170509-N-FB082-023 NEWPORT, R.I. (May 9, 2017) Students prepare a presentation for the newly designed International Maritime Staff Operators Course (I-MSOC) at U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Sixteen students from partner nations are enrolled in the inaugural course. Developed in response to international requests for a course similar to the popular Maritime Staff Operators Course, which provides organizational and individual-level education and training in planning, execution, and assessment functions and tasks for Navy leaders assigned to a Maritime Operation Center, I-MSOC focuses on NATO, United Nations and interagency operations in addition to U.S. planning and procedures. (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel L. Kuester/Released)


By Daniel L. Kuester, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
June 26, 2017

NEWPORT, R.I. – U.S. Naval War College (NWC), Newport, Rhode Island graduated the first class in its recently introduced International Maritime Staff Operators Course (I-MSOC) during a ceremony Friday.

The new international-centered course is patterned after the popular Maritime Staff Operators Course (MSOC) for U.S. students.

I-MSOC focuses on NATO, United Nations and interagency operations in addition to U.S. planning and procedures for high-level students of navies of partner nations.

“This course is designed specifically for international students,” said Andrew Elvin, program manager for the new course. “The international course is solely focused on and delivered to them and targeted on their requirements.”

I-MSOC offers additional instruction dealing with coalition operations and was created in response to requests from international navies to receive training similar that of MSOC.

“We have had interest from students from other countries,” said Elvin. “They said they would really like to have an operational-level course. No one offered that, so the International Programs department at NWC, in line with its existing programs consisting of the Naval Command College, Naval Staff College, International Seapower Symposium and Regional Alumni Symposia, took the initiative and formed a NWC cross-functional team to develop and provide the course.” 

The course was designed by Naval War College to provide international naval officers the skills needed to support the planning and execution of maritime operations and integrate with existing operational planning teams. It is designed for intermediate-level maritime officers.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, President, U.S. Naval War College, Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley noted that everyone benefits from offering the course.

“In addition to learning from us at the college,” Harley said, “we have learned something from you and will take this new-found knowledge, this tool kit if you will, and will add it to next year’s course and many courses after, ensuring we continue to grow together as partners in maritime superiority.”

That partnership is one of NWC’s core missions and is vital to maintaining solid partnerships.

“The better our partners understand how we plan and execution maritime operations the more effective the team will be,” said Paul Schmidle, associate professor, in NWC’s College of Operational and Strategic Leadership. “More than just remembering the planning steps, our students learn effective ways to analysis and solve complex problems. These problem-solving skills can be applied to a variety of challenges.”

I-MSOC took years to create, said Michael Hallett, the International Programs curriculum manager, and there may still be future changes as administrators receive feedback from students and professors on the curriculum.

“This first course was a trial run, and we are engaging in a multidimensional assessment process in order to improve the course,” said Hallett.

Students found the information presented in the course very helpful.

“It was far beyond my expectations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jinsung Park, South Korea navy, and I-MSOC graduate. “Here, we learned much about the operational level of war, and what it takes to be an effective staff officer in a U.S. or coalition maritime operations center. I will recommend to our education command in South Korea that we need to send more people to this course to understand operational planning and staff processes so we can further develop our planning.”

Students in the course were from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Future hopeful students are already asking about availability in next year’s course.

“Students are already inquiring about when the next course is offered,” said Hallett. “There is already interest in the 2018 class and we’ve had to turn some away. The demand is definitely there for his course.”


NWC is a one-year resident program that graduates about 600 resident students and about 1,000 distance learning students each year. Its primary mission is to educate and develop future leaders. Additional missions include: helping to define the future Navy and its roles and missions, supporting combat readiness, strengthening global maritime partnerships, promoting ethics and leadership throughout the force, contributing knowledge to shape effective decisions through our Maritime History Center, providing expertise and advice to the international legal community through the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law. Students earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) credit and either a diploma or a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies or Defense and Strategic Studies. Established in 1884, U.S. Naval War College is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. More than 50,000 students have graduated since its first class of nine students in 1885 and about 300 of today’s active duty admirals, generals and senior executive service leaders are alumni.
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