NEWPORT, R.I. - Staff members of the Congressional House Armed Services Committee (HASC) visited the Senior Enlisted Academy (SEA) at the Naval War College (NWC) on July 16 for briefings and a tour of facilities as part of the periodic curricular and Professional Military Education (PME) review.
The visit began with a briefing by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Tim Jackson on SEA structure, demographics, PME objectives, and multiple other features.
Congressional staffers Thomas Hawley and Dr. Lorry Fenner represented HASC and the contingent included several Department of Defense representatives.
A second briefing followed Jackson’s, this one by NWC Command Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Dassance.
“There’s a saying that enlisted personnel try to think outside the box,” Dassance said to HASC staffers and a group of NWC faculty and staff. “I would like to think that at the Senior Enlisted Academy we make the box bigger.”
PME is federally regulated, and sets military educational benchmarks that are critical to the advancement of sailors to higher enlisted ranks, and officers as well.
The briefings, held in NWC’s Turner Conference Room, spelled out qualities of PME graduates including application of critical thinking, ethics, chain of command support, and various communications and resourcefulness requirements.
Through PME and other programs at SEA, the academy strives to make chiefs more productive, professional, and able sailors. Other agendas at SEA promote regional expertise, cultural sensitivity and diversity.
“When I pull into port, I work as much for the State Department as I do for the Defense Department,” Dassance said, referring to the need for Navy personnel to respect local customs and culture and act diplomatically when going off base.
HASC staffers were briefed on the small but growing international student population at SEA. The brief said current facility constraints limit each SEA class to 112 students, which are mostly Navy chiefs, but also includes senior enlisted personnel from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines as well as seven international students per class. One of the hallways in Tomich Hall, SEA’s main building, is dedicated to the international student body.
There are seven SEA classes per year, according to the brief.
HASC periodically reviews curriculums of educational commands of all armed services. SEA was initiated in 1979 by a directive from the Chief of Naval Operations, and the first class graduated in 1981. Approximately 10,700 Chiefs have graduated from SEA since inception.
By Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs