Article By: Kenneth A. Stewart
The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) recently welcomed incoming Chief of Staff, Navy Capt. Anthony Parisi to the university. And while Parisi is new to the chief of staff position, he is not new to NPS. He graduated from NPS’ Department of National Security Affairs in the 90s.
“I have to admit that when I was here as a student, I thought this was the most wonderful place in the world,” said Parisi. “I had just come off four and a half years of arduous sea duty and they told me that my job here was to learn, just to learn.”
Parisi also has an intimate personal connection to the school. He and his wife Joy were married in what is now NPS’ Executive Briefing Center.
The son of a first-generation Sicilian fisherman from the hamlet of Gloucester, Mass., Parisi grew up in and around the sea.
“I basically grew up on a fishing boat, and I liked it,” said Parisi.
But Parisi’s father wanted a better life for his son and encouraged him to get an education. Parisi took his father’s advice to heart and began studies at Norwich University, the Military College of Vermont.
“[At Norwich] I tried to blend what I liked with what I knew, and ended up earning a commission as an Ensign in the Navy,” said Parisi. “Basically, all of my jobs since have been geared toward being around Sailors and helping them to grow and learn. I liked being on the open ocean.”
Capt. Anthony Parisi officially took the helm as NPS’ Chief of Staff, July 17. Parisi brings a wealth of experience at sea, as well as graduate education at both NPS and the Naval War College to his new position at the university.
Throughout his naval career, Parisi has spent a lot of time at sea. He completed several deployments to the Mediterranean, Black, Adriatic and North Red Seas. He also participated in several shorter deployments to Northern Europe, the Eastern Pacific, Arabian Gulf and South America. But he is perhaps most proud of the time he spent commanding Afloat Training Group Mayport, the USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and the USS Zephyr (PC 8).
Parisi relished his time at sea, but it was his numerous trips ashore as a “quasi-diplomat” that inspired him to pursue an interest that coincided directly with his NPS education in national security affairs.
“I decided to go into the defense attaché business, which brought me to Rome, Italy where I was the senior defense official and naval attaché’ for three years.
“It was an incredibly eye-opening job where I can say that I directly used my NPS education and put it to practical use in the field,” said Parisi. “My NPS education really benefited me. It helped me to understand how foreign policy evolves, as well as how the gears turn back in Washington and in Combatant Commands.”
Parisi claims that he never stopped applying the lessons he learned as a young officer at NPS. He is excited to be back on campus, and to have the opportunity to be intellectually challenged once again.
“When you are working with hundreds of people who have PhDs, some of whom are literally rocket scientists and physicists, you are going to grow. You are going to be challenged,” said Parisi. “A lot of Navy officers get tired, because it's a tough life and they eventually want to do less challenging jobs as their careers draw to a close, but I can’t work like that. I wouldn't be happy if I wasn't being challenged every day.
“I never stopped doing the research I started as a student here in the Department of National Security Affairs. When you dedicate 18-24 months of study to a field … I don't see how that goes away,” continued Parisi. “That’s why we have to make the education here the best that it can be, so that people can carry the torch down the road.
Posted July 27, 2015