This past August we featured a remarkable article titled " Read, Think, Write, and Publish ," by the SOUTHCOM commander Admiral James Stavridis. This was a clarion call by one of the Navy's most senior leaders urging officers and enlisted personnel to write professional articles for journals such as Proceedings . Admiral Stavridis made clear he was not talking about mealy-mouthed platitudes, either. "Have the courage to write, publish, and be heard," he declared.
The admiral's words encouraged us to hope that we would soon be flooded by submissions that, as he put it, challenged assumptions and the accepted wisdom. Well, so far, not much has changed. We still receive a few stories that go against the conventional grain, but we are hardly drowning in them.
Retired Captain William Toti joins the admiral in encouraging professional writing by active-duty Sailors, but parts company with him on the question of damage to career. In "Write with Your Eyes Wide Open," Captain Toti warns that writing, no matter how well-intentioned, can be hazardous to the professional health of the Sailor/author and provides a number of examples in which more senior officers told him he was doing himself no good by his frequent forays into print.
Our October issue carried a one-page salute to the Marine Corps on the occasion of its 233rd birthday. It was a lovely, warm, somewhat romantic piece celebrating the Corps and its family-like qualities. There was one problem, and it was a big one: The article talked of fathers and sons, but made no mention of the thousands of women Marines now serving in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the criticism was aimed at the author, Andrew Lubin. He was the wrong target, but he felt terrible, anyhow. His son is a Marine, but so was his mother.
The criticism should rightly have been aimed at me. From time to time reporters lose perspective or simply just forget something important, as Andrew did. I can't count the number of times I did that in my reporting days. The editor's job sometimes involves saving reporters from themselves when their excitement over a story makes them overreach or blank on a key element. In short, an editor is a reporter's safety net. I was Andrew's editor. It was my fault, not his.
In recent weeks the Marines lost two of their legends, General Bob Barrow and Colonel John Ripley. General Barrow fought in three wars, then, as the Corps' 27th Commandant, ushered in reforms that made a great fighting force even greater. The word hero was coined for men like Colonel Ripley, whose name will always trigger the phrase "Ripley at the Bridge." We pay tribute to both in this issue.
We also say thanks and farewell to Joe Campa, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, who surprised many by announcing his retirement in early November. He will not be easy to replace.