Forty-three students graduated on Sept. 6 from the U.S. Naval War College’s Maritime Advanced Warfighting School, a program designed to educate U.S. military and national security officers in the art of planning large-scale operations.
The students completed the 13-month curriculum while also earning U.S. Naval War College master’s degrees.
“They have blossomed as leaders and developed an expertise in the rare commodity of operational planning,” said Capt. Christopher Senenko, the program’s director, at the graduation ceremony.
Senenko told the audience that these students have labored in pursuit of “a special skill that is required in every service, in numbers exceeding what we can produce here.”
The class studied historic U.S. military campaigns such as Operations Husky and Shingle, which landed Allied forces in Italy during World War II, and the failed British offensive that led to the Battles of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War.
In the classroom, students analyzed these campaigns and offered redesigned operational concepts using the lessons of history.
The students and their advisers took a 12-day “staff ride” trip to Italy to see the historic WWII locations firsthand and also spent several days in Saratoga Springs, New York, to visit the Revolutionary War sites.
The Naval War College launched this program in 1998, and it now has more than 550 alumni. These students are expected to go on to serve in planning roles on U.S. defense staffs.
Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield told the graduates that their investment of time will be recouped in future assignments.
“You will be well positioned to be that creative leader and innovator in your occupational specialty,” Chatfield said at the graduation ceremony.
She encouraged the students to keep a physical reminder at hand – such as a pin or something similar – to remember that they learned to think a little bit differently about any challenge.
Class honors were awarded to Marine Corps Maj. Benjamin W. Phillips III for a combination of academic and leadership achievement. He received the Vice Adm. Charles “SOC” McMorris Honor Graduate trophy. Phillips is going on to serve as the Marine Air Ground Task Force planner at Marine Forces Central Command in Florida.