Professional Notes

The 2010 High Latitude Study noted that meeting all required statutory missions in the Arctic will require a minimum of three heavy and three medium icebreakers. 2 As early as 2009, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission report noted that in addition to building new polar icebreakers and improving infrastructure, investing in human capital would be key to U.S. success in the region. 3

Operating safely in the ice and managing the risks of the harsh Arctic environment demand officers and senior enlisted members with firsthand professional experience in the pilothouse. This gap in human capital will be a significant concern for all Arctic nations, including the United States. To this end, we assert that the United States has a potentially strategic advantage over other nations seeking to rapidly expand their presence in the Arctic.

Lessons from Domestic Icebreaking

Presently, the U.S. Coast Guard possesses a significant untapped resource in the form of our domestic icebreaking fleet. The lessons and skills learned by conning officers and command cadre on the USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) and Bay-class icebreaking tugs have direct and real relevance to our future aspirations of operating in the high latitudes. Additionally, the two 9th District WLB-225 buoy tenders also have extensive experience breaking ice on the Great Lakes.

At first glance, breaking ice on lakes and rivers may seem to bear limited resemblance to doing so in the polar regions. However, in practice, there are significant overlaps in the tactics, techniques, and procedures employed in each. The wind-driven ice of the Arctic, littered with pressure ridges and areas of extremely difficult multiyear ice, is not entirely different from the conditions found during an average year on Lake Erie or in the Straits of Mackinac linking Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Both regions demand constant vigilance on the part of the conning officer and reward careful planning and ice avoidance over direct engagement. The Antarctic fast ice of McMurdo Sound in the Ross Sea that requires a carefully cut channel and constantly groomed turning basin will be instantly familiar to experienced ice navigators who have worked the St. Mary’s River.

Sweden and other Baltic nations use a similar plan to train their icebreaking mates and masters. Starting their careers on small icebreakers in the Baltic Sea, these operators practice “ice management” in those relatively more modest, but sometimes challenging conditions. These opportunities are used specifically to train mates in icebreaking techniques and procedures. Once the officers demonstrate proficiency and aptitude at ice management, they are given the promotion to polar icebreakers and Arctic operations on vessels such as the Oden , a Swedish icebreaker. Captain Anders Backman, former master of the Oden and the first master to reach the North Pole with a conventionally powered icebreaker, attributes his early skill and facility in icebreaking to the time he spent in the Baltic Sea escorting commercial ships in the ice.

Each year, only four deck watch officer ensigns are assigned to the USCGC Healy (WAGB-20) and Polar Star (WAGB-10), two each. Counting up the deck watch officers assigned to the Mackinaw, Hollyhock (WLB-214), Alder (WLB-216), Mobile Bay (WTGB-103), and Bristol Bay (WTGB-102), we find ten more, actually in excess of those assigned to the polar icebreakers in Seattle. The entry-level opportunities at O-2 provide an even more stark comparison: two lieutenant (junior grade) billets, total, one each on the Healy and Polar Star , offering only one entry per year. Weigh this against seven Bay -class executive officers and two icebreaking WLB operations officers. At lieutenant the gap widens further, with no lieutenant operators on the polar breakers, but seven WTGB commanding officers, two WTGB-with-barge executive officers, two WLB executive officers, and the operations officer of the Mackinaw . That’s 12 total billets to develop and train our junior officers at the O-3 level, including seven commands.

Grooming Future Leaders

Further consideration must be given to the pool of officers accumulating Arctic experience on board the USCGC Maple (WLB-207), Spar (WLB-206), Hickory (WLB-212), and Alex Haley (WMEC-39). Working in the 17th District, these experienced officers understand firsthand the treacherous conditions of the Bering Sea and the absolute dearth of marine infrastructure, shoreside support, or fueling facilities north of Dutch Harbor.

Add to these individuals the small pool of junior officers who benefit from formative ensign tours on the Healy and Polar Star and you will have a large group of officers who can and should be developed into future leaders for Coast Guard efforts in the Arctic.

The Coast Guard took a measured step in the right direction this summer by modifying the command screening criteria to allow O-2s on WAGBs to screen for WTGB command immediately following a successful assistant operations officer tour. This methodology has been used successfully in the past to entice, incentivize, and attract highly motivated junior officers to the high endurance cutter, national security cutter, USCGC Eagle (WIX-327), and Navy exchange assignments for O-2s, who are also permitted to screen for O-3 command immediately. Hopefully, this change will make the polar icebreaker assistant operations officer positions more appealing and attract a deeper and more diverse candidate pool from outside the normal icebreaking community. This interest would draw more, better candidates into the career field, strengthening it for years to come.

There is a timely opportunity to tap into these domestic icebreaking positions and actively use them to groom our future Arctic operators and Coast Guard leaders. As the United States builds operating capacity in the Arctic, we will need officers with command experience and icebreaking know-how to lead our forces. We have an opportunity to formalize a training pipeline that includes both domestic and polar icebreaking into a cohesive career plan that delivers well trained, highly experienced, and command-ready officers at the O-5 and O-6 levels.

By institutionalizing such a career path in ice operations, the Coast Guard will be able to identify and mentor the most promising junior officers for future assignment in the icebreaking career field. Numerous shore tours, including staff work at Pacific Area, District 17 in Alaska, the Offices of Cutter Forces and Waterways Management at Headquarters, and the Future Plans staff of the Deputy Commandant for Operations directly relate to icebreaking, high-latitude operations, and Arctic policy.

There is a strong synergy between the oceanography postgraduate program and Arctic operations due to the Healy ’s scientific mission with the National Science Foundation. Once in the oceanography specialty, assignment to the international ice patrol becomes possible. This would allow officers to forge crucial partnerships with other entities working in the Arctic, including the Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Ice Service, and the National Ice Center—a joint U.S. Navy–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration command in Suitland, Maryland.

The United States is an Arctic nation, and the Coast Guard has statutory requirements to carry out missions in Arctic waters. We have a significant opportunity to craft and mold the workforce we need to complete these missions—if we embrace it.

1. J. C. Marcario, ed., “At the Helm: ‘Service, Duty Commitment’ Guide New Coast Guard Commandant,” Seapower Magazine , July/August 2014, .

2. ABS Consulting, U.S. Coast Guard High Latitude Region Mission Analysis Capstone Analysis , July 2010, .

3. U.S. Arctic Research Commission, Report on Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2009–2010, 2009, .

Commander Woityra is presently the operations officer in the Healy. He previously served as the commanding officer of the CGC Neah Bay (WTGB-105), executive officer of the CGC Thunder Bay (WTGB-108), and deck watch officer in the Polar Star (WAGB-10).

Captain Brigham commanded four ships, including the Mobile Bay and Polar Sea . He is presently the Distinguished Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and was chair of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (2005–09).

Commander Davanzo served as the commanding officer of the Mackinaw and Hollyhock . He also served as chief of the Buoy Tenders and Icebreakers Capability Division at Coast Guard Headquarters. He presently serves as the Fleet Readiness and Training Branch Chief and the senior Coast Guard liaison officer to Afloat Training Organization Norfolk.

First Impressions Matter

By Lieutenant G. Graham Van Hook and Lieutenant Kristopher Yost, U.S. Navy

Is the surface warfare officer (SWO) community doing enough to market itself to midshipmen? It claims to give leadership and command early, value education, and provide diverse career experiences, all while serving the nation. However, its strategy for recruiting talent does not reflect this aspiration. In the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), only 54 percent of midshipmen who selected SWO placed it as their first choice, showing that almost half of these future ensigns don’t want to join the surface Navy. 1 A conversation with a SWO company officer at the U.S. Naval Academy indicated that its numbers reflect the same sentiment.

The surface Navy must fix this at the source. The typical midshipman’s entry point to the surface Navy is the midshipmen summer cruise. For most of them, this is their first interaction with and impression of the surface Navy, and regrettably, it currently creates more harm than good. In a recent Proceedings article, Lieutenant Joseph Testa made the point that: “When done well, the midshipmen summer training program is invaluable tool—especially for surface warfare recruitment.” 2 However, the program is not done well, and we believe it will take more than a single proactive training officer to correct this issue.

‘Fumbles’ of the Summer Cruise

Of the 836 3/C NROTC midshipmen going into their 2014 summer cruise last year, only 105 of them wanted to become a SWO. At the conclusion of the cruise, that 105 was further reduced to 37—less than 5 percent of the original group. 3 This vital training period must be retooled to attract America’s best and brightest to the surface Navy.

Each ship and its personnel are different, which creates a vast disparity in midshipmen experiences. When compared to the Navy’s other unrestricted line communities, the midshipmen surface cruise received the lowest marks. This data quantified our conversations with our own midshipmen and echoed our own personal experiences ten years ago.

The current system lacks control, supervision, and vision, resulting in midshipmen becoming bored and underutilized. Our two units had midshipmen report of being food service assistants and having widespread nap competitions. A popular surface Navy blog has an entire thread dedicated to the fumbles of the midshipmen cruise. The 2014 summer cruise survey had these comments:

Training included a large amount of sitting around due to long drills being conducted, and most training was mere observation with little or no explanation due to the crew being occupied with drills and assessments.— A Citadel midshipman

I had a supply corps running mate, so the quality of instruction was less valuable than for a line officer. . . . My running mate was also a new ensign, and I did not see her very much.— A University of Illinois midshipman

My running mate left on leave a few days into cruise and I was not reassigned, so I spent most of my time with his division trying to find things to do. I hoped to have more experience with what officer life was like, but generally they just had paperwork to do or something I really couldn’t participate in, which is understandable.—A Marquette University midshipman 4

We must refocus our attention on how we portray our community and realign our midshipman training to attract talent.

SWOs are missing their first mover advantage. Midshipmen see the surface Navy first, which sets the tone for their upcoming training. However, most midshipmen appear to be turned off by their experience in the surface fleet, leaving a vacuum for other communities to come in and impress them with cruises that include sitting in the backseat of T-34 flights, experiencing the “angles and dangles” of a submarine, or the leadership rewards apparent through Marine, explosive ordnance disposal, and SEAL cruises.

Reviving Midshipmen Training

Changes to help organize and streamline the “enlisted surface cruise” could create real opportunities to grab the attention of midshipmen, such as a 3/C cruise for the U.S. Naval Academy and a 2/C cruise for NROTC students. According to the Regulations for Officer Development, the 2/C summer training period is an “introduction to enlisted life and the roles of the work center supervisor,” but this task is too broad. 6 The surface community must innovate.

We have developed a training plan that could improve not only the value of a midshipman’s summer cruise, but that of the entire surface community. It starts with reducing the locations of the enlisted cruises to two: East Coast and West Coast. The training blocks would be run out of the respective Basic Division Officer Courses (BDOCs), thus centralizing the training and giving it more consistency. The overseas cruises should then be reserved solely for 1/C cruises, creating an incentive and rewarding those who choose surface warfare for service selection. This would align training and not waste an overseas cruise and travel funds on midshipmen who have no desire to serve in the surface community.

BDOC would give the officer in charge (OIC) of the training block the ability to centralize operations and send out sections to specific ships. For example, the OIC could send a group of midshipmen to an amphibious ship for a two-day underway period with the engineering department. On return, they could then go to a guided-missile destroyer for the day with the chief of the guard and take part in anti-terrorism force protection drills. This would provide flexibility to present the best and most exciting activities that the community has to offer while also exposing midshipmen to enlisted life and the roles of the work center supervisor. This schedule would tap into many of the community’s diverse experiences. Training ideas are endless: a landing craft air cushion ride with an enlisted coxswain, visiting an oiler to understand refueling at sea, a day with a riverine-enlisted gunner, shipyard visits with a port engineer, and shadowing maintenance classes at BDOC.

With the implementation of BDOC and now the Advanced Division Officer Course (ADOC), the surface Navy has a pipeline of valuable training centers that it can leverage to train midshipmen. The training already exists; we just need to integrate the opportunities. Midshipmen could hear from senior enlisted leaders, for example, between command visits, similar to how commanding officers already speak at BDOC. This format can be molded to fit other interactive discussions, such as having an enlisted panel speak about the division officer/division interaction. This would strengthen the BDOCs as well because the exposure would help when the midshipmen return to the fleet as junior officers.

Under this model, a number of real personnel-qualification standards could be completed and made transferable to the fleet. Sailors enjoy qualifying as coxswain—why not a 3/C? By creating a set of qualifications managed by the BDOC, we could increase the quality of officers reaching the fleet while also instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment. Midshipmen highlighted the fact they enjoy earning qualifications while on the summer cruise—the surface community should do more of this and expand opportunities.

‘Relief to the Fleet’

There are other advantages to such a model. It first creates consistency in midshipmen’s initial exposure to the fleet, rather than randomly assigning them to a division. It also introduces them to other divisions and types of platforms on which they could potentially serve. Next, it reduces costs in the form of travel and lodging by having two fleet locations; an economy of scale would be created, instead of 1,000 midshipmen spread around the world. Most important, it will help the surface Navy recruit midshipmen.

This system also provides relief to the fleet. No longer will a command be pressured to train and entertain large groups of midshipmen for an extended period that potentially takes away from their own readiness (i.e., inspections and certifications). With this consolidated training, a command can provide midshipmen with concise effective training. The “carousel of training” would have the secondary benefit of reducing the risk of fraternization with enlisted crew members when attached to commands for extended periods. In theory, a senior watch officer could requalify an arriving ensign, rather than having to go through the entire qualification process.

Potential friction could arise from the fact that the BDOCs will not have the officers to support summer training, as is currently the case. But the manpower resources exist; they just need to be consolidated. Officers on limited duty status or on temporary additional duty (TAD) awaiting execution of their orders could help manage this training, and adding another TAD NROTC staff to the BDOCs would be more than sufficient.

Midshipmen are sending the message loud and clear through their service selection. Less than 15 percent of Naval Academy midshipmen choose SWO as their first choice during service selection, but more of them will go into this community than any other. 6 We are placing midshipmen into a community they don’t want to be in, which leads to surface retention problems in the future at the department head level.

The surface community has shown the ability to invest in the right kind of training for our young officers with BDOC, Weapons Tactic Instructor, and now ADOC. We must make a lasting first impression to demonstrate that midshipmen are valued well before they enter the fleet.

1. Naval Service Training Command, Officer Development OD-4, personal communication, 16 December 2014.

2. LT Joseph Testa, USN, “The Case for Midshipmen Summer Training,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings , vol. 141, no. 1 (January 2015), 77–78.

3. Naval Service Training Command, 2014, cruise survey results.

4. Ibid.

5. U.S. Navy, Regulations for Officer Development (NSTC M-1533.2), (Great Lakes, Illinois), 2012.

6. U.S. Naval Academy Instructor, personal communication, 9 January 2014.

Lieutenant Van Hook is a surface warfare officer assigned as an NROTC instructor at Northwestern University. He is a Naval Academy graduate and holds an MS from the University of Arkansas and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Lieutenant Yost is a surface warfare officer serving as an NROTC instructor at the University of Notre Dame. He is product of the Officer Candidate School and holds a masters from the Naval Postgraduate School and an MBA from Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business.

Mining Social Media for Intel

By Commander Bryan Leese, U.S. Navy

The Arab Spring uprisings that occurred across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 solidified social media as an instrument of political change and a new source of information the intelligence community must embrace. Social media is a window into the manifestations of culture on local, regional, and international events. It allows access to sentiments, or feelings, about those events. Sometimes, the ability to take the pulse of a culture provides insight into its possible reaction, allowing a deeper understanding of future outcomes. While open-source intelligence (OSINT) is nothing new, technology and globalization have increased its importance. The ability to capture sentiment, or sentiment analysis, is critical in both long-term and near-term intelligence assessments. The events of the Arab Spring show that the U.S. intelligence community must develop OSINT into an intelligence discipline equal to the other disciplines. Furthermore, OSINT must be developed to include sentiment and activities based analysis through improved technical collection and processing, exploitation, and dissemination.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis is all about exploiting people’s propensity to over-share their personal information on the Internet. In its simplest form, it is the subjective interpretation of a person’s feelings or appraisals about an item, issue, or interaction from their written responses. An example would be that of a first date. One participant may have perceived it as positive, the other as not; both of their writings on the subject would use terms that reflect their assessment. Happiness, excitement, anticipation, dejection, sadness, or fear—all of the emotions can be expressed as sentiment in their writing. Sentiment analysis is not new and has marketing and political applications dating back 50 years or more. 1 What is new, however, is the medium used to extract those appraisal emotions.

Internet use in the globalized world has steadily increased since 1996, with an estimated 39 percent of the world’s total population having access to it. Use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has increased and provide OSINT analysts access to vast amounts of opinions, sentiments, and emotions expressed in text. 2 Unlike polling or surveying, common in marketing or political analysis, the Internet’s social media provides unsolicited, user-generated text expressing sentiment. While complex web-search tools are needed, text from social media sites can be discovered and broken down into positive, negative, or neutral documents, lines, or statements. Each line of text can be searched for positive or negative adjectives, the aggregate of which would equate to positive or negative sentiment about the topic. Using this method, computer programs can be created to help OSINT analysts determine a possible sentiment about a U.S. action, local political situation, or international event, and gain a useful understanding of how others view the event. 3

Greg Slabodkin of Defense Weekly noted that sentiment analysis complements a new form of intelligence tradecraft focused on the human domain called activity-based intelligence (ABI). A form of human geography, it builds on previous “human terrain mapping” and “patterns of life” efforts attributed with successes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The need for ABI was seen during al-Shabaab’s massacre of more than 60 civilians at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013. The attackers tweeted live during the Nairobi attack, trying to explain and justify the carnage. This near-real time sentiment provides analysts with critical information. “Social media platforms such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have ‘flattened control over the production of online jihadi media,’ enabling jihadist groups to share news items, original articles and essays, tribute videos and even Islamic-sanctioned music,” Slabodkin noted. 4

The Internet and social media have made everyone a player in the use of information as an element of power. A single person, group, or collective can impact the “I” portion of the DIME (diplomatic, information, military, and economics) power model with effects on par with those previously seen by well-crafted strategic communication messages from state governments. However, as Richard A. Lindsey of the Small Wars Journal noted, “There comes a point in any insurgency where it must move beyond the reach of social media, and tangible gains must be made on the ground.” 5 His point is that while social media has weaponized information at the individual level, it still requires physical, and most times armed action, to make a revolution successful. 6

The concern for the analyst must be in the distinguishing of aspiration from credible intent in an endless sea of text and data. Sentiment analysis and ABI can be compelling and all consuming; it is a vast amount of subjective material and must be placed into context through all-source analysis in order to not become biased. Selecting social media targets, applying web-search technology, generating algorithms that search for the right adjectives in the right language, and putting the vast amount of data into a usable form is truly a skillset unto itself and requires special training. 

The Problem with OSINT

Oddly enough, as the improved technology allows greater access, OSINT’s value has appeared to diminish in the eyes of the intelligence community. Dr. Mark Lowenthal, former chief of staff for the House Intelligence Committee, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis, and prolific writer on national intelligence topics, noted, “There will always be [intelligence community] officials, and some of their policy customers, who believe that the greater the difficulty involved in collection of the intelligence, the better the intelligence has to be.” 7 This view of OSINT’s limited usefulness is countered by others having the typical American belief in technology as an intelligence panacea. OSINT is cheap, plentiful, and with the right search engine, it is believed, easy to extract.

However, not everything available on the Internet is valuable, and sorting the wheat from the chaff requires special skills. For the longest time, OSINT was seen as a self-service discipline where all-source analysts could fend for themselves. Individual agencies established OSINT protocols and processes that overlapped and duplicated other agency efforts, frittering away resources and devaluing the collected information. 8 In 2006 the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) created an Assistant Deputy DNI for Open Source (ADDNI/OS) to establish clear policy and practiced application of OSINT. On 1 November 2005, the CIA was made responsible for collecting, producing, and promoting open-source intelligence through its management of the DNI Open Source Center (OSC). 9 The OSC has made strides to align the intelligence community’s OSINT efforts and implement cogent OSINT policy, but there is still a variety of applications—some effective and some not—in use.

The Need for Change

Although there is an ADDNI/OS and the OSC, the application of OSINT is not consistent across the intelligence community. U.S. Africa Command J2-Molesworth (J2-M), for example, assigned individual OSINT analysts to regionally focused, all-source analytic production branches. This model helped to incorporate OSINT source material into all-source products with a near-term assessment focus, but lacked the robustness needed to conduct mid-term warning analysis. Additionally, once the late-2012 second wave of Middle East and North Africa region protests occurred, and concurrently the 11 September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate office in Benghazi, J2-M had limited ability to monitor the large volume of social media actively associated with the regional crisis. This lack of depth in OSINT and an inability to apply any structure to sentiment analysis hindered the assessment of critical indicators related to protestor or foreign government-security activities. 10

The intelligence community has a clear need to incorporate sentiment analysis and ABI into its all-source analysis and assessments. The application of advanced OSINT collection requires a different, more consolidated and coordinated approach. The ADDNI/OS must establish a policy for the collection requirement management and collection platform development of sentiment analysis and ABI. The policy must address OSINT, particularly sentiment analysis and ABI, as an intelligence-collection discipline, similar to imagery intelligence, measurement and signature intelligence, or signals intelligence, with separate and distinct production, exploitation, and dissemination elements. Sentiment analysis and ABI will require special processing and interpretative skills and specific training is required to ensure its full benefit is realized. All-source analysts should not conduct raw sentiment analysis or ABI-derived data, but rather receive a product similar to that of photographic interpretation report that contains a basic assessment of the raw data in a fusible form.

Making the OSINT discipline a standing equal to that of the other intelligence disciplines will require treasure, training, and improved equipment, but most importantly a plan. As former OSC director Douglas Naquin stated in 2010:

An organization that invests in open source today is akin to an individual who invested in Google in its first year. OSINT has always been an integral component in intelligence, but in five years, I believe the value proposition can only increase. An organization with an appreciation for OSINT’s value and potential will be the most effective in the future. 11

It is critical that a further investment in technology and training, articulated through clear OSC guidance and planning that places OSINT equal to other intelligence disciplines, be established to incorporate structured sentiment analysis and ABI into mid- to long-term warning assessments across the intelligence community.

1. Klaus R. Scherer, Handbook of Cognition and Emotion: Appraisal Theory (Indianapolis, IN: John Wiley & Sons, 1999), 635–639.

2. Vivek Kumar Singh, Sentiment Analysis (New Delhi, India: Department of Computer Science South Asian University, 2013), , 5–6.

3. Ibid., 7–23.

4. Greg Slabodkin, “GEOINT tradecraft: ‘Human geography,’” Defense Weekly , 29 October 2013, .

5. Richard A. Lindsey, “What the Arab Spring Tells Us about the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary Movements,” Small Wars Journal , 29 July 2013, .

6. Ibid.

7. Mark Lowenthal, Roger Z. George, and Robert D. Kline, eds., Intelligence and the National Security Strategist: Enduring Issues and Challenges , “Open-Source Intelligence: New Myths, New Realities” (Washington, DC: Sherman Kent Center for Intelligence Studies, National War College, National Defense University Press, 2004), 274.

8. Ibid., 274–275.

9. Director of National Intelligence, National Open Source Enterprise, ICD 301 (Washington, DC: Director of National Intelligence), 11 July 2006, .

10. CDR Bryan Leese, USN, U.S. Africa Command J2-Molesworth, Branch Chief, North-West Analysis & Production Branch, 2010–2013.

11. Director of Central Intelligence, INTellingence: Open Source Intelligence (Washington, DC: Director Open Source Center, 2013), .

Commander Leese is with Carrier Strike Group 2 as the N2. He previously served as an instructor in the Department of Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations at the U.S. Army War College.




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