Admiral Gary Roughead

Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow

Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, (2011–13) graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1973. In September 2007, Admiral Roughead became the twenty-ninth chief of naval operations after holding six operational commands and is one of only two officers in the navy’s history to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.

Ashore he served as the commandant at the US Naval Academy, during which time he led the strategic planning effort that underpinned that institution’s first capital campaign. He was also the navy’s chief of legislative affairs, responsible for the Department of the Navy’s interaction with Congress, and the deputy commander of the US Pacific Command during the massive relief effort following the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

As chief of naval operations, Admiral Roughead successfully guided the navy through a challenging period of transition in fiscal, security, and personnel matters. He stabilized and accelerated ship and aircraft procurement plans, accelerated the navy’s capability and capacity in ballistic missile defense and unmanned air and underwater systems, and directed the service’s investigation of climate change and alternative energy. He reestablished the Fourth and Tenth Fleets to better focus on the Western Hemisphere and cyber operations, respectively. Admiral Roughead introduced bold programs to prepare for the primacy of information in warfare and the use of social media within the navy. He also led the navy through changes in law and personnel policy to draw more inclusively than ever on the navy’s greatest strength, its sailors.

Admiral Roughead is the recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and various unit and service awards. He has also received awards from several foreign governments.

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Recent Commentary

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North Star Rising

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 16, 2015

The Arctic is the world’s new frontier for resources, shipping, and security. We need to stake our claim.


In The Race For Arctic Energy, The U.S. And Russia Are Polar Opposites

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Obama administration dithers while Moscow—with China close behind—revs up offshore oil production.

Analysis and Commentary

Getting Serious About The Arctic: US Interests In The North

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Harvard International Review
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In our fast paced world of sound bites, tweets, and captivating images, recent horrific acts such as those in Nigeria, Paris, and Pakistan shock us with increasing frequency.

In the News

No To A Smaller Navy

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia The New York Times
Saturday, March 14, 2015

I take issue with Gregg Easterbrook’s analysis of the Navy. At a minimum, his strategic view is conditioned by what our Navy has been able to do for the last six decades, not the reality of what a smaller Navy means for our country’s global reach and stabilizing presence.

Analysis and Commentary

Views from Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.)

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia US Senate
Friday, October 3, 2014

Thank you for the opportunity to offer my thoughts on defense acquisition reform. My relatively short time in retirement and recent involvement in the private sector (most not in the defense industry) have afforded an opportunity to reflect on and compare acquisition practices.

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Don't Ignore the Indo-Pacific

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our Asian strategy shouldn't just be about China. 

Hoover Archives poster collection: CC 89

Strategika: “Can America Manage China’s Rise?” with Gary Roughead

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Strategika
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Retired Admiral Gary Roughead looks at America’s options to keep the rise of China from causing global instability.

US flag on military helmet

Admiral Gary Roughead on Foreign Policy

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Hoover Institution
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In this special podcast from the Hoover Institution, Admiral Gary Roughead discusses the challenges of a coherent national defense and foreign policy. Topics include the lasting effects of the sequester, US leadership and engagement in the world, and modern decision-making environments. For more commentary on foreign policy, see the essay series from Hoover's Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy.

Hoover Archives poster collection: CC 89
Featured Commentary

China, Time and Rebalancing

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Strategika
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Grand Strategy Essay Series

Strategy’s First Steps

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Analysis
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Admiral Gary Roughead argues that a discussion of grand strategy must start with an honest and accurate assessment of the country’s current global position: “When in a precarious navigational situation at sea, the first question asked is, where am I?” He identifies five current and anticipated trends that should shape that assessment.