As I reported at the 142nd Annual Meeting on 22 April, the state of the Naval Institute is strong, and we had a banner year in 2014. We keep our mission in the fore. We are dedicated to guiding the Institute forward in this 21st century as the open forum of the Sea Services.
The Naval Institute is on the move. In that regard, I am pleased to report that we have made so much progress on our 2012 strategic plan that we are now launching the process of developing the next phases of that planning. The core objectives in the 2012 plan were, in summary, to:
• Enhance national understanding of the vital contribution of American sea power
• Preserve and make available naval history
• Increase, broaden, and engage our membership
• Secure resources to fund key initiatives that enable the Naval Institute to realize its vision.
As we move ahead with our strategic planning, membership input is key, and a survey will go out to Members in the next few weeks. We hope you will participate. Your responses are important!
We continue to make news and history with our essay contests. In the April Proceedings, we published the winners of the 2014 General Prize Essay Contest and recognized them at the Annual Meeting. All three winners are active-duty naval professionals.
Testimony to the enduring quality of the General Prize Essay Contest was that our Chairman, Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), and the Annual Meeting’s featured speaker, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN, were prizewinners in this contest as junior officers—lieutenant commander and commander, respectively. Indeed, the Vice Chairman’s father, Rear Admiral James A. Winnefeld, USN (Ret.), twice won First Prize in the contest. The 2015 General Prize Essay Contest’s deadline is 31 December. Make a difference; submit an essay for this contest.
The Naval Institute’s Leadership Essay Contest began in 1975. This contest, always restricted to more junior serving officers, also has a long history of distinguished winners: lieutenants, for example, who respectively went on to serve as Director for Plans and Policy, U.S. Central Command; Editor in Chief of the Naval War College Review; and commanding officer of the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and then Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy. They also have included a Marine captain who went on to serve as Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, and a Marine first lieutenant who later received the General Alfred Gray Trophy for Outstanding Communications Leadership. We are very pleased that again this year the Leadership Essay Contest is sponsored by Dr. J. P. London and CACI.
While domestic terrorism and sabotage are two of today’s top-priority homeland-security challenges, they are not new to the nation. In The Baltimore Sabotage Cell: German Agents, American Traitors, and the U-Boat Deutschland During World War I, just published by the Naval Institute Press, we are taken back to the intrigue and violence on and off our shores a century ago.
Author Dwight R. Messimer records Germany’s efforts, first, to break Britain’s blockade by building cargo submarines large enough to transport substantial loads from the United States to Germany, and, second, by carrying out more than 50 attacks, with the aid of American sympathizers, against U.S. munitions factories, depots, and ships, and infecting horses and mules at the western end of the supply line. As Messimer records, Paul Hilke—a Baltimore businessman and secretly a saboteur—played a central role in the Baltimore sabotage cell.
The saboteurs literally blew the roof off on 29 July 1916 when “The Black Tom munitions depot on the New Jersey shore exploded with a force equivalent to that of an earthquake measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter Scale. The blast was heard 90 miles away, and shrapnel and debris were hurled over a mile.”
In his 30 March review of the book, Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks wrote: “There’s a lot to the story, and Messimer’s book is rich in detail. But it needs to be a movie. As a movie it can’t miss—war, espionage, sabotage, creepy personalities, conflicted loyalties, and lots of blowing up stuff.” Now, that is an endorsement that commends this outstanding new title to every Naval Institute Member.
In our 2012 Strategic Plan, we gave ourselves homework to engage more fully with Members. We have made some progress I wish to highlight.
Our active-duty Young Leaders group led by Captain Fred Kacher, USN, who is currently COMDESRON 7 serving in Singapore, has proved to be a wellspring of young active-duty author talent. We congratulate Fred on his election to the Naval Institute Board of Directors!
We are energizing our Naval Institute Blog by selecting Lieutenant (j.g.) Chris O’Keefe, USN, to take the keys and run with it. Chris brings enormous energy and a vast network of junior-officer talent to the task.
Commander Guy Snodgrass, USN, XO of VFA-195 in Japan, has taken on the mantle of Professional Notes Editor to make Prof Notes in Proceedings the tool they should be to help advance our Members within the naval profession. Don’t hesitate to communicate with Guy at [email protected].
Peter H. Daly, VADM, USN (Ret.)
Life Member and Member since 1978