Category Archives: Events

Upcoming Lectures, Meet-ups, Happy Hours, Discussions, Symposia, Conferences

02 – 06 March 2015 Events of Interest

This is a roundup of events by that our readers and members might find interesting. Inclusion does not equal endorsement, all descriptions are the events’ own. Think of one we should inclcalendarude?  Email Emil at


Upcoming CIMSEC Events

Miss CIMSEC’s first annual Forum for Authors and Readers (#CFAR15)? Here is the opening keynote by BJ Armstrong on his new book 21st Century Sims: Innovation, Education, and Leadership for the Modern Era” (videos of the presentations coming soon)


02 – 06 March 2015 Events of Interest

02 March 2014 – Canberra, Australia – ASPI – “Exploring China’s Maritime Consciousness'; Public Opinion on the South and East China Sea Disputes”

02-3 March 2015 – Piscataway, NJ – CCICADA and AMU – “Learning Seminar and Symposium on Maritime Cyber Security”

03 March - Chicago, IL – Chicago Council – America in the Middle East: A View from the Trenches”

03 March - Washington, DC – RAND – The Use of Long-Range Armed Drones: Fact v. Myth

03 March - Washington, DC – Atlantic Council – The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order

04-5 March 2015 – Arlington, VA – ASNE – “ASNE Day 2015″

04 March 2015 – Washington, DC – Cato Institute – “The Future of NATO and the Transatlantic Security Framework”

04 March 2015 – Washington, DC – CNAS – “Women and Leadership in National Security”

05 March 2015 – Washington, DC -Wilson Center – “Maritime Security in the Asia-Pacific Region and the U.S.-Japan Alliance”

04-06 March 2015 – Kiel, Germany – Future Ocean – “Ocean Sustainability Science Symposium”

06 March 2015 -London, UK – IISS – “Upholding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”


Long-range Events

10-12 March 2015 – Jacksonville, FL – Homeland Security Outlook – “Maritime Security 2015 East”

10 March 2015 – Washington, DC – CSIS – “Evolving Challenges to U.S. Reliance on Space”

11 March 2015 – London, UK  – Royal United Services Institute – “The Future of Nuclear Navies: the UK and China”

12 March 2015 – Washington, DC – Jamestown Foundation – “Fifth Annual China Defense and Security Conference”

13 March 2015 – Washington, DC – CSIS/USNI – “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower – Revision Launch”

13-15 March 2015 – Yokohama, Japan – Defense Technology Foundation – “MAST Asia 2015″

16 March 2015 – Washington, DC – Cato Institute – “The Pentagon Budget: Prospects for Reform”

16 March 2015 – Washington, DC – Stimson Center – “Global Arms Trade, Recent Trends & Looking Ahead”

17-18 March 2015 – Accra, Ghana – Ghana Navy – “Coastal & Maritime Surveillance”

17 March 2015 – Sydney, Australia – SMSA – “Future Subs: Australia’s Submarine Fleet”

18 March 2015 – Washington, DC -Hudson Institute – “Dialogues on American Strategy and Statesmanship: Senator Tom Cotton and Walter Russell Mead”

18 March 2015 – Washington, DC – NDU – “Grand Strategy: Bridging America’s Aims and Actions”

18 March 2015 – Washington, DC – CSBA – “Maritime Competition in a Mature Precision-Strike Regime”

18-19 March 2015 – Montreal, Canada – ACI – “6th Arctic Shipping Summit”

30 March-01 April – Canberra, Australia – ASPI – “Australia’s Future Surface Fleet Conference

7-9 April 2015 – Carlisle, PA –  Army War College – “Balancing the Joint Force to meet Future Security Challenges”

15-17 April 2015 – Jacksonville, FL –  – Maritime Patrol Association – “2015 MPA Symposium”

17-18 April 2015 – Portsmouth, UK – National Museum of the Royal Navy – “Statesmen & Seapower”

22 April 2015 – Arlington, VA – CNA – “U.S. Navy Future Strategy Forum”

21-23 April 2015 – Singapore – Seatrade Global and SMF – “Sea Asia”

28-29 April 2015 – London, UK – ACI – “Global Shipping Trends and Trade Patterns”

13-14 May 2015 – Washington, DC – AIE – “Additive Manufacturing for Defense and Government” ft CIMSECian Scott Cheney-Peters

13-17 May 2015 – Monterey, CA – North American Society for Oceanic History – “Pacific – The Peaceful Ocean?”

19-20 May 2015 – Larnaca, Cyprus – Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Defense – “CYP Naval 2015″

19-20 May 2015 -Newport, RI – USNWC China Maritime Studies Institute – China’s Naval Shipbuilding: Progress and Challenges ft CIMSECian Scott Cheney-Peters

20-21 May 2015 – London, May – ACI – “6th FPSO Vessel Conference”

29-30 May 2015 – Providence, RI – North American Society for Oceanic History – “50th Anniversary Gaspee Days Maritime History / Maritime Studies Symposium”

2-5 June 2015 – Oslo, Norway – Nor Shipping – Nor Shipping 2015 Exhibition

4-5 June 2015 – Berlin, Germany – Zentrum Moderner Orient – “Cooperation, Coercion and Compulsion across the Red Sea from the Eighteenth Century to the Present” 

24-25 June 2015 – Edinburgh, UK – ACI – “2nd World Ocean Power Summit” 

26 June 2015 – Washington, DC – CNAS – “CNAS Annual Conference” (Save the date)

11 July 2015 – Canberra, Australia – Australian National University – “SDSC Conference 2015: Pacific War”

2-3 Sept 2015 – London, UK – ACI – “6th Maritime Salvage & Casualty Response”

18-19 Sept 2015 – Annapolis, MD – USNA – “US Naval Academy 2015 McMullen Naval History Symposium (Registration forthcoming)

23-25 Sept 2015 – Mumbai, India – Informa Exhibitions and Hamburg Messe und Congress - “INMEX-SMM India”

23-26 Sept 2015 – Giardnini Naxos, Sicily – EISA – “Pan European Conference on Maritime Security”

10-11 Oct 2015 – Philadelphia, PA – Temple – “U.S. Bases and the Construction of Hegemony”

14-16 Oct 2015 – Lisbon, Portugal – Portuguese Naval Academy (Escola Naval)- “The Navy and the Great War-Politics and Naval Power” (Paper Proposals Due 28 Aug)

11-12 Nov 2015 – London, UK – ACI – “7th Artic Shipping Summit 2015″

The Thinking Professional v. The Practical Officer

On Thursday evening CIMSEC held the first annual Forum for Authors and Readers (#CFAR15). The opening keynote talk was delivered by BJ Armstrong, a member of the Center as well as a PhD Candidate in War Studies with King’s College, London and a member of the Editorial Board of the U.S. Naval Institute. The talk is based on his new book “21st Century Sims: Innovation, Education, and Leadership for the Modern Era” and kicked off an evening of great thinking and discussion on maritime affairs.  We will have videos of the presentations on the website shortly. The following are his prepared remarks…

The Thinking Professional v. The Practical Officer:
Sims on Sailors, Scholars & Scribes

simsIn November of 1900 Lieutenant William Sims joined the wardroom of USS Kentucky, the U.S. Navy’s newest battleship. He had just come from a tour in the Paris embassy, studying and collecting intelligence on European battleship design and gunnery practices. As Kentucky sailed for China Station Sims got his sea legs back and began getting to know his new ship. He started comparing what he had observed in Europe with what he found back at sea with his shipmates, and he began to think that despite new ships and a new found place on the world stage following the victory in the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Navy still had a lot of room for improvement.

Many of you know the history that follows, how Sims found and frankly stole the concept of continuous-aim fire from Captain Percy Scott of the Royal Navy, and then went on to revolutionize naval gunnery. His course was treacherous, and unclear, but eventually throughout the fleet William Sims became known as “the man who taught us how to shoot.”

Sims continued pushing boundaries in the years leading up to World War I: advocating for the all-big-gun battleship, developing torpedo boat and destroyer tactics, and eventually commanding all American naval forces in Europe when the U.S. entered the war. During the war he was central to the adoption of the convoy system that beat the U-boats in the First Battle of the Atlantic. When he returned home he had a second term as President of the Naval War College. There he helped establish the system of study and war-gaming used in the inter-war years to develop naval aviation and American submarines.

William Sims was, beyond a doubt, an innovator. Naval innovation is often seen through the lens of technology, defined by the weapons and hardware which we label as “game-changers” or “transformations.” However, some of the most important developments in history have come from the “software”: or innovations in tactics, techniques, and procedures. Like the development of continuous-aim fire. Ideas, it must be remembered, can be even more powerful than the steel and explosives that dominate our naval heritage.

It was on the prompting of President Teddy Roosevelt that Sims wrote his first article for publication. The success of that piece led him to realize the power of sharing ideas and innovations through professional writing. Throughout the remainder of his life he wrote about dozen articles for the Naval Institute’s journal Proceedings, and more for other magazines. After returning from World War I, he collaborated with Burton Hendrick to write a book. The Victory at Sea was part history and part memoir of the war, and was published to great acclaim. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.

As the President of the Naval War College at the beginning of the inter-war years, Sims’ thinking on naval warfare and military professionalism had an impact on an entire generation of officers. These were men returning from war and trying to put their experience in perspective and learn lessons for the future. They had names like Nimitz, Spruance, and Halsey.

Today, the ranks of the United States military are again filled with a generation of men and women who are looking back on wartime experience. Many of our junior officers and enlisted have had a level of responsibility during their service which now causes them to bristle at perceived micromanagement and bureaucracy. The military will likely struggle over the next several years to learn how to return to non-combat roles.

What can we do to improve that struggle? What can we do today to ensure that lessons we have learned over the past decade and a half of conflict are not forgotten, and are not ignored?

Over the course of his career, Sims learned a great deal about fighting the military bureaucracy, about successful innovation, and about service before and after war. He wrote about all of these subjects in the latter part of his career, and this knowledge and advice has sat quietly in the archives for today’s innovators and service members, if they want to learn from it.

Here, with CIMSEC’s members and readers, the most relevant parts of this advice may be the importance of professional writing and personal, professional learning. Sims wrote about his experience with both. They were also central to what he saw as lacking in many officers in the Navy of his day.

Taking on The Mahan…

Alfred-Thayer-MahanIn 1906 William Sims was a Lieutenant Commander and still serving in his role as Inspector of Target Practice. The Russo-Japanese War had just come to an end, and navalists all over the world were combing through news reports and the stories of the Battle of Tsushima to analyze lessons for modern naval warfare. One of these navalists was the historian and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan.

In his day, Mahan was the great thinker on the subject of war and peace, something like how men like Brzezinski or Scrowcroft are seen today combined with a Stavridis or McMaster. He wrote an article for Proceedings that analyzed the events in the Sea of Japan. It drew the lesson that a properly designed fleet required battleships of moderate size, with a varied battery of different sized guns, that could be built in large numbers and were multi-mission. It was a conclusion well in line with the thinking of most of the Admirals in the Navy, and it encouraged the status quo.

Sims’ own experience, gathering intelligence on battleships and in developing continuous-aim fire, suggested something entirely different. He also had a friend with a report on the actual events in the Tsushima Strait to base his analysis on. Sims wrote an article that directly contradicted the great navalist. He demonstrated that the lesson of the Russo-Japanese War was that large battleships, with a battery full of all big guns of the same caliber, were the best way to construct a fleet, even if the expense meant you could only build a smaller number of them. As he wrote in the conclusion of his article:

“I have attempted to show that Captain Mahan’s conclusions are probably in error.”

As the development of the British Dreadnaught would demonstrate, Sims was far closer to how the navies of the world would develop than Mahan was.

Sims’ essay offers readers in the twenty-first century something more than an interesting story of two great naval minds and an abandoned ship class. First, it demonstrates how important a healthy professional debate is for our national security. Without discussion generated by forward-thinking officers and junior civilian analysts in military and security journals, both in print and today online, the military bureaucracy will stagnate and become reactionary. Without the engagement of innovative junior members of the team any organization, whether military or civilian, risks becoming followers instead of leaders in their field.

Sims’ article also demonstrates the importance of expertise. Readers will understand his deep knowledge and obvious study of battleship employment and design. Today’s military innovators and thinkers must learn from this example. They must be willing to jump into the arena of ideas, but they also must be willing to do the hard work of researching and studying their subject in order to get it right.

Today, whether the debate is about the future of the big-deck nuclear aircraft carriers as we recently saw in Annapolis, or about questions of the military effectiveness of swarming small combatants versus today’s modern dreadnaughts, the arguments must be logical, informed by a mastery of the facts, and well presented.

Sims knew that in order to engage the world’s leading navalist in a debate, in order to challenge the great Alfred Thayer Mahan, he had to have his details right and his logic had to be sound. This kind of rigorous and researched engagement on the defense questions of the day offers us an example for the twenty-first century, one that we must aspire to no matter where we are writing, whether in the pages of print journals like Proceedings or online at leading blogs like CIMSEC’s Next War or our other friends at The Strategy Bridge.

“The opportunity that can never return”

But how do we get that level of expertise? Some of it will come from our personal experience on the deckplates or in cockpits deployed across the seven seas. Or service in the desert, or working on staffs in the halls of power, or the buildings of DC. Some of it will come from studying for our tactics quizzes or our NATOPS exams in the ready rooms, or working on getting the right font on the briefing slides at a think tank. But those sources are only going to provide us with a small scale of knowledge, a vital foundation that we must master but something in desperate need of context and broadening. According to Sims we must add to that knowledge through a dedicated pursuit of personal professional study.

In 1921 Sims published his Newport lecture “The Practical Naval Officer” in Proceedings. The lecture is something like a Jazz cover, since he took the title and some of the inspiration from a lecture that Mahan had given in Newport nearly thirty years before. Sims, who had locked horns with the great navalist on Tsushima, now came to embrace his view of strategic education and how to prepare officers for the highest responsibilities of command and policy. There is much to talk about in his lecture, but I will focus on this last of his three pillars of strategic education.

Sims lamented the fact that when he was a junior officer, he spent his time reading subjects that had no real bearing on the military profession. He read some philosophy and political economy, but he appears to have avoided reading military history or learning about governments and international relations or current events. As he became more senior, he slowly realized that he was missing a lot of knowledge. In fact his own perception of his time as a student at the Naval War College wasn’t that it taught him the things he needed to know, instead it highlighted all of the things he didn’t know and still needed to learn.

He wrote:

Specifically addressing the younger officers of the navy, let me say that you now have the opportunity that can never return. It lies with you to determine whether, when you become old, you will have to regret the wasted years of your youth; whether at that period of life you will find yourselves simply “practical men”—“beefeaters’’—or really educated military naval officers.

It will depend largely upon self-instruction and self-discipline. But you must keep clearly in view the fact that, under modern naval conditions, an officer may be highly successful, and even brilliant, in all grades up to the responsible positions of high command, and then find his mind almost wholly unprepared to perform its vitally important functions in time of war.

Where to start? Well, Sims leaves us with a short reading list in his lecture, which you can find in my book “21st Century Sims.” It is impressive how well this list still stands up today. But as he points out, that is just a start. Even after completing their studies at the War College he emphasized to the graduating officers that they should consider themselves to be at the beginning of their education. They must continue on their own if they hope to achieve the level of professionalism that the American people deserve from their armed forces.

There is a common bit of advice that many of us have heard from senior officers looking to mentor us: Take care of your job today, do it well, and you will be prepared for your next job. Focus on today’s tasks and everything else will take care of itself. Sims comes out in direct opposition to this advice. Sure, from a purely careerist point of view it is the best way to ensure you have the right grades and catch phrases on your fitness report for promotion. But from a professional point of view the unspoken part of this advice is that you don’t need to look to the future, to think about the questions “above your pay grade.” Instead, once you’ve completed your daily tasks and your administrative minutia, you can just return to managing your fantasy football team or play some more video games. Even in his day Sims was incensed that senior officers continued to give this advice. He believed that professionalism was more than the shine on your shoes, or the grade on your rules of the road quiz, it meant reading and studying your profession, even in your personal time.


In his recent book “Saltwater Leadership,” which you will hear some more about later this evening, Admiral Robert Wray conducted a survey of active duty naval officers. They were asked to rank seventy six leadership traits. The last two traits on the list, the least important things to teach young naval officers about leadership, were sensitivity and scholarship. Now, a bit higher on that list was writing ability, at number 33. This begs the question, if we haven’t studied our profession or looked at it in a comprehensive and scholarly way, what exactly do we have to write about? Admiral Sims would probably take exception to this list of what today’s officers believe. He would emphasize that professional writing must be about something, it must demonstrate mastery not only of the technical aspects of a problem but also understanding of the context and history of the issues involved. It must be the result of research, personal study, and yes, scholarship.

In conclusion today, I leave you with the knowledge that the pursuit of professional writing and personal professional study has a long history in the maritime service. It is true, there appear to be very few members of the Flag Ranks who published in the pages of Proceedings before they became important enough to have a staff to help them write. But across time the sailors that really made a difference like Samuel Du Pont, William Sims, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz, Bull Halsey, Bud Zumwalt, Tom Hayward, Jim Stavridis, and a few in uniform today, studied their profession and wrote articles to forward its development. They engaged in the professional debate and discussion well before they assumed the highest responsibilities of command, and our navy and our nation are better for it.

William Sims’ writings offers us an opportunity to be mentored by an accomplished leader who lived more than a century ago. His essays and lectures, with their examples of innovation, education, and leadership, can help us look at the challenges militaries and organizations face in the twenty-first century, ask the right questions, and find solutions. These certainly apply to those in uniform, but at their heart they apply to all leaders, whether from the military, industry, or government. Everyone who is interested in thinking about defense issues.

Like Alfred Thayer Mahan before him, the foundation of much of Sims’ writing and thinking is the idea that asking questions, and doing the work of research and reflection necessary to find the right questions, is at the heart of being a professional. I hope that with new organizations like CIMSEC, and older ones like the Naval Institute, with engaged junior officers and members of the defense community, we can carry on that vital part of our naval heritage.

Thank You.

#CFAR15 Line-Up Announced

Our readers have spoken, and through nominations and a round of voting selected the following works for their authors to speak at CIMSEC’s Forum for Authors and Readers (CFAR) on Thursday, February 26th. I have the pleasure to moderate a discussion between these six speakers and the audience on their recent works:

Congrats to those selected! To join us, RSVP here. Full details below:

Location: Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, 1330 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle. 

Schedule (Thursday, Feb 26th):
– 5:00 – 5:30 Registration with light refreshments
– 5:30 – 6:00 Keynote with LCDR BJ Armstrong and Q+A
– 6:00 – 7:30 CIMSEC contributor presentations and engagement sessions.

Thanks to USNI and Steptoe & Johnson for their generous support in making this event possible.

Maritime Security and the Arts

Earlier this year we ran a short series of submissions highlighting fiction’s power to illuminate insights about possible futures. Our colleagues at War on the Rocks and the Atlantic Council run a similar, on-going project – the Art of Future Warfare – that is well worth checking out.

Next week we’ll use the power of historical fiction to likewise draw out timeless themes of warfare and security with the help of our friends, the Scots. If you’re in DC and would like to participate, let us know. Here’s the official press release:

Introducing #Shakespeare and Strategy

Image-5-470x394This February, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) is bringing the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of David Greig’s Dunsinane to the nation’s capital. The STC’s Young Professionals Consortium, in partnership with The Strategy Bridge and the Center for International Maritime Security, has organized #Shakespeare and Strategy, a special online seminar to accompany this exciting play.

Dunsinane picks up where Macbeth leaves off, telling the story of the fight to restore order and stability to Scotland after regicide. Grieg’s work is much more than a sequel to one of the great entries in the Western canon; written during the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Grieg explores both the clash of national identities as well as the challenge of restoring peace and nation building in a hostile foreign land. As STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn says “Dunsinane is a timely and powerful piece, and one that serves our mission to produce works inspired by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, delivered in a modern voice. This is a play that will resonate with today’s audiences.”

For the rest of the run of the play, you can look forward to hearing from the unique perspective of part of Dunsinane’s audience – young veterans, military officers, and defense professionals who will share their reactions on the play and how it relates to their own experiences and challenges.



Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Young Professionals Consortium is an enthusiastic network of innovative young professionals from around the Nation’s Capital with a mission to cultivate an appreciation for theatre among young professionals through the productions of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Learn more about the YPC on Facebook.

The Strategy Bridge is an online publication on strategy, national security, and military affairs. It is edited by Nathan Finney, Rich Ganske, Mikhail Grinberg, and Tyrell Mayfield and features writing from a diverse collection of military officers, defense civilians, and academics. Join the conversation at

The Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) is a non-partisan think tank formed in 2012 and as of 2015 has members and chapters in more than 30 countries. CIMSEC’s mission is to build a global community of professionals, academics, and forward thinkers from a variety of fields who wish to further international maritime peace and security through an exchange of ideas and the rigor of critical thought and writing. Join us at


Follow all of the entries, including those from CIMSEC and Nate Finney’s kick-off post at the STC’s Asides blog. If you have the chance to see the show and would like to participate, let us know.


CFAR 2015 Voting Now Open

Voting is now open to the public on the nominated CIMSEC articles listed below! The authors of the top vote-getters will be invited to deliver short remarks on their topics and engage in a general dialogue with the audience as part of the first annual CIMSEC Forum for Authors and Readers (CFAR) on 26 February in Washington, DC. Top vote-getters unable to attend CFAR will be invited to follow up their work on the NextWar blog. Voting will run through 05 February, 2015.

Criteria: All members of the general public are encouraged to vote (once) for up to 6 articles and attend CFAR. Several nominations were disqualified for failing to meet eligibility criteria.

Congrats to the Nominees!

Article Author
A2/AD Since ’73 Mark Munson
Air-Sea Battle in Orbit Matthew Hallex
American Strategy in the 21st Century: Maritime Power and China Jake Bebber
Camouflage: You Ain’t Screen Nothin’ Yet James Drennan
Developing a Strategic Cadre in the Information Dominance Corps Jake Bebber
Leading Where? A Reflection on Saltwater Leadership Erik Sand
Learning Curve: Iranian Asymmetrical Warfare and Millennium Challenge 2002 Brett Davis
Lebanese Hezbollah and Hybrid Naval Warfare Chris Rawley
Nordic NATO Nominees Viribus Unitis
Remote Aviation Technology – What are We Actually Talking About? Dave Blair
Remember War: Prophet Makarov Ignored in his Native Land Claude Berube
Seizing the Asuw Initiative Michael Glynn
Strategic Architectures Jeremy Renken
Surface Warfare: Taking the Offensive Thomas Rowden
Terrorists, Tyrants, and Tobacco: How the Illicit Cigarette Trade Fuels Instability in the Middle East Chris Rawley
The Evolution of Air-Sea Battle Harry Kazianis
The LCS and SSC Survivability Dilemma Steven Wills
The Paradox of Admiral Gorshkov Jessica Huckabey
Understanding Australia’s Submarine Choice Ben Collopy
West Africa: More Dangerous Pirates, Less Adequete Security James Bridger

Vote Here

Reserve Your Free Spot at #CFAR15 Here Today!

Innovation Collaboration in Sunny San Diego

logoOn January 28th, the Athena Project and the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Command Pacific (SSC PAC) [ed. Who doesn’t love nested acronyms?] will host the first-ever athenaTHINK event.  The day will include a design-thinking workshop to encourage collaboration between Sailors and scientists and teach structured brainstorming tools.  Open to all Sailors, you can sign up here. Over at our Athena Project site, Dr. Benjamin Migliori, a Navy researcher at SSC PAC, has more on the event:

Last year, we hosted warfighters from the USS Benfold at SSC PAC to foster better innovation, more inspired projects, and a better interface between Sailors and Scientists.  [Thursday], we’ll be doing that again.  Our purpose is to give warfighters and technologists a chance to work together in a design-thinking framework, and to open up the possibility of meaningful collaboration.

We’ll be giving Sailors an opportunity to see some of the bleeding edge work that we do here at SSC PAC, and giving the scientists a chance to hear real concerns from actual warfighters, rather than simply reading about them in briefs and training manuals.  We’ll be introducing the ideas of design-thinking for military applications, and showing that the civilian entrepreneurs don’t get to have all the fun.  We’ll be competing for a best project award – which could turn into much more and be the seed for a new initiative.

The Athena Project is an innovation-fueled initiative focused on providing a platform for Sailors to connect their great ideas with the scientists, engineers and academics that can help turn their visions into reality. Founded aboard USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) in early 2013, The Athena Project has hosted six Waterfront events in the San Diego area, as well as events in the Hampton Roads area and the Pacific Northwest. The basic premise is simple: Idea generation.  Sailors take a day off from their traditional duties to develop ideas to make the Navy or their command better – to scratch the creative itch and make solutions to their everyday challenges.

athenanw2On pitch day, Sailors are given have five minutes to present their concepts to an audience of their peers as well as innovation leaders in industry, government and academia. Following each presentation and question-and-answer session, the crowd votes on projects based on idea quality, actionability and presentation. At the end, the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage is presented to the highest score and the winner is granted command backing for a small functional team to develop their idea over the next quarter.  Previous winners have ranged anywhere from high-tech creative systems to low-tech solutions to common problems to innovative programs to make the Navy better.

The environment is casual and open, and sometimes takes the feeling of Shark Tank-meets-TED Talks, focused on building the creative confidence of the Fleet’s leaders of tomorrow. The vision of the project has always been to build a generation of Sailors that think differently, solve problems in unique ways and have the intellectual courage to stand up and do something about it.

As for the next pitch event, Waterfront Athena Seven? Well, that’ll be coming to a venue in San Diego in Late February. If you’re interested in presenting your big idea, connect with The Athena Project on Facebook or Twitter (@AthenaNavy) or just send an e-mail to If you’re interested in bringing an Athena Project event to your area, connect with the team!

Invitation: CFAR 2015 – 26 FEB

You’re invited to the first annual CIMSEC Forum for Authors and Readers:  CFAR 2015 

10943721_10100953235460305_4061802461520506031_nOn 26 February CIMSEC will host the first annual CIMSEC Forum for Authors and Readers (CFAR), an event for our readers and the public to engage our contributors on their work and topics of interest. Thanks to the generous support of the U.S. Naval Institute and Steptoe % Johnson LLP we are pleased to offer a professional workshop on a range of maritime security issues over light refreshments.

LCDR BJ Armstrong, author of 21st Century Mahan and the forthcoming 21st Century Simswill deliver a keynote talk on professional writing and personal study. The rest of the evening will provide a chance to engage your favorite CIMSEC contributors on their work over the preceding year, hear their thoughts on how their pieces have held up, and explore predictions for the coming year.

Who  will these speakers at CFAR 2015 be? That’s for you to decide. The public is able to nominate specific articles and their authors for discussion at CFAR (nominate articles and authors here). Voting on the nominees will begin on 02 February. Voting on the nominees will begin on 02 February. The only criteria is that the article nominated must have appeared on the site on or after 01 January, 2014. Those top vote-getters unable to attend CFAR will be invited to follow up their work on the NextWar blog.

RSVP here to join us on 26 February. 

Questions? Please contact William Yale at

Location: Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, 1330 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle. 

– 5:00 – 5:30 Registration with light refreshments
– 5:30 – 6:00 Keynote and Q+A
– 6:00 – 7:30 CIMSEC contributor presentations and engagement sessions