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LCDR Chris Glass II (’18): Analyst for the Office of Naval Intelligence

Chris Glass at IWP
Chris Glass at IWP

LCDR Chris Glass II (USNR) studied at IWP during a transition from a sea-going position in the Merchant Marine to a role in the Intelligence Community. Thanks to an agreement between IWP and the U.S. Naval War College, Chris is now back at IWP taking several electives towards a second master’s degree at USNWC. He is focusing on the Far East in his studies.  

His background in the Navy and Merchant Marine, along with his studies at IWP, have impacted the work he is doing with the Office of Naval Intelligence. There, he leads a large team for the Kennedy Maritime Analysis Center, Fleet Operations Integration Division’s primary line of effort. 

Please tell us about your intelligence work at the Office of Naval Intelligence.  

I founded a coordinated effort regarding transnational threats at, what was then, ONI’s Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center. This team has since been merged into the Kennedy Maritime Analysis Center. This project encompassed a substantial community of interest that was ratified by a three-star admiral.  

I oversee this community of interest, which now includes a large group of Department of Defense (DoD) personnel, academic institutions, NGOs, FVEY partners, bilateral partners in that area of responsibility (AOR), and much of the Intelligence Community (IC). We have more than 40 offices and 1,500 active members participating.  

The members of this group support us as we work on operational intelligence and longer-term analysis for our problem set. We also inform their efforts associated with this portfolio as well.  

Just last month in December, I went to Japan with a Senior Naval intelligence Manager for East Asia, where we conducted an exchange with the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and Coast Guard (JCG) to perform a bilateral intelligence exchange. We were there for a week.  

On a day-to-day basis, I have been focusing on teaching civilians how to do the research that we need. Part of our office focuses on tactical issues, and part focuses on technical and strategic analysis. I have transitioned to primarily focusing on technical and strategic analysis in order to inform key decision makers within the DoD, IC, and previously mentioned FVEY/bilateral partners’ initiatives in the AOR.  

Chris in the Ginza district of Tokyo during his exchange with the JMSDF-JCG, in December 2023
Chris in the Ginza district of Tokyo during his exchange with the JMSDF-JCG, in December 2023.

We understand that you have done some high-level briefings. Please tell us about these. 

My team and I have done several executive-level briefings. For instance, we have supported briefings with the National Security Director, the Presidential Advisory Board, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commander of USINDOPACOM, and Commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence among others. In a little over a month, I will brief the Secretary of the Navy. 

Can you tell us a little about the impact of your work? 

I think this particular problem set has a significant impact. How do we prevent war from breaking out? That is an issue we are actively participating in.  

At IWP, I focused on East Asia, Southeast Asia, maritime conflict zones, the Spratley Islands, China’s grand strategy, how to deter an adversary, etc. All of these topics inform how I analyze the work I do now.  

The experience from IWP, along with my maritime and Navy background, has culminated in this position where I can hopefully have some impact in preventing another big conflict in the Far East. It is a precarious time for the Wast, and it is at this time that we must rise to the challenge.  

Do you work with other IWP alumni? 

I work with quite a few IWP graduates. Just the other day, a fellow alum came into my office. There are other IWP folks working on the same problem set, and I discussed it with them just this week.  

How did you decide to study at the Naval War College, taking some of your electives at IWP? 

Right now, I’m a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and I would certainly like to make Captain like my father one day. One of the key career “wickets” you are expected to achieve is Joint Professional Military Education (JPME). My studies at the Naval War College are phase one of this JPME. 

There are three core courses that I must take at the Naval War College, and each one is nine credits. They are Strategy and War, Joint Maritime Operations, and Theater Security and Decision-Making. With these courses, you complete the JPME phase one requirement.  

To get a M.A. from NWC, you have to take only three more, three-credit courses on top of this. Because of the relationship that IWP has with the Naval War College, I can take these electives at IWP. For a relatively inexpensive cost, I can obtain a well-respected M.A., particularly in the U.S. Government, DoD, and IC writ large! I plan to graduate this spring. 

In addition to helping me make rank in the Navy, this second master’s is preparing me to take a step further in the IC.  

IWP heavily prepared me in the topics of strategy and war. Geography and Strategy and Military Strategy were the two courses I took during my IWP M.A. on these topics. I re-used some of the books from these courses for my classes at USNWC, including Masters of War by Michael Handel, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and Carl von Clausewitz’s On War 

How did you choose which electives to take at IWP for your Naval War College degree? 

You have to choose an area of study (AOS) for electives at the War College. I chose to focus on the Asia Pacific region.  

I found courses that IWP was offering and submitted a form to the War College; they approved it the same day. 

I took Maoist Revolutionary Wars Outside China with Dr. Christopher C. Harmon. It was a fantastic class and has continued to guide how I perceive the political zeitgeist of the Chinese Communist Party.  

I also took The United States and Taiwan, 1895-Present with Prof. John Tkacik. He is clearly an expert in his field, and I found this to be an exceptionally helpful course for my day job. I’ve even had the opportunity to share some of his insights with fellow teammates who hail from Ivy League institutions as well. 

Right now, for my final elective, I’m doing a directed study with Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz titled: China and its Neighbors. It’s the most intensive reading list I have ever had – I had to buy about 50 books! It’s a massive survey of China, including 25 books on China which also includes such prolific tomes as The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. 

Most Western theorists don’t understand the Chinese point of view and how traditions from Sun Tzu and Confucianism influence the Chinese contemporary ethos. It is important to adopt a realistic and pragmatic perspective—to merge an understanding of the strategic/operational/tactical with the psychological/spiritual—the holistic view. If you are too politically correct, you can come to believe that everyone thinks the same way; thus, falling into the trap of mirror imaging and precluding yourself from thinking like an adversary.  

Mirror imaging is dangerous. IWP takes the blinders off. We strive to analyze countries from their own, unique, perspective.  

Mirror imaging is dangerous. IWP takes the blinders off. We strive to analyze countries from their own, unique, perspective.  

Please tell us a little about your maritime background and how you originally decided to pursue an M.A. at IWP.  

I graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, where I received a B.S. in Marine Transportation. I was a deck officer. At the same time, I was commissioned into the Navy Reserve. I chose to go the route of maintaining my reserve commission while “shipping out” as a civilian commercial mariner.  

As a merchant mariner, I embarked on various vessels, working in the offshore oil and gas industry along with the National Defense Reserve Fleet. As a civilian, I was a captain on a 6,000-ton vessel. I worked in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea near Norway, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

I spent about six years shipping out in total. I was afforded a wide range of maritime experience, from merchant vessels in the oil and gas industry to a naval destroyer—”white shipping” to grey hulls. 

Eventually, my wife and I wanted to start a family and I started pursuing options to transition “shoreside.” I also had experience in the Far East when I was a cadet. I shipped out of such ports as Shanghai and Xiamen in the PRC as well as Kaohsiung in Taiwan. This sparked an interest in the region, and I knew that I wanted to pursue this as a career.  

Ultimately, when I started at IWP, my father had just started as a Vice President at IWP, and I enrolled in the M.A. program. 

How did you know that IWP was the right school for you? 

I specifically appreciated the focus on the Western moral tradition that did not just demonize the uniqueness of Western civilization but recognized its achievements; namely, bringing enfranchisement to the masses, technological innovation, and so much more. Despite our problems and failings in the West, there has been a progression in a positive direction. I liked going to a school that focused on the Judeo-Christian moral ethic as a net positive for human civilization.  

I also appreciated the focus on classical realism instead of idealism. With my maritime background, spending years abroad, I knew that it is better not to be naïve about how the world works. You should strive towards an ideal world, but temper expectations. For instance, in my classes on nuclear proliferation and mass murder prevention, we studied how to realistically deter war from happening as opposed to blindly walking into conflict. 

My favorite professor was and is Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz. He draws distinctions about how different civilizational elements influence and interact with each other.  

Dr. John Lenczowski’s class on International Relations helped me understand the world from a more realist perspective. The “end of history” period was an anomaly while realpolitik and balance-of-power politics is the norm. We have returned to an era of strategic competition that requires balancing with other great powers like Russia and China.  

With my maritime background, I understand what with a war with China would look like—it would be a Navy-centric conflict. However, you can’t just focus on the military aspect alone – you need a panoramic approach. You must also focus on diplomacy, tradecraft, and all the other elements of statecraft I learned at IWP. 

Did your IWP studies help you land your first job in the IC? 

IWP helped with my career transition. I was able to use the mix of being a Navy officer, a merchant mariner, and my knowledge of the other tools of statecraft which I learned at IWP.  

When I first started, they were heavily hiring people who had master’s degrees. IWP helped, but having a maritime background also helped. IWP put me over the top with an advantage. That is how I got started and found my way into the community.  

An exchange between ONI and NSW.
An exchange between ONI and NSW.