Biography

James R. Holmes, Ph.D.

J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy

U. S. Naval War College

James Holmes is a professor of strategy and former visiting professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, where he is the inaugural holder of the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy. He is a 2016 recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs, returning in 2016 as Van Beuren Distinguished Visiting Fellow. 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 the A. Eiken Hohenberg Scholar. He also earned the Naval War College Foundation Award, signifying the top graduate in his Naval War College class.

His most recent books (with long-time coauthor Toshi Yoshihara) are Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age and Red Star over the Pacific. Designated an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of 2010, Red Star over the Pacific has been named to the Navy Professional Reading List as Essential Reading. Copies have been placed aboard every major ship, squadron, and shore installation in the U.S. Navy. Translations have appeared through the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, and through houses in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Taiwan.

A second edition of Red Star over the Pacific is forthcoming (October 2018). Robert Kaplan says of the second edition:

“For many years now, James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara have been the go-to pair for both a granular and strategic understanding of the American-Chinese naval rivalry. Their new edition of Red Star over the Pacific, a seminal work when first published, will be a requirement for everybody in the field.”

Admiral James Stavridis, author of Sea Power and Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University:

“This is must reading. In their landmark Red Star over the Pacific, Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes warned us Chinese sea power is here to stay and could veer toward aggression. Their warning was prophetic. With this second edition they help us prepare for the competitive future they foresaw.”

Captain Wayne Hughes, author of the classic Fleet Tactics:

“Those who are familiar with the Naval War College’s many past contributions to the U.S. Navy’s combat readiness in competition with other nations will be pleased to know two distinguished faculty there have written the definitive, comprehensive description of China’s growing emphasis on sea power and determination to be influential on the high seas. As more tactician than strategist I believe this book affords many clues to ways to make affordable changes in the composition and tactics needed in our Navy to retain the confidence of our Asian friends and help keep the peace or constrain the level of conflict in the Western Pacific.”

And Admiral Nirmal Verma, former commander of the Indian Navy and now a Chief of Naval Operations Fellow at the Naval War College:

“In Red Star over the Pacific (2010), James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara presciently postulated China’s game plan to become a serious oceangoing power. In this edition they meticulously analyze how since then, China is innovatively expanding its envelope of maritime dominance in the Pacific. This is not to be missed.”

Under contract are A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy and Naval Diplomats: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet.

Jim has published over 25 book chapters and 200 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 as the Naval Diplomat from 2012-2015 and is a regular contributor to The National Interest, the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, and Foreign Policy. 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 has 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.

In the fall of 2017 Jim deployed to the Pacific theater with Carrier Strike Group 9 on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). He addressed the international fleet reviews in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2018), Busan, South Korea (2015) and Sydney, Australia (2013). 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.

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.

This May he is slated to honor the friendship of naval aviators Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner as Memorial Day speaker in Barrington.

Historic ships are a favorite venue. In February 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 in June 2015 he commemorated the Battle of Midway alongside submarine USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut. In November 2016 he addressed a Naval Symposium on board the battleship New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, in December 2016 he commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack on board the battleship Missouri, and in May 2017 he commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway on board Missouri.

General Jim Mattis describes him as “troublesome.”