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From U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
Feb. 22, 2013

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Seventy-one students from the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNCS) graduated during a ceremony held at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) Feb. 21. 

Rear Adm. John Kirby, an alumnus from the CNCS class of 2000, served as the keynote speaker. 

As the U.S. Navy's chief of information, he is the principal spokesman for the Department of the Navy and provides strategic communication counsel to the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations.

Kirby spoke to the graduating class about the benefits of the world-class education and the faculty who shepherded them through their yearlong learning experience.

"I know you would agree with me that they have taught you far more than what can be learned solely in the reading and in their lectures," said Kirby. "They have taught you to think critically - to challenge assumptions, to draw new conclusions, to view problems from another's perspective."

Kirby encouraged the graduating class to understand politics, politicians, and the nature of political discourse.

"As you prepare to return to your duties, I'd ask you to consider also the duty of becoming politically astute, of working on those sorts of relationships," he said. "Remember there is a vast difference between being politically active and politically astute. The former renders our advice and counsel suspect; the latter lends it credibility and weight."

Kirby further stressed the importance of building relationships by not only telling people what they need to hear but also listening to what they need to say.

"We must improve our understanding of the complex and very dynamic information environment today," said Kirby, encouraging the graduates to join in and inform the conversations that people are interested in engaging in.

"It is an obligation, a requirement to explain ourselves, to justify our actions, to put into context what we are doing and why."

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory P. Malandrino, the President's Honor Graduate, followed Kirby with a brief reflection on the NWC experience. He thanked staff and faculty for expanding their minds and challenging them in a way that will be beneficial in their future endeavors.

NWC President Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, presented diplomas to the 71 graduates. In keeping with the tradition of NWC graduation ceremonies, Christenson gave graduates a final "charge" or challenge as they leave the college for higher leadership assignments.  They earned a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies and received joint professional military education credit.

The February graduating class included 57 U.S. Navy, 12 U.S. Army, and two U.S. Marine Corps graduates.

Posted by Cmdr. Carla M. McCarthy