NEWPORT, R.I. – The Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS) participated in the Theater Campaign Warfare (TCW) war game at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, April 26-30.
Capt. Pat Molenda, MAWS director, attended the TCW war game along with 27 MAWS students and two faculty.
“TCW is always a highlight for the MAWS as our students get the opportunity to work closely with their counterparts from all the advanced warfighting schools throughout the services,” said Molenda. “During TCW, the MAWS students are challenged with very thorny problems and get the opportunity to work with some of the brightest officers out there.”
This is the tenth consecutive year MAWS has participated in the game. MAWS, an integral component of the Naval War College’s (NWC) educational mission to develop strategic and operational leaders, provides select resident students with an expanded academic program that hones the skills required to plan, execute, and assess combined, joint, and naval operations.
The students participated in the war game as Operational Planning Team (OPT) leads and members while Molenda filled the roles of Secretary of Defense and Combatant Command Commander.
“TCW offered a unique perspective to look at planning from a different vantage point, oriented towards strategic and whole of government solutions,” said Lt. Cmdr. Susan Smith. “The interactions with students from other warfighting schools were not only entertaining but allowed for, in my opinion, a higher level of critical thinking due to the plethora of backgrounds and approaches.”
TCW is the capstone event for the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), augmented by participation of students from MAWS, the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the School of Advanced Warfare (SAW), at Quantico, Virginia, to develop greater cross-service appreciation of theater operational issues.
“It was useful to meet students from the other advanced warfighting schools and compare experiences,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dave Roberts. “I found it interesting that the other three schools have much more service-oriented, and less joint, student bodies than MAWS.”
Roberts explained that the students gained insights into the strategic level of planning that SAASS considers, and how that relates to the operational level of planning that is the focus of all the schools.
“SAASS hosted an interesting future war game with highly plausible real-world scenarios,” said Roberts. “I was surprised that all four OPTs in our world arrived at similar recommendations for each problem. Rotating team leads from each of the (advanced war fighting) schools was a useful way to examine our planning processes within the scenario.”
The event is a seminar-based, educational war game designed to provide students an opportunity for the synthesis of operational art through the application of concepts involving the nature and employment of military forces developed during the past year.
“While each advanced war fighting school has varied focuses it was obvious that at the core our similar training allowed us to rapidly integrate into a joint team and attack complex problems,” said Lt. Cmdr. Errol Laumann. “This exercise was an excellent litmus test of the year's studies and prepped us well to go into the Joint Maritime Operations Capstone exercise (at NWC).”
As an added benefit following their NWC experience, Laumann also pointed out the value in the opportunity to build relationships and network with future operational planners from multiple services.
MAWS students acquitted themselves well throughout the week validating their months of study against the advanced warfighting schools of the other services.
“I believe the biggest takeaway for our students is they come away with realization that they can more than hold their own in any type of complex planning environment,” said Molenda. “I think this gives them the confidence to help them excel in the challenging assignments they will face down the road.”
MAWS, a thirteen-month program, integrates NWC’s College of Naval Command and Staff core courses (National Security Decision Making, Strategy & War, and Joint Maritime Operations), three electives comprising the Joint Planner area of study, and real-world planning missions assigned by Joint and Navy operational commanders. This educational process produces skilled practitioners of the operational art and operational planning in the joint and maritime domains.
From Maritime Advanced Warfighting School