(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jess Lewis/released)
Possible future directions of U.S. foreign policy and the demands placed on the sea-going services were topics considered by academics, security experts, historians and policymakers at a symposium held at U.S. Naval War College (NWC) Newport, Rhode Island April 5-7.
The symposium, “Sea Control and Foreign Policy,” also examined the impact of technology, contested seas, and maritime partnerships on sea control.
Derek Reveron, professor in the National Security Affairs department and EMC Chair at the school, organized the event.
“The conference brings together leaders from around the Navy and the national security community to discuss the crucial mission of sea control,” said Reveron.
All of the papers presented at the conference can be found HERE.
Keynote addresses for the conference included Ambassador Paula Dobriansky; Vice Adm. James G. Foggo, III, director Navy Staff; Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and former U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, now a Naval War College Foundation Senior Distinguished Fellow in Newport.
After Foggo’s presentation, he discussed why this symposium is valuable to those exploring topics such as sea control and foreign policy.
“First of all, this provides a forum for a debate on the direction that the Navy is going in the 21st century,” he said. “This forum combines active duty military along with diplomats who are all important when we talk about the Navy and diplomacy.”
Sea control continues to be a vital issue that impacts all the sea services and national security.
“The U.S. Navy plays an important role in ensuring freedom of navigation and global trade,” said Reveron. “Conference participants discussed the challenges on the high seas and capabilities required to achieve sea control.”
One of Wednesday’s panel discussions, “Echoes of the First World War in the 21st Century,” had particular interest for the college as it explored the formal declaration of war against Germany. The president of NWC at the time was Rear Adm. William S. Sims who was among the first American commanders to arrive in Europe. Out of necessity, Sims subsequently assumed the role of senior U.S. Navy officer in European waters. In that position, he worked with the head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John Jellicoe. The two men played key roles in establishing the transatlantic naval alliance.
Grandsons of both of these World War I leaders, Dr. Nathan Sims and Nicholas Jellicoe, attended the symposium and made presentations. It was the first time the two had met.
While at the college, the younger Sims donated several items from his family collection to the archives at NWC.
Among the items donated were letters, books and photographs signed by notable people including Presidents Herbert Hoover, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. The collection also includes cards, personal and business papers, and other documents from throughout Sims’ life.
History holds many lessons for the Navy of today, according to Foggo.
“Historians and professors here at Naval War College can talk about the writings of Sir Julian Corbett and Alfred Thayer Mahan, and talk about the concentration and distribution of forces so we can achieve sea control,” said Foggo. “While a lot has changed in how we build ships, man ships and train our sailors, the strategy of sea control has remained a constant throughout the history of maritime strategy.”
Mahan was the second president of NWC from 1886 to 1889. Both Mahan and Corbett were authors and maritime strategists whose books remain recommended reading by the Chief of Naval Operations to this day.
At the outset of the conference, a proclamation signed by Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was read by Director of Veterans Affairs Kasim Yarn declaring April as World War I History Month in the state. The United States entered World War I in 1917.
The symposium also welcomed the next generation of leading thinkers on maritime strategy and national security as it included junior faculty and graduate students from The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.; United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.; Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; and King’s College, London, England.
This symposium is the 14th major event Reveron has sponsored while EMC Chair. This is his final year as Chair.
This conference was supported with non-appropriated funds provided by the Naval War College Foundation through the EMC Chair Endowment.
NWC is an upper-level professional military education institution that includes a one-year resident program that graduates 600 resident students a year, and a multifaceted distance education program that graduates more than 1,000 students per year. Its missions include educating and developing leaders, helping define the future of the Navy, supporting combat readiness, and strengthening maritime partnerships. 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.