Chairman’s Update - March 2021

I first want to thank all of the members who donated so generously to NIP last year. Thanks to your generosity we overcame the challenges of a difficult fund-raising year and are able to continue publication of our new READBOOK effort. We'll be sending out 2021 spring and fall editions to all members who have indicated they want a hard copy. NIP continues to need your support by renewing memberships and providing donations when you can through a check to the NIP PO Box or by credit card through our website. Thank you all so much!

As we all look forward to spring and—we all hope—the beginning of the end of the  COVID pandemic, we also need to take time to celebrate and remember the 139th anniversary and "birthday" of the founding of Naval Intelligence on March 23rd. We can look back across over a century of accomplishments, but perhaps the highlight of that history is the lesson and reminder of how one person's actions can have great and lasting impact. It's easy to sit back and complain about the bureaucracy, the chain of command or the "system." But as we see from LT Theodorus Mason's example, it's not how senior or old you are, or what position you are in, it's the logic, clarity and compelling rationale of an idea, especially one aimed at a critical mission need, that can win support and make a difference. LT Mason was a gunnery expert and a line officer who was tired of sailing in wooden ships while the first ranked navies in the world were steaming in steel ships with rifled guns. To modernize our Navy, LT Mason envisioned a naval intelligence organization that would collect and disseminate the information the Navy's leadership needed to build and equip the Navy needed for future threats. By persuading the Secretary of the Navy to sign off on that idea, LT Mason launched a critical capability that has provided 139 years of decision advantage.  Thank you, LT Theodorus Mason and Happy Birthday ONI!  

For those who aren't familiar with LT Mason, take a look at the article we've posted on the website where you'll also see some "teasers" on our upcoming spring READBOOK. This issue will be highlighting the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm and the creation of the Joint Intelligence Centers, and I know you are going to enjoy the articles and photographs. Be sure your mailing address is current in our NIP membership database so we can get your READBOOK in the mail in late April.  

We're gaining good momentum on our history effort, Project 2032, thanks to the help of former DDNI Lynn Wright. She's stepped forward to volunteer as our project coordinator to identify researchers and writers who are willing to contribute to the history of Naval Intelligence. Lynn has a lengthy list of topics which we've included after this update. Please take a look and get in touch with Lynn if you have some ideas on how to help. You can reach Lynn through my address.  

Our annual NIP scholarship program is now underway and this year’s deadline is 15 April. NIP provides six $5,000 scholarships—five for dependents and one for an active-duty enlisted member. Please help us connect with those who are eligible to apply for this important support. 

NIP is again sponsoring an Intelligence Essay Contest with USNI Proceedings. Details are posted on our website and will be promulgated via an ALLNIP and published in the April edition of Proceedings. The submission deadline is 31 July. Essay winners will be awarded cash prizes this fall, with winning essays published by NIP and Proceedings. Dale Rielage is once again leading this effort for NIP and drafted the basis for this year's essay questions, which are focused on the new tri-service maritime strategy, "Advantage at Sea."  The essay challenges writers to think about the people in naval intelligence, the culture in which they serve, and the principles that guides them.

Our monthly virtual speaker series continues to attract large crowds. We had 162 people online to listen to Rear Admiral Tom Henderschedt, DATT Beijing, speak to us in January. His presentation and 15-year perspective on China was superb. If you missed his presentation, he has written an article for our spring READBOOK. In February we featured RDML Mike Vernazza providing us with an understanding of the command he leads, the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center. This month, on 18 March, we'll have RADM (Ret) Tom Brooks speaking on the history of the Naval Intelligence officer community. See our web page or emails for details on how to "dial in" to catch the speakers and see some of your shipmates.  

 We have reservations at the Army Navy Country Club for our Red Tie lunch this year to be held on Friday, 30 April. We'll have a decision on our ability to host a "live" physical luncheon for the Red Tie by the beginning of April and our backup plan will be a virtual announcement of this year's Red Tie winner. For your calendars, our fall annual meeting this year will be on Friday, 16 October at Army Navy Country Club.   

Looking back at last year's March Chairman's update, I had labeled the virus coming out of China as a "Black Swan" event. Well, the global pandemic has changed much in our lives in this past year, and many would say it's made our world even more unstable. That may be true, which just means the importance and relevance of Naval Intelligence to our Navy and Nation continues to grow.

I hope you are all healthy and safe and look forward to seeing and hearing from you all!


Tony L. Cothron
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Naval Intelligence Professionals