R.I. (NNS) -- Two-hundred ten U.S. Naval War College (NWC) National
Security and Decision Making (NSDM) students completed the 2014 NSDM
course and NSDM Final Exercise (FX), Feb. 28, at NWC in Newport,
The top 25 graduates were bestowed the James V.
Forrestal Award for Excellence in Force Planning and were provided
an opportunity to execute their learning with a panel of senior
national security practitioners.
"This course has done so much to broaden my horizons," said Army
Col. Paul B. Riley, NSDM student and Forrestal award winner,
following his brief with the senior panel. "It's sharpened the edge
of my intellectual sword. Our strength was collective brainpower and
harnessing that brainpower in a way where everyone felt like they
"The problems of the next generation are
so complex, that the tools and our understanding that we've gathered
in our career up to this point are insufficient for dealing with the
complexity of what's to come. We have to learn how to think through
"This course has opened our eyes to everything
at the strategic level; help us understand the things that we're
seeing; and even help us forecast what we think will happen next,"
The 10-week course is part of NWC's year-long
resident program and is designed to prepare senior level joint and
international officers and civilians for executive positions in
large national security organizations. Major attention is given to
joint and allied perspectives at the theater level or above and
studies stress the growing complexity of decision making at higher
levels of responsibility and authority.
"NSDM is unique in
that there are three sub-courses," said Cmdr. Brent Gaut, NSDM
student at NWC. "You never just concentrate or focus on just one
The course curriculum consists of three primary
areas of study; security strategies, policy analysis and leadership
concepts at the strategic level.
"This is mostly a
Pentagon-focused product," said Jim Cook, a NWC professor.
The products produced by the students are "something you expect to
be briefed to the service chiefs, Joint Chiefs of Staff or Secretary
of Defense," Cook added.
Following completion of coursework,
students culminate their learning in seminars, groups of 13 to 15
students, and undergo a competitive two-week graded capstone, the
During the exercise, seminars are required to
develop a 45-minute presentation, followed by a question and answer
period where they defend their strategic choices.
are asked to assess the future security environment, out for the
next 20 years and identify the major challenges and opportunities,"
said Cook. "Based on that assessment, students must develop national
strategies and talk about how the joint force will be employed to
achieve the objectives of their strategy. Finally, students must
tell us what the joint force will look like and what kind of
capabilities it will have."
At completion of the course,
graduates will have enhanced their ability to rigorously analyze the
proposals of their staffs, choose wisely among competing strategies,
integrate decisions into comprehensive plans of action and implement
their plans through effective leadership of subordinate
"It's teaching us senior leaders to be
critical thinkers," said Guat. "It gives us the tools to look at and
analyze different situations and scenarios we might find ourselves
in. If you're given the opportunity to come here, take advantage of
it and embrace the opportunity."
The NWC remains dedicated to
its mission of educating and developing leaders by providing
current, rigorous and relevant professional military education
programs to the maximum number of qualified officers and enlisted
personnel, civilian employees, and international senior enlisted
leaders and officers. These leaders have trust and confidence in
each other and are operationally and strategically minded, critical
thinkers, proficient in joint matters, and skilled naval and joint
warfighters prepared to meet the operational level of war and
strategic challenges of today and tomorrow.
By U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist James E. Foehl
Naval War College Public Affairs
Navy News Service
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