Chairman’s Update

It’s once again time to celebrate the establishment of the Office of Naval Intelligence! On the 23rd of March it will be 138 years since LT Theodorus Mason convinced the Secretary of the Navy that there was a need for Naval Intelligence. His idea and “pitch” to SECNAV back in 1882 must have been persuasive, and he must have been an impressive officer. Turns out he really was. An article published in the 1952 USNI Proceedings by a retired Captain J.M. Ellicott provides a contemporary and personal account of Mason’s career, from commissioning in 1868 to retirement in 1894 and death in 1899. Ellicott describes Mason’s decorations for heroism from the Emperor of Brazil and the King of Italy, his extensive overseas travels and his service as aide to the President of France as well as Secretary of the Navy. There is ample evidence that Mason was an energetic and highly knowledgeable warfare officer and an articulate advocate for modernization and advancement of technology. He clearly had a significant influence on our Navy, in addition to the creation of Naval Intelligence. Ellicott ends his article asserting that Mason should be known as one of the “founding fathers of our modern Navy along with Luce and Mahan.” Reading Ellicott’s essay makes it easy to see why Mason was held in such esteem and why, today, you can see his portrait in stained glass in the USNA chapel. Check out the full article by Captain Ellicott on your NIP website (

We are very happy to welcome aboard Sue Himes (CDR, USN, Ret.) as the new editor for our website. Sue is also taking on the task of putting together a hard copy document for distribution to our members. We’re still working on a name and content for this new publication and don’t yet have a release date, but our plan is to publish at least once this year. We need your help in verifying mailing addresses so please log on to the website and update your personal data, email and home address. Additionally, if you have ideas about our website or the future hardcopy publication, please send Sue a note at Sue is also busy updating our web site so please look for changes - and send her any good photos that can be posted.

Our new NIP Chapter coordinator is LT Jason Spencer, an active duty 1830 serving at CNO-IP and a NIP Board member. Jason has volunteered to support our chapters and increase communication and visibility of Chapter activities. Please provide him points of contact for your chapter’s current leadership and any planned activities for your chapters in 2020. He can be reached at Chapters are also encouraged to celebrate the 138th anniversary of ONI’s establishment. The NIP Hawaii Chapter is planning to host a leadership panel to discuss the current state and future of the Intelligence community and plans to conduct a cake cutting ceremony. They will also use this event as a platform to increase NIP membership. Chapters should also be aware that NIP provides funding for one event per chapter each year. Just provide Jason an overview of the event and the requested amount of money via email to initiate the process.

Dave McCalister, (CAPT, Ret.) NIP Board member, has volunteered to serve as our Mentor coordinator. He’ll have an update on our mentoring program up on our website later this month. Our membership has a wealth of talent and wisdom on the art of intelligence, on leadership, career management and career transition. Our intent and Dave’s role is to link those with questions or needs to those who have been through similar events. As many of us can attest, the best training we received during our careers was most often the sage advice from those who had completed similar jobs.

NIP is again sponsoring an Intelligence Essay Contest with USNI Proceedings. Details have been promulgated via an ALLNIP and will be published in the April edition of Proceedings with a submission deadline of 31 July. For NIP members only, you get a head start on this year’s questions. Address one or more of the following: “What initiatives in Naval Intelligence will ensure the ability to provide penetrating insight and decision advantage against Great Power Competition by 2035? How does Naval Intelligence apply the lessons of two decades of SOF support? How do we master AI, new national intelligence and ISR capabilities and open sources? Is there a need for closer integration with the USMC? What changes are needed in manning, training, organizational alignment and operational practices to create a force better trained than our adversaries? How will Naval Intelligence manage the mission and stay relevant?" Dale Rielage, a former Intelligence Essay contest winner himself, is now our Essay Coordinator and leading our NIP team of evaluators. It’s a great time for young officers and civilian intelligence professionals to be putting your ideas on paper, and we look forward to getting your entries.

We’ve kicked off our annual NIP scholarship program, and this year’s deadline is 15 April. NIP provides six $5,000 scholarships, five for dependents and one for active duty enlisted. We’ve had inquiries about scholarships for civilians, so the NIP Board of Directors is discussing how and if we can put this together. Growing our NIP civilian membership and a sustained level of donations from members and sponsors is key to the way forward on this idea.

Our third Thursday social and mentoring events continue in the DC area with our Washington chapter working with NIP Events coordinator Bob Allen to schedule our speakers. This year we’ve already had RADM (Ret.) Paul Becker who gave an inspiring talk on leadership principles and the Honorable Nick Anderson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Infrastructure Security & Energy Restoration who brought an extensive background in DoD and IC Cyber operations. Stay alert for our emails and our web page for future speakers!

Our Red Tie lunch this year again be held at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington on Friday, 1 May starting at 1100. Our guest speaker is VADM T.J. White, Commander, Tenth Fleet and a career Cryptologic Warfare Officer. He’ll be addressing intelligence support for Cyber Warfare, and it should be a most interesting session. Sign up on the NIP website.

Our fall annual meeting this year will be on Friday, 16 October at Army-Navy Country Club.

The coronavirus coming out of China this year is the kind of “Black Swan” event that has geopolitical and economic effects across the globe. The effects of the virus is already impacting US Naval operations and there are or will be impacts to our allies and our adversaries. While biomedicine and global contagions are not topics Naval Intelligence professionals routinely are called on to track, the coronavirus is just another example of why Naval Intelligence has to be ready and stay relevant.

I look forward to seeing and hearing from you all.




Tony L. Cothron

Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Naval Intelligence Professionals