The Naval War College conducts four resident programs for officers. All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are in attendance and are divided into different programs based on rank. Senior Officers (Commanders and Captains) attend the College of Naval Warfare (CNW), while junior officers (Lieutenant Commanders) attend the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNC&S). International officers make up the remaining two programs, the Naval Command College (NCC) for senior international officers (Commanders and Captains) and the Naval Staff College (NSC) for mid-career officers (Lieutenants and Lieutenant Commanders).

The Curriculum

The War College is on a trimester academic year, not including the eight-day orientation period upon your arrival. During your time at the Naval War College, you will be integrated with your U.S. colleagues who are enrolled in the College of Naval Warfare (CNW) and the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNC&S). The primary teaching method is by seminar supported by reading, research, case studies, and lectures. Resident faculty and visiting lecturers are used, but formal lectures are held to a minimum. Seminars are small to take advantage of instructor-student relationships and to enable each officer to participate to the fullest. It is this integration that makes the U.S. and International Programs so valuable and rewarding, in terms of knowledge, insights, and friendships. Because of your participation, U.S. students come away from this course with a broader understanding and respect for national security issues. Below is a brief overview of the curriculum, in sequence, that you can expect during your tour. 

Orientation (Eight Academic Days)

Orientation is for both the officers and their spouses. It will cover the mission, functions, objectives, and procedures of the International Programs and the Naval War College. Included is an introduction to the Newport naval complex and its supporting services. There is also an introduction to the surrounding civilian community. Special emphasis is placed on everyday family services such as schools, banking, insurance, transportation, and shopping.

Strategy and Policy

The Strategy and Policy Department presents a curriculum designed to teach officers to think strategically. It studies a relationship between a nation’s political interests and goals on the one hand, and the way military force has been and may be used to serve them, on the other. It examines a seamless line that begins with objectives, continues through armed conflict until the last salvo has been fired, and ends with the final, postwar settlement. It uses materials and perspectives of several academic disciplines: history, political science, and international relations. The Strategy Department will study strategic theory, especially the works of Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Mahan, Corbett, and Mao. If you have Clausewitz’s book On War or Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War in your native language, we strongly recommend bringing them to ease translation difficulties.

National Security Decision Making

The National Security Affairs (NAS) Department educates military officers and U.S. government civilians in the effective selection and leadership of military forces within national resource constraints. The Department provides instruction in the current strategic planning and future military force structure, systematic approaches to programmatic resource choices and the nature of economic, political, and organizational factors affecting selection and command of military forces. NSDM is an executive development course uniquely designed for the War College students. Emphasis is placed on the preparation of officers and civilians for higher command and high-level staff assignments.

Joint Military Operations

The Joint Military Operations (JMO) course focuses on enhancing the capability of officers to think and to make decisions at the operational level of war. As do the other two academic departments, JMO provides the student with one-third of the mutually complementary war college education. S&P offers the student a foundation in strategic thinking; NSDM familiarizes the student with strategic planning and the procurement of military forces, and JMO prepares students to plan for and apply resources to meet the military goals and objectives derived from the nation’s security strategy. This course enhances student familiarity with service capabilities and exposes the student to a range of methods and disciplines employed in using those capabilities. Examples of these are: threat assessment; the military planning process; analysis of service and joint doctrines; and war gaming. While the focus is on joint operations at the theater level, maritime operations and sea service contributions are stressed.

Daily Routine

Classes are held Monday through Friday, usually beginning at 0830 and completing by midday. Some of the Fridays are reserved for individual student preparation time for writing papers or completing required reading assignments. You will also have an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of elective courses, normally scheduled on Wednesdays or Thursdays. After each class day, many students head to the base gymnasium for exercise or jog outside along the waterfront. Participation in some form of physical exercise is recommended to augment the academic schedule. Interaction with U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and civilian students occurs naturally as part of your daily discussions in class. That contact extends beyond the classroom, sometimes to the soccer field and basketball court and social dinners. There have been many strong bonds formed over the years between the international students and U.S. students.

Curriculum Field Trips/Field Studies Program Visits

Curriculum Field Trips (CFTs) and Field Studies Program Visits (FSPs) are scheduled throughout the year to further the officers’ knowledge concerning U.S. organizations and government institutions. They provide an opportunity to meet civilian and military leaders to reinforce some aspects of the Naval War College curriculum and relate management theory and principles to management practices in large military complexes and industrial corporations. These presentations and discussions with civilian and military managers help to increase the officers’ knowledge of the geography, economy, culture, and history of the United States. Families are invited and encouraged to join the officer on most of the FSPs, at the officer’s own expense. You can expect to make four to six major trips during the year, lasting from five days to 10 days. There will be several one-day trips as well.

Social Activities

You can expect to have a very busy social life while at the War College. You will attend a number of luncheons, dinners, and receptions, especially during trips around the country. These are an important and integral part of the international experience. Many of these events include family members if they are available to attend.

English Classes

Most officers go through some degree of language training prior to attending the War college. Those who have a desire to learn more about the English language are invited to attend a course in English, provided by a certified English instructor. This English Improvement Course will be taken in lieu of an elective during the fall and winter trimesters. Spouses are also encouraged to attend and a special course is designed just for them.

Country Presentation Programs (Naval Staff College only)

Each student in the Naval Staff College is required to prepare and deliver a twenty-minute oral and multimedia presentation on his country before an audience of faculty, colleagues, and guests. International students at the Naval War College are sometimes invited to speak to local civilian groups about their countries. Also, in some classes, they may be called upon, or volunteer, to present some aspect of life in their country or their naval service.
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