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NEWPORT, R.I. -- The Naval War College (NWC) wrapped up a two-week strategy and war course for 63 U.S. and international reservists on Sept. 25.

The course, presented by the college's Strategy and Policy (S&P) Department and College of Distance Education (CDE), offers reserve students the benefits of the NWC curriculum in a condensed period of time. The graduate-level program is equivalent to the S&P intermediate-level resident course, packed into 16 lectures and eight faculty-facilitated seminars. The program also includes distance pre-coursework and an exam before even coming to the NWC campus.

"It gives them a good overview of what the resident students get. Of course, it's compressed," said Navy Cmdr. John Pucciarelli, an S&P professor.

In addition to the Strategy and War course, students can take other resident reserve courses or enroll in distance CDE courses to earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) phase I credit, a critical milestone in a military officer's career.

Students were in class from four to six hours a day, leaving the remainder of the day for personal study and preparation for seminar discussions. They also took two more exams during the residency phase of the course.

The lectures and seminar topics covered theorists and military history from the American Revolution right up through operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

"Yes, we're using history as a basis, but we're trying to teach students to think critically, ask questions," Pucciarelli said. "I think that's a useful skill to anything they'd be doing on the outside."

The group of 63 students included members from the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as four students from the Royal Navy and one Royal Marine.

"(The international students) always bring a different insight into things, and it helps to build relationships," Pucciarelli said. "They see things we don't always consider."

Navy student Capt. Luke Ott said the course is highly valuable to a reserve career.

"To anyone it makes a big difference," Ott said. "I probably should have done it sooner. I'd recommend other officers do it earlier in your career."

Ott joined the Navy as a full-time officer in 1982 in Aviation Officer Candidate School. He left the Navy in 1991 and immediately joined the Navy Reserve, while becoming a commercial pilot.

He recently served as a reservist in Iraq and experienced firsthand the challenges the military faces there.

The Strategy and War course includes lessons on cultural sensitivity, analysis and critical thinking. Ott said the course is helpful in understanding situations like Iraq, where military members are on the front line of implementing military policy.

"It's not enough to have a policy that makes sense," Ott said. "The execution of that policy and the consequences the policy have, have to be constantly evaluated."

Ott appreciated the access to NWC's faculty and the discussion-based seminars, in which students were encouraged to give constructive criticism to past military actions. The exchange of ideas among students and faculty gave multiple perspectives on the case studies.

"That's maybe the most valuable thing. Anybody can go on the Internet, and there's a lot of information out there, to find out historically what has been critical," Ott said.

Critical thinking and analysis skills the course teaches will also be helpful in his civilian career, he said.

Ott expressed gratitude for NWC’s Operational Support Office, in particular Ms. Ellie Silveria, for handling the vast majority of the logistics and administrative details, allowing the students the maximum time to concentrate on their studies.

In addition to the Strategy & War course, the NWC Operational Support Office annually facilitates two-week Reserve courses for the other NWC JPME resident core courses, Joint Military Operations in the winter and National Security and Decision Making in the spring. Quotas and funding for all three of these courses are managed by Navy Reserve Force Command (CNRFC) N7 Training, which releases information on these periodically via listserve and standard Navy message.

by Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs

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NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 2009) Sixty-three U.S. and international reservists attended a two-week Strategy and War course Sept. 14-25.  The course, presented by the college's Strategy and Policy (S&P) Department and College of Distance Education (CDE), offers reserve students the benefits of the NWC curriculum in a condensed period of time.  (Photo provided by NWC Operational Support Office)