NEWPORT, R.I. - The Naval War College’s (NWC) College of Naval Command and Staff (CNCS) graduated 71 officers on November 2.
Phased in during the academic year’s second trimester, the students had joined the college in October of 2009 for a year-long academic program. The intermediate-level students took graduate courses from NWC’s three academic departments: Joint Military Operations, Strategy and Policy, and National Security Decision Making. 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.
Strategy and Policy Department chair, Professor John Maurer, was chosen by the graduating class of two Marine Corps, seven Army, one Air Force, and 61 Navy students to be their commencement speaker.
He reminded them that they are proven leaders who have demonstrated great promise through their hard work, intelligence, courage, and sacrifice and that their past success and future potential is what brought them to NWC, the premier graduate-level institution of professional military education for those in the profession of arms and government.
Looking back upon history, Maurer drew upon NWC’s contributions before and during World War II as one of several examples of the value of education for those who serve. Key naval leaders, such as Nimitz, King, Turner, and Spruance, taught, studied, and war gamed at NWC prior to the war.
“The victory at sea, in that desperate struggle of the Second World War against some formidable adversaries that the United States faced then, was achieved not just by valor, by selfless devotion to duty, but by brain power as well, by officers thinking through creatively some tough problems about how to link together ends, ways, and means,” said Maurer.
As part of that tradition and history, the graduating students experienced a demanding course of study from a world-class faculty.
Maurer pointed out the hard work in the educational experience of “systematically analyzing a problem, considering opposing points of view, not being narrow minded, testing your assumptions, rethinking long held positions, and then writing and acting in a mature, persuasive way.”
A key component to NWC’s education is developing the analytical skills required for decision making in strategy, force planning, and operations, said Maurer, who summed up the importance of professional military education with words from past NWC President Admiral Stansfield Turner.
“Turner highlighted that, if the college did not produce those ‘who are a match for the best of the civilian strategists,’ that is those produced at our major universities, then those in the profession of arms and in government service will ‘abdicate control of our profession,’” said Maurer.
He encouraged the graduates to stay connected with the college and each other.
“We here at the college can speak with confidence about the future because we have seen that future by working here with you,” he concluded.
The intermediate-level curriculum at the Naval War College examines the operational level of war and operational-level leadership with a solid introduction to the theater-strategic level of war as well as a foundational overview of national strategic requirements and strategies. The ten-month program is designed to produce broadly educated leaders who possess an operational-level perspective within a strategic context, underpinned by analytical frameworks.
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.
NWC has been educating leaders for more than 125 years and graduates approximately 600 resident students annually. The College is accredited by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the New England Association of Colleges and Schools.
By Cmdr. Carla McCarthy, Naval War College Public Affairs