Archive for the 'think tank' Tag

The USNI and other naval blogs have been very active lately, and for good reason. Most of the recent discussions have dealt with piracy and the hostage situation and rescue of Mearsk Alabama skipper, Captain Richard Phillips. Within these many posts and related discussion threads are dozens of competing ideas for combating this particular problem. Posts and discussions on other topics result in similar numbers of ideas and recommendations. Sometimes the speed at which these ideas are generated and debated, and the sheer number of them, make it difficult to keep up with, analyze, and digest them all. Add the contributions from linked articles and other naval blogs, and the assimilation is even more challenging.

Ryan Erickson’s post “Admiral Allen on the Worlds Piracy Threat (and opinion),” resulted in a few comments that got me to thinkin’. The exchange that really piqued my interest was:

  • RickWilmes Says:


we are all here to sell our best ideas to the USNI blog. May the best and correct ideas win.

  • Byron Says:

Ideas do not equal products. Logic sucks, don’t it?

  • RickWilmes Says:


For an empiricist, I believe your last statement would appear to be true. Speaking for myself, I know better. I won’t be saying anything else on this issue.

The Naval Institute blog, if not viewed so already, should be looked at like a naval think tank. And maybe the Naval Institute needs to create exactly that, separate from the blog. My sometimes curious imagination envisions an entity within the Naval Institute that serves a similar purpose to a think tank. It would theoretically include members from the Institute’s general membership, a selection of Proceedings and Naval History authors, and a good helping of USNI Guest Bloggers to discuss issues and cull from those discussions a list of options.

Assuming the formation of such a group, the question becomes, can the Naval Institute maintain it’s independence from any one set of policy and/or strategy recommendations, and instead focus on options? Can it serve not as an advocate for any one set of ideas, as the Wikipedia definition of think tank indicates, but rather a clearing house of reasonable, debated ideas?

If a think tank isn’t the right idea, then how do we gather realistic recommendations from the discussion threads and warehouse them for decision-makers?

Without the ability to dedicate one’s self to any series of related blogs, the ideas become muddled in the background chatter and the totality of the exchanges can easily lead to information overload. Can decision-makers or their subordinates make sense of it all, or are good ideas simply lost in the shuffle? Maybe only the most obvious solutions really get noticed – the easiest to understand and the easiest to sell – and the more obscure, but potentially ‘right’ ideas, get passed over.

None of this is meant to suggest that blogging efforts aren’t worthwhile; quite the contrary. I’m talking about maximizing the input – and impact – of all the contributors’ efforts.

I guess my real question is, can the thoughts generated through this medium and the larger Naval Institute actually help ideas equal products?