Best Defense

The Naval War College Review: Why Tom’s harsh assessment is off target

By Cdr. Paul Giarra, USN (Ret.) Best Defense officer of naval strategy The short answer as to why you are wrong about the Naval War College Review is that, just as one example, even if the Review did nothing else but publish Jim Holmes’s and Toshi Yoshihara’s articles, it would be making a contribution of ...

history.navy.mil
history.navy.mil

By Cdr. Paul Giarra, USN (Ret.)
Best Defense officer of naval strategy

The short answer as to why you are wrong about the Naval War College Review is that, just as one example, even if the Review did nothing else but publish Jim Holmes’s and Toshi Yoshihara’s articles, it would be making a contribution of potentially historic consequence for strategists generally.

The longer answer: Listed below are some of the notable repetitive authors who appear in the Naval War College Review. I’ve selected them because they are friends and colleagues, but also because they illustrate one notable contribution of the NWCR: supporting the intellectual development of a cadre of serial thinkers. They publish elsewhere as well, and have notable careers separate from the Naval War College. Tom Mahnken is a great example of this, but the pattern repeats.

I’ve also highlighted the best two to four articles and reviews from each issue for the last 8 quarterly issues of the NWCR. This is not a scientific or even organized review, but it is indicative of the general excellence of the NWCR.

You will note that VADM Yoji Koda, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force published a piece on the Korean Navy (The Emerging Republic of Korea Navy: A Japanese Perspective) in the Spring 2010 issue. In the Spring, 2005 issue, on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Yoji wrote one of the most impressive historical reviews of statesmanship and military operations I’ve ever read (The Russo-Japanese War: Primary Causes of Japanese Success). This is another example of what the NWCR does, providing a forum for serious papers by brilliant intellectuals who have gone to sea.

You might also consider that the depth, quality, and intellectual cadre represented in the pages of the NWCR tends to answer the perennial question of whether there is any thinking going on in the Navy. The problem, as I see it, is that sometimes the Fleet (and especially the programmers of people and platforms) are infuriatingly impervious to ideas that suggest that they do something different in what often is a very conservative, and sometimes blindered, professional society.

Lastly, whatever else might be said about the NWCR, it has to be considered in the last several years of rebuilding the Naval War College’s reputation and connection to Washington under the leadership of VADM Phil Wisecup (recently promoted and re-assigned).

Holmes, James.

Why Doesn’t America Have a Nelson? Does It Need One? Autumn 2005:15-24

"A Striking Thing": Leadership, Strategic Communications, and Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet. Winter 2008:51-67

Holmes, James R., and Toshi Yoshihara

Taiwan: Melos or Pylos? Summer 2005:43-61

Japanese Maritime Thought: If Not Mahan, Who? Summer 2006:23-51

China and the United States in the Indian Ocean: An Emerging Strategic Triangle? Summer 2008:41-60

Thinking about the Unthinkable: Tokyo’s Nuclear Option. Summer 2009:59-78

Hone, Thomas

The Effectiveness of the "Washington Treaty" Navy. November-December 1979:34-58

Fighting on Our Own Ground: The War of Production, 1920-1942. Spring 1992:93-107

Naval Reconstitution, Surge, and Mobilization: Once and Future. Summer 1994:67-85

Hone, Thomas C., and Mark D. Mandles

Managerial Style in the Interwar Navy: A Reappraisal. September-October 1980:88-101

Interwar Innovation in Three Navies: U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy. Spring 1987:63-83

Hone, Thomas C., Norman Friedman, and Mark D. Mandeles

The Development of the Angled-Deck Aircraft Carrier: Innovation and Adaptation. Spring 2011:63-78

Mahnken, Thomas G.

Transforming the U.S. Armed Forces: Rhetoric or Reality? Summer 2001:85-99

Asymmetric Warfare at Sea: The Naval Battles off Guadalcanal, 1942-1943. Winter 2011:95-121

Yoshihara, Toshi

Chinese Missile Strategy and the U.S. Naval Presence in Japan: The Operational View from Beijing. Summer 2010:39-62

Spring 2011

Winter 2011

Autumn 2010

Summer 2010

Spring 2010

Winter 2010

Autumn 2009

Summer 2009

Paul Giarra is president of Global Strategies & Transformation, headquartered in northern Virginia. A defense analyst and strategic planner, he is a graduate of Harvard’s last NROTC class, the U.S. Naval War College, and the Japanese National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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