Arleigh Burke's words remind us that the nation's defense ultimately depends on command leaders at all levels with imaginative vision, individual decisiveness, and the courage of strong convictions. Displaying extraordinary leadership in combat, courage during the "Revolt of the Admirals," and a determined vision as Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Burke transformed the naval service of his day. He drove development of dramatic new capabilities (nuclear carriers, ballistic missile submarines, and highly mobile amphibious forces) while inspiring a warrior culture in which officers were meant to command, sailors were mentored to succeed, and ships were "built to fight." 1
Admiral Burke taught us the value of a command-centered culture in which leaders clearly articulate a vision of success and inspire progress by developing each individual's freedom to contribute before polishing their own career aspirations. He fought service unification—the predecessor of jointness—because he feared it would undermine the Navy's proven command ethos. He cautioned that centralizing power in the joint staff would lead to the "suppression of differences in judgment" by favoring the "'swift efficiency of decision' as a substitute for debate and discussion of the military aspects of national policy." 2 Such centralization, he argued, would stifle initiative and create careerist "automons." He likely never could have expected that careerism would become commonplace, that open uniformed debate over naval policy and force structure would all but vanish, and that participation in forums such as the Naval Institute would wane.