The U.S. Merchant Marine is an essential component of national defense and provides the primary sealift capability necessary to meet national defense requirements. Experience gained during previous conflicts has emphasized the importance of Navy coordination with all segments of the maritime industry. In order to facilitate these integrated operations, the Department of the Navy established the Merchant Marine Reserve U.S. Naval Reserve Program. This program is now called the Strategic Sealift Officer Force (SSOF). The SSOF supports national defense sealift requirements and capabilities. The SSOF provides the opportunity for Navy officers to obtain a valid U.S. merchant mariner’s license and subject matter expertise in sealift, maritime operations, and logistics necessary to fulfill many of the Navy’s combat support missions.