David T. Johnson
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Remarks at New England Boatworks
Portsmouth, RI
May 7, 2010

Thank you, General Lynch for being with us today, and for your kind introduction.

It’s great to be here with you, with Steve Connett and the Naiad Inflatables of Newport family and other distinguished guests.

As an American diplomat, I often travel around the world to advance America’s foreign policy. But it’s not as often that I have the great pleasure to travel just a few hundred miles to recognize our local partnerships here at home that equip and enable America’s foreign assistance programs.

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, known as INL, which I have the honor to lead, on behalf of Secretary Clinton, works to combat international narcotics production and trafficking, thwart international crime, and strengthen the law enforcement capabilities of our partner nations overseas. Our programs help our partners to secure their borders, and build law enforcement and judicial structures to combat transnational threats and deny safe haven to criminals, terrorists, and narcotics traffickers.

We achieve many of our goals by helping to develop criminal justice systems and strengthening the rule of law, often in regions where they have not previously existed and where conflict has raged.

The U.S. Department of State is normally associated with our activities overseas, but much of what we do also has an impact right here at home.

Today we take note of a particularly timely and poignant example of how the U.S. government’s global reach can be traced back to its roots in local communities like Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Utilizing the taxpayer dollars entrusted to us, the Federal government has come together with Naiad Inflatables to produce boats for civilian police forces halfway around the world in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Naiad won a competitive contract to build and equip ten boats, supply the trailers and spare parts, and then ship the boats overseas. This $3.6 million contract resulted in dozens of jobs for employees directly and indirectly employed by Naiad.

Naiad hired 12 workers for this contract and another 12 workers here at the New England Boatworks completed the welding on the boats. What’s more, 18 local businesses benefited from this contract, including around 20 employees at Touch Labor and other businesses that are part of Rhode Island’s highly skilled maritime workforce.

When these boats are provided to our foreign partners later this year, they will be put to use by the maritime police in Puerto Princesa, Philippines and in Ternate and Sorong, Indonesia.

The police will receive additional training and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice that has been designed to help them maximize use of the Naiad boats to interdict criminals, stop illegal fishing, combat trafficking in narcotics, persons, endangered wildlife, and other illicit goods, and strengthen security off the coasts of Palawan, Maluku and Papua.

These police actions -- actions that will take place thousands of miles away -- will make us safer here in Rhode Island, in Washington, DC, and throughout the United States. The boats will support civilian police efforts to stop transnational crime by eliminating safe-havens for terrorists and other criminals and by increasing the capabilities of our foreign partners to cooperate with us and their neighboring countries.

In addition, our programs help to build the capacity of our partner nations to ensure good government through the protection of their people’s human rights and freedoms under the rule of law and enhance relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Naiad Inflatables of Newport and others in your community have helped us to advance our foreign policy and national security goals. I am confident that after experiencing the high quality and workmanship of American products our foreign partners will look to your support for their own needs in the future.

This is truly a success story whereby U.S. foreign assistance dollars have fulfilled an important national security purpose, while also benefitting American business, workers, and local economies.

Working together, we are contributing to America’s national security goals, making our nation safer by building the capacity of our partners abroad, and also providing our communities here at home with opportunities for businesses of all sizes, including small family businesses like Steve’s right here in Portsmouth.

Thank you for being here today to recognize this important occasion.