NEWPORT, R.I. -- Maritime Advanced Warfighting School(MAWS) graduate Cmdr. Drew Corey understands what it takes to succeed as an operational planner in today’s multifaceted military operating environment. He attributes his personal success in part to the education he received through the MAWS program at the Naval War College (NWC).
"The education and deep understanding of the U.S. joint planning process I received at MAWS gives me a method to take complex military problems, and methodically and logically work through them,” said Corey, who has served as an operational planner at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and most recently Joint Task Force Haiti. “I certainly did not leave MAWS knowing all the answers, but I did have a great grasp of the hard questions I would need to ask and then task my operational planning team to answer."
The MAWS educates U.S. military officers in critical thinking, complex problem solving, and the U.S. military planning process in order to graduate competent operational planners ready for immediate employment and to develop future leaders skilled in the operational level of war.
The program is integrated with NWC’s intermediate-level College of Naval Command & Staff (CNC&S), and U.S. military officers ordered to the August convening of CNC&S are eligible to apply.
As the Navy’s advanced school teaching decision-making and complex problem-solving skills at the operational level of war, MAWS employs historical and contemporary case studies as a framework to master the joint and Navy planning processes. The curriculum has three main components:
· Resident core academic courses: National Security Decision Making, Strategy and War, and Joint Maritime Operations.
· Three tailored 10-week electives that collectively constitute the Area of Study “Joint Operational Planning.”
· A three-month, real world, practical planning mission in support of joint or Navy operational-level commanders. Past project sponsors include U.S. combatant commanders, joint task force commanders, and numbered fleet commanders.
MAWS students learn the skills of Operational Planning Team (OPT) members and leaders by applying the U.S. military planning process to increasingly complex scenarios.
“This education enables students to report to their planner billets credible, relevant, and productive from the time they arrive,” said MAWS graduate Cmdr. Dan Sullivan, a U.S. Pacific Command J39 planner.
Each MAWS class comprises thirty students, averaging three Army, 22 Navy, two Marines, two Air Force, and one Coast Guardsman. Since the program’s first graduation in September 1999, the school has matriculated 196 students – 22 Army, 139 Navy, 15 Marines, 17 Air Force, and three Coast Guard officers.
When working with officers who lack planner education, MAWS graduates often find themselves contributing their planning expertise by taking a teaching role. They are assisted by an Alumni reach-back portal, which allows them to update and tap into the latest operational planning developments through a web site developed specifically for them.
"I spend much of my time teaching planning to the members of the planning teams,” said Lt. Cmdr. Toby Valko, deputy J3, Joint Logistics Command, Bagram, Afghanistan. “The Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs), workbooks, and planner references available at the online MAWS portal are invaluable.”
MAWS graduates are awarded the Master of Arts in National Security & Strategic Studies, Joint Professional Military Education Phase I certification, and the Naval War College diploma. MAWS Navy graduates are assigned to either career-progression, warfare community tours (department head, executive officer, command), or operational planner billets on joint, Navy component, and numbered fleet staffs. Those who first go to warfare community tours are assigned thereafter to operational planner billets. Navy officers who complete MAWS or another advanced warfighting school receive the additional qualification designator (AQD) “JP-1.” The AQD is upgraded to “JP-3” upon completion of an operational planner tour.
U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard graduates of MAWS are designated operational planners and receive credit from their own Services as Advanced Warfare School graduates. Upon MAWS graduation, they fill operating force billets in the same process that details graduates of their respective Service schools (Army School of Advanced Military Studies, Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting, and Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies).
“When assigned to NATO, I was fully entrenched in NATO Guidelines for Operational Planning (GOP) where they rely heavily on factor analysis as a means or way to develop operational level OPLANS and CONPLANS,” said Lt. Col. James Johnson, U.S. Army. “For me this was where I was truly able to utilize and reach back in terms of my educational experiences there at Newport.”
A continuing theme in MAWS graduate feedback is the ability to frame a complicated problem swiftly and accurately. Insights from MAWS graduates include:
"Having learned to start with framing the problem has given me clout with the senior staff because it demonstrates that I have thought through the potential second, third and fourth order effects."
- Maj. Tom Kisch, USMC, First Marine Division, Future Ops Deputy.
"MAWS prepared me to frame complex problems and draw on the experiences, talents, and abilities of fellow planners and subject matter experts to solve those problems."
- Maj. "Al" Harris, USMC, Joint Planning Team Leader, J-5, U. S. Forces Iraq.
“The critical thinking skills obtained at MAWS, which teach how to define a problem and subsequently develop a solution set, are even more important than the understanding of the Joint Planning Process."
- Lt. Col. Christopher Sage, USAF, Directorate of Strategic Planning; Chief, Joint Studies and Analysis Strategy and Integration.
In addition to complex problem-solving ability, MAWS graduates thoroughly understand and speak the language of joint and maritime planning processes, which enables them to join standing and “pick up” joint staffs seamlessly, contributing the “where and how” to incorporate Maritime Component capabilities into the overall Joint effort.
MAWS graduate contributions to staff operational planning are well-recognized and respected by their peers and seniors.
“As Future Operations Officer for MNF-West in Al Anbar, Iraq, for all of 2008, I had a dozen or so planners who were primarily SAW (Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting) graduates,” said Lt. Col. Jake Beaudoin, USMC. “My HHQ planner counterparts were mostly all from SAMS (Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies). The MAWS planners I had working for me, and who I ran into at my HHQ (MNC-I), more than held their own, providing ample evidence that the MAWS educates planners capable of providing the commander with workable options to complex operational problems.”
Additionally, Col. Joe Rutledge, USMC, U.S. Naval Forces Central command N-5 Future Plans Center Director, experienced that, “the value of a MAWS graduate to a fleet staff far eclipses the addition of one more action officer. A MAWS graduate should be considered a ‘planning multiplier’ who elevates the staff’s overall planning effectiveness.”
If you are an Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard officer who will enroll in the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College convening in August 2010, currently hold or are eligible to hold a Top Secret/SCI security clearance, and wish to join the MAWS team for your year in Newport, you can find detailed information at the following site:
Additionally, MAWS is currently soliciting nominations for summer projects. Combatant Command and Navy Fleet Command J3s/N3s are invited to nominate a summer project for MAWS through the MAWS SIPR:
From Maritime Advanced Warfighting School