David Polatty

David Polatty

Associate Professor
College of Operational and Strategic Leadership | Operational Level Programs
(401) 841-1784


Dave Polatty has served as a civilian faculty at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) since 2008 and is director of the College of Operational & Strategic Leadership's Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program (HRP).  HRP's mission is to partner and network with leading universities and humanitarian organizations in order to advance civilian-military coordination during complex emergencies and natural disasters, and improve the U.S. Navy's effectiveness in conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.  To accomplish this, HRP:

  • Conducts evidence-based research on civilian-military engagement and coordination during complex emergencies, natural disasters, and exercises.
  • Develops and teaches innovative educational programs for U.S./international militaries, civilian universities, NGOs, and IGOs.
  • Develops innovative training through international humanitarian exercises and simulations for U.S./international militaries, civilian universities, NGOs, and IGOs.
  • Convenes various forums to assist a network of international partners and key stakeholders to explore challenges and opportunities in civilian-military humanitarian coordination.

Dave teaches the following courses for the College of Operational & Strategic Leadership:

He routinely lectures on civilian-military coordination during complex emergencies and natural disasters, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, military strategy, the Navy planning process, operational art and design, operational command and control, maritime security, noncombatant evacuation operations, and operational assessment.

Dave also teaches two strategic planning electives for the NWC in-residence programs - one focused on "Civilian-Military Coordination in International Humanitarian Responses" that is co-taught with Dr. Michael Lappi from the Harvard School of Public Health, and the other focused on "Global U.S. Naval Operations in the 21st Century."

He is co-founder and co-director of the NWC-Harvard School of Public Health "Joint Civilian-Military Humanitarian Working Group," which was established in May 2014 to explore academic and research collaboration areas that can improve coordination, synchronization, and integration of humanitarian responses during disaster.  

His research interests include:

  • Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
  • Leadership
  • Maritime security
  • Command and Control (C2)
  • Cyberspace operations
Dave graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May 1992, earning a BS in History.  He graduated with highest distinction from the U.S. Naval War College in June 2006, earning a MA in National Security Strategic Studies and receiving the Navy League William S. Sims Award.  He is also a graduate of the U.S. Joint Forces Staff College’s Advanced Joint Professional Military Education program and numerous other interagency and U.S. military education programs.  He is designated as a Joint Qualified Officer (JQO Level III).

He is a fourth generation Naval Officer and in addition to his civilian faculty position, serves part-time as a Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He has commanded four reserve units - U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. FOURTH Fleet, U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating WMD, and is currently assigned to U.S. European Command J3.  While on active duty from 1992 to 2003, he served as both a Surface Warfare Officer and Naval Flight Officer. 

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