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NEWPORT, R.I. -- Family and friends joined 523 students as they graduated from the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) at Naval Station Newport, June 19.

            Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup, NWC president, presided over the graduation ceremony.

The resident graduating class included 298 members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, and civilian government employees and 115 international students from 65 countries.  Many of the graduates will take high-level assignments in command of ships or squadrons, or as members of strategic planning staffs. 

Of 996 College of Distance Education graduates from throughout the world, 110 traveled to Newport to participate in the ceremony.

Depending on the program completed, U.S. students received joint professional military education credit and either a Naval War College diploma or a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.  Graduates from the international programs received a diploma.

            Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, gave the commencement address, in which he praised the value of professional military education.

“The military as an institution is sometimes criticized for fostering an anti-intellectual bias,” said Skelton. “Despite this reputation, I’d like to compliment the Navy for encouraging rather than squelching its big thinkers.”

Skelton charged the graduates with three tasks: to become strategic thinkers; to continue their strategic studies, particularly by reading more military history; and to become mentors to the next generation of strategic thinkers.

            He reminded graduates that “your professional military education does not end today- it is just beginning.” He told graduates that “when military leaders learn more about history, they become better citizens and military professionals.”

            In addition to their degrees, numerous students received awards for research they completed during their year at NWC. In addition to winning the Admiral Richard G. Colbert prize for her essay “Arctic Operations: An Inconvenient Task,” Solange Hubble, a Coast Guard civilian student, also graduated with highest distinction.

She was thoroughly pleased with her time spent at NWC. “It was probably the best year of my life. Very rewarding both professionally and academically, I’ll take plenty of great memories back with me,” she said. After graduation she will head to the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

            Cmdr. Andriy Grytsenko, a Ukrainian student, found his year of study rewarding, both academically and culturally. “My classes were interesting and useful, but the best thing about coming here is that we [international and American students] get to know each other and build bridges between our countries.”  Grytsenko will return to Ukraine to work at a Ukrainian naval station.

Lt. Lydia Wilson, a distance education student in the U.S. Navy Reserve, received her Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase 1 credit and a War College diploma.  She described her studies as “absolutely fantastic, the faculty and students have been wonderful…I feel like I have learned from the best.” 

Marine Maj. Dan Wittnam spoke highly of the unique learning opportunities at the Naval War College. “It was a great opportunity to come into an academic environment and learn about military history, to be with my peers and learn from our classes and one another,” he said.

Wittnam continued, “The real gem here is the faculty, they are fantastic. Hearing about their experiences and fellow students’ individual experiences make for an unparalleled educational opportunity.”

by Sarah Smith, Naval War College Public Affairs

The Graduation photos can be seen here.