NOTE: Photos from the graduation are available on flickr
NEWPORT, R.I. –The Naval War College (NWC) held its spring graduation for 530 students at Naval Station Newport on June 11.
NWC President, Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup, presided over the graduation ceremony, which marked the conclusion of NWC’s 125th anniversary year.
The resident graduating class included 303 members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and civilian government employees, as well as 120 international students from 68 countries. Of the 1,042 College of Distance Education graduates throughout the world, 107 traveled to Newport to participate in the ceremony. In total for the spring, NWC graduated 1,465 students.
Depending on the program completed, U.S. students received Joint Professional Military Education credit and either a Naval War College diploma or a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Graduates from the international programs received a diploma.
The Honorable Richard L. Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, gave the commencement address.
Armitage said that due to recent military and political developments “the center of gravity—the whole world—has shifted to Asia in every measure.”
He spoke about recent developments such as Japan’s new government, the danger of a nuclear and unstable North Korea, and China’s rise and lack of transparency.
“The Chinese say the Pacific separates the U.S. from Asia,” Armitage said. “Our view is no, no—the Pacific joins the United States with Asia.”
Armitage’s commencement address also focused on leadership and the importance of successfully dealing with responsibility and reality in command situations.
“At the end of your tenure in command, I think a good leader would have his people sayyou know I'm better off as a service member, I'm better off as a citizen. I'm a better husband, father, mother, brother, son, and daughter for having this person at the helm,” Armitage said.
He challenged the graduates to maintain the U.S. military’s competent, confident and can do attitude.
Graduating students shared thoughts about their NWC experience and how they’ll use their knowledge in their future assignments.
“It gives me a better strategic mindset, and helps me think in the bigger picture,” said Army Maj. Jay Land. “The great thing about (the Naval War College) is that you come in thinking at the tactical level only or maybe the operational level, and you leave here with a better understanding of what’s going on within the world, within the nation and within our military.”
Kristen Hess, a Department of Defense biologist, said the biggest thing she learned was the interoperability in the services. “There are a lot of nuances of the services I didn’t understand previously. It really expanded my mind as far as how we can better work together.”
“I think we get a wealth of knowledge that’s serving the peace of the world,” United Arab Emirates Navy Col. Abdulla Saeed Almansoori said. “The college has a very high standard. All the lessons are very useful for our practice in the future.”
Wisecup charged the graduating class with continuing the tradtition of the naval services and the Naval War College.
"The Navy's intellectual tradition was not created in the Pentagon or at sea, and it did not come naturally to ship operators or program managers," Wisecup said. "It was created here, and it must continually be relearned and extended--for if it is lost we literally risk losing ourselves."
"Now, you must have the confidence to speak truth to power, the strength of character to ask the hard questions, and the energy to tackle the most complex problems you may ever encounter," Wisecup continued.
"We hope we have given you the tools, you, who will be the future military leaders of our nation. We are very proud of you, and your efforts here. Please take care of each other as you prepare to scatter to the four corners of the world and carry out the nation's business."
The Naval War College has been educating leaders for 125 years. The Naval War College's missions today are developing strategic and operational leaders, helping the Chief of Naval Operations define the future Navy, strengthening maritime security cooperation, and supporting combat readiness.
By David Reese, Naval War College Public Affairs