The U.S. Naval War College paid tribute to its newest class of 599 students from the armed forces and a host of civilian federal institutions in a convocation ceremony in Spruance Hall Auditorium August 16.
NWC President Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup emphasized the analytical tools the college will provide the students.
“Newport has always been the place where naval officers, and of course now officers from other services and government agencies, can reflect upon our profession,” Wisecup said. “This place is about the future; it’s about preparation, and it’s about expecting the unexpected.”
The arrival of NWC’s newest class marks a nearly 126-year tradition of training military and government officials to be policy leaders and efficient decision-makers, and the college’s goal of building interagency partnerships.
In fact, only about half of NWC’s newest students are naval officers. The other half of the student body comes from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Army, in addition to 88 students from international navies, and representatives from an alphabet soup of government agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NCIS, Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among many, many others.
“Everything is first-class here, it’s outstanding,” Air Force Maj. Gary Sandt said after the ceremony. “As Air Force officers, you have to fight for these slots; it’s an honor to be here.”
“It’s very competitive for Air Force students to get here, so it’s really an honor,” said Air Force Maj. Jennifer Smith, a colleague of Sandt. “They’re very proud of the academic environment and atmosphere, and I think the historical value of being in Newport makes it authentic.”
The U.S. Navy has been an integral part of Narragansett Bay from its infancy during the Revolutionary War through today. It was also home to Commodore Matthew Perry, who started trade between Japan and the U.S. in the mid-19th century.
Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Peeples said the academic nature of NWC will let him reflect on his time on six deployments in the fleet.
“We think about the big picture,” he said. “Everything we’re doing at the tactical level applies on the strategic level. It really does give you an opportunity to reflect.”
Following a procession of faculty in academic garb, Maritime History Department chairman Dr. John Hattendorf gave an address detailing the importance of NWC and the contributions the college has made since its inception in 1884.
“As [Adm. Stephen B.] Luce repeatedly pointed out, war is the central issue around which the profession of arms exists, and there was then no existing institution where a naval officer could study it,” Hattendorf said. Luce was the first president of NWC.
The college received its first international students from Sweden in 1894, about 10 years after it was created. As a pioneer institution of military thought, NWC offers academic courses and conducts broadly based, advanced research on the naval contribution to a national strategy.
“It requires original research and new thinking to understand how wars begin, how wars are fought, how wars end and how wars can be prevented,” Hattendorf said. The college’s name is “a constant, daily reminder to students and faculty as to the purpose and the focus of its work.”
NWC was founded in 1884 as an advanced center for professional military study. The college has a resident population of about 600 students divided among four colleges of American and international students, and several thousand additional students through its College of Distance Education. Academic faculty are divided among three departments: National Security Decision Making, Strategy and Policy, and Joint Military Operations.
NWC is accredited by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Joint Professional Military Education Phases I and II and by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to award a Master of Art in national security and strategic studies.
By Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs