The Naval Institute is 145 years old this month, and we will hold the organization’s 144th Annual Meeting on 2 May at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Please register for the meeting and outstanding reception sponsored by long-time supporter USAA at www.usni.org/annualmeeting. For more information, please see the ad on page 85.
And the Winners Are
The Naval Institute sponsors a series of essay contests with individuals (CNO), foundations (The Wood Foundation), schools (Naval Postgraduate School), and a host of great companies/corporations.
The Emerging & Disruptive Technologies Essay Contest is cosponsored with the Leidos Corporation. For 2018, we are pleased to announce the following winners:
First Prize: “An Ace for All Seasons: As Third Offset Technologies Mature, Aspiring Naval Aviators Need to Be Ready to Lead Autonomous Systems into Battle”
By Lieutenant (j.g.) Mark Jbeily, U.S. Navy
Second Prize: “Low Energy Nuclear Reactions: A Potential New Source of Energy to Facilitate Emergent/Disruptive Technologies”
By Michael Ravnitzky
Third Prize: “Artificial Intelligence for Distributed Lethality”
By Lieutenant Commander Jacob Wilson, U.S. Navy
These individuals will be recognized by Leidos and the Naval Institute at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space luncheon on 10 April at the Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor. The first-prize winner will be published in next month’s Proceedings.
There Are Threats to Open Discussion
Recently, the U.S. Air Force put out guidance severely restricting interaction with the press until its public relations people are retrained. The rationale provided was to ensure classified operation details are not divulged in a period when we have returned to great-power competition.
Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told Defense News the memo fits a trend inside the Department of Defense (DOD) toward less transparency, which ultimately could undermine the department’s efforts to address long-standing problems. Gallagher serves on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which oversees several key Air Force programs, such as the B-21 bomber.
“I fully support the National Defense Strategy’s focus on great-power competition,” Gallagher told Defense News, “but I think the department has it backward. It is precisely because of the scale of the challenges before us that transparency is more important than ever. I worry that by failing to discuss problems, we will only ensure there is no public pressure to fix them.”
We believe Representative Gallagher has this issue right. Policies such as this reinforce the notion that the best way to get ahead is to keep your head down. It will reward those who shoot low and avoid risk, ultimately undermining DOD’s efforts to innovate and address head-on the very complex and difficult challenges it faces.
The Air Force guidance follows the 1 March 2017 memo from the Chief of Naval Operations that asked people not to “overshare” information and a 1 February 2018 memo from the Deputy Secretary of Defense restricting the numbers of senior officers and senior DOD officials engaging in public forums and conferences.
We all want to avoid giving our potential enemies our playbook. Unfortunately, these recent efforts could lead military personnel to conclude that the best course of action is simply to disengage from the public they serve. Much has been written about the military-civil divide and the problems that can arise in a democracy when the two groups are so separate they do not “know” each other. If good people stop engaging with the public, it could be as dangerous as—or more dangerous than—“oversharing.”
At the Naval Institute, we will continue our open, independent, nonpartisan forum to give voice to those who seek the best Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.