David Polatty

Professor College of Maritime Operational Warfare
David Polatty Profile Image


Dave has served as a civilian professor at NWC since 2008, where he teaches courses on military strategy and operations, crisis planning, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief. He is founder and director of NWC’s Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program, and co-founder and co-director of the NWC-Harvard School of Public Health Joint Civilian-Military Humanitarian Working Group. Dave is a fourth-generation naval officer and Captain in the Navy Reserve. He has commanded four reserve units and currently is commanding officer of the Chief of Naval Operations, N3/N5 unit. While on active duty from 1992 to 2003, he served as a Surface Warfare Officer and Naval Flight Officer.

Areas of Expertise

  • Air Warfare
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • Command and Control
  • HA/DR
  • Homeland Security
  • Joint Operations
  • Military Planning
  • Operational Warfare
  • Surface Warfare
  • United Nations
  • WMD

Professional Highlights


Visiting Scholar, Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs, Brown University

Fellow in the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, whose mission is to promote a more just, peaceful, and secure world by furthering a deeper understanding of global human rights and humanitarian challenges.

Commanding Officer, Navy Reserve Chief of Naval Operations, Operations & Plans

CO of a 70-person Navy Reserve unit supporting the Chief of Naval Operations, N3N5 (Operations & Plans) staff. Unit support includes Navy Operations Center watches, Navy Crisis Action Team membership, and Plans, Strategy, Policy, and International Engagement efforts.

Director, Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program

HRP's mission is to partner and collaborate with leading universities and humanitarian organizations to advance civilian-military coordination during complex emergencies and natural disasters, and improve the U.S. Navy's effectiveness in conducting HA/DR operations.

Commanding Officer, Navy Reserve U.S. European Command J3

CO of a 25-person Navy Reserve unit supporting the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Plans and Operations Center, directing the development and execution of joint and combined operations that support U.S. interests and regional alliances in EUCOM’s area of responsibility.

Commanding Officer, Navy Reserve U.S. Strategic Commander Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction

CO of 15-person Navy Reserve unit supporting U.S. Strategic Command elements within the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, addressing the entire spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosive global threats to the U.S. and its allies.

Commanding Officer, Navy Reserve U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet

CO of 120-person Navy Reserve unit supporting U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet conducting the full spectrum of maritime security operations and security cooperation activities that promote coalition building and deter aggression in U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.

Professor, College of Maritime Operational Warfare

Faculty for NWC's Executive Level Operational Level of War Course (ELOC), Maritime Operational Planners Course (MOPC), Maritime Staff Operators Course (MSOC), and NWC resident electives for Master's Degree & JPME I/II programs.

Commanding Officer & Executive Officer, Navy Reserve U.S. Forces Korea Det 102

CO of 25-person Navy Reserve unit supporting U.S. Forces Korea, assisting Republic of Korea-U.S. forces and United Nations Command Korea multinational forces in deterring external aggression, defending the Korean Peninsula, and maintaining the military Armistice in Korea.

Naval Flight Officer

Served as Mission Commander and Tactical Coordinator (P-3 Orion), leading a 10-person aircrew in conducting anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions across multiple Geographic Combatant Commander areas of responsibility.

Surface Warfare Officer

Served as Engineering Division Officer, Officer of the Deck, and Combat Information Center Watch Officer on an amphibious assault ship, conducting forward deterrence, presence, maritime security, and amphibious operations.


U.S. Joint Forces Staff College, 2011, Advanced Joint Professional Military Education (JPME II)

M.A., U.S. Naval War College, 2006, National Security Strategic Studies, With Highest Distinction & JPME I

B.S., U.S. Naval Academy , 1992, History

Awards and Decorations

Navy Civilian Meritorious Service Medal

Naval War College, Faculty Service Excellence Award

Defense Meritorious Service Medal
2010, 2014, 2017

Meritorious Service Medal

Joint Forces Staff College, Commandant’s Writing Award

Meritorious Service Medal

Naval War College, Navy League William S. Sims Award

Various personal and unit awards
1992 - 2006

News, Media, & Events

The Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative 2020: Newport Arctic Seminar

Jan. 22, 2020
8:00 a.m.
Mahan Hall, U.S. Naval War College, 686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841

China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies

Sep. 13, 2019
Naval Institute Press
Article Publication

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