Offley, Ed 1948–

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Offley, Ed 1948–

(Edward Peyton Offley)


Born January 4, 1948; married; wife's name Karen; children: two daughters. Education: University of Virginia, graduated, 1969.


Home—Panama City, FL. E-mail—[email protected].


Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, former reporter, beginning 1972; Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA, associate editorial page editor for military and defense issues, 1981-85; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, WA, associate editorial page editor for military and defense issues, 1985-87, military reporter, 1987-2000; Stars and Stripes, editor in chief, 2000; DefenseWatch, editor, 2001-05; News Herald, Panama City, FL, staff member, 2005—. Founder and director, Military Reporters and Editors Inc., 2002—. Military service: U.S. Navy, served during Vietnam War.


Pulitzer Prize nomination, 1996.


(With Bill Owens) Lifting the Fog of War, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2000.

Pen & Sword: A Journalist's Guide to Covering the Military, Marion Street Press (Oak Park, IL), 2001.

Scorpion Down: Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon: The Untold Story of the USS Scorpion, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Journalist Ed Offley was educated at the University of Virginia, after which he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy. He began his career as a journalist in 1972, working for the Virginia Gazette as a reporter. From there he moved on to the Ledger-Star, in Norfolk, where he spent several years working as the associate editorial page editor covering military and defense issues, the position that inevitably led to his specializing in writing on military and defense subjects. In 1985, he took a similar position at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he was later promoted to military reporter. He became the editor-in-chief of Stars and Stripes in 2000, and has held editorial positions at several other publications as well. In 2002, he helped to found Military Reporters and Editors, Inc., a national organization of journalists for which he also serves as director. Over the course of his career, Offley has appeared on a number of radio and television news programs discussing military issues, including on Fox-News, C-SPAN, CNN, and National Public Radio (NPR). He has received a number of awards for his writing, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1996 for a series of articles he wrote that profiled a former soldier with brain injuries. As a result of the articles, the soldier was released from a civilian jail and his veteran's benefits, which had originally been revoked, were restored to him. In addition to his newspaper work, Offley has written a number of books, including Lifting the Fog of War, which he wrote with Admiral Bill Owens, Pen & Sword: A Journalist's Guide to Covering the Military, and Scorpion Down: Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon: The Untold Story of the USS Scorpion.

In Lifting the Fog of War, Offley and Owens—a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—propose that the United States Armed Forces are in need of a revolutionary reorganization. They cite a number of reasons for this suggestion, including a misuse of funding that appears to be funneled into the wrong areas of the military, obsolete weapons that were initially purchased several decades ago and have therefore outlived their relevance, and a series of commitments that the military made during the 1990s that are open-ended and ultimately an inappropriate ongoing drain on resources. At the same time, they look forward to potential reasons that the military needs to remain a strong and far more efficient power for the United States. One such concern is that, while the Soviet Union has deflated considerably as a threat to the nation, China has been growing ever more powerful and will likely soon match the former Soviet threat and take a stance in the global arena that will make them an equal to the United States as far as a military force. Offley and Owens note that the United States has appeared to take a more relaxed military stance in the years since the Soviet Union was dismantled, and that history suggests that it is not a wise move to take this sort of break in vigilance because there is not always sufficient time and resources available to renew a nation's offensive capacity when it is once again required. Ultimately, Offley and Owens illustrate the ways in which the United States, while still appearing to be a strong military power, is actually sadly depleted and in need of renewed attention. Robert P. Mooney, Jr., in a contribution for the Military Review, commented that the book "skillfully portrays the state of America's military and offers concrete steps to solve its problems." Booklist reviewer Roland Green found some of the suggested fixes to be unrealistic, however, commenting that "this may strike even sophisticated students of military affairs as utopian."

Pen & Sword serves as a textbook for journalists and editors who cover military subjects and, as a result, must deal with military personnel on a regular basis. Offley offers advice for handling military staff at all levels and in all types of situations, and also gives writers an insight into the type of lives that are led by the different military personnel, depending on rank and military branch. James W. Crawley, writing for the Newspaper Research Journal, commented that the book is "loaded with nuggets of useful tips, tactics and strategies to aid the beginning or veteran reporter. That ability is predicated both by Offley's deep knowledge of the subject and the vast disparity in the American military establishment."

Scorpion Down focuses on the 1968 sinking of the USS Scorpion, a nuclear submarine that had been used by the United States to spy on the Soviets for almost ten years at the time that it went down south of the Azores. Offley first became interested in the sub's fate when he wrote a number of articles about it for the Ledger-Star. He revisits the topic in his book, which analyzes the different details of the sinking, including a long list of potential explanations for why the sub went down at all. Reasons range from an accidental detonation of one of the submarine's torpedoes—either inside the sub itself or outside nearby—to faulty maintenance, to an inadvertent dive to a level below crush depth. Offley researched the circumstances around the submarine's sinking extensively, including the way the search for the sub was handled. He also interviewed numerous people associated with the craft itself or with the crew. Ultimately, he comes to the conclusion that none of the listed explanations were the real cause for the sub's demise, but in actuality the Soviets were responsible, having determined to end the Scorpion's spying career by sinking her themselves. His hypothesis is backed up by Navy SOSUS operator Vince Collier, a sailor who witnessed a training tape that supposedly showed the Scorpion's destruction. Nola Theiss, in a review for Kliatt, remarked that the book "reveals how different that Cold World era was from our current global conflicts, but it also shows the mindset of the military, then and now."



American Journalism Review, January 1, 2002, Carl Sessions Stepp, review of Pen & Sword: A Journalist's Guide to Covering the Military.

Booklist, April 15, 2000, Roland Green, review of Lifting the Fog of War, p. 1507; May 1, 2007, George Cohen, review of Scorpion Down: Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon: The Untold Story of the USS Scorpion, p. 57.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 1, 2000, Mike Moore, review of Lifting the Fog of War, p. 63.

Editor & Publisher, April 16, 1988, "Preparing for Flight: Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Military Reporter Undergoes Rigorous Safety Training and Then Rides in Navy Jet Bomber to Gather Story Information," p. 17.

IRE Journal, March 1, 2002, "Walking, Talking the Military Beat."

Joint Force Quarterly, September 22, 2000, Francois L.J. Heisbourg, review of Lifting the Fog of War, p. 107.

Kliatt, September 1, 2007, Nola Theiss, review of Scorpion Down, p. 53.

Library Journal, April 15, 2000, Mark Ellis, review of Lifting the Fog of War, p. 108; September 15, 2007, Don Wismer, review of Scorpion Down, p. 98.

Military Review, September 1, 2004, Robert P. Mooney, Jr., review of Lifting the Fog of War.

New American, July 23, 2007, Dennis Behreandt, "Casualties of the Cold War: In Scorpion Down, Veteran Correspondent Ed Offley Claims the Nuclear Submarine USS Scorpion Was Sunk in 1968 by the Soviet Navy," p. 19.

Newspaper Research Journal, March 22, 2003, James W. Crawley, review of Pen & Sword, p. 125.

New York Review of Books, July 20, 2000, Michael Ignatieff, review of Lifting the Fog of War, p. 42.

Publishers Weekly, April 17, 2000, review of Lifting the Fog of War, p. 68.


Ed Offley Home Page, (April 23, 2008).

Fresh Fiction Web site, (April 23, 2008), review of Scorpion Down.

History of War, (April 23, 2008), review of Scorpion Down.

Marion Street Press Web site, (April 23, 2008), author profile.

Scorpion Down Home Page, (April 23, 2008).

Subsim, (April 23, 2008), review of Scorpion Down.