James Holmes, Ph.D.
J.C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy, U.S. Naval War College
James Holmes is a professor of strategy, the inaugural holder of the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy, and a two-time visiting professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. He is a recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal honoring his research and writing. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs, Center for International Trade and Security, where he remains a Nonresident Fellow.
He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation & Future Warfare, U.S. Marine Corps University. A former U.S. Navy surface-warfare officer and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, he served as a weapons and engineering officer in the battleship Wisconsin, engineering and firefighting instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and military professor of strategy at the Naval War College.
He is the last gunnery officer in history to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger.
Jim is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.A., mathematics and German) and completed graduate work at Salve Regina University (M.A., international relations), Providence College (M.A., mathematics), and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (M.A.L.D. and Ph.D., international affairs), where he was named the A. Eiken Hohenberg Scholar. He was the first recipient of the Naval War College Foundation Award, signifying the top graduate in his Naval War College class.
His most recent books are Habits of Highly Effective Maritime Strategists, a nominee for the U.K. Maritime Foundation’s Mountbatten Award for Best Book of 2022, A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy, and a second edition of Red Star over the Pacific. A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy was one of just twelve books named to the 2022 Navy Professional Reading List after being first selected for the 2020 list as Foundational Reading. It was named a Naval Review Book of the Quarter and translated into Japanese and Korean. The first edition of Red Star over the Pacific was designated an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of the Year and named to the 2012 Navy Professional Reading List as Essential Reading. As such copies were placed aboard every major ship, squadron, and shore installation in the U.S. Navy. Translations appeared through the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, along with houses in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Taiwan. The second edition was named to the 2019 Navy Professional Reading List as Advanced Reading and was also selected for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Professional Reading Lists.
He is currently writing a Naval Institute “Essential Guide” to China, while A Brief Guide to Joint Sea Power is under contract for 2024.
Jim has published over 30 book chapters and 400 scholarly essays, along with hundreds of opinion columns, think-tank analyses, and other works. He is an occasional contributor to the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. His article on the “seventh cornerstone of naval operations” was named the MajGen Richard C. Schultze Memorial prize essay for 2021 (Marine Corps Gazette). He is a two-time recipient of the Hugh G. Nott Prize (best article, Naval War College Review) and a recipient of the John Lyman Award for United States Naval History (North American Society for Oceanic History). He contributed regularly to The National Interest from 2012-2022, served as the national security columnist for Real Clear Defense in 2015, and wrote for The Diplomat (Tokyo) as the Naval Diplomat from 2012-2015.
Since 2020 he has been a contributing editor for 19FortyFive, a startup foreign- and defense-affairs commentary outlet that considers the causes and effects, dangers and opportunities of rampant change to the international system. He was the staff foreign- and defense-affairs columnist for the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald from 2001-2007 and has written for such print outlets as Thanh Nien (Vietnam), the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Providence Journal, Global Times (China), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Los Angeles Times. He has been quoted or cited in outlets ranging from The Economist to Xinhua and appeared on such broadcast outlets as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR, and the BBC. He was a regular on WABC-New York from 2014-2021 and now appears regularly on Eye on the World on the CBS Audio Network.
In 2017 Jim deployed to the Pacific with Carrier Strike Group 9 on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). He has addressed international fleet reviews in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Busan, South Korea; and Sydney, Australia. He was a visiting fellow at National Chengchi University, Taiwan, and the Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses, India. He has testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and spoken at such institutions as Vanderbilt, Harvard, Brown, Duke, and Carnegie Mellon universities; the University of Michigan and University of Virginia; the Republic of Korea Naval Academy, Chinhae, and U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis; Wilton Park, Steyning, U.K.; the Vivekananda Foundation, Jaipur; the Lowy Institute, Sydney; the Japan Foreign Ministry and Naval War College, Tokyo; the Aspen Institute, Berlin; the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington; the French Institute of International Relations (ifri), Paris; the Clingendael Institute of International Relations, The Hague; and the Chinese Council for Advanced Policy Studies, Taipei. In 2020 he delivered a keynote address at the Theodore Roosevelt Association Annual Symposium, National War College, Washington DC.
This April he was a panelist on “Indo-Pacific: Maritime Security,” addressing a standing-room-only crowd at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space 2023 Exposition in National Harbor, MD.
Last year while on sabbatical he was named the inaugural Honaker Family Public Service Lecturer at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where he taught an intensive course on Chinese sea power. He also traveled to Maine, where he lectured to the Naval ROTC unit and moderated a graduate seminar at the School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine, Orono, and lectured to the Naval ROTC unit at Maine Maritime Academy, Castine.
Jim has served as Veterans’ Day keynote speaker in Sharon and Marion, Massachusetts; Memorial Day speaker in Barrington and West Warwick, Rhode Island, and Randolph, Milton, and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts; and Flag Day speaker in Newport, Rhode Island. On Memorial Day 2013 he presided over a Medal of Honor ceremony in Newport, celebrating the life of Chief Gunner’s Mate George Brady. In June 2018 he commemorated the Battle of Belleau Wood at the Union Club on Boston Common, and that November he delivered an address at the National World War I Museum and Monument in Kansas City to mark the centennial of the Armistice. In October 2022 he delivered the Trafalgar Day address at the Union Club, Boston, asking “What Would Nelson Do?” about the situation in the Western Pacific.
Historic ships are a favorite venue. In 2015 he delivered keynote remarks at a Charlestown Navy Yard ceremony honoring the bicentennial of sail frigate USS Constitution’s “dual victory” over HMS Cyane and Levant and commemorated the Battle of Midway alongside submarine USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut. In 2016 he addressed a Naval Symposium on board the battleship New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, and commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack on board the battleship Missouri. In 2017 he commemorated the 75th anniversary of Midway on board Missouri. In 2021 he commemorated the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor on board USS Massachusetts in Fall River, Massachusetts, and in 2022 he delivered a Desert Storm retrospective on board Massachusetts.
This spring he joined the Board of Directors for Battleship Cove, Fall River, which is home to the battleship Massachusetts, the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, and other historic warships.
Observes former Chief of Naval Operations Tom Hayward: “you make waves.” Former U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Scott Swift calls Jim’s writings “beacons” for those in uniform. General Jim Mattis describes him as “troublesome.”