Nobody Asked Me, But...

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

This is so incredibly refreshing that I can barely contain my enthusiasm. I grew up in the 1970s Navy when recruiting ads beckoned with pictures of Sailors walking with pretty girls on the sands of Waikiki, or with photos of actors in officer uniforms (needing haircuts) sitting in a wood-paneled room and a caption that said "Be a member of the board." Little wonder that some of those who responded were just a tad disappointed when they found themselves turning valves in a torrid boiler room or directing an underway replenishment station in the freezing rain at zero-dark-thirty! While the Navy was cajoling with beach strolling and board rooms, the Marine Corps was warning that they would only take a "few good men." Even in those dark days of Vietnam, the Marines remained true to themselves and to those who took up the challenge.

The Navy is doing much better with its message today, but Carrier serves as a call for even more honesty in what we are offering. The sands of Waikiki are there for some (and maybe even the pretty girl), and those images of sunlight dancing off a seemingly limitless ocean are a routine sight for those who go down to the sea in ships. But the Navy is also a tough way of life. It is chockablock with challenges and deprivations, and it takes motivated individuals to survive and thrive in such an environment. Whether that motivation comes from wanting to serve, to escape something, to see the world, or to pay for school does not matter. They will come. But we owe it to them (and to our own pride) to tell it like it is, to throw down the gauntlet and ask "are you good enough?" Challenges pay dividends in pride and maturity when they are met.

I commend the Navy for its willingness to support this unusual series. I only hope that this is not an aberration but is instead a sea change in the way we do business. I hope we will continue to challenge rather than pander, that we will unabashedly declare who and what we are, so that those with the requisite resolve to succeed in a demanding but rewarding environment will come. And serve well. And perhaps stay for a very long time.

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the senior acquisitions editor for the Naval Institute Press and author of several books, including Brown Water, Black Berets .

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More
Videotape Interview
10:00am, “Veterans Oral Histories Series,” American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington,... Read More


Conferences and Events

Maritime Security Dialogue

Fri, 2016-07-08

You are cordially invited to: Delivering on the Vision for the Future of Submarine Warfare A discussion with Rear Admiral Charles...

2016 Naval History Conference

WEST 2017

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

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