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Farewell to RADM (Ret.) James B. Greene, Jr.

With heavy hearts we announce the passing of RADM James “Jim” B. Greene, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.), founder of the Acquisition Research Program at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).  He passed away on August 10, 2022, at the age of 81. RADM Greene served the U.S. Navy with honor and dedication for more than 50 years—31 years on active duty, with an additional two decades of service at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Leading Acquisition Research at the Naval Postgraduate School

RADM Jim Greene joined the faculty at NPS in 2002 as a Professor of the Practice and NPS’s Chair of Acquisition. He was also a distinguished NPS alum who earned an MS in Electrical Engineering in 1972 and an MS in Management in 1973.

Jim pioneered the advancement of defense acquisition through scholarly research with the launch of the Acquisition Research Program (ARP) at NPS in 2003. Under his leadership, Jim positioned NPS as a nationally recognized leader in defense acquisition research. He worked tirelessly to secure multiple sponsors annually, ensuring NPS students and faculty had the resources and the attention of the broader Naval acquisition system. During his tenure at NPS, Jim brought in over $60 million in reimbursable funding to support the research efforts of:

  • 700+ NPS graduate students
  • 40 NPS faculty
  • 30 researchers at think tanks and universities from across the United States.

RADM Greene established NPS acquisition research as an integral part of policymaking for officials in the Navy and across the Department of Defense. This was evident in the annual acquisition research symposium, held each May in Monterey since 2004. This two-day event connects a diverse and international group of acquisition scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to NPS. Roughly 150 of the 300 attendees are NPS faculty and graduate students engaged in acquisition-related research across campus. Over 65 unique research papers are presented at the event each year. 

During his tenure, RADM Greene established the ARP graduate student program, the NPS faculty ARP program and the grants program funded by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. These programs generated real-time information on the performance of defense acquisition policies and provided viable recommendations for continuous process improvement. Under his leadership, the program produced:

  • 327 graduate student theses and reports
  • 289 NPS faculty technical research reports
  • 185 technical grant reports
  • over 1,170 symposium papers and presentation.

These research reports have been collected in NPS’s Defense Acquisition Innovation Repository (DAIR), which remains a trusted resource to the acquisition research community. RADM Greene read every report published by the ARP before it went out.

RADM Greene firmly believed that every graduate from NPS is a member of the acquisition workforce since nearly every officer will be involved in acquisition at least once in their career. His favorite part of the job was talking with student officers and mentoring them. His legacy is evident in the many ARP alum who have gone on to serve in senior leadership positions in the Departments of the Navy and Defense.

Upon his retirement in 2020, Jim Greene continued on as a volunteer at NPS, maintaining a connection to the program, the students and faculty it supported, and the mission of applying intellectually rigorous research to improve the defense acquisition process.

A Naval Career Marked by Team Building and Acquisition Acumen

Jim entered the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1962 while studying electrical engineering at Brown University. He was commissioned in 1964 and served as a surface warfare officer until his retirement in 1995 as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics. As a flag officer, Jim was renowned for his exceptional intelligence, character, leadership, and consensus-building skills, in addition to a superb understanding of the acquisition process. He was even called the “Bo Jackson of acquisition.” Jim knew acquisition.

Jim earned the rank of Rear Admiral (lower half) in 1986, and advanced to Rear Admiral (upper half) in 1989. His superiors consistently noted he had unlimited potential for promotion and that he was destined to lead at the highest levels in the Navy or Department of Defense.  

From 1964-1979, Jim Greene’s sea and shore tours included numerous wartime deployments to Vietnam and deployments to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. He progressed through these assignments, ultimately earning Command at Sea and promotion to the rank of Captain.

From 1980-1983 he supported the creation of Naval legislation and policy as Director, Committee Liaison for the Office of Legislative Affairs, where he liaised with the House and Senate Armed Services Committee on behalf of the Navy. Jim gained Congressional approval for recommissioning battleships and initiating lead procurement of the 13-ship, $2.7B Maritime Prepositioning Ship program.

From 1983-1987, he served as executive assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Shipbuilding and Logistics, where he devised, developed, and implemented the Materiel Professional and Healthcare Professional Programs, which revolutionized the assignment of Navy’s acquisition managers and healthcare administrators. From 1986-1987 he served as the first Director of the Materiel Professional Program, the Navy precursor to the DoD Acquisition Workforce initiative.

From 1987–1989, Jim was the project manager for the AEGIS shipbuilding project, the Navy’s largest, most complex, and most highly visible surface ship building program at the time. AEGIS was also the DoD’s largest acquisition project, with an annual budget in excess of $5 billion. The project encompassed research, development, design, production, fleet introduction, and full life cycle support of the entire fleet of AEGIS cruisers, destroyers, and weapons systems. Jim’s extraordinary acquisition skill and credibility with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Congress, the Secretariat, and industry made this program a success, delivering the Navy’s premier fighting ships ahead of schedule and under budget.

Rear Admiral James B. Greene Jr., Aegis Shipbuilding Project Program Manager, front row, center, other US Navy personnel and officials of Bath Iron Works gather for the keel laying of the guided missile cruiser SHILOH (CG 67).

From 1989 -1990, Jim served as the Senior Military Assistant and Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, where he advised and counseled the Under Secretary in directing the defense procurement process. In this role, Jim was valued for his consistent ability to cut to the meat of the issues and provide sound advice and counsel.

In 1991, Jim served as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. He conceived, formulated, and put in place the structure for implementing the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act in the Navy with a consummate ability to structure a major initiative in minimal time.  

From 1992-1995, Jim served as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics. As Assistant Deputy, he provided oversight, direction, and budget development for worldwide Navy logistics operations. He facilitated depot maintenance, supply chain management, base/station management, environmental programs and logistics advice, and support to the Chief of Naval Operations. During this time he led Navy-wide efforts to digitize all technical data and reduce cycle times, and he developed and implemented strategy for the procurement of eleven Sealift ships for the rapid deployment of forces.

RADM Greene retired from active duty in 1995, after which he worked as an independent consultant applying his acquisition and management acumen to the defense industry. He helped clients apply technology to minimize life cycle costs, enabled capital assessment procurement through alternative financing arrangements, and led “red-teaming” of corporate proposals for major government procurements.

RADM Jim Greene was a true leader in every sense of the word, with a keen sense of personal worth in dealing with all levels of people. He was a patriot, a warrior, a mentor, a colleague, and a trusted friend to all who knew him. Fair Winds and Following Seas.

A memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family has provided the following charities in consideration for a donation in his honor.

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