All posts in “USNI”

Preserving History: USNI, Kickstarter and USS Indianapolis


WORLD WAR 2 was really the first multi-media war.  True – photography was present in the American Civil War (or as my late grandma used to call it “The Late Unpleasantness” among some of her milder epithets – but we digress).  Motion pictures were still embryonic and grainy when WWI burst on the scene and so most people’s information of the war came via print — newspapers mostly.  WW2 changed that as along with “traditional” media, a new breed of journalist, the photo-journalist, appeared and significantly added to the wartime narrative via imagery.  Human beings are visual creatures (and some say the male of the species especially so) and while the best of the traditional journalists could still catch you with a compelling story, it was the photo-journals that brought the war home.  In stark black and white or color (Kodachrome™ no less) we were flooded with imagery from the banal to the heart wrenching.  Through the pages of magazines like Look and Life we followed the war from the images of still burning ships in Pearl Harbor, across North Africa with Patton, above Occupied Europe in a Flying Fortress or from the decks of a warship like the USS Indianapolis, the war was in our parlors, soda stands, five-and-dimes and scattered about break rooms at our work places.  From the skyscrapers of New York, to the manufacturing plants outside Detroit to a Nebraska farm, the work of photographers like Edward Steichen (who assembled what came to be perhaps the most famous team of photographers during the war) gave heretofore unprecedented access into a global war supported by those most distant from it.

But it wasn’t just the “name” photographers who set this precedent.  Unheralded unit photographers captured and documented all the details of this massive war effort.  Photographers such as Alfred Joseph Sedivi, ship’s photographer onboard USS Indianapolis were every bit as important as the byline photogs and the story they told gives us today, a window into a piece of America’s history and heritage we might otherwise miss.  Except that today, that history, that noble heritage is literally crumbling away in the ace of the onslaught of time and environment.  The Naval Institute is endeavoring to preserve this heritage though and is working to both preserve and transfer photos to digital form — their first major undertaking in this effort is the preservation of  Sedivi’s work and other rare images from the Indianapolis.  Doing so requires fiscal support and hereto, the Institute is trying something new by funding through Kickstarter.  To quote the Institute:

the Institute has launched a effort to raise the funds needed to restore and digitize all 1,650 photos. With your generous donation, we can ensure that this important collection of photographs will be available for the survivors and their families, as well as historians, the public, and future generations. Once digitized, the collection will be made available for viewing online via the Institute’s website. More information about the photography collection of Alfred Joseph Sedivi in the current issue of Naval History magazine.  $3,000 goal would provide the funds to digitize the entire 1,650 photo collection and preserve the original photos, including preservation materials (archive boxes, poly slides for each photo). The Institute’s stretch goal of $7,000 would enable the purchase of a quality digital camera and copy stand mount allowing for the photo albums to be digitized without being taken apart.  The albums would then be preserved and properly stored in their original and current condition.  If funds raised total $10,000 or more, the Naval Institute will develop a traveling exhibition of the photographs to be displayed at museums and locations across the US. 

It is a worthy endeavor and early success would aid larger and more complex projects in the future.  Head over and read more about it here.  It’s our heritage at stake – let’s see what we can do to preserve it.



USNI Join-up in Newport

Postcards for Website Naval Station Newport Aerial

In Newport on Thursday, 12 Dec 2013?  Have questions or concerns about what direction the Naval Institute is headed?  Or perhaps some ideas to share…maybe you’d like to meet an author and get that article or book idea that’s been rattling around in the brainpan for a few out into the open?  Or perhaps issues of national and naval strategy are tugging at your synapses.

Mayhaps all the above — if so, head over to the USNI Happy Hour kicking off at 1700:

The Malt
150 Broadway
Newport, RI

LCDR B.J. Armstrong, author of 21st Century Mahan and 2013 Navy League Literary Achievement award winner will be there to field questions and stir the waters…

Catching Up: The Latest on the ex-USS Ranger, Reviews and More…

Been a very busy winter and spring here in the Scribe’s household – between the demands of customer support during the Great Musudan Snipe Hunt and mom corporate’s demands for a tech writer, our days/nights/weekends have been filled with briefs, drafts (*not* of the liquid variety) and teleconferences measured in hours, not minutes; our time’s been pretty well soaked up. That said, it looks like a pause in the action has afforded itself with an opportunity to catch-up and provide some updates on earlier items.

Wither ex-USS Ranger (CVA/CV-61): When last mentioned here, the Navy had placed the Ranger (currently in storage at Bremerton) on the disposal/scrapping list, much to the dismay of the USS Ranger Foundation which has been striving mightily to get a carrier for a museum in the Northwest. However, a recent email from the Foundation’s president:

Last summer, the USS Ranger Foundation submitted a Phase II Donation Application. As you know, the Navy decided not to proceed with the donation of ex-USS Ranger to the Foundation. The Navy has since issued a ship-demolition RFP that includes Ranger.

What do we do next?

The Navy’s decision may have appeared to be an end to the effort. We did not believe it should be. In response to the Navy’s decision we reached out to our community and all those involved with the project to determine where to go from here.   The USS Ranger Foundation Board of Directors, at its most recent meeting, decided to continue investigating the possibility of having one of the two decommissioned Tarawa-class ships transferred to donation hold when it is released from Reserve-B status. Our preference is ex-USS Tarawa (LHA-1), the lead ship of the class. The Foundation’s intention at that time would be to prepare and submit a donation request based on the Fairview site which held so much promise as a future home for Ranger.

While the effort to preserve the Ranger herself may have failed, the Foundation nonetheless demonstrated a desire and following for an exhibit, centered on a large deck in the Northwest –

The efforts of the Foundation defined and focused a widely-felt need for such a ship-based memorial. A well-thought out proposal for a naval and community heritage site was developed. Widespread enthusiasm and support for such a project arose. Much effort was put into addressing the technical and logistical aspects attendant on a ship donation by the Navy. In the end, the challenges posed by the combination of ship size and barriers along the route to the inland site were not met to the satisfaction of the Navy.

The purpose behind the urge to preserve Ranger remains, and remains valid. It goes beyond the desire simply to preserve a vessel, and to the desire to commemorate what makes a vessel worth preserving. That purpose is the desire to acknowledge and honor and carry forward what those who served in her and fought in her and her sister ships through the years cherished and believed in: The freedoms and principles that are the foundations of this country, the freedoms and principles that inspire those who serve and strive to preserve and protect them for all.

There is substantial local and regional support for a community heritage project that includes an important historical naval asset as its centerpiece. The offer of land and riverfront as a site for the ship by Columbia-Edgewater, LLC was a significant show of support for the Ranger effort; that support still exists. Our many volunteers demonstrated a level of energy and enthusiasm that was an incalculable asset to the project; we believe that energy and enthusiasm still exists within the community.

And why Tarawa?

With the assistance of the staffs of Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative Blumenauer of Oregon, we worked during the winter to identify other Navy ships that would be suitable as the centerpiece for 1280px-US_Navy_071222-N-6597H-116_The_amphibious_assault_ship_USS_Tarawa_(LHA_1)_transits_through_the_Indian_Oceana community and naval heritage center. We believe we have found such a possibility in the ships of the Tarawa class.

Tarawa was the first of five ships in a new class of general-purpose amphibious assault ships, and combined in one ship type the functions previously performed by four different types: the amphibious assault ship (LPH), the amphibious transport dock (LPD), the amphibious cargo ship (LKA), and the dock landing ship (LSD). She was capable of landing elements of a Marine Corps battalion landing team and their supporting equipment by landing craft, by helicopters, or by a combination of both. USS Tarawa (LHA-1) is a United States Navy amphibious assault ship, the lead ship of her class, and the second ship to be named for the Battle of Tarawa during World War II. The first Tarawa was the USS Tarawa (CV-40). Tarawa was decommissioned 31 March 2009, at Naval Base San Diego.

We wish the Ranger Foundation every bit of success in this endeavor – the residents of the Northwest deserve and would support a major naval heritage site – doubly so in light of the area’s own history and role in supporting the Navy and naval operations across the Pacific. To be sure, working something along the lines of tacair and carrier aviation is important, and given the origin and efforts of the Foundation, to be supported. However, I sincerely hope the Ranger Foundation’s leadership looks at the opportunity to host a big-deck amphib as a means to also highlight the Gator Navy which frankly, outside of Little Creek and Coronado, pretty much stays off the radar of popular knowledge and enthusiasm. Preserving the Tarawa opens the doors to addressing that distressing shortcoming, offers the deckspace to host a variety of tailhookers and amphib-based air as well as offering an opportunity to engage another partner with deep reservoirs of enthusiasm and engagement – the Marines. Best wishes for success and watch this space for further developments….


WWATMD?: (What Would Alfred Thayer Mahan Do)  A Navy that finds itself shrinking in terms of ships and aircraft – but not Flag officers.  Sequestration.  Budgetary pressures and a strategic realignment to the Pacific.  And a country that is almost past a decade plus of two land wars in Central Asia and seems to be asking itself why we need a Navy (and if we do, what form should it take).  It’s enough to make a navalist ask “What would Mahan do?”  Author Naval Aviator and navalist in his own right, LCDR BJ Armstrong, has something to say on the subject, via the Naval Institute Press, and soon we’ll have a chance to see for ourselves when 21st CENTURY MAHAN: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era arrives in the mail for review.  Also en route is the book former SEAL Chris Kyle was working on when he was so tragically murdered; AMERICAN GUN – A History of the U.S. in Ten Guns.  As a collector and firearms enthusiast (and historian), I am very much looking forward to reviewing this latest work from Harper Collins press.  Stay tuned…

Finally, today also represents something of a turning point as a truly gifted leader, thinker and exceptional naval officer, ADM James Stavridis closes out one career in service to this nation and soon, embarks on another as Dean of Tufts’ Fletcher School of Diplomacy and President of the USNI Board of Directors.  Fair winds and following seas Admiral and best wishes for you and your family as you chart a new course.


P.S.  Apropos the opening line:


Remember the aviator’s motto – “It didn’t happen if there isn’t a patch…”

Launching the USNI Wiki

If you recall, we previously pointed to the Strategic Plan rolled out in last week’s Annual Membership meeting.  That plan has four objectives:

  1. Enhance national understanding of the vital contribution of American seapower;
  2. Preserve and make available naval history;
  3. Increase, broaden and engage our membership
  4. Secure endowments to fund key strategies and initiatives that enable the Naval Institute to realize its vision.

Now there’s a lot to like there, and especially as you drill down to the deliverables under each objective – but our readers know of the keen interest held in naval history ’round these parts.  And as you read down through the deliverables (yes, there is a reason I highlight that word), you will come acorss this item:

“Our strategies to preserve and make available Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard history rely on the power of recent technological advances. The list is long, but here is a sample:

3.  Our active-duty members have a lot to teach each other on matters as diverse as how to conduct a burial at sea or how to command. They will be able to share that information through our USNI Naval Wiki, a wisdom-of-the-crowd tool to connect our professional community and help them help each other to solve practical problems.”

The USNI wiki was rolled out this week (and a heartfelt BZ to Mary and the gang for their efforts in this regard – SJS) – so barely a week out from the meeting and one of the first deliverables is on the street, recognizing, of course, that it is a living work and expectations are that it will continue to meet the highest standards as established by the Institute in the promulgation of information.

Oh, and for those who access the net via smartphone or tablets, RUMINT has the USNI app coming down the ways in the very near future, thus another deliverable:

4.  Access to USNI’s information, such as Naval Wiki, is great if you have a computer and an Internet connection. It’s a problem if you don’t. We will solve that problem by designing and building applications for Android & iOS (iPhone/iPad) devices that will hold information, make it instantly available, and then update it when the devices are re-connected to the Internet.

should be met in the near future.  And we hear of many other good works in various forms of progress too are on the way.

And this is good.


US Naval Institute: 2012 Annual Meeting

Back from this year’s meeting with some goods and a few others.  First off, I want to thank again everyone for your votes and support for my candidacy to the USNI Board of Directors.  Alas, I did not make it and while a bit disappointed (my one “other” here), I am encouraged with the cohort who have been elected.  Moreover, after listening to CEO VADM(ret) Pete Daly’s “State of the Institute” speech I am very much encouraged at the direction and future of the Institute compared to this time last year.  To begin, most importantly, the mission remains unchanged – to be an independent forum “for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense.”  Building on that mission is the new vision of being the preeminent thought leader in seapower. Why is that critical?  It accomplishes three functions — building professionalism among the Sea Services’ members, enabling access to our history and informing (not influencing – a subtle but important point especially for a non-profit like USNI) the public on the vital role seapower plays in the daily course of this nation and our allies.  The latter is an important point as we come off a decade of large commitments of the national treasure in manpower and material, to land wars in Central Asia.  The maritime narrative, save for the opening days/weeks of conflict, has, perforce, been muted and secondary to that required for the support of those efforts.  In combination with concern, and (one hopes eventual) discourse and decision over the national debt and priorities, having an organization that can serve as a “go to” source for information and education in naval matters, one that is not beholden to industry or advocacy group, and can serve as an honest point of reference for seapower writ large will become increasingly important.  And there you will find the Naval Institute – at least that is the vision of current leadership and the gist of the Strategic Plan.  The Strategic Plan summary, by the way, is available and may be read here.  Again, another item in the “good” column.  Focus especially on the strategic objectives and I think you will find that may of the concerns and recommendations raised here and in several other locations last year are being addressed.  Bu the proof is in the doing and therein lie challenges and opportunities.

Foremost among these, as VADM Daly point out, is membership.  Mere numbers are not enough if, frankly, your membership is graying by the day.  While somewhere in the 46-47,000 range, an overwhelming number of members are like myself – retired, but still very much engaged and interested in all matters naval and maritime.  Yet the long-term survival and ability to thrive is very much dependent on the intake of a much younger cohort and where USNI in particular is concerned, one drawn from across the ranks and within the lifelines; officer and enlisted alike.  That is the dynamic of today’s sea services and a reflection of the mission areas we are engaged.  A number of initiatives were mentioned, including the gifting of student memberships (keep an eye on this, more details are coming and I am fully onboard), advisory panels that include and are focused on junior officers, enlisted and the larger membership all of whom have POVs that are vital and necessary in the long term viability of the Institute and arrive from a different locus than that of the sole, flag-member panel (which too has a place).  Expect to see more membership meetings held in association with other naval/maritime related fora, especially in fleet concentration areas.  For example, this May 15th will be the next membership meeting held in conjunction with the 2012 Joint Warfighting Conference and Exposition in Virginia Beach.  And the Annual membership meetings, beginning with this year’s, will change in tenor and content — today’s, for example, included a post-lunch session with VADM Harwood, deputy CENTCOM and hosted by Mr. David Hartman (of GMA among other things).

In sum there’s a lot of good going on, but it is all for naught without an engaged membership – by which I mean more than just reading your monthly issue of Proceedings.  This is our Institute and as stockholders by dint of our membership and naval service, now or in the past, it behooves us to take interest and ramp up our participation in all aspects of the organization.  The CEO, USNI staff, Board of Directors and Editorial Board all are engaged and have their work cut out for them – and we too can take a round turn and lend a hand.

A New Year and the Naval Institute

It is January and this month’s issue of Proceedings and Naval History will include the ballot for the next Board of Directors.  In contrast, I think, to years past there is a wide selection of candidates to chose from who come from a number of paths – aviators, SWOs, submariners; Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, active duty, retired and distinguished civilian that ranges from senior enlisted through FO/GO.  It is, in sum, an exceptional list of accomplished candidates and one I am deeply humble to have been nominated for as well.

Yes, you read that right — I am a candidate on the ballot for the 2012 USNI Board of Directors.

I was approached by a group of members who were seeking to recruit candidates who had attained a degree of success and recognition in their naval service and if retired, who carried that recognition into their current career.  In addition, this membership-led effort was concerned with forwarding candidates who would ensure the Naval Institute would remain an independent, objective forum for the naval services as reflected in the concerns raised by a large part of the membership last year.  I participated in the debate through this and other fora as one who argued for the USNI to hold to its founding principles which have separated and elevated it above the many warfighter community, Service and industry oriented advocacy associations that have grown and multiplied over the years.  The Naval Institute, by both challenging all to “dare to think, write and debate” and providing the independent forum to do so, has staked out this singular, widely recognized and respected territory and should not cede it.  To that, I remain committed.

That, however, does not mean there is no room for change.  Indeed, there are several challenges across a number of fronts the Institute faces in the coming years in an effort to remain relevant in the ongoing national debate.  These are among the concerns as a member of the Board of Directors I would address and argue for action:

  • Grow our membership through outreach and recruiting of junior officers and senior enlisted.
  • Establish an advisory board comprised of active duty and Reserve officers (O-3 to O-5) and enlisted (E-5 to E-7), representing a cross-section of the naval services that would compliment the already existing Flag Advisory board to provide the POV and concerns at the deck-plates-level I think is lacking today.
  • Open the aperture on all forms of traditional and “new” media –  this would include expanding the online offerings to include current, relevant and substantive content that resides behind a membership firewall and encourages membership growth.
  • A clear path of encouragement, recruiting and mentorship resources to assist up and coming writers – be they interested in blogging, writing for Proceedings or Naval History, or even those interested in submitting to manuscripts to the Naval Institute Press.

These are but a few of the concerns the Naval Institute needs to move forward.  The coming year, with the challenges to be faced domestically and internationally by our nation and its naval services places us at another of those critical junctions with questions not only about force structure and missions, but the very character of and rationale for a Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.  The existence of an independent forum with a reputation for the full, free and frank informed discussion and debate on these and so many other issues is vital in this process and that forum is the Naval Institute.  As a member of the Board of Directors, that will remain my chief concern and focus.

Thank you for your consideration and vote.


CAPT Carl W. (“Will”) Dossel, USN (Ret.)
Steeljaw Scribe

Please also consider these candidates when making your selection:

  • RADM Daniel R. Bowler, USN (Ret.)
  • CAPT Karl M.Hasslinger, USN (Ret.)
  • Mr. Mark W. Johnson
  • Dr. J.P. “Jack London, CAPT USNR (Ret.)
  • CAPT Dave M. McFarland, USN
  • Mr. Edward S. Miller
  • HON B.J. Penn
  • CAPT Gordan E. Van Hook, USN (Ret.)

The USNI 2012 Elections Page may be found here.

Catching Up

Much has been going within and outside the household these past several weeks – and that explains a lot of the paucity of posts of late. Foremost amongst these was the passing of my wife’s father, a Korean War vet, railroad worker and longtime sufferer of Alzheimer’s. Word to the wise — if you haven’t had “the talk” with your parents and, depending on your relationship, your in-laws about living wills, advanced directives, hospice, and other end of life decisions, you are only denying the inevitable and setting yourself up for an even more difficult scenario at the very time when you need clear thinking. I add in-laws because like as not, you will be the go to person when faced with that scenario. Have that discussion, plan out the branches and sequels and write it down so you are ready at the drop of a hat — because even if you are dealing with a disease (or collection thereof) which have been grinding slowly, inexorably on for years, decades even, the end may come suddenly, in days or even hours and these days time is not on your side for research and deliberation. While you are at it, add a wifi/3G enabled iPad/tablet to your list. My iPad was invaluable during the course of the past week with quick access to a variety of needed sites and online forms, especially where the VA was concerned. Do this and while it won’t make the hurt and loss any less, it will significantly reduce the stress and anxiety levels for ALCON, and that in the long run will pay dividends. Above all, keep and call upon your faith – remember Isaiah 40:31

A week(plus) ago we kicked off the annual fund raising drive for Valour-IT, the program that through Soldier’s Angels provides IT solutions for our wounded service members who are otherwise unable to avail themselves of conventional methods of accessing computers and other IT devices you and I take for granted on a daily basis.   Folks – I know times are beastly hard,but the measure of a society is how it cares for and supports those who face physical and mental challenges in the course of their daily lives. Doubly so for those who have made the sacrifice in service to that society. There are an abundance of charities out there covering almost every cause (most worthy, others maybe less so) – heaven knows, you only need pick up the annual Combined Federal Campaign book listing them to see. Project Valour-IT is one of those rare charities where 100% of what you donate goes to helping the wounded vet and not providing overstuffed furniture in some palatial headquarters office or a six-figure salary for a charity CEO. It is why this is the one charity I will support (outside of our church and tithing) monetarily (others we provide our time). Look over to the top right side and you’ll find two widgets — one to learn more and another to donate. Yes, we have a “friendly” competition going on between Service related teams, but in the end the money all goes into the same pot and all we get is bragging rights (which at the moment, ahem, it appears Team Army is running away with). We’re entering the home stretch and there is a long ways to go to meet this year’s goal of $25K for Team Navy. How about pitching in?

Sometimes I get notes offline (and you can write to me here if so moved) asking about why I hadn’t addressed a certain event or topic, or if I had, why I was late to the game. One of the self-imposed restrictions I set on myself was to swing to the cautious side in certain topics that may relate to my real world job. It is altogether too easy to allow what in the vernacular is called “spillage” if you get on a roll and unintentionally reveal that which shouldn’t surface in this arena. The figleaf of blogger anonymity only goes so far if you stretch beyond hit-rates that exceed single digits on a weekly basis (which we have occasion to do here). On more than one occasion I’ve spiked my own draft based on that degree of conservative approach only to see it substantially posted elsewhere. Selah – my conscience is clear and the wolves of unemployment remain stayed at the outer gates. Still, I’ll continue to find some way to bring a perspective to certain topics that is lacking in the broader blogsphere that are sourced from daily experience – like a recent trip that included getting into the guts of surface-to-air and ballistic missiles that cemented concepts and engineering principles studied from afar while illustrating the problems of proliferation (like my up close and personal look at an application of pyrolytic-reinforced graphite).

Finally – there are several articles in the bullpen or warming up – many dealing with the ongoing observation of the Naval Aviation Centenary (including a look at operations in the Alaskan theater of operations). As the saying goes – more to follow…

w/r, SJS

P.S.  Oh and standby — more coming down the pike re. the Naval Institute and it doesn’t look good for the home team.

USNI: Taking Back Our Institution – Reprise and RSVP

We reach a critical junction this week for the future of the Naval Institute. Since February a small but determined group has sought to surface in the light of day plans undertaken to radically change the mission of the Institute and force a new direction which offers little in the way of relevance as a professional organization for serving members of our nation’s maritime services. Leaving behind the good will and collected body of wisdom accrued during the 137 years of existence, the “new” Institute would become yet another inside the beltway advocacy organization – something Norman Polmar noted was anathema to the purpose of the Institute as it was established and functioned:

“an independent forum advocating” I believe these words are self-contradictory. The USNI has established itself as the leading international naval–and increasingly “defense”–forum because it has not “advocated” anything but has let authors (military and civilian, of all ranks, genders, and even nationalities) express their opinions. “Advocating” a position will unquestionably deter the USNI serving as an independent forum. 25 Feb 2011

True to the form and “substance” of the vast majority of “mission/vision” statements issuing forth from any one of a number of self-licking ice cream cone organizations that take up residence on K-street or in/around the beltway, those who would proffer this change say it is to the greater good of promoting “global seapower” – a necessity for “economic prosperity” — and again, Polmar drove the logic stake home:

(2) “global sea power” What does this mean? The Soviet Union from 1970 (the massive Okean exercise) until 1991 was certainly a “global sea power”–does the USNI advocate a rehabilitation of Russian sea power? Or a buildup of Chinese global sea power? Or Japanese? Or …? And, does “global sea power” include a strong merchant marine–which we do not have and will not develop in the foreseeable future? Or fishing fleet? Or ….? Again, “global sea power” is ambiguous and misleading.
(3) “economic prosperity” Again, for whom? The world? Then the USNI is encouraging every nation (including Iran, N. Korea, China, etc.) to develop global sea power. Or only for the United States? How does “global sea power” help U.S. posterity–other than the shipbuilding industry?
The proposed new mission statement makes the USNI appear to be a lobbying and “cheerleading” organization for…. I am not quite certain for what or whom. In the years that I have been associated with the Naval Institute (since age 15), I was taught that those roles–lobbying and cheerleading–were the purpose of the Navy League, not the Naval Institute. (Ibid.)

As this and other letters and correspondence from noted maritime thinkers and leaders tallied their opposition, the naval milblog community – especially Information Dissemination, CDR Salamander and ourselves sought to ensure a wide audience was made aware of what was going on – adding our analysis and yes, individual advocacy to reject the change on the ballot. Along the way, the Editorial Board of the Naval Institute went public with their unanimous recommendation to reject the change. Soon the level of public discourse was such that the Board of Directors could not maintain their silence and the Chairman answered – but instead of illuminating the subject, his answer may be succinctly ascribed to a parental “trust us.” Concerns were voiced about fiscal viability and the future of the Institute – but when one followed the money, something just didn’t quite ring true.

And the roster of those opposing continued to grow. Eventually, the BoD decided to suspend the ballot results while allowing voting to continue (again, only in DC…). And more weighed in against – including an Honorary Chairman. This is not the desired end state, however. Rather, the manner in which the proposed change was undertaken, “studied,” planned and executed without the benefit of public discourse with and input from the membership was and is reprehensible and contemptuously dismissive of the membership body. Not only must that attitude and the underlying philosophy be eradicated at the roots, it must be replaced by a new board more attuned to currently serving members, especially those in the critical junior/mid-grade leadership positions – these officers and enlisted;  USN, USMC and USCG members are our future. They are, or should be a central focus of the Institute – a necessary element if the Naval Institute presumes to remain a relevant professional organization. To that end, efforts are underway, now, to engage in an outreach to encourage and assist members of that cohort to surface their ideas, their thoughts – and their concerns through the venue of the USNI blog. More on that in a later post. Suffice to say, however, that is but a couple ticks on the course being charted for the Institute’s future. The most significant steps, and hopefully the corrective ones are still to come at this week’s general membership meeting. There is no charge for attending – in person or via webinar, but you must be a member and you must register. If you are not a member – why not? If you are a member and have not registered – why not? Now – not next month, not next year, not after chores around the house; now is the time to come to the aid of the Institute, to reclaim it and rebuild it, mindful of its roots but with a real vision of an organization for the maritime professional, not another corporate flak pushing an agenda with no room for those who would “dare to think, write and speak” – even if it borders on the heterodoxical.

I’ll be there this Friday – can I count on you too?

26 April UPDATE:  An Open Letter Calling for the USNI Board of Directors to Resign

USNI: Taking Back Our Institution – A Note From Norman Polmar

More from Norman Polmar on the USNI:


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As you know, the Board of Directors–for now–has withdrawn the proposed change to the mission statement that would have made the Naval Institute an advocacy organization.

Unfortunately, the battle is not over. The majority of the Board still seeks to establish an “advocacy institute” under the umbrella of the Naval Institute.

In addition, members of the Board are discussing the possibility of selling off the Naval Institute Press (it doesn’t make enough profit). I am also concerned about the future of the Proceedings and Naval History magazines because neither appears in the Board’s proposed new USNI structure. What does appear is a specific New York PR firm that will head the Naval Institute’s “advocacy group.”

This is not the Naval Institute that we have worked for and that we love and respect.

Thus, if at all possible, I urge you to attend the annual meeting scheduled for Friday/29 April, from 10 to 12 noon at the Georgetown University Conference Center.

Conference center: 3800 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20057;
tel… 202 687-3200. Parking is available.

And, encourage your friends and associates who believe in the Naval Institute and the open forum to attend this meeting. Whether you can attend the annual meeting or not, communicate to the Board of Directors in writing or by e-mail telling them what you think about the proposed changes to our Naval Institute.

A final point: While the majority of the Board seeks to radically change the Naval Institute, there is a minority, led by Dr. Jack London, that has steadfastly opposed such changes; other minority members are Mark Johnson, Ed Miller, and B.J. Penn. Seek them out at the meeting or contact them before to express your appreciation for their efforts.

Best wishes/Norman

Norman Polmar

Not much to add except to encourage you to register to either attend in person or via webinar (if possible though, please show up in person). 

Hope to see all of you there on the 29th. 

w/r, SJS