NEWPORT, R.I. – Naval War College faculty members participated in a three-day Maritime Infrastructure Protection Symposium (MIPS) in Manama, Bahrain, concluding on Feb. 5. Hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), MIPS brought together many industry professionals, security consultants and naval partners from the region and beyond.
MIPS was designed to improve the defense and crisis response of partner, Coalition and infrastructure-related organizations. Presentations ranged from identifying and detecting infrastructure threats to the private sectors role in maritime security.
The purpose of the conference was to “effectively address the challenges to maritime infrastructure which is only viable through communication and collaboration with our partners,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Richard LaBranche, the lead faculty member.
“In order to foster international partnerships, it’s important for potential partners to understand what the U.S. Navy has to offer and its capabilities across the spectrum,” said LaBranche, emphasizing the importance of how partner nations can join together and how similar issues can cross national lines.
The Naval War College team was comprised of War Gaming Department and Strategic Research Department faculty, including LaBranche, Dr. Stephen Downes-Martin, Dr. Hank Brightman, and Dr. Ahmed Hashim. They presented conference attendees with a fictitious scenario, developed by Brightman, involving simulated attacks on a variety of infrastructure. Brightman set the stage for a problem, and all four faculty members moderated groups that explored the events from the specific perspectives of indications and warnings, analysis and assessment, mitigation, and incident response.
LaBranche stated that the value of NWC professors for symposiums like this is their maritime subject matter expertise on a vast number of issues.
“In the War Gaming Department, we are experts in building scenarios that tease out issues and marry them to objectives,” said LaBranche. He also noted the faculty’s talents with moderating groups and asking questions that foster thinking.
“I think (the participants) are all going back being better armed with the understanding that not everyone looks at the same issues the same way, and we all have different requirements and to come to terms with that,” said LaBranche.
In return, the NWC faculty team gained insight into perceptions through partners’ lenses, which is important to building long-term relationships.
“We learn the cultural differences that skew our thinking,” said LaBranche. “We bring that knowledge back, and we share it amongst the professors who are going to travel the world and teach students.”
“One of the things that was very valuable for me was the opportunity to sit down with people I never otherwise would never have an opportunity to meet and learn from them and hear their wisdom and have a chance to see the world differently than the perspective I normally see it from, “said Brightman.
By Matthew Breen, NWC Public Affairs