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Former U.S. Representative J. Randy Forbes is the Naval War College Foundation Senior Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
As a Senior Distinguished Fellow, Forbes shares with students and faculty his perspective on topics such as maritime strategy, naval policy, civil-military relations, and the role of Congress in national security affairs. Forbes joined the Naval War College faculty in January 2017 after representing the Hampton Roads region for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
While in Congress, Forbes served as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Readiness from 2011-2013, Forbes was responsible for setting readiness policy and authorizing funding for operations and maintenance, training, military construction, and munitions procurement. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces from 2013-2017, Forbes oversaw Navy policy, shipbuilding programs, and weapons procurement, along with elements of naval aviation and the Air Force’s long-range bomber, tanker, and airlift aircraft.
As Subcommittee Chairman and Co-Chair of the Congressional Navy-Marine Corps Caucus, Forbes was widely recognized as the leading authority in Congress on naval issues and as a vocal advocate for the sea services and our men and women in uniform. Throughout his 8 terms in Congress, he was at the forefront of efforts to foster strategic thinking about threats to our national security, lift the threat of defense sequestration, restore military readiness, achieve savings and acquisition reform, and build the Navy, Marine Corps, and other military forces needed for national defense.
In addition to naval issues, Forbes was a leading voice on U.S. security policy towards the Asia-Pacific region. After visiting China in 2005, Forbes founded the Congressional China Caucus to call attention to China’s growing military and economic power and raise awareness among Members of Congress and the public about its implications for the United States. In subsequent years, Forbes chaired a special series of Asia-Pacific oversight hearings and introduced numerous pieces of legislation focused on the region.
In recognition of his work in Congress, Forbes was hailed by the Chief of Naval Operations as “the wind in our strategic sails” and endorsed by seven former Secretaries of the Navy.
He has been recognized with more than a dozen awards for his maritime leadership, including the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award and the Navy League's “Outstanding Civilian Leadership” and “Teddy Roosevelt ‘Big Stick’” Awards.
Prior to his service in Congress, Forbes served in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, and was an attorney in private practice. A lifelong resident of Chesapeake, Virginia, Forbes is married to Shirley and has four children. Forbes received his B.A. in Political Science from Randolph-Macon College (graduating valedictorian) and his J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School. He is a frequent speaker on national defense issues and his writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, The Diplomat, Real Clear Defense, and the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute.