This year’s aviation-focused Proceedings centers on the 50th anniversary of the Navy Fighter Weapons School—or TOPGUN. The story, as told by five TOPGUN graduates—including two of the school’s commanding officers—is about how a small group of junior officers tackled a big problem through hard work and dedication, creating a culture of excellence that endures to this day.
Over the years, the TOPGUN course has grown from 4 weeks to 12 and has become a model for tactical prowess and standardization across the Navy. Even if you are a submariner, surface warrior, Marine, or Coast Guardsman, you will appreciate the story of how naval aviation recognized a problem, fixed it, and turned a small program into the Navy’s first modern center of excellence. The coverage starts on page 18 and continues with several stories that are online-only. Special thanks to the aviators who contributed to this coverage.
Last month and this month we added two new sections to the magazine. The first is “Need to Know”—a two-pager at the front of the magazine that aims to present useful information in a visual format. I give credit to our Design Director, Karen Eskew, for creating the format and making it look beautiful. Long-time Proceedings author Scott Truver is doing the research and writing.
The first “Need to Know” was on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in the August issue. We’ve published many articles on China’s naval modernization, build-up, and strategy, but we had not yet provided a graphic representation of exactly what and where the PLAN is, so we started with that topic. This month’s “Need to Know” is “The Sea Services’ Unmanned Flying Circus”—a collection of photos and descriptions of unmanned aerial vehicles that have been mentioned in so many articles in our pages. Scott may share this section with other contributors in coming months.
The other new section is “Asked & Answered,” which appears for the first time on the final page of this issue. My deputy, Bill Bray, gets credit for this idea to increase interaction with our readers and members. Each month we will ask a new question tied to the theme of the issue. Readers can submit 50-word answers via email to [email protected]. We will also reach out to noted experts for inputs. This month’s question is “What is the best U.S. Navy/Marine Corps fighter aircraft of all time—relative to its contemporary adversaries?” As with everything in Proceedings, we want your feedback.
As we head into the school year, three Naval Institute contests are running. The first is the Naval & Maritime Photo Contest with a deadline of 30 September. See details on page 103. The second is the Midshipmen and Cadets Essay Contest, sponsored by General Dynamics Information Technology and open to midshipmen and cadets in all Sea Service commissioning programs. Specifics can be found on page 73. The annual Leadership Essay Contest, sponsored by Dr. Phillip London and CACI International, invites all officers from O-1 to O-4 to write about leadership. Details are on page 83.
Finally, Ward Carroll—the Naval Institute’s marketing & outreach director and cohost of the Proceedings Podcast—and I will be at Tailhook ’19 in Reno, Nevada, from 5 to 8 September. We’ll be manning the Naval Institute booth (#534) and recording episodes of the podcast from the floor of the convention center. If you’re at ’Hook, stop by and see us!
Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Life Member since 1993