Admiral James O. Ellis Jr.

Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow

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.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

Blank Section (Placeholder)

Rightsize the Navy

by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. via Hoover Digest
Monday, July 9, 2018

If we continue to build ships that cost too much and do too little, we’ll be sunk.

Blueprint for AmericaFeatured

Restoring Our National Security

by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. , General Jim Mattis, Kori Schakevia PolicyEd
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

For the past twenty years, the United States has been operating mostly unguided by a coherent security strategy. As a result, we have been too reactive to events and crises. To effectively manage our national security, we need a strategy that is clearly defined, communicated, and supported.

Blank Section (Placeholder)

Chain Reactions

by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. , George P. Shultzvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 26, 2018

Before we jettison nuclear energy, let's count the costs: to the economy, to the environment, and to national security.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

Cornstalks, Calvinball, And The Bridges At Toko Ri: Rightsizing The U.S. Navy

by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. via Strategika
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The main street of Washington, Georgia, is called Toombs Avenue in honor of the Georgia senator and Civil War general who was born nearby. In promoting the South’s secession as the war approached, Toombs reportedly claimed, “We can beat those Yankees with cornstalks!”

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

The Benefits Of Nuclear Power

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

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


A Blueprint For American Security

by Kori Schake, General Jim Mattis, Admiral 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 Admiral 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, Admiral 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.

Blank Section (Placeholder)

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

by George P. Shultz, Admiral 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.