Reflections On Reading

Navy War College Review

By John E. Jackson

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson is a strong supporter of reading books of consequence as a way for all members of the Navy team to develop as leaders and citizens.

He recently said,

“I realize that it takes dedication to devote time to reading, but it is fundamental to growth as a naval professional.”

He has directed his reading program planning team at the Naval War College to expand the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP) to include a larger selection of titles, and to augment the books with other learning tools such as reading guides, videos, and related articles. Final steps toward launching the new program are being taken now, but the general outline of the changes is highlighted below:

-The recommended book titles will be arranged in groups that align with the tenets of the “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority”; these are “Strengthening Naval Power at and from the Sea”; “Achieving High-Velocity Learning at Every Level”; “Strengthening Our Navy Team for the Future”; and “Expanding and Strengthening Our Network of Partners.” The books also will be cross-referenced and linked to subjects related to the four core attributes of the Navy’s professional identity: integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness.

-Recognizing that the Navy is a war-fighting entity that nonetheless shares some of the characteristics of a large corporate enterprise, the books will be categorized as primarily operational in nature or more corporate in focus.

-The new CNO-PRP will recommend books that form the basis of the Navy’s cultural and historical legacy. These dozen books form a canon of fundamental reading that can be of value to all sailors.

-The majority of the books that will comprise the new program fall into broad categories associated with the Design’s “lines of effort” and its “core attributes.” The approximately forty titles in these categories build on the foundation the canon establishes

-A list of history and fiction books will be identified for consideration, as well as a group of titles of a more casual nature (a sort of informal “Navy book club”)

-A final list of titles will identify books that will challenge the conventional wisdom, getting readers to think from different perspectives. The intent of the various lists and categorizations is to help sailors find books of professional value among the millions in publication at any time. Many of the books identified in the CNO-PRP will be available for free loan from the MWR Digital Library.

The intent of the various lists and categorizations is to help sailors find books of professional value among the millions in publication at any time. Many of the books identified in the CNO-PRP will be available for free loan from the MWR Digital Library



Professor Jackson has served at NWC for more than 20 years, teaching in the areas of national security decision-making, logistics, and unmanned and robotic systems. He holds the E.A. Sperry Chair of Unmanned and Robotic Systems and lectures frequently. His latest book “One Nation, Under Drones” was published by the U.S. Naval Institute in December 2018. He is the program manager for the Chief of Naval Operation’s professional reading program. Additionally, he serves on the President’s Action Group and as chairman of the 9-11 Memorial Committee. A retired Navy Captain, he served in supply and logistics assignments both afloat and ashore retiring in 1998 after 27 years of active service.

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Recommended Citation
Jackson, John E. (2017) “Reflections on Reading,” Naval War College Review: Vol. 70 : No. 1 , Article 10.

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