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by Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs

Naval War College (NWC) President Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup testified June 25 before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, on the topic “Raising Thinking from the Tactical to the Operational Level.”

His testimony provided a detailed explanation of how NWC helps officers consider concepts, and applying those concepts to actual operations. In 2004, the Chief of Naval Operations decided unrestricted line Commanders and most staff and restricted line Commanders must have taken an intermediate-level Professional Military Education (PME) course before assuming a command position. 

Subsequently, almost all naval officers are required to receive some form of PME.

The College contributes by producing intermediate-level graduates who are planners skilled in applying operational art through the Navy and Joint planning processes, leaders with operational-level perspectives who have honed their critical thinking skills through a rigorous, academic program, and effective maritime spokespersons familiar with the range of challenges of operating in the maritime domain, and are competent in employing naval capabilities in conjunction with other Service, other agencies, and partner nations to achieve strategic objectives in war and peace,” Wisecup said.

JPME Phase One at NWC is made up of Joint Maritime Operations, National Security Decision Making, and Strategy and War core courses. Wisecup said the JMO course is the longest at 17 weeks, and officers learn to apply operational art, especially in a maritime environment.

“The course’s capstone wargame involves a crisis development and deployment planning phase, a humanitarian assistance phase, and a transition phase, all using collaborative technology tools in a distributed environment,” Wisecup said.

Wisecup also discussed the wide array of courses and delivery options available through NWC.  He explained how interagency and multinational perspectives and issues, irregular warfare, regional knowledge and cultural knowledge are embedded within the NWC curricula.  He also highlighted how faculty teach students to reflect upon and study history and case studies, as well as perform analysis and gaming of the embedded longer-term issues within their environmental context.

“Members of the teaching departments usually become quite committed to the collective enterprise of curricular development and teaching,” Wisecup said. “The curriculum is constantly in some degree of revision because every faculty member is personally dedicated to the product.”

The full testimony is available as a transcript and part of a video webcast on the House Armed Services Committee web site.