U.S. Naval Institute 1873-1998: The Sea Service Forum

General Krulak , a 1964 graduate of the Naval Academy, became the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps in June 1995.


Commander Jan M. van Tol, U.S. Navy

Robust, uninhibited, intellectual debate and deep commitment to evidentiary processes are the best defense any organization has against profound error.

Perhaps paradoxically, that defense is most needed when it is hardest to maintain, i.e., when an organization finds itself under great stress but is unwilling to engage in healthy self-criticism.

Arguably the Navy today finds itself in such circumstances. The strategic context in which it functioned for two generations is no more; tomorrow's is highly uncertain. Simultaneously, the Navy is being buffeted heavily by controversial sociological and technological changes at a time of growing budgetary constraints. In itself, this is nothing new. What is new and potentially dangerous is the apparent willingness of many seniors to acquiesce to de facto squelching of debate on many important issues.

It is critical that the Naval Institute continue to publish controversial pieces and discussion, free from fear of retribution and pressure from senior naval leadership to conform to a party line. Open discussion and the willingness to follow evidence wherever it might lead are the only correctives in today's intellectually and morally corrosive environment. The Naval Institute could not play a more important role in the Navy's future.

Commander van Tol is the commanding officer of the USS O’Brien (DD-975).



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As part of The U.S. Coast Guard Academy 2016-2017 Leadership Lecture Series The U.S. Naval Institute presents Historical and...

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