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NEWPORT, R.I. -- Embedded within the Naval War College's (NWC) Regional Studies Program, the new Indian Ocean Regional Studies Group is focusing on maritime security and security-related issues in the Indian Ocean, both at sea and in the Indian Ocean's surrounding nations.

Doctors Timothy Hoyt and Andrew Winner were named co-chairmen of NWC's new Indian Ocean Regional Studies Group on Jan. 5, 2009. As NWC's sixth formed regional studies group, this group studies the Indian Ocean region as a whole, with a maritime focus that crosses organizational and some traditional land-centric geographic seams. The goal is to examine issues and areas that may be relatively understudied and bring a uniquely maritime point of view to the region to provide valuable insights to analysts and policy makers, in accordance with the educational mission of the Naval War College.

"In the new U.S. maritime strategy - A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, released in October 2007 - the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean is identified as one of two areas where the U.S. will deploy regionally concentrated, credible combat power, with the other area being the Western Pacific," said Hoyt. "What this means is that the U.S. Navy will remain a two-ocean navy, but the oceans have changed."

The Indian Ocean Regional Studies Group will concentrate, among other topics, on trade and energy flows, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the Indian Ocean region, the rise of transnational terrorism, and piracy.

"Seventy percent of the world's oil products flow through the Indian Ocean, which is the home of over 25 percent of the world's population," said Hoyt. "The region suffers from a whole range of security threats, from piracy and terrorism to economic underdevelopment, disease, and frequent natural disasters. Systematic study of the region as a whole is long overdue, and vital as we pursue new concepts like the Global Maritime Partnership to ensure good order at sea."

One advantage of organizing regional studies groups at NWC is that senior leadership can tap into the expertise resident at NWC.

On Feb. 12, Hoyt met with the nation's top military officer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as part of a small group of outside experts to discuss security issues in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Indian Ocean region.

"Terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan is one of the most pressing security concerns for both the United States and the region," said Hoyt. "The United States is alarmed about the continuing presence of Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan's tribal areas."

The Indian Ocean Regional Studies Group will be instrumental in looking at these types of issues.

Hoyt is a professor in NWC's Strategy and Policy Department, and Winner works for NWC's Strategic Research Department. The two professors have been travelling to the region regularly for the past two years, discussing topics including maritime cooperation, terrorism, piracy, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Establishing a regional studies structure at NWC focuses resources for greater impact in building trust and cooperation with global maritime partners. These groups expand college-to-college cooperation, focus on regional security cooperation challenges, and participate in activities, such as curriculum development, research on regional security issues, symposia, conference lectures and war games, with U.S. commanders and partner war colleges.

Other regional studies groups at NWC include Asia-Pacific Studies, Eurasian Studies, Greater Middle East and South Asia, Latin American Studies, and African Studies. NWC's China Maritime Studies Institute also has a regional focus.

From Naval War College Public Affairs