ANNAPOLIS — Vice President Kamala D. Harris told graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy Friday that the military has entered an era of new security threats such as pandemics, cyber-attacks and climate change.
“A gang of hackers can disrupt the fuel supply of a whole seaboard,” the vice president said.
“One country’s carbon emissions can threaten the sustainability of the whole earth. This, Midshipmen, is the era we’re in,” she said. “The challenge before us now is how to mount a modern defense to these modern threats.”
Just before she spoke, officials at Microsoft said that Russian SolarWinds hackers had apparently attacked again, targeting at least 150 organizations by penetrating the systems of the government U.S. Agency for International Development.
Ms. Harris gave her first address to a military academy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where 1,084 Midshipmen were graduating. The vice president also paid her respects to Republican Sen. John McCain and laid flowers at his grave in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery.
She called Mr. McCain “a great American.”
Of the graduating class, 786 became Navy ensigns and 274 were commissioned as 2nd lieutenants in the Marine Corps. There were 778 men and 306 women in the class.
In her remarks, she said the pandemic “has accelerated our world into a new era.”
“It has forever impacted our world. It has forever influenced our perspective. If we weren’t clear before, we know now: Our world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent. Our world is fragile,” she said.
She said the U.S. military “is the best, the bravest, and the most brilliant.”
“From walkie-talkies to the internet to satellite navigation, the United States military has been at the forefront of research, development and technological advancement. That is a point of American pride. And as I look at you, I know you will build on this leadership,” she said.
Ms. Harris said climate change also constituted “a very real threat to our national security.”
“You are among the experts who will navigate and mitigate this threat,” she said. “You are ocean engineers who will navigate ships through thin ice. … You are electrical engineers who will soon help convert solar and wind energy into power … and into combat power.”
“Ask any Marine today whether she would rather carry 20 pounds of batteries or a rolled-up solar panel,” Ms. Harris said. “I am positive she will tell you” that she prefers the solar panel.