Welcome! It is a pleasure to greet you and thank you for visiting the web page for the Office of the Chaplain at the Joint Forces Staff College! This website tries to capture the width and breadth of pastoral ministry that happens in a diverse educational context within the U.S. military. It includes a survey of the activities planned and supported by this department, and it also contains descriptions of the roles and responsibilities that I, as the Command Chaplain, undertake in addition to the traditional roles of a chaplain on a military installation. If you cannot find the information you seek, or if you have further questions about my duties here, my contact information is on the left side of these pages. Feel free to contact me!
The Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) is the Norfolk, Virginia, campus of National Defense University (NDU) which is located at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. NDU falls under the direct supervision of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order to carry out joint professional military education. Thus, the Office of the Chaplain at JFSC provides traditional pastoral care and counseling in a unique setting that educates Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard officers to serve in various joint billets within the Department of Defense. Civilians from other U.S. government agencies and officers from the armed forces of other nations also attend the schools of JFSC. By virtue of a memorandum of understanding with the Chairman’s Joint Staff, and as a representative of the Joint Staff Chaplain located in the Pentagon, the Command Chaplain of JFSC also provides pastoral care and counseling to military and civilian workers at Joint Staff South locations in Suffolk, Virginia, and NSA Hampton Roads.
The billet of Command Chaplain belongs to the Chaplain Corps of the U.S. Navy, and it requires the individual to be trained and certified in Joint Professional Military Education Phases I and II. In addition, the Command Chaplain must have a professional naval code in ethics. This additional educational requirement, which goes beyond what is required to be a military chaplain, enables the Command Chaplain to teach a military ethics elective to students of the Joint and Combined Warfighting School (JCWS), advice JCWS curriculum developers on the Foundations of Unified Action module on ethics, give an ethics lecture to students of the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS), and be the ethical and moral advisor to the Commandant of JFSC
Lieutenant Commander Donald Anthony Baker, born in Miami, grew up in Germany, Arizona, California and Florida as the son of dual military parents. After graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 2000, he attended Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and was subsequently commissioned a second lieutenant. As a logistics officer he served tours in 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MWSS-374), First Marine Expeditionary Force (G-4), and Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command (Headquarters Battalion). Among his official billets included platoon commander, detachment commander, training officer, operations officer, and company commander. In 2006, he resigned his commission as a captain in the Marine Corps and was re-commissioned an ensign in the Navy.
In 2008, LCDR Baker returned to active duty as a Navy lieutenant and received orders to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MWSS-171) in Iwakuni, Japan. During his tour, he participated in Talon Vision 08, Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 09, 10, 11 and deployed to Manila, Philippines in support of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.
In 2011, LCDR Baker received orders to USS BLUERIDGE, the Seventh Fleet flagship, permanently forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. For outstanding community outreach and relations in 11 countries in the AOR, he led the ship to receive the Project Good Neighbor Award in 2011 and 2012, a Navy wide award.
In September 2013, LCDR Baker reported back to the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms, California where he served as the Chapel Programs Manager. In 2015, he returned to Headquarters Battalion to serve as the Command Chaplain.
In 2016, LCDR Baker received orders to USS MOUNT WHITNEY, the Sixth Fleet flagship, ported in Gaeta, Italy to reestablish the Supervisor Chaplain billet after a 13-year gap. During his tour, he participated in Black Sea Operations 2016 and Baltic Sea Operations 2016 with port visits to seventeen countries in the AOR. In 2017, LCDR Baker cross-decked to Destroyer Squadron 60 to serve aboard USS Ross in support of Operation Inherent Resolve during kinetic engagements in Syria.
At the conclusion of his time aboard the ship, LCDR Baker reported to Naval Air Station Jacksonville as the Command Chaplain in 2017. During this tour he received temporary duty orders to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to serve in a coverage gap.
In 2018, the Navy selected LCDR Baker for the Ethics subspecialty code. He attended Duke University as a visiting military fellow in the Navy funded-graduate education program. Upon completion in 2019, he reported to the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) and attended Joint and Combined Warfighting School in Norfolk, VA. LCDR Baker is graduate of JPME I and II. He now serves as the Ethics Advisor and chaplain at JFSC.
In addition to the bachelor’s degree from FSU, LCDR Baker holds graduate degrees from Regent University (Master of Divinity in Practical Theology), Liberty University (MBA in International Business), and Duke University (Master of Theology in Ethics). He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Philosophy from Liberty University. He is also a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician.
Chaplain Baker’s personal decorations include Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (x 5), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (x 6), as well as various unit and service awards and campaign medals.
He is married to the former Ms. Jennifer Bradshaw. They have five kids in total: Chris, Ezra, Jesse, Asher and Selah.
WEEKLY BIBLE STUDIES
Reflections for NDU Spiritual Fitness Connector
Chaplain Tom Statler
Joint Forces Staff College
REFLECTION #1 on Spiritual Fitness of Operational & Strategic Leaders Start date: 2/20/19
(1 of 6) As I begin a series of short reflections for NDU and JFSC (each less than 200 words), I want to first propose a new definition of spirituality in order to set the stage for personal and corporate moral development through spiritual fitness. If we are going to be spiritually fit, then we need to have a firm understanding of what it means to be spiritual, and that varies from person to person. The conventional association of spirituality with strong religious belief is the reason for the diverse, maybe contradictory, understandings of spirituality, so I’ll begin by saying that spirituality, as I see it, has nothing to do with religion. Said another way, you don’t have to be religious to be spiritual—perhaps a shocking statement coming from a Christian chaplain! Strategic leadership is made up of all sorts of people, and moral and ethical demands aren’t limited to the religious. In my next segment I will explain more on how spirituality does not equate to religiosity, so I will ask you to tune in again for reflection #2 next month!
REFLECTION #2 on Spiritual Fitness of Operational & Strategic Leaders Start date: 2/27/19
(2 of 6) In my first reflection I left you with a perhaps shocking understanding of spirituality that has nothing to do with organized religion. I developed my theory of human spirituality over several years of ministry and study as a military chaplain—a context that is very different from the parochial setting from which I came as the pastor of a congregation. It is a context that requires I see each and every person who comes to me for help, guidance, and assistance in the same manner. It doesn’t matter if they’re religious or not, and the metrics suggest that many in the military today have no religious preference. What can I, as a person of faith, say to those who have no religious faith? Plenty, it turns out, if I see them as a person with a hurting or wounded spirit. In reflection #3 in my April blog, I’ll begin to talk about what defines our inner spirit.
REFLECTION #3 on Spiritual Fitness of Operational & Strategic Leaders Start date: 3/6/19
(3 of 6) In reflection #2, I promised to begin describing our inner spirit, so I will do so now with the understanding it will take more than one reflection to flesh out that out. Each person, by virtue of their being a human being, possess an inner spirit. That is the bottom line as to why a religious belief is not necessary, but more needs be said on the subject. Our inner spirit, yours and mine alike, is comprised of all about us that is intangible (unable to be touched). That is in contrast to all about us that is tangible—our physical bodies, even down to the microscopic/cellular level. Let me pause for a moment and ask a question to prepare for my next segment. What makes us truly human? What animates this collection of cells we call our bodies? The answer is our inner spirit; it is what makes us more than the sum of our parts.
Reflection #4 on Spiritual Fitness of Operational & Strategic Leaders Start date: 3/13/19
(4 of 6) In reflection #3 I left you with a rhetorical question about what really makes us human, and the answer was it is everything about us that is not physical—our inner spirit, in other words. Our physical bodies are only half of who we are when we stand in front of a mirror and who we present to others. Theoretically, those images should be the same, and any separation or difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us is another matter altogether, but it is nonetheless a spiritual matter. Our inner spirit, while being the entirety of our intangibility, is centered around two poles of existence: our cognitive pole (the conscious and unconscious thoughts we generate) and the affective pole (the emotions we have, whether acknowledged or not). This is similar to Daniel Goleman’s theory of having an rational mind and an emotional mind in his book on emotional intelligence (EQ).1 If we understand spirituality in this manner, we can see how it applies to ALL individuals and not just the religious.
1 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: What It Can Matter More Than IQ (New York, Bantam Books, 1995), 8.
Reflection #5 on Spiritual Fitness of Operational & Strategic Leaders Start date: 3/20/19
(5 of 6) In reflection #4 I left you with a broad definition of human spirituality as all that is intangible about us, and our intangibility revolves around two poles: our ability to think, and our ability to emote (feel). That is too simplistic of an answer for a seasoned philosopher, but my concern isn’t theoretical. It is quite real, so I’m okay with a simplistic view of our inner spirit comprising all about us that is intangible. Hopefully, you can already begin to see the impact such an understanding has upon us. If you or I have our ability to think short-circuited because of trauma, injury, or substance abuse, or if we experience an emotional trauma, injury, or loss, then our spirits are directly affected. There are also biological effects when our spirits are not well (the physical symptoms of depression come to mind), so there is no dualism—a belief in a separation of the spiritual from the physical. Just as we must attend to our physical bodies (diet, exercise, etc.), so we must also attend to our inner spirits. We call this process spiritual fitness, and it is strongly linked to our moral character and ethical behavior.
Reflection #6 on Spiritual Fitness of Operational & Strategic Leaders Start date: 3/27/19
(6 of 6) Center of gravity (CoG) is a term very familiar to joint officers and senior enlisted because military operational art has borrowed the concept from the physical sciences. There is debate on just what we mean by CoG in military literature, and I follow the thinking of Dr. Antulio Echevarria II who believes CoG to be a factor of balance for us and our adversaries rather than a source of strength. With this understanding of CoG in mind, the scale is a helpful metaphor for spiritual fitness. When we are diligent in balancing our thoughts with our emotions through various spiritual disciplines (religious and non-religious), and avoiding to whatever extent possible extremes in either domain, then we are seeking, and finding, our spiritual CoG. I define our spiritual CoG as the characteristics, capabilities, and location from which a person derives their freedom of action, moral strength, and willingness to grow within a given community. Hence, our spirituality is our moral and ethical CoG. Corrupt or compromised spirits will easily fall into immorality, whereas balanced spirits can withstand pressures brought against it (bend but not break). The goal of spiritual fitness is to strengthen the connection between the head (thoughts) and the gut (emotions), and, when relatively balanced with each other, be able to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason.
The Joint Forces Staff College Chaplain has information on a variety of programs, services, and local resources including:
Normandy Hall (Bldg. SC-1)
757-443-6076 (JFSC quarter- deck for emergencies)
Joint and Combined Warfighting School (JCWS) and Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS) students are encouraged to do more than simply study the material and pass their respective courses. Acculturation with each other and the community, and extra-curricular activities that build group cohesion, are also designed pieces of the curriculum. As a part of this emphasis, the seminars (classes) are also encouraged to participate in activities with community agencies and organizations which allow them to give of themselves in the service of others. The Command Chaplain is the coordinator for those seminar activities. In this capacity, the Command Chaplain meets with the seminar points of contacts at the beginning of each term, gives them information they need to plan an outreach event in neighboring communities, and maintains contact to monitor success and record metrics of planned events.
The faculty and staff of JFSC are also encouraged to participate in community relations projects. The Command Chaplain supports and encourages an enlisted petty officer who is assigned to JFSC and has been given the collateral duty of coordinating outreach events. Together, they write and revise the outreach standard operating procedures (SOP) for JFSC.
The pictures below depict some of the community involvement by faculty, staff, and students of JFSC.
Pictures will be forthcoming!
Provide pastoral care and ethics instruction to joint warriors, faculty and staff in a dynamic educational institution of the U.S. military.
Integrate pastoral ministry and military instruction in ethics in order to ensure the continued presence of a Navy chaplain billet at JFSC.