Published: October 2014 by Naval Institute Press

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Praise for The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO

"...a refreshing dose of honesty, intelligence, and reflection—much needed in today’s Navy and tomorrow’s leaders.” Naval War College Review

"The Accidental Admiral is valuable, and perhaps even vital, for those seeking to understand the history and context of major foreign policy decisions during the Obama administration." War on the Rocks

"Admiral Jim Stavridis is one of the most forward-thinking military officers and enlightened leaders of his generation. Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, piracy and cyber threats were just a few of the enormous challenges he superbly handled as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. The Accidental Admiral gives readers a window into what it is like to wrestle with the toughest 21st century problems of strategy and diplomacy." —Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, 2008-11; author of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

"Jim Stavridis is a unique breed of leader—at once both a seasoned practitioner, and a thoughtful, charismatic intellectual. He embodies the very definition of a ‘renaissance man.’ A generation of our leaders benefited from working for and with Jim—myself included. Readers of The Accidental Admiral will benefit from the insights of a proven leader's reflections of a pivotal time in history." —Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.), Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, 2009-10; co-founder and partner of the McChrystal Group

"Admiral James Stavridis may be an ‘accidental admiral’ but he is no ordinary commander. He is equal parts thinker and doer, asking hard questions and continually challenging himself and the men and women under his command. His tour of duty as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe encompassed some of the most trying and important issues of our time in Europe and the Middle East. A rollicking and fun read." —Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of The New America Foundation; Director, Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State, 2009-11


Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.)


When I first met Lieutenant Commander James Stavridis in 1989, I had no idea that one day he would be the gold standard for what the U.S. Naval Institute is all about. Since he was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, he has been a faithful and thoughtful member of this professional society, and the depth and breadth of what he has written for the open forum—while remarkably still managing to rise steadily in the ranks to a four-star admiral—is unprecedented. I remember when he visited our headquarters in Beach Hall soon after he earned his first star and I greeted him as "admiral." Instantly, his reply was, "C'mon, Fred. In this family, I'll always be Jim." Family indeed. As we watch for Admiral Jim's next career move, his fellow family members are all proud to say we knew him when. We hope you enjoy this sentimental journey in words that spans his entire distinguished Navy career. -Fred Schultz, Managing Editor, Proceedings


Moderator: ADM James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (2009-2013).

VADM Charles D. Michel, USCG, Vice Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

ADM John Richardson, USN, Chief of Naval Operations

Gen Robert B. Neller, USMC, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps

Admiral Stavridis delivers a stirring address, sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute, to a packed house at the Coast Guard Academy and takes questions from Cadets.


Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and Chairman of the U.S. Naval Insitute Board of Directors. He has served as Commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. 

Stavridis is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of South Florida.     

Dressed as a Marine like his dad for Halloween, 1957

A Surface Warfare Officer, he commanded the Destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52) from 1993-1995, completing UN/NATO deployments to Haiti and Bosnia, and a combat cruise to the Arabian Gulf.  Barry won the Battenberg Cup as the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet under his command.

In 1998, he commanded Destroyer Squadron 21 and deployed to the Arabian Gulf, winning the Navy League's John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership.

From 2002-2004, he commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

From 2006-2009, he commanded U.S. Southern Command in Miami, focused on Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ashore, he has served as a strategic and long-range planner on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He has also served as the Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Stavridis earned a PhD and MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in International Relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize as an outstanding student.  He is also a distinguished graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges.

He holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and five awards of the Legion of Merit.  He is author or co-author of several books on naval ship handling and leadership, including Command at SeaDestroyer CaptainPartnership for the Americas about Latin America, and his latest The Accidental Admiral.

He is happily married to Laura, and they have two daughters - one working at Google and the other an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

As a session in the Maritime Security Dialogue Series, cosponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute

and CSIS, Admiral Stavridis facilitated a discussion to launch the "Cooperative Strategy for the

21st Century Seapower" with Navy CNO Jonathan Greenert, Marine Commandant Joseph Dunford,

and Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft on 13 March 2015 in Washington, D.C.


Professional Activities

  • Served as Supreme Allied Commander, NATO and commander of U.S. European Commander (2009-2013)
  • Chair of the Board, U.S. Naval Institute (2013-present)
  • Led U.S. Southern Command in Miami (2006-2009)
  • Served as Senior Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy
  • First commander of Navy’s “Deep Blue” strategic and tactical think tank after 9/11 Pentagon attacks (2001-2002)


  • Intrepid Freedom Award
  • Athenagoras Human Rights Award
  • Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan Award
  • John Paul Jones Award
  • Arleigh Burke Award
  • Sarnoff Award (AFCEA International)
  • 38 U.S. and international military medals
  • Gullion Prize (Top in class), The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Naval Institute Leadership Essay Contest Winner - 1982 & 1983 Naval Institute General Prize Essay Contest Winner - 1984

    Naval Institute Proceedings Author of the Year - 1994


Selected Writings by Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.)





Other Periodicals


Americas Quarterly

The Atlantic

Atlantic Council

  • "NATO: A Bridge Across Time." (PDF) Freedom's Challenge – Marking the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall December 2009: 134-135. (Admiral)

Foreign Policy

Joint Force Quarterly

Military Review

Naval Law Review

  • "United Nations of the Sea Treaty: Time for a Review?" Naval Law Review Spring 1992: 78-88. (Commander)
    LCDR Stavridis, CNO Special Assistant, with CNO Trost, 1989

Naval War College Review

RUSI Journal

  • "NATO Taking a Fix - Charting a Course" RUSI Journal December 2009: 44-47. (Admiral)



TED Talk

ADM Stavridis, Naval Institute Honors Night Speech and 2010 Naval Institute Press Author of the Year



Book Reviews—Proceedings

Book Reviews—Naval History


Conferences and Events

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From the Press

5 March - Fundraiser

Tue, 2019-03-05

5 March - Fundraiser and Book Signing

Tue, 2019-03-05

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