our navy will be the main officer resource. Thank you very much for listening to me, and as I end my words, I offer my deepest respects.

( Admiral [E] Salim DERVISOĞLU, 17th Naval Forces Commander, Turkish Armed Forces | Key Speech, 3rd Marine and Maritime Security Forum, 04 November 2021 )


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