“Here may be a good place to dispel two long-held myths: one, that the organization serves and always has served only the highest-ranking officers of the sea services; and two, that the purpose of this first meeting was to discuss how the Navy was going to cope with a depleted and deteriorating post-Civil War Fleet. Rear Admiral John L. Worden (pronounced WERE-den)—skipper of the USS Monitor during her epic battle with the CSS Virginia in the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads—presided over the first meeting. But the bulk of the group consisted of commanders, lieutenant commanders, lieutenants, a Marine captain, a chief engineer, a medical director, and a pay inspector.”

From For Those Who Dare By Fred L. Schultz (emphaisis added)

Is that truly the case anymore? Here are the first sentences in the biographies of the current members of the Naval Institute Board of Directors:

 “…over 30 years of experience providing international strategic and financial advice to corporations, institutional investors, sovereign governments and private families.”

“…is a past president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, and presently serves on the ICBA Tax Committee. He is also a former president of the Iowa Independent Bankers Association.”

“…was a staff member of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, where he ultimately held the position of Republican chief counsel. While with the committee, Mr. < – – > was directly involved in the development of legislation leading up to the enactment of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.”

“…is an International Consultant with The SPECTRUM Group based in Alexandria, Virginia, which he joined in 2007. Prior to that he was President of Raytheon International, Europe, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. He was responsible for all Raytheon business planning and development in Europe, and held this position for eight years.”

“…is the CEO of Genesis IV, an executive consulting firm headquartered in Northern Virginia. From March 2009 until 2010, he was Acting Secretary of the Navy. Previously he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Environment). Prior to becoming the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (I&E), Mr. Penn was the Director, Industrial Base Assessments from October 2001 to March 2005.”

“…was born in Pleasantville, New York, the son of a USAAC officer. Six generations of his family were military officers among them five West Point or VMI graduates. He is a direct descendant of Commodore Thomas Truxtun, one of the earliest heroes of the U.S. Navy and Colonel Archibald Henderson, the 5th and longest serving Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. “

“…With an economics degree from the University of Virginia, < – – > entered the U.S. Navy in 1972 and for the next 36 years was steeped in the practical side of planning, execution, and organizational leadership. “

“…is a historian and author on American naval and strategic history. His War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945, published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press, received wide acclaim from senior cabinet and military leaders and the press.”

“…is a cofounder and Advisory Director of Trident Capital. From 1990 to 1993, < – – > served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management) and Comptroller of the Navy. From 1987 to 1990, he held several senior positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. From 1981 to 1987, < – – > was a Managing Director of Morgan Stanley & Co. Earlier in his career, he was a Senior Vice President with Dillon Read & Co.”

“…is chairman of Innosight, an innovation-based consulting and executive training firm focused on helping companies and institutions innovate for new growth and transformation. He co-founded the firm with Harvard Business School professor and best selling author on innovation, Clayton M. Christensen. “

“…was elected Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton in 2005 and became a Senior Vice President in 2009. In 2003, < – – > was appointed by President Bush as executive director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). In May 1998 she was confirmed by the Senate to serve as first deputy director of central intelligence for community management.”

“…was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. He was graduated from Syracuse University in 1965 with a BA in History and was a 3-year Varsity Lacrosse letterman.”

“…retired in October 2009 having served 35 years in the Navy. Her last position was Director, Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems, The Joint Staff. She is now consulting and serving on the Boards of several corporations. She is also serving on a Blue Ribbon Panel reviewing the FAA’s IP-based Wide Area Network outage experienced on November 19, 2009. “

“…was formerly the Managing Director of Morgan Stanley’s Merchant Bank, Chairman of Morgan Stanley Capital partners and Chairman of Morgan Stanley Venture Partner as well as a Director of Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. “

I am certain some will quibble over “but…four sentences down it says” or some other such thought. The first sentance or two, to me, say what that individual holds important – how they want to be introduced to someone. The rest is important, and the real level of military service from these individuals will be covered in future posts.

In their introduction to the membership – in their “here is who I am” – only 2 mention active duty service. 1 mentions significant contributions to either the Navy as a civilian. 1 mentions significant contributions to the Navy as an Institute author. Do these biographies indicate any semblance of the spirit of the founders of the Institute?

I don’t think so.

Again, from For Those Who Dare:

…the most potent participants in the Naval Institute’s Independent Forum have been Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Merchant Mariners who wrote and continue to write about things that concern them. These have not been professional writers. But they are the ones—the pilots, the ship drivers, the equipment handlers, the ones with first-hand experience—who possessed what long-time Proceedings Editor-in-Chief Fred Rainbow called “the passion to make it happen.”

Can anyone point out articles, speeches, statements or provocative thought from these individuals (the esteemed author aside, of course)? Not the official utterances of position, but the thoughts and opinions of the person over the things that concern them about the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, or the Institute itself?

For those who wonder…the Annual Meeting was over a month ago. There was supposed to have been a Board Meeting this week to discuss the Annual Meeting, the questions and comments raised there, and the challenge to the vote held this spring.

At the Annual Meeting the membership was promised a dialogue over the future of the Institute. Has anyone seen the beginnings of a dialogue from the leadership of the Institute? Or a report on the search for a new CEO?

While the Annual Meeting is behind us, this issue is not dead and the challenge to the Institute’s spirit and soul is not over.

Zimmerman knew.

Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Naval Institute

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  • Captain Blood

    I truly think Chester W. Nimitz would be disappointed in all this. USNI, above all else, is supposed to be *naval* in character–i.e., constituted of, by, and for naval officers.

    It is true he hated public controversy over things naval–but on the other hand he had a very strong opinion on the Navy as a culture–and on the Naval officer corps as the keepers of that culture. If the Naval Institute cannot serve that purpose first and foremost, then it is time for it to depart the scene, and for new institutions to be constituted, laying their foundations on such principles and organizing their powers in such form, as shall seem most likely to effect this purpose of advancing the knowledge of sea power within and without the service.

    And if this cannot be done because society now fears that its military men cannot act honorably in any way, shape, or form; and thus puts in such conflict of interest rules so as to make the job impossible to execute (even as those who make such laws routinely engage in de facto conflicts of interest), then that society may no longer deserve a Navy of Nimitz’s time.

    May need it, but may not deserve it any longer.

  • Mike M.

    Captain Blood:

    I’ll agree with you in part. But the USNI should be a forum for more than just the Naval officer corps. There’s great wisdom to be had from the Chiefs. And civilians have long been contributing in the strategic arena – their ignorance of operational minutia encourages them to focus strongly on strategy.

    The big issue is that the USNI should be a working-level organization. A forum for discussion and debate, a hothouse for ideas. A force to shape the Fleet of the future, and maybe improve the Fleet of the present. Not a propaganda organ for Admirals and defense contractors.

  • Captain Blood

    I stand by my emphasis.

  • Byron

    No offense, Captain Blood, but this civilian has a bit of experience keeping your expensive to build, maintain and operate ships. I expect I might have a bit to add to the discussion.

  • Captain Blood

    Having had a few minutes to think of it, and having finally come up with a better formulation of the idea I wish to express, please allow me to expand:

    I am opposed to anything that inhibits, suppresses, or disinclines feelings amongst naval officers that they are members of a chosen elite; that they serve in uniform to fight wars, and wars at sea above all; that they “own” the Navy in the sense of being custodians of a trust and that they, as part of that custodianship and sense of warriorship, in large part determine what the direction of the Navy should be to best win wars, and especially wars at sea.

    And I am opposed to anything relating to Proceedings that prevents that esprit d’corps and sense of ownership from being developed by the naval officer corps, or that prevents LTs, LCDRs, and CDRs from feeling it.

    It should go without saying, then, that I am thus opposed to the current state of affairs.

  • Captain Blood

    Or let me put it to you this way–my argument is that the reason why no one historically had a problem with USNI being on the Yard, or why Proceedings was tolerated despite the fact that it allowed a JO to challenge the establishment, is because beyond the practical benefits of expressing thoughts on sea power to interested persons who might help build/fund a better Navy, it also did a wonderful job in sharpening the naval officer corps as a whole. It made them better officers, better able to carry out the mission of the Navy.

    And I argue that second benefit is one that we may have largely lost.

  • Mike M.

    That last I’ll agree with wholeheartedly. One thing the USNI traditionally did was to encourage people to think about something bigger than their current assignment.

    Not to mention that there were such lovely debates. I am convinced that the articles and letters of the late ’70s and early ’80s on battleship reactivation are one of the finest examples of cut-and-thrust argument ever seen. They would be worth publishing purely as an example.

  • Byron

    And yet, Capt. Blood, you’d silence the voices of the lower decks because of what?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    It is the ideas that counts, and the joust. Which is to say the exchange of experience and innovative thought, regardless of rank. If wrong or mistaken, experience is shared and wisdom may be gained. If right, solutions are disseminated among sea service professionals.

    Shiny new Jonny or Janey Cleansleeve has a right to pride in one’s service and a respectful hearing of their viewpoint, just as the crusty old Chiefs, Commodores and Commanders have the same right, and measure of respect for their experience.

    The sea cares not about birth or station, race or creed. If our profession is the sea, in the service of the republic, why should we?
    Nor is the view of a seasoned craftsman to be scorned.

    It does no great harm if the hat size (ego) of any of us gets shrunk back down to fit reality.

    Leadership is not issuing orders and taking reports. It’s listening and evaluating, informing and enabling, and extending by example what you wish to receive. Rank? Necessary, but not sufficient. Humility?
    The hallmark of wisdom. Courtesy, ditto. Brutal frankness as well.

    It’s not that important, just life and death…sooner, or later.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Bravo, Gramps – Bravo!

  • Captain Blood

    Hey, guys, knock yourselves out. Have fun with your Navy as you want it, and we will see–one day–if your combat results justify. Remember War!

    As a final point to my unpopular viewpoint (of which, for the record, I have offered no absolutes as far as who should participate–what I have said is to the effect that Proceedings should ultimately be of, for, and by the sea service officer corps, and of that predominately naval)–well, as a point to illustrate the cultural problem I think the Navy as a whole has vis a vis O/E relationships–I had this friend (really, real friend, not “friend”.) 10 years active duty, top of the ziggurat as far as flying platforms go. Combat flying during that time. Assistant OIC in a unit as a first year LCDR. Went reserves and airlines. VR unit Admin O, Ops O. Screened for command. Good man, good officer. If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t mind her marrying him.

    Transfers in his VR unit to another billet. Department chief comes up, greets him, says words to the effect of “I’m really glad to meet you sir, heard some good things about you, I’m here to help, you know it’s my job to help train you as an officer.” This chief, well her career had mainly involved being a TAR (or whatever it is now) for a good number of years. No combat duty, and not much sea duty. My friend was an O-5 select (or about to be) who had only been out 4 years or so by that point. Combat duty, sea duty, had my respect at least. My guess is that he was already pretty well trained as an officer by this point.

    Fundamental problem here, and he proceeded to set some things straight. They then had a good working relationship thereafter.

    My point is that I think the pendulum has absolutely swung too far vis a vis O/E relationships and needs to come back. Or else combat efficiency will suffer. And I would do whatever is necessary to get it back there. If that means silencing folks, so be it. If that means getting rid of a lot of mediocre O-4s who never progressed beyond the locker room, so be it. If that means opening up the accessions to more chiefs, and creating more warrants, so be it (the Georgian Royal Navy seemed to do okay with that approach).

    But above all we have got to improve the officer corps–both its prestige and ability, for they are interlinked wholes, and that is all there is to it. If you are an officer you should act like one and be respected as one, and I am not sure we are really there on either point right now.

    And therefore, the functional loss of Proceedings as a tool in the development of both the prestige and abilities of that officer corps has got to be mitigated somewhow. If Proceedings is no longer the vehicle for this goal, for whatever reason, fine, but I’ll stop wasting my time with it then. I can always read JFQ if I want to get a feel for what the beltway crowd is thinking.

  • Byron

    Something tells me, Captain Blood, that your first days in the Navy as an ensign were pretty damn tough, seeing how you probably blew off your division CPO and LPO. Brilliant. Nice to see that it’s only the commissioned officers who are smart enough and committed enough to have a valid opinion.

    YN2, AT1, you want to chime in? I’d love to hear what the lower decks have to say.

  • Captain Blood

    As a true final parting shot, in I hope the best “the Emperor has no clothes” fashion–this Goat Locker, as a collective whole, this apparent font of soul and wisdom, this proverbial center of the universe as far as deckplate leadership goes, this thing whose self-appointed job it is is to “train officers”, is the same Goat Locker that somehow couldn’t train or oversee a sentry well enough so that he wouldn’t blow off COMNAVREGSW on a San Diego pier in the early 2000s. True, plural of ancedote is not data, but still…

    You guys can worship at their feet all you want to. Not me. I had enough of the Battleship Potemkin a long time ago. If the officer corps needs to be improved, improve it. But don’t undercut it.

  • Captain Blood

    Bryon, prior. Putz off.

  • Captain Blood

    I’m going to extrapolate for the fool Byron–when a JG is automatically treated as an idiot even if he is trying to be a good sport, there is a cultural issue at work, not him.

    I will not recommend anyone join the Navy if he wants to be a real officer. Make fun of that.

  • Captain Blood

    I really am going to try to make this my overriding, last comment on the subject–it is the natural state of mankind to be inclined to narcissitic, “me-first”, alpha-male behavior. That is why it is said “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, because in this world those who try to moderate themselves very rarely get rewarded over those who will not.

    And what I am saying is that the precious Chief’s Mess, now empowered, is having some trouble moderating itself–even when others are trying to play within the rules. If Byron wants to convict in absentia, so be it. I stand my ground. The pendulum needs to swing back.

  • Everybody – take it easy with the snark.

  • Byron

    Thanks for the insight, sir.

  • Captain Blood

    My pleasure. You’ll probably be hearing more–sometimes a Rubicon of the heart gets crossed, on a great many things.

  • Byron

    “sometimes a Rubicon of the heart gets crossed”

    Not likely…

  • Chief B

    Captain Blood, with all due respect, you seem to have a rather ill-sided view of the Chief’s Mess. Were I to take the tack of listing all of the recent firings involving COs and XOs, I could probably present an equally ill-sided view of the officer corps. But then I would be stereotyping the many based on the actions of a few, and that would be a very poor approach.

    The experience and insight the Chief’s Mess can provide into the day-to-day workings of our great Navy is something than any good officer respects and appreciates.

  • I’m hearing rumblings of substantive – and not so good, changes to the Institute’s constitution in a manner and effect that would have made a Bolshevik proud. Have we passed the point of no return?
    w/r, SJS

  • M. Ittleschmerz

    Not until the Constitution is voted on by the membership…

    I think that someone thought that after the opposition had it say at the Annual Meeting that the conversation would be over and the Board could move along with it’s plans.


  • “We have not yet begun to fight”?

  • M. Ittleschmerz

    I prefer “We have not yet begun to read, think, speak, and write!”

  • Byron

    “Stand by to repel boarders!”

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Capt B:

    I’m sorry, did you think I was expounding theory? Not hardly. Tried and true technique.

    As to the CPO’s…they are no more troubled, egotistical and deviant from the legendary best possible ideal of yore than the officers.

    If you can’t be a competent judge of people (and many can’t, ever, regardless of experience, precept and example)… best go sell something shiny and expensive.

    But a good Chief, First Class, Second Class and down to leading Seaman, remains a gift from a loving God. Catch 22? You got to know how to spot ’em and how to grow ’em. And they are well worth listening to.

    Proceedings has an Editor, I’m confident he can keep what they publish worthy.

    Officers aren’t the whole Navy. Some of the best of them used to be enlisted.

    One other thing…making O-6 (or 1 or 10) doesn’t get you a stamp on the rump “Certified Apex of Evolution”. So listen to the other guy in the chariot at the victory parade…”Thou too art mortal.”