James O. Ellis Jr.

Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

James O. Ellis Jr. retired as president and chief executive officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 18, 2012.

INPO, sponsored by the commercial nuclear industry, is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability--to promote excellence--in the operation of nuclear electric-generating plants.

In 2004, Admiral Ellis completed a distinguished thirty-nine-year navy career as commander of the United States Strategic Command during a time of challenge and change. In this role, he was responsible for the global command and control of United States strategic and space forces, reporting directly to the secretary of defense.

A 1969 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Admiral Ellis was designated a naval aviator in 1971. His service as a navy fighter pilot included tours with two fighter squadrons and assignment as commanding officer of an F/A-18 strike/fighter squadron. In 1991, he assumed command of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. After selection to rear admiral, in 1996 he served as a carrier battle group commander leading contingency response operations in the Taiwan Straits.

His shore assignments included numerous senior military staff tours including commander in chief, US Naval Forces, Europe, and commander in chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe, during a time of historic NATO expansion. He led United States and NATO forces in combat and humanitarian operations during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

Ellis holds a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and, in 2005, was inducted into the school’s Engineering Hall of Fame. He completed United States Navy Nuclear Power Training and was qualified in the operation and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants. He is a graduate of the Navy Test Pilot School and the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun). In 2013, Ellis was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

In 2009 he completed three years of service as a presidential appointee on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and, in 2006, was a member of the Military Advisory Panel to the Iraq Study Group.

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Recent Commentary

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The Benefits Of Nuclear Power

by James O. Ellis Jr. , George P. Shultzvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It won’t solve our energy problems, but our energy problems can’t be solved without it.

Admiral James O. Ellis: Nuclear Energy, Stanford and SLAC 2016

by James O. Ellis Jr.
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Admiral James O. Ellis discusses nuclear energy at Stanford University.

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A Blueprint For American Security

by Kori Schake, General Jim Mattis, James O. Ellis Jr. via San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Russia invades Ukraine, shaking the post-World War II European order. China chips away at others’ sovereignty in Asia. The war in Iraq, nearly won by 2010, and the war in Afghanistan grind on. Terrorism seems everywhere metastasizing. If the world feels more dangerous to you, it should.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

Readiness Writ Large

by James O. Ellis Jr. via Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

In the years immediately following the (first) end of the Cold War, the search for elusive readiness metrics in the Department of Defense was all-consuming. As the pressures mounted, first to write and then to cash the “peace dividend” check, policy pronouncements were made and working groups and war rooms were established, all asserting the existence of and searching for the Holy Grail: a suite of detailed readiness metrics that could precisely detail the impact of every procurement dollar cut and every training event curtailed. 

George Shultz and Admiral (ret.) James Ellis: Reinventing Nuclear Energy

by George P. Shultz, James O. Ellis Jr.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

George Shultz and Admiral (ret.) James Ellis discuss "Reinventing Nuclear Energy" at the GCEP Symposium on October 14, 2015.

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"New Nuclear's Potential" with George P. Shultz and James O. Ellis, Jr.

by George P. Shultz, James O. Ellis Jr. via Fellow Talks
Friday, June 26, 2015

Former Secretary of State George Shultz and retired Navy Admiral James Ellis in a conversation about small modular nuclear reactors: why people are interested again today and how they might measure up to the rest of the American energy landscape in terms of security, economics, and the environment.