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NEWPORT, R.I. – The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) held a commencement ceremony for 59 College of Naval Command and Staff (CNCS) students who received their Master of Arts degree Feb 7.

Professor Martin Cook, NWC's Admiral James Bond Stockdale Professor of Professional Military Ethics, delivered the graduation address. He reflected on the Stockdale legacy of character and professional military thought, which is the cornerstone of NWC.

"Great Navy leadership will only very rarely be required in circumstances like his," said Cook. "I believe his name is associated with leadership and ethics more because of his post prisoner of war activities. No other great Navy leader and no other former prisoner of war went on to write, think and speak as widely and deeply about the meaning of all he had been through as did Stockdale. I believe it is the scholar side of the Sailor-scholar Stockdale was that makes him unique among great Navy leaders."

The CNCS curriculum broadens the perspectives of mid-grade officers and prepares them to assume key positions of command and staff. The 59 graduates, who were phased in during last academic year's second trimester, represented the Navy, Army, and civil service.


They completed graduate courses in NWC's three academic departments: Joint Military Operations, Strategy and Policy, and National Security Affairs. Their studies were also complemented by an electives program that provided opportunities to explore subjects not included in the core curriculum or to investigate in greater detail specific elements of the core curriculum.

Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Ajoy said her year in Newport was an invaluable experience.

"In the fleet, things are moving so quickly that you don't have the time to sit and reflect on what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we can do it better," said Ajoy. "Here, officers have the opportunity to stop, read, think and reflect."

An important part of the NWC experience for Ajoy was class seminars with military officers from other services and other nations.

"Best part of NWC was the seminars during each trimester because it's where we discussed what every student read," said Ajoy. "What I might have understood from an assigned reading wasn't what a student from another service read or what an international student read. We all had different perspectives of the exact same reading, and we shared those differences."

NWC president Rear Adm. John N. Christenson also addressed the students.

"I know it has been hard to be here at peace, in Newport, while others defended America's freedom, whether in Washington, D.C. or directly in harm's way," said Christenson. "But you have demonstrated discipline in focusing on your studies, accomplishing the educational investment that your service chief, secretary of defense and President sent here to accomplish. You depart Newport to be part of the solution, to win any war and to defend freedom. You depart invigorated for the tasks ahead. You depart with the "knowledge of centuries" directly relevant to the challenges of today. You depart with greater trust and confidence in your service and international partners."

The President's Honor Graduate Award was presented to Lt. Douglas Robb. Graduating with high distinction were Lt. Cmdr. Scott Larson, Lt. Cmdr. Theodore Lemerande and Lt. Cmdr. Shannon Moore.

The graduates earned Joint Professional Military Education phase I credit, a critical milestone in an officer's professional development, in addition to a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.

The U.S. Naval War College started more than 125 years ago as a small institution with mostly summer courses. It has evolved into a one-year, resident program that graduates about 600 students a year, and a robust distance program that graduates about 1,000 students a year. Students earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) credit and either a diploma or a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. The College also has a robust international engagement mission with approximately 100 international officers graduating yearly.

In addition to the College's education mission, it is heavily involved in war-gaming and research in an effort to aid the chief of naval operations in defining the path of the future Navy. More recently, the college has developed operational level courses to satisfy fleet requirements, preparing leaders for the challenges of operational and/or strategic level leadership over the remainder of their careers as decision makers and problem solvers.

By James E. Brooks, Naval War College Public Affairs
Posted by Cmdr. Carla M. McCarthy