US Naval War College Logo
Contact Us
Site Map
NWC on Facebook NWC on Twitter NWC on Flickr NWC on Blackboard

The Naval War College (NWC) completed its twelfth advanced warfighting school class with the graduation of 29 students on Sept. 10.

The Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS) is thirteen months long and provides officers in the ranks of lieutenant commander and major with planning knowledge and extensive skills in leadership and advanced war-fighting for follow-on assignments to operational planner billets.

The Navy offers this intensely specialized education so that officers can immediately step into critical operational planner billets, according to Capt. Jody Richardson, the MAWS Director.

"There are approximately 150 such specially-designated billets on operational staffs," said Richardson.  "In a 21st century of complicated threat and opportunity, joint, Navy component, and numbered fleet commanders increasingly require officers who are warfare proven, skilled in operational planning, and know how to apply maritime power effectively. Such skills are essential in an environment of exceptional speed and complexity.  Officers must develop them through practical experience built upon a solid educational foundation. MAWS is that foundation."

This year's graduates were selected in spring 2008 and commenced studies in August 2008. The class includes two Army, 22 Navy, two Marines, one Coast Guardsman, and two Air Force Airmen.

"This coursework prepares us to attack and solve complex problems with confidence, a critical skill because there will never be a shortage of complex planning problems in the future," said graduating student Maj. Al Harris, U.S. Marine Corps.
From August 2008 to June 2009, the students attended NWC's Naval Command and Staff resident intermediate curriculum of National Security Decision Making, Strategy and Warfare, and a tailored 17-week trimester of Joint Maritime Operations.  The students also completed three directed electives addressing operational art and doctrine, Navy planning process and the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) environment, and joint force commander planning considerations.

"MAWS taught me how to speak operational planner language," said Navy graduate, Lt. Cmdr. Dave Leather, a submariner. "It has given me the skills and confidence to join any operational planning team and contribute significantly to plans that make our country safer."

During the final three months of the program, the students developed and authored formal plans in direct support of a naval operational commander.

According to Harris, "Working a plan for an operational commander was definitely a dose of reality. As a planning team, we had to balance the ideal way to solve the problem with what actually could be accomplished. Although the reality check made our problem much more difficult, it forced us to dig deep to find achievable solutions for the operational commander."
Lt. Cmdr. Ben Strickland, U.S. Coast Guard, also sees great future value in his MAWS experience.

"Preparing a formal contingency plan for a Navy operational commander was personally and professionally rewarding," said Strickland. "The unique skill set learned during MAWS will greatly increase my contributions to my parent service during my next assignment at Coast Guard Headquarters, Office of Defense Operations and Counterterrorism."

The graduates receive NWC's Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, the Naval War College diploma, Joint Professional Military Education Phase I certification, and a qualification designation as operational planners.

The Navy graduates represent the Naval Aviation, Intelligence, Special Operations, Special Warfare, Submarine, Supply Corps, and Surface Warfare communities. Fifteen Navy graduates will proceed directly to operational planner billets; the other seven will accomplish warfare community progression tours followed by operational planner assignments. The seven non-Navy graduates will proceed to planner and warfare community tours as directed by their chiefs of service.

These twenty-nine graduates join 166 officers, of which 117 are Navy and 49 are from other services, who graduated in the first eleven NWC advanced warfighting school classes from 1999 through 2008. This growing cadre of leaders represents a new, multi-service expertise in planning and execution of joint operations with naval emphasis.

MAWS class 2010, comprising 18 Navy and 12 officers from other services, commenced studies in August 2009 and will graduate in September 2010.

Additional information is available at