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From International Programs department
Nov. 30, 2012

TOKYO -- Lt. Cmdr. David Casteel, a student at the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNCS) at the U.S. Naval War College, attended the 2nd Western Pacific Naval Symposium Short Term Exchange Program for Officers of the Next Generations (WPNS STEP) held in Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 13-25.  

TOKYO -- Lt. Cmdr. David Casteel, a student at the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNCS) at the U.S. Naval War College, attended the 2nd Western Pacific Naval Symposium Short Term Exchange Program for Officers of the Next Generations (WPNS STEP) held in Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 13-25. (Photo from JMSDF)Casteel was the United States representative among 21 naval officers attending from 21 participating countries.  

This is the second year that the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) has held this short-term exchange program at their Staff College in Ebisu, Tokyo.  According to the invitation, the JMSDF event aimed to “provide the participants with the opportunity to understand Japan’s security environment, defense policy and build-up of defense forces as well as Japanese history and culture and to deepen mutual understanding among the participants…”  

This year’s theme was “Navies in an Era of Multilateral Cooperation.”  Each participant was asked to share their views and opinions on the roles navies should play in multilateral cooperation.  In small groups and general discussions, participants debated in English multilateral naval frameworks, roles, exercises, and operations.

In addition to the academic exercise, the JMSDF provided a broad overview of Japanese culture and history.  On the morning after his arrival, Casteel visited the Japanese ship Chōkai (DDG 176), for the tri-annual JMSDF Fleet Review.  Other participants included Japanese Prime Minister Noda and the JMSDF Chief of the Maritime Staff.

Students also toured ancient Kamakura, the controversial Yasakune shrine, the modern High-Energy Accelerator (KEK) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  

One of the highlights for Casteel included a visit to Adm. Tōgō Heihachirō’s flagship, the Imperial Japanese battleship Mikasa, which was featured during his time at the U.S. Naval War College.

“Our tour of the Japanese pre-Dreadnought battleship Mikasa brought military history to life,” said Casteel.  "My first paper at the War College was about the early 20th century Japanese for the Strategy and War course. Very few people are given the chance to examine and discover historical evidence firsthand.  The tour deepened my knowledge and gave me a respect for what was accomplished so much more than what my research could ever give.”

The WPNS STEP aims to promote multilateral cooperation amongst the participants in the near future as leading naval officers of the next generation.

Other countries who participated in WPNS STEP included Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

Casteel was sponsored by the International Programs department at the U.S. Naval War College.

Edited by U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
Posted by Cmdr. Carla M. McCarthy