CNO Admiral Gilday Choker Whites

(2019) CNO Adm. Mike Gilday delivers his first remarks as the 32nd CNO during a change of office ceremony held at the Washington Navy Yard. Gilday, former Director, Joint Staff, relieved Adm. John Richardson, the 31st CNO. (USN photo by Ryan U. Kledzik)

Top Navy Admiral Quietly Removes ‘Woke’ Books From CNO Reading List

John Konrad
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May 8, 2022

by John Konrad (gCaptain) The US Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Mike Gilday released an update to the CNO Professional Reading Program. Gone from the list are socially progressive books that ignited conservative anger last year. Books like Ibram X. Kendi bestseller How to Be an Antiracist and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

The CNO-Professional Reading Program consists of 12 books and is a mix of writing genres including fiction, non-fiction, military, strategy, management, and technology, among others.

“A learning mindset is essential to accelerating our warfighting advantage,” said Gilday. “A Navy that learns, adapts, and improves the fastest will be the most successful. Knowledge sharing is essential to creating a learning culture.”

Last year Gilday received praise from Democrats and scorn from several republicans for choosing books that leaned into the question of race in America.

“If you want to understand a country’s military, take a look at what its officer corps is reading,” said Tucker Carlson on Fox News. “So with that in mind, what are American military officers reading these
days? Well, let’s see, a sub-literate pamphlet on how the United States is a disgusting immoral country that must be changed immediately and forever.”

Congressional critics included Representative Jim Banks, a U.S. Navy Reserve officer, who sent a letter to Gilday on Feb. 26 2021 arguing that the views promoted in Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” on the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP) are “explicitly anti-American” and called on Gilday to explain the Navy’s decision to include it on the reading list or remove it.

Gilday refused to remove the books last year saying in a letter to Banks that some of the books on the CNO-PRP reading list were recommendations from Task Force One Navy, which he contacted “to identify and remove racial barriers, improve inclusion efforts, create new opportunities for professional development and eliminate obstacles to entering the Navy.”

In a later congressional hearing last summer, the visibly distraught Gilday fired back at Banks: “I am not going to sit here and defend cherry-picked quotes from somebody’s book,” he said. “This is a bigger issue than Kendi’s book. What this is really about is trying to paint the United States military, and the United States Navy as weak, as woke… we are not weak. we are strong.”

The stated goal of the CNO reading list program is to contribute to a culture dedicated to warfighting and learning, while simultaneously supporting the personal and professional development of Sailors beyond that of their primary designator or rating.

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“We are driving a fleet-wide campaign of self-improvement,” said Gilday on Friday. “We must foster an organization that supports and empowers Sailors to have an independent quest for knowledge through reading and information sharing. What you know and how fast you learn is relevant in this era of strategic competition.”

Gilday did not comment in the official release on why he did not include any social progressive books on this year’s list. He also did not mention why the list does not include any books written by black authors.

Near the bottom of the list, Gilday does include a few progressively leaning books by women including Gayle Lemmon’s bestseller Ashley’s War about a team of women special operations soldiers and Brene Brown’s book Dare To Lead.

The following books are included in the newly released update:

  1. To Rule the Waves” by Bruce Jones 
  2. A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy” by James Holmes 
  3. China as a 21st Century Naval Power” by Michael. A. McDevitt 
  4. Not One Inch” by Mary E. Sarotte 
  5. The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea” by Admiral James G. Stavridis
  6. Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War” by Paul Scharre 
  7. Fortune Favors Boldness” by Barry Costello 
  8. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour” by James Hornfischer 
  9. World War II at Sea: A Global History” by Craig Symonds 
  10. Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield” by Gayle T. Lemmon
  11. Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown 
  12. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck

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