James R. 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. 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 A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy and a second edition of Red Star over the Pacific. A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy was named a Naval Review Book of the Quarter, selected for the 2020 Navy Professional Reading List as Foundational Reading, and translated into Japanese. The first edition of Red Star over the Pacific was designated an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of the Year. Translations appeared through the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, along with houses in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Taiwan. Both editions were named to the Navy Professional Reading List as Essential Reading, and as such copies were placed aboard every major ship, squadron, and shore installation in the U.S. Navy. The second edition was named to the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Professional Reading Lists.
Habits of Highly Effective Maritime Strategists is in production and slated to appear in 2021.
Jim has published over 25 book chapters and 350 scholarly essays, along with hundreds of opinion columns, think-tank analyses, and other works. He is a two-time recipient of the Hugh G. Nott Prize (best article, Naval War College Review). He wrote for The Diplomat (Tokyo) as the Naval Diplomat from 2012-2015 and is a regular contributor to The National Interest, the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, and The Hill. 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 the Boston Globe, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and 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 has been a regular on WABC-New York since 2014.
Since 2020 he has been a contributing editor for 19FortyFive, a startup foreign- and defense-affairs commentary outlet aimed at considering the causes and effects, dangers and opportunities of rampant change to the international system.
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 Harvard, Brown, and Duke universities; the Universities of Michigan and Virginia; 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 October 2020 he delivered a keynote address on “The Roosevelt Corollary in 2020” at the Theodore Roosevelt Asssociation Annual Symposium.
Jim has served as Veterans’ Day keynote speaker in Sharon and Marion, Massachusetts; Memorial Day speaker in Barrington and West Warwick, Rhode Island, and 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.
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.
Observes former Chief of Naval Operations Tom Hayward: “you make waves.” General Jim Mattis describes Jim as “troublesome.”