If you haven’t been watching the goings-on over at the U.S. Naval Institute over its proposed change of mission, you should start.
Here’s an open letter by Raymond Pritchett, who sums up some of the problems.
On February 25, 2011 Major General Thomas L. Wilkerson, USMC (Ret.) announced on the United States Naval Institute blog that “the Board of Directors has recommended an historic change to the Mission of the Naval Institute to ‘advocating the necessity of global seapower.’” Nearly three weeks later a letter from Steve Waters, Chairman of the United States Naval Institute Board of Directors, was posted to the Naval Institute blog with the intent to address the criticism and concerns being expressed by USNI membership. In his letter explaining the mission statement change, Chairman Steve Waters highlighted three specific challenges facing USNI that included financial instability, decline in membership, and a trending loss of relevance. The emphasis by Steve Waters in all conversations has been on the first issue, financial instability, but I personally believe the second and third issues are far more serious problems.
The decline in membership for the Naval Institute is a serious problem, and I applaud the Board of Directors being committed to dealing with this problem. During the members meeting April 29th, I look forward to hearing what the Board of Directors has done to address this issue. I have observed that over the last decade a generational gap has developed within the membership of the Naval Institute, and only within the last few years has USNI been addressing this issue.
It is still unclear who will be presenting for USNI at the annual members meeting. I have heard that John Morgan is unable to make the meeting due to medical reasons. Let us all hope his medical condition isn’t serious enough that it prevents him from attending online. This is a historic time for the Naval Institute, and to be very honest I have serious concerns regarding the quality of leadership on the Board of Directors when so many members of the Board of Directors are hiding from membership following what I see as one of the most embarrassing episodes in the 137 year history of the organization.
I get it that Board of Director members are busy people and may be out of town on business, but is it really too difficult for any Board of Director member who can’t be present to get the phone or participate through the webcast? All I hear about from the Board of Directors are 20th century solutions to 21st century problems, and now they want to use 20th century excuses in the 21st century too?
So on one hand, folks inside USNI are working hard and beating the bushes looking for ways to encourage Junior Officers to share their experiences at a pace greater than the rhythm of the monthly issue of Proceedings, but on the other hand the leaders of USNI on the Board of Directors can’t find a way to make a members meeting planned months in advance following one of the challenging debates in the organizations 137 year history? The disconnect that exists between the leadership on the Board of Directors of USNI and the people who actually work inside USNI is depressing.
If you are a member of the US Naval Institute and live in the Washington, DC area, you need to attend next Friday. I’ll be there. I look forward to listening to the concerns of other members, and learning the answers to a great number of questions that must have legitimate, honest answers. Some folks are attending because they want accountability, but my motivation for attending is that I want to see what the future looks like.
For those who do not understand what is at stake next week, listen carefully to this warning because it is very much legitimate based on my extensive homework on the issues recognized by the Board of Directors at USNI. If Friday becomes a bullshit show by the Board of Directors, the Naval Institute will lose the future with the younger generations of officers in the maritime services. The organization does not have time to wait even one more year for action to be taken on these issues; the window of opportunity for certain opportunities that have everything to do with the future is closing.
If you do not realize that fact, you are wildly out of touch with the people in the maritime services today and need to do your homework. If you require more information, you need to start asking serious questions. We live in an era of abundant choices, and right now according to data I have collected in relative comparisons of various alternatives and Proceedings – the folks in maritime services are choosing somewhere besides the Naval Institute to contribute their ideas.
Next Friday we fix that.
If you’re a UNSI member and you’re near Washington, DC this Friday, please attend that members’ meeting and let your voice be heard.
If you’re not a member … what in the heck are you waiting for?