Professor John E. Jackson is the Naval War College’s program manager for the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program.
I cannot live without books.
—President Thomas Jefferson
Many people are unaware that the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP) is the only professional reading initiative in any of the military services that goes beyond merely publishing a list of important books. The CNO, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, USN, shares President Jefferson’s feelings about the importance of books, and he has allocated Navy funds to purchase centrally and distribute widely nearly twenty-two thousand books to ships, squadrons, and stations around the world. As the result of this investment, more than 420 lending libraries have been established throughout the fleet, where sailors can borrow any of the eighteen books in the CNO-PRP’s “Essential Books” category. Many of the additional twenty-four “Recommended Books” can be downloaded as e-books or audiobooks from the Navy General Library site on the Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) portal. It is always gratifying to hear directly from sailors at all levels about how the books are being enjoyed at the deck-plate level. Over the past few months, we have received a lot of feedback, including the following:
· A Navy captain recently wrote: “I gained great insight from reading Navigating the Seven Seas: Leadership Lessons of the First African American Father and Son to Serve at the Top in the U.S. Navy. Not only did I enjoy reading Richard A. Clarke’s Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do about It, but I found it significantly applicable to the work I do in the cyber-security area at NORAD-NORTHCOM. I look forward to reading more books in this well thought-out and applicable reading program.”
· A command master chief in the Special Warfare community wrote: “Last year we used the Navy recommended reading list to have our Chief selectees choose a book during the MCPON 365 Program and give a short oral report to the Chiefs’ Mess on what they got out of the book, what they liked and disliked about it and whether they would recommend that book to someone else and why. This grew interest in having those books on hand and the command is working to build a library of our own. We thank the Navy for their support in shipping these books to us.”
· A first class petty officer recently noted: “Thank you for the opportunity to create a command reading library. The variety of books has something for everyone, which our Sailors enjoy.”
·A Judge Advocate General’s Corps lieutenant wrote: “My command plans to assign The Caine Mutiny as mandatory reading as part of a Professional Military Education program for our junior officers. On the Navy Reading website, it is noted that The Caine Mutiny has been used in classrooms, where it has sparked intense arguments over questions of loyalty and integrity, the responsibility of a crew to its captain, and of loyalty up and down the chain of command.”
· A Navy captain in the Navy training community wrote: “Just wanted to drop a quick note of thanks for your assistance in helping us establish our Professional Reading Library. This topic is near and dear to my heart. All the best.”
· A chief petty officer in the medical field wrote: “We have created a professional library and we are using our books to encourage professional development. A number of our Sailors have checked out books and are preparing to do presentations to the detachment based on the information learned in their reading.”
The examples above perfectly demonstrate that the purpose of the CNO-PRP is being achieved. The books are being read, discussed, and shared throughout the fleet, and they are generating the kind of informed discussion that makes everyone in the Navy more professional and more productive. The return on the Navy’s modest investment is truly manifold.
JOHN E. JACKSON