David Polatty

Professor College of Maritime Operational Warfare
David Polatty Profile Image


Dave Polatty is the founder and former director of NWC’s Humanitarian Response Program and a visiting scholar at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He specializes in humanitarian response, crisis planning, and military strategy and operations. He is also a fourth-generation naval officer and a Navy Reserve captain. He has commanded five Navy Reserve units and currently serves as the Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for Rhode Island. While on active duty from 1992 to 2003, he served as a surface warfare officer and naval flight officer.

Areas of Expertise

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

Professional Highlights


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

Developed and teach two undergraduate courses in the International & Public Affairs concentration: "Humanitarian Response in Modern Conflict" and "Overcoming Threats to Human Security."

Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer, Rhode Island

Serve as the Navy liaison to the state of Rhode Island to save lives, alleviate suffering, and mitigate great property damage during disasters.

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.


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

Research Contributions and Publications

Awards and Decorations

Legion of Merit

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

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