Forward Into Second Century of Service
McNeill Takes Helm as National President;
Corporate Memberships, Contributions Rise
By JAMES D. HESSMAN
The Navy League must continue “to nurture the programs that are
working, develop new programs to meet emerging requirements, and provide
our sea services with the tools and resources requisite to their jobs.”
That was the battle plan spelled out by National President Sheila M.
McNeill in her first President’s Message after being elected to
succeed Timothy O. Fanning at the helm of the nation’s foremost
organization representing the nation’s sea services.
“There is a critical and increasing need today,” McNeill
said, “for strong sea services that defend our interests and protect
our borders, our friends, and our allies.” For that reason alone,
she said, the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) must continue “moving
at flank speed” to expand its membership, serve as “a more
powerful voice for national defense in Congress,” and increase the
number of Navy League corporate, business associate, and community affiliate
members. During its second century of service, the organization must “remain
steadfast on the course set by the Navy League’s founding fathers
101 years ago,” McNeill said in her President’s Message published
in the July 2003 issue of Sea Power.
McNeill’s election to the Navy League’s highest office was
the highlight of the 2003 NLUS National Convention, June 18-22 in Honolulu,
Hawaii. Five new national vice presidents, a new national judge advocate,
and several new region presidents also were elected at the convention,
and William C. Kelley Jr., a past national president, was appointed by
McNeill to serve as chairman of the Navy League’s National Advisory
Following is a status report on the Navy League’s other principal
activities, events, and accomplishments during the past year.
Since the Navy League’s founding more than a century ago, the organization’s
continued ability to support the sea services has depended in large part
on contributions from individual members, NLUS councils, private-sector
companies, and major patriotic and educational foundations.
In 2003, the value of these contributions—including gifts and bequests
from more than 6,000 NLUS members—approached the $1 million mark.
Much of that total was achieved through four direct-mail requests and
telephone follow-ups, and the expansion of a major planned-giving program.
The NLUS college scholarship program, which provides financial support
to dependents and direct descendants of sea-service personnel, is rewarding
to both recipients and contributors. Last year, the Navy League awarded
$52,850 to support 22 scholarships: Eight continued previous four-year
commitments; four are new four-year scholarships; and 10 are one-year
awards. In addition, Planning Systems Inc. and the Anne E. Clark Foundation
each endowed a new scholarship.
The most visible event on the Navy League calendar was the April 14 groundbreaking
of the new NLUS headquarters building by then-EPA Administrator Christine
Todd Whitman. The building provides a wealth of naming opportunities for
corporations and individual donors who, through their generosity, are
able to name a specific headquarters room or structural component in honor
of a person, company, or organization.
Complementing those opportunities, McNeill announced that individuals
and councils also have the option of inscribing on the League’s
new Honor Wall the name of someone they wish to recognize. To date, 20
NLUS members have taken the opportunity to name rooms in the building,
and the names of 500 individuals and 20 NLUS councils will be inscribed
on the Honor Wall.
More than 70 members also are enrolled in the Recognition Society, an
elite group that advises the national president on NLUS policies, programs,
and other matters. Members of the Society are given special recognition
at the national convention and other NLUS meetings, are invited to NLUS
congressional receptions, and receive personal invitations to attend special
events in honor of the national president when she travels throughout
the country and overseas.
The Giving Levels for enrollment in the Society are: Theodore Roosevelt
Circle, $1,000,000; Platinum Anchor Circle, $500,000; Gold Anchor Circle,
$250,000; Silver Anchor Circle, $100,000; Bronze Anchor Circle, $50,000;
Blue Anchor Circle, $10,000; and President’s Circle, $1,000.
McNeill personally designed a lapel pin celebrating the beginning of
the Navy League’s Second Century of Service. More than 1,000 members
already have shown their appreciation by contributing more than $100,000
for the lapel pins.
The League’s 2003 Sea-Air-Space (SAS) Exposition attracted an estimated
10,000 people from the active duty military, civilian, and industry communities,
who viewed the latest in technological innovations presented by more than
140 defense contractors. The theme of the exposition was “America’s
Best.” The event also featured an informative seminar program led
by senior sea service leaders, who discussed the directions their services
will be taking in the foreseeable future.
Since 1965, the Navy League has offered defense contractors an unparalleled
marketing opportunity for the development of mutually beneficial relationships
with the U.S. naval and maritime services. The SAS is a one-of-a-kind
exposition, drawing top decision-makers of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine
Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine.
The SAS helps promote and develop a technologically advanced U.S. naval/maritime
force. Among those who attend SAS are key staff from the Naval Sea Systems
Command and Naval Air Systems Command; sea-service program managers; staff
members of House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over defense
affairs; senior officials from the Departments of Defense and Homeland
Security; foreign military attachés; and the defense media.
Most of the 2003 SAS exhibits on display April 15-17 at the Marriott
Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., showcased new developments and
concepts designed to address transformational changes in sea service missions.
The Navy League presents its Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Award during
SAS to honor a leader from industry who has made an exemplary contribution
to U.S. maritime strength. Adm. Paul David Miller, USN (Ret.), chairman
of the board and chief executive officer of Alliant Techsystems was the
2003 recipient of the award.
The NLUS corporate membership program provides many benefits to defense
companies, including the opportunity to network with U.S. and allied defense
industry leaders at SAS and other NLUS events, to meet senior decision
makers on Capitol Hill and in the nation’s armed services, and to
demonstrate their support for the U.S. sea services.
The Navy League continued to enhance the attractiveness of corporate
membership by creating a higher-value benefits package and expanding the
Special Topic Breakfast Series, which gives corporate leaders the latest
information on sea-service acquisition priorities and developments. Among
the featured speakers in 2003 were John J. Young Jr., assistant secretary
of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition; Vice Adm. Phillip
M. Balisle, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command; and Rear Adm. Patrick
M. Stillman, program executive officer for the Coast Guard’s Integrated
The Navy League gained one new Corporate Gold Member last year—bringing
to 12 the number in that category, which was established in 1997 for companies
that have become giants in the defense industry. The current Corporate
Gold Members are Alliant Techsystems, the Boeing Company; BAE Systems;
DRS Technologies Inc.; EDS Corporation; First USA; General Dynamics Corporation;
KBR; Lockheed Martin Corporation; MAERSK Line Limited; Northrop Grumman
Corporation; and Raytheon Company.
There also are 22 new Corporate Members on the NLUS roster, bringing
to 153 the number in that category, and nine new Business Associate Members,
bringing that total to 21.
The Office of Legislative Affairs worked vigorously on numerous projects
supporting the legislative priorities of the sea services while continuing
to provide NLUS members information about current legislation and making
it easier for members to inform their senators and representatives about
their views on national defense and homeland security.
The Legislative Affairs department represents the Navy League through
one-on-one visits with members of Congress and their staffs, and with
the professional staffs of House and Senate committees. The organization
sponsors defense briefings at which the NLUS has the opportunity to articulate
the Navy League’s legislative priorities and to discuss those priorities
with congressional leaders.
Legislative Affairs hosted congressional staff members at the 2003 SAS,
briefing members on the acquisition and research, development, test, and
evaluation priorities of the sea services. The Navy League also sponsored
several Navy/Marine Corps and Coast Guard Caucus briefings that focused
on the legislative priorities of all the nation’s armed services.
Throughout the year, the Navy League joined with the Navy, Marine Corps,
and Coast Guard Offices of Legislative Affairs in hosting briefings, receptions,
and other events attended by members of Congress and their staffs. One
of the most important of those events was the Sea Service Reception on
Oct. 30, during which National President McNeill presented the League’s
2003 Robert M. Thompson Award for Outstanding Civilian Leadership to Sen.
Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) in recognition of his efforts “in providing
the funding needed by our nation’s armed services … and in
ensuring that the men and women in today’s armed services, and their
families, are adequately provided for.”
Among the major defense issues addressed by the Navy League during the
past year were the development of the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet; the
funding of three key Marine Corps programs (the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor
aircraft, the 155mm light howitzer, and the C-130J replacement aircraft);
the proposed acceleration of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater project;
the need for a more robust shipbuilding program; and the multiyear procurement
of Virginia-class submarines.
One major success was inclusion, in the FY 2004 Defense Authorization
Act, of language modifying overly stringent provisions of the Endangered
Species Act that prevented U.S. naval and other military units from receiving
the training they need to cope with future combat contingencies.
The NLUS advocacy efforts include active participation in The Military
Coalition, a consortium of patriotic and veterans’ organizations
representing more than 5.5 million citizens. Coalition members meet regularly
to share information, discuss issues of common interest, and advocate
a coordinated legislative agenda.
Included on the NLUS website, under Office of Legislative Affairs, are:
(a) a search-engine capability that allows members to find their senators
and representatives, and congressional district, by nine-digit Zip code;
and (b) a daily schedule of important House, Senate, and committee activities.
The 2003 SAS offered a major opportunity to generate positive media coverage—for
the sea services, for exhibitors, and for the Navy League. Close to 150
print and broadcast media representatives attended. NLUS public relations
worked closely with exhibitors and the sea services to provide journalists
the information they needed to cover the exposition, and coordinated a
press conference featuring Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard
B. Myers. The press also reported the remarks made by other speakers,
including then-Acting Secretary of the Navy Hansford T. Johnson, at various
SAS events. The League’s 2003 national convention received positive
coverage when newly elected National President McNeill laid a Navy League
wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial during the 2003 National NLUS Convention
in Hawaii. Public relations also coordinated several interviews with McNeill
that focused on her status as the League’s first female president.
McNeill’s President’s Message on encroachment (in the August
issue of Sea Power) led to follow-on coverage by Forbes magazine and other
Other NLUS public relations initiatives included the crafting of commentary
pieces that Navy Leaguers could submit to local newspapers; coordinating
media interviews and meetings with members of Congress at events associated
with the commissioning of the USS Ronald Reagan; and coordinating the
press coverage of EPA Administrator Whitman at the groundbreaking for
the new NLUS national headquarters.
The Navy Leaguer, the League’s national newsletter for members,
continued to provide a broad spectrum of news and pictures of Navy League
events and activities around the world. Two issues of the newsletter were
The NLUS membership staff continued to rely on the League’s upgraded
information- technology systems to improve the range of services provided
to councils and individual members. Enrollment in the Online Community
(OLC) more than doubled, and the OLC now includes an online Leadership
Directory, available to those listed in it. In addition, a number of categories
were added to filtering options to allow councils to identify members
as well as magazine subscribers.
E-billing—sending renewal notices on membership dues by email rather
than “snail mail”—also was expanded and now includes
second notices as well as first notices. The response rate to e-billing
remains higher than the response rate to paper notices, and more members
opt for multiyear memberships with e-billing.
The League’s two national publications, Sea Power magazine and
The Almanac of Sea Power, continued not only to report developments of
interest to the sea services, but also to include reports on programs,
events, and issues over the horizon.
The formats of the two publications were revamped significantly as well,
and there was renewed emphasis on the inclusion of more, but shorter,
news articles. Among those articles were several in the increasingly important
field of homeland security. The Navy League section of the magazine also
was revised to include more coverage of council events and activities.
After 31 years as editor-in-chief, James D. Hessman transitioned, following
completion of the March issue of Sea Power, to the new post of senior
writer & editor emeritus. He was succeeded by Richard C. Barnard,
a prize-winning writer and editor well known throughout the defense community.
Among the sea-service leaders and other high-ranking officials interviewed
during the past year were Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.), co-chairman
of the Navy-Marine Corps Caucus; Rep. William M. “Mac” Thornberry
(R-Texas), a member of both the House Armed Services Committee and the
Select Committee on Homeland Security; Assistant Secretary of the Navy
(Research, Development, and Acquisition) John J. Young Jr.; Marine Commandant
Gen. Michael W. Hagee; Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas H. Collins;
and Transportation Security Administrator James M. Loy.
Marketing and Regional Activities
The Navy League rolled out several new marketing initiatives last year
and provided additional headquarters support for area, state, and regional
activities. A new position, manager of field services, was created to
enhance the support effort by: (a) improving communications between headquarters
and NLUS councils; (b) increasing communications among and between councils;
(c) increasing the number and timeliness of council and regional newsletters;
and (d) encouraging councils and regions to share “best practices”
ideas in recruiting, retention, programs, and other important areas.
An electronic “Council Alert” newsletter was created to improve
communications at all levels of the Navy League. The bimonthly Council
Alerts—the first of which was transmitted in January 2003, provide
a wealth of useful information, including council best practices ideas
and recommendations, membership recruiting and retention updates, a meetings
schedule, and various public relations events.
The alerts—available to anyone with an email address who wants
to be included on the distribution list—are posted on the NLUS website
under “Navy League Councils/Council Alerts.”
The booth displays at NLUS headquarters were shipped to councils throughout
the country to serve as backdrops for special activities such as Fleet
Week events, Navy Day, and Marine Corps Birthday celebrations, and council
participation in fairs, festivals, and other community events. The Council
Development team is making plans to permit the online reservation of NLUS
booths and to enhance the NLUS website by including photos of all banners,
flags, and displays available to councils. PowerPoint presentations on
membership and community education have been added to the website for
NLUS councils to use.
The Marketing Department continued the new member acquisition effort
through a series of direct-mail campaigns and the placement of advertisements
in various publications. The “Operation Family Connection”
campaign showed promising results: For each new member the Navy League
acquired, a prepaid international calling card was sent to a forward-deployed
Sailor or Marine so he or she could stay in touch with family and friends.
Members of the team continued to attend council meetings throughout the
country to support training workshops requested by councils, areas, and
regions. There are now 13 training workshops covering a broad spectrum
of council operations—including such topics as management and governance,
membership recruiting and retention, strategic planning, fundraising,
and electronic communications.
The two NLUS-sponsored youth programs, the Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC)
and Navy League Cadet Corps (NLCC), continue to grow. More than 10,000
Cadets are now enrolled in 347 NSCC and NLCC units in the United States,
Puerto Rico, and Guam.
The NSCC, established in 1958, was chartered by Congress in 1962 as a
nonprofit youth-training organization. The NLCC is not covered by the
federal charter. All of the nation’s armed forces, including the
reserve components, provide training and facilities support for both programs,
membership in which is open to both boys and girls—ages 11 through
13 for the NLCC and 13 through 17 for the NSCC.
Most Cadet training is carried out at local naval or other military facilities
and is supervised by carefully selected volunteer officers and instructors,
many of them active-duty or retired military personnel. That training
is supplemented with summer training that starts with a two-week recruit
orientation program and encompasses a broad range of military subjects,
skills, and operational specialties ranging from basic seamanship, CPR,
and swimming to health care, and aviation training. At-sea training on
Navy ships or Coast Guard cutters often is available as well.
Last year, the third in which federal funding was available for Cadet
training, almost 2,400 Sea Cadets and more than 1,200 League Cadets participated
in recruit and orientation training at 19 regional military bases or stations,
and another 3,400 received advanced training at more than 50 other bases
and stations. In addition, 37 U.S. Cadets, and their adult escorts, participated
in an international exchange program with Sea Cadet units from overseas.
The federal funding provided was used almost exclusively to offset increasingly
expensive berthing and messing costs.