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BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — U.S. Naval War College (NWC) held its 18th Regional Alumni Symposium (RAS) in Buenos Aires, August 26-29, 2019. The event was co-hosted by the Argentine Navy and explored a wide range of topics including maritime governance, the blue economy and maritime stability.

“I propose the following three objectives for this conference,” said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, president, U.S. Naval War College. “Number one, listen to each other. And number two, dedicate to learning from each other because learning is not just a one-time event but a continuous practice.”

“For the third objective,” continued Chatfield later, “I hope that you will renew your friendships with other alumni and that you will trade your information and business cards and maintain those relationships into the future.”

During the three-day event, over 100 international officers, including eight head’s of navies, participated in briefings and engaged with panelists on a number of important issues in the region. Some of the topics discussed included maritime control, maritime surveillance, information sharing and interoperability and the use of the sea’s resources to achieve sustainable development.

“This academic conference gives us an excellent opportunity to strengthen the relationship amongst our navies,” said Navy Adm. José Luis Villán, chief of the general staff of the Argentine Navy. “And we learn from each. Its (the symposium’s) main purpose is to exchange ideas on how regional nations can overcome problems together.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer served as the guest speaker and also emphasized the importance of teamwork.

“Every day, our allies and joint partners join us in defending freedom, deterring war and maintaining the rules which underwrite a free and open international order. We are each other’s force multiplier,” said Spencer. “Serving together, studying together and completing exercises together increases our joint operational readiness and helps secure a safer world.”

He also emphasized the critical importance that all nations should be free.

“We believe that all nations should be free in terms of values and political systems and free from coercion by other nations, and that all nations should enjoy unfettered access to seas and airways,” continued Spencer. “And we believe the best way to ensure the continuation of that rules-based international order is to continually work side by side with a relentless focus on improving the people, capabilities and processes of our joint and partnered force.”

Rear Adm. Donald Gabrielson, commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet/U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, also attended the event and provided keynote remarks.

“The war colleges teach us to reflect and to challenge what we think we know,” said Gabrielson. “They give us a framework to consider the challenges of the world we live and operate in and to ask ourselves whether we really do understand it the way that we need to in order to preserve our strategic interests for our nations.”

He continued later, “We need to shift our dialogue in our relationships, in our exercises, in our discussions about the purpose of our sea services – even within our own governments in our own countries about the value that we provide through sea control.”

An important part of the symposium that met this goal was that attendees participated in an international crisis stability war game. Nina Kollars and Benjamin Schechter, professors, NWC Strategic and Operational Research Department, co-led the war game where participants simulated decision-making roles in a national security cabinet given a hypothetical crisis scenario. The war game culminated in the development of a whole-of-government response plan.

“I also want to make a special thanks to Navy Adm. José Luis Villán, for co-hosting this regional alumni symposium. Thank you so much for your gracious offer to partner with us,” said Chatfield.

Regional Alumni Symposiums like this one are academic conferences designed to continue the professional military education of U.S. Naval War College alumni. Programs include keynote speeches by prominent military leaders and faculty-led panels addressing contemporary challenges.

Photos of the event can be viewed and downloaded at:

Jeanette Steele , U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

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