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The Accidental Admiral
Cover of The Accidental Admiral
The Accidental Admiral
A Sailor Takes Command at NATO
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Despite demonstrated prowess in the handling of ships and sailors, five years after receiving his commission, Jim Stavridis was planning on getting out of the Navy and going to law school. His assignments officer, a young lieutenant commander by the name of Mike Mullen (who would go on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) noticed something special in Stavridis, however, and convinced him to stay on active duty by dangling the prospect of Uncle Sam sending him to graduate school. Going ashore for a few years, Stavridis earned his MALD and PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The experience that taught him to look beyond the horizon and to think and act globally. Throughout his career Stavridis was anything but uniform in the way he approached his duties. An avid reader and prolific author he wrote more than 55 articles, commentaries, and book reviews in the Navy's professional journal “Proceedings" beginning when he was still a midshipman and continuing to this day. He has also written for some of the leading papers and journals in the United States, including the, New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Magazine, Naval War College Review, and many others His career was marked by unusually challenging assignments including command of a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer in the early '90s; two stints as a top aide to two different Secretaries of the Navy (one a Republican and the other a Democrat); and command of an aircraft carrier battle group.
Stavridis narrowly missed being killed on September 11, 2001 when an American Airlines aircraft plunged into the Pentagon not far from his office. He was subsequently put in charge of a Navy think tank, “Deep Blue," which was tasked with reimagining the service's role in a post-9/11 environment. Already selected for his first star as 9/11 unfolded, his rise through the ranks was swift – even going directly from one-star to three-star admiral without ever wearing two stars – when he was selected to be the senior military assistant to the very demanding Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Surviving that crucible, he was nominated for his fourth star at the age of 50, one of the youngest persons to serve at that rank in modern history. He then became the first naval officer to lead the U.S. Southern Command – responsible for all U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America. At the end of that assignment he was picked to be the first naval officer to serve as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO – a job first held by Dwight D. Eisenhower and then by a string of prominent generals. When he was given that assignment, the New York Times referred to Stavridis as a “renaissance Admiral," something Stavridis turned into “the accidental Admiral" given he was the first sailor to head to that command.
That is where this book, “The Accidental Admiral" picks up – as Stavridis enlightens readers about securing such a position and serving as NATO's top man in uniform for four years. They were challenging years indeed. Stavridis was responsible for NATO operations in Afghanistan, its conduct of a military intervention in Libya and preparation for possible war in Syria – as well as worrying about the Balkans, cyber threats, piracy, all while cutting NATO by 30% due to budget reductions by the 28 nations of the Alliance. More than just describing the history of what happened, Stavridis shares with reader the “why" and gives insights into the personalities of those with whom he dealt, ranging from President Barack Obama; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates,...

Despite demonstrated prowess in the handling of ships and sailors, five years after receiving his commission, Jim Stavridis was planning on getting out of the Navy and going to law school. His assignments officer, a young lieutenant commander by the name of Mike Mullen (who would go on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) noticed something special in Stavridis, however, and convinced him to stay on active duty by dangling the prospect of Uncle Sam sending him to graduate school. Going ashore for a few years, Stavridis earned his MALD and PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The experience that taught him to look beyond the horizon and to think and act globally. Throughout his career Stavridis was anything but uniform in the way he approached his duties. An avid reader and prolific author he wrote more than 55 articles, commentaries, and book reviews in the Navy's professional journal “Proceedings" beginning when he was still a midshipman and continuing to this day. He has also written for some of the leading papers and journals in the United States, including the, New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Magazine, Naval War College Review, and many others His career was marked by unusually challenging assignments including command of a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer in the early '90s; two stints as a top aide to two different Secretaries of the Navy (one a Republican and the other a Democrat); and command of an aircraft carrier battle group.
Stavridis narrowly missed being killed on September 11, 2001 when an American Airlines aircraft plunged into the Pentagon not far from his office. He was subsequently put in charge of a Navy think tank, “Deep Blue," which was tasked with reimagining the service's role in a post-9/11 environment. Already selected for his first star as 9/11 unfolded, his rise through the ranks was swift – even going directly from one-star to three-star admiral without ever wearing two stars – when he was selected to be the senior military assistant to the very demanding Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Surviving that crucible, he was nominated for his fourth star at the age of 50, one of the youngest persons to serve at that rank in modern history. He then became the first naval officer to lead the U.S. Southern Command – responsible for all U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America. At the end of that assignment he was picked to be the first naval officer to serve as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO – a job first held by Dwight D. Eisenhower and then by a string of prominent generals. When he was given that assignment, the New York Times referred to Stavridis as a “renaissance Admiral," something Stavridis turned into “the accidental Admiral" given he was the first sailor to head to that command.
That is where this book, “The Accidental Admiral" picks up – as Stavridis enlightens readers about securing such a position and serving as NATO's top man in uniform for four years. They were challenging years indeed. Stavridis was responsible for NATO operations in Afghanistan, its conduct of a military intervention in Libya and preparation for possible war in Syria – as well as worrying about the Balkans, cyber threats, piracy, all while cutting NATO by 30% due to budget reductions by the 28 nations of the Alliance. More than just describing the history of what happened, Stavridis shares with reader the “why" and gives insights into the personalities of those with whom he dealt, ranging from President Barack Obama; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates,...

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  • Admiral James Stavridis assumed duties as Commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe in early summer 2009. Stavridis is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of South Florida. A Surface Warfare Officer, he commanded the Destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) from 1993-1995, completing UN/NATO deployments to Haiti and Bosnia, and a combat cruise to the Arabian Gulf. Barry won the Battenberg Cup as the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet under his command. In 1998, he commanded Destroyer Squadron 21 and deployed to the Arabian Gulf, winning the Navy League's John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership. From 2002-2004, he commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. From 2006-2009, he commanded U.S. Southern Command in Miami, focused on Latin America and the Caribbean. Ashore, he has served as a strategic and long range planner on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has also served as the Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. Stavridis earned a PhD and MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in International Relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize as outstanding student. He is also a distinguished graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges. He holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and five awards of the Legion of Merit. He is author or co-author of several books on naval professional topics, including Command at Sea, Destroyer Captain, and Partnership for the Americas, as well as more than 55 articles, commentaries and book reviews. He has also written for some of the leading papers and journals in the United States, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Magazine, Naval War College Review, and many others.

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A Sailor Takes Command at NATO
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