James R. Holmes, Ph.D.

James R. Holmes, Ph.D.

Strategy & Policy


James Holmes is a professor of strategy and former visiting professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. He is a 2016 recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs, returning as Van Beuren Distinguished Visiting Fellow in 2016. A former U.S. Navy surface-warfare officer and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, he served as a weapons and engineering officer in the battleship Wisconsin, engineering and firefighting instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and military professor of strategy at the Naval War College. He was the last gunnery officer to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger.

Jim is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.A., mathematics and German) and completed graduate work at Salve Regina University (M.A., international relations), Providence College (M.A., mathematics), and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (M.A.L.D. and Ph.D., international affairs), where he was the A. Eiken Hohenberg Scholar. He earned the Naval War College Foundation Award in 1994, signifying the top graduate in his Naval War College class.

His most recent books (with long-time coauthor Toshi Yoshihara) are Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age and Red Star over the Pacific. Designated an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of 2010, Red Star over the Pacific has been named to the Navy Professional Reading List as Essential Reading. Copies have been placed aboard every major ship, squadron, and shore installation in the U.S. Navy. Translations have appeared through the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, and through houses in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Taiwan. Under contract is a second edition of Red Star over the Pacific, along with Naval Diplomats: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet and Japanese Sea Power in the 21st Century: Japan’s Next Fateful Choice.

Jim has published over 25 book chapters and 200 scholarly essays, along with hundreds of opinion columns, think-tank analyses, and other works. He is a two-time recipient of the Hugh G. Nott Prize (best article, Naval War College Review). He wrote as the Naval Diplomat from 2012-2015 and is a regular contributor to Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. He was the staff foreign- and defense-affairs columnist for the Athens Banner-Herald from 2001-2007 and has written for such print outlets as the Boston Globe, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Los Angeles Times. He has been quoted or cited in outlets ranging from the Washington Post to Xinhua, and has appeared on such broadcast outlets as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR, the BBC, and WABC-New York.

He was a visiting fellow at National Chengchi University, Taiwan, and the Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses, India. He has testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and spoken at such institutions as Harvard, Brown, and Duke universities; the University of Virginia; Wilton Park, Steyning, U.K.; the Vivekananda Foundation, Jaipur; the Lowy Institute, Sydney; the Japan Foreign Ministry and Naval War College, Tokyo; the Aspen Institute, Berlin; the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington; the French Institute of International Relations (ifri), Paris; the Clingendael Institute of International Relations, The Hague; and the Chinese Council for Advanced Policy Studies, Taipei. He addressed the International Fleet Reviews in Sydney, Australia (2013) and Busan, South Korea (2015).

Jim has served as Veterans’ Day keynote speaker in Marion, Massachusetts, Memorial Day speaker in Barrington and West Warwick, Rhode Island, and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, and Flag Day speaker in Newport, Rhode Island. On Memorial Day 2013 he presided over a Medal of Honor ceremony in Newport, celebrating the life of Chief Gunner’s Mate George Brady. This May he will act as Memorial Day speaker in Milton, Massachusetts.

Historic ships are a favorite venue. In February 2015 he delivered keynote remarks at a Charlestown Navy Yard ceremony honoring the bicentennial of sail frigate USS Constitution’s “dual victory” over HMS Cyane and Levant, and in June 2015 he commemorated the Battle of Midway alongside submarine USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut. In November 2016 he addressed a Naval Symposium on board the battleship New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, in December 2016 he commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack on board the battleship Missouri, and in May 2017 he commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway on board Missouri.

General James Mattis has pronounced him “troublesome.”

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