Sumida receives 2017 Knox Naval Award

Professor Jon Sumida has received the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Award from the Naval Historical Foundation to acknowledge his lifetime body of work that embraces scholarship, leadership, and mentoring in the field of naval history. The notice for his award mentioned his scholarship and his mentoring of members of the US Armed Forces and professors.

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Dr. David F. Winkler wrote the foundation's article, quoted extensively below.

Jon T. Sumida is a meticulous and demanding scholar and teacher who has had a major impact on the study of naval history for more than three and a half decades.

His first article, “British Capital Ship Design and Fire Control in the Dreadnought Era: Sir John Fisher, Arthur Hungerford Pollen, and the Battle Cruiser,” Journal of Modern History (June 1979), shook the foundations of British naval historical scholarship with his new (and still controversial) but exceptionally well-researched re-interpretation of the early 20th century Royal Navy.

His first book, In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914 (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989; paperback edition, London: Routledge, 1993; paperback reissue, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014), pioneered a new approach to understanding the relationship between finance, technology, and naval strategy and policy. It is still considered a major contribution to both the substance of British naval history as well as a pioneering methodological approach to naval and military history in general.

His second book, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Washington, D.C.: Wilson Center Press/Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997; paperback edition, 1999); selected title, U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading Program, colonel to general, offered a significant new interpretation of Mahan’s writings that has remained in print and in classroom use in universities and war colleges for more than 18 years.

His third book, Decoding Clausewitz: A New Approach to On War (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2008; paperback edition, 2011), has been a selected title in the U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading Program, colonel to general (2009-2012), and a selected title in the U.S. Marine Corps War College list of top ten military books published 2000-2010.

He also published more than thirty major scholarly articles and book chapters in such major scholarly journals as The Journal of Military HistoryThe Naval War College ReviewThe International History Review, Naval History, and The Journal of Strategic Studies. Seven of them (“A Matter of Timing: The Royal Navy and the Tactics of Decisive Battle, 1912-1916,” “The Sources of Naval Mythology: Sir John Fisher and the Dreadnought,” “British Naval Operational Logistics, 1914-1918,” “Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution,” “The Best Laid Plans . . .: The Development of British Battle Fleet Tactics, 1919-1942,” “Forging the Trident; British Naval Industrial Logistics, 1914-1918,” and “Challenging Parkinson’s Law”) have all made major contributions to our understanding of naval operations and tactics. He has also authored more than ten additional contributions to such publications as The Reader’s Companion to Military History as well as written fifty-nine book reviews for major historical journals.

He is among the naval history profession’s most honored scholars, having received Moncado Prizes from the Society for Military History for articles published in the Journal of Military History in 2004, 1995 and 1993; the 1996 Naval History Author of the Year from the United States Naval Institute; two fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (September 1995-August 1996 and March-August, 1986); as well as the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1990-91).

As a mentor and teacher, Sumida has also had a profound impact on both the history profession and the profession of arms. In addition to rising from lecturer in 1980 to full Professor of Military and European History, University of Maryland, College Park in 2013, he has served as Visiting Lecturer, School of Advanced Warfighting, U.S. Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia, from 2003 to 2015. He has also served as the prestigious Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory, U.S. Marine Corps University, 2004-6; and Visiting Distinguished Professor, Department of Military Strategy and Operations, National War College in Fall Semester 2000.

Dr. Sumida has also been a leader in the scholarly community at large. He served as Program Chairman for the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History in Bethesda, Maryland; as a member of the Leavenworth Prize Committee, U.S. Army Command and Staff College, 2001-2006; and on the Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of Military History, 1992-1997. Most significantly, he served on the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee (DAHAC) from 2000-2006 and was the DAHAC chair from 2003-6, for which service he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, United States Army, on 27 March 2007.

Sumida’s graduate students include:

  • COL Michael Davis, USAF, Ph.D 1998, “The United States, the United Nations, and the Invention of Multinational Peace Operations, 1946 to 1968,”” subsequently served in many positions, including Chief, Doctrine Review Branch, Strategy, Concepts and Doctrine Division, Plans Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations; Chief, Middle East and Southwest Asia Operational Plans and Issues; and , Deputy for Instruction in History, Dean of Faculty, United States Air Force Academy;
  • Timothy Francis, Ph.D. 2001, “Poseidon’s Tribute: Maritime Vulnerability, Industrial Mobilization and the Allied Defeat of the U-Boats, 1939-1945,” who is a branch head at the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command;
  • Ingo Trauschweizer, Ph.D. 2006, Associate Professor, Ohio University (his dissertation under Sumida was published as The Cold War U.S. Army: Building Deterrence for Limited War (2008) and received the Society for Military History Distinguished Book Prize;
  • CAPT Mark Hagerott, USN, Ph.D. 2008, author of Commanding Men and Machine: War at Sea, Technology, Invention of a “Different Kind of Man,” 1899-1999); Deputy Director and Distinguished Professor of Cyber Security, United States Naval Academy, and now (2017) chancellor of the North Dakota University System;
  • CAPT James C. Rentfrow, USN, Ph.D. 2012, now Permanent Military Professor, Department of History, U.S. Naval Academy, whose dissertation “Change and the Construction of Identity in the U.S. Navy’s North Atlantic Squadron, 1874-1897” was published by the Naval Institute as Home Squadron: The U.S. Navy on the North Atlantic Station in 2014;
  • John Vincent Houghton, Ph.D. 2014, who wrote on “The Principle Uncertainty: US Atomic Intelligence, 1942-1949,” and is now the historian at the International Spy Museum.
  • MAJ Glenn Williams, USA, Ph.D 2016, “Lord Dunmore’s War” author of Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign Against the Iroqouis (2005). Thomas Fleming award for the Best Book in American Revolutionary War History; and Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of Ameirca’s Colonial Era (2017). Senior Historian, National Museum of the United States Army
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