In previous postings, I commented on troubles at the NHHC that a Navy Inspector General inspection report brought to the attention of high Naval authorities last December. So damaging was the report that it seemed the Director’s resignation would be inevitable. And inevitable it was: RADM Jay DeLoach announced his voluntary resignation from the post late in April, to take effect 15 May.
But now this episode is coming to a close. The Navy has appointed an active duty Line navy captain interim director.
What of the future of NHHC?
It is entirely appropriate that the Director of Naval History be a flag rank Naval officer – probably preferably a line officer. This person will more easily have the ear of high naval and DoD authorities in his or her role as advocate for Naval history. He or she will also be more likely to listen to “operational” navy needs and uses for historical information.
It will be absolutely essential that the new Director name professional historians or archivists as his deputies. I can envision historical, archival and museum assistants at the very least. These people can, if properly vetted, be effective liaisons between the Director and the “operational” civilian staffers who do the daily work.
It’s critically important that the Blue Ribbon Panel of eminent historians – the majority of whom probably should be naval or military historians – be re-established and tasked with assuring that the Director gets regular (annual for certain) and authoritative advice on how best to run his or her extensive and very complicated organization.
The “needs assessment” has been pretty much done: just read the IG’s report. Now it’s time for the new Director, with stout backing from all the way up the chain of command, to roll up sleeves and get to work preserving, protecting, producing and promulgating the Navy’s glorious history. Inasmuch as past is prologue, our future depends on it.
©2012 Thomas L Snyder