In 1970, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., Chief of Naval Operations, expressed interest in expanding the advanced professional education program for international naval officers at the Naval War College, directly supporting the foreign policy referred to as the Nixon Doctrine. A study concluded that the best course of action would be to establish a separate command and staff course for mid-career international naval officers.
"...in the military field, where we are pretty advanced, we think that we can do it better than to try to teach somebody else to do it. That may be the easy answer at the outset, but the wrong answer in the long run. I want to be sure that our policies in the future, all over the world, in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the rest, reduce American involvement. One of assistance, yes, assistance in helping them solve their own problems, but not going in and just doing the job ourselves simply because that is the easier way to do it." ~President Richard M. Nixon, July 25, 1969
After much preparation, Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner, President of the Naval War College, convened the first class in August, 1972. The first director, Captain Jack Quinn, set the course for the college in fulfilling its mission. Initially, the course was five months long and the academic curriculum was divided into two academic segments, and included one ten-day field study trip.
The evolution of the NSC has followed the changing tides of global political and military relationships. The mission of the NSC remains the same as when Vice Admiral Turner established it in 1972, but with a greater emphasis on a top-down approach to decision-making and planning processes which distinguishes the NSC from other service war colleges in the US and around the world.
The increasing importance of maritime relationships has correspondingly increased the representation of countries attending the NSC. Since its inception, over 1441 naval officers have graduated representing 119 countries. The average class size has increased to 32 students and requests for quotas now exceed openings available.
The program has been expanded to five and one-half months convening each year in January and July. The NSC program was expanded in 2003 to include a 10-month course that is fully integrated with NWC's College of Naval Command and Staff. The curriculum, taught at the graduate level, emphasizes naval planning and decision-making, with particular attention to broadening the officer's understanding of the importance and role of sea power in international affairs. The course continues to be taught in English and now includes four major areas of study. Supplementing the NSC core curriculum, students attend an elective of their choice with US and international students.
An important component (and most students' favorite part) of the curriculum is the Information Program Visits made throughout the United States. The one ten-day field study trip in 1972 has evolved into four one-week long trips to different regions or cities in the United States.
Today, NSC continues to improve and update the curriculum to reflect the dynamic changes in technology and society as it relates to maintaining peace while being prepared for conflict. Our goal is to provide the finest professional military education in the world and give our graduates a greater appreciation of American society, values, and institutions.
The Naval Staff College is vital to expanding the understanding and cooperation among world navies as envisioned in 1970. As coalition forces are increasingly used in response to conflict and involved in peacekeeping missions around the world, the role of NSC gains in significance. NSC will continue the high academic standards and free exchange of ideas that make tomorrow's naval leaders better citizens of the world as well.