A portrait of John R. Kroger, the Department of the Navy's first-ever Chief Learning Officer (CLO). The CLO position was created to unify all Navy and Marine Corps formal education programs and will be responsible for implementing education changes as directed by the Secretary of the Navy.
(U.S. Navy photo/Released)
Department of the Navy Chief Learning Officer John R. Kroger visited the U.S. Naval War College on Dec. 16 to get a closer look at the institution’s historic war-gaming abilities.
Kroger took the new chief learning officer position in September, following a career that included the presidency of Portland, Oregon’s Reed College from 2012 to 2018. He also had served as Oregon attorney general and a federal prosecutor and was an enlisted Marine from 1983 to 1986.
In Newport, Kroger met with Rear Adm. Shoshana S. Chatfield, U.S. Naval War College president, and the college’s War Gaming Department.
“I visited the U.S. Naval War College about a month ago as an introductory visit,” Kroger said. “One of the areas that was really interesting to me and was both impressive in its current terms, but also holding immense potential for the future, was in the area of simulations and war games.”
Kroger said he came back to talk in more depth with the War Gaming Department, a piece of the college that dates back to the 1880s and is credited with helping shape U.S. strategy in the Pacific during World War II.
Kroger said he wants to see “what I can do as CLO to help support greater effort to use war-gaming and simulations in the classroom.”
More broadly in his new role, Kroger said he has a few top priorities.
One is the new Naval Education Strategy, now in draft form but with the final version expected out in January. The Secretary of the Navy has issued a decision memorandum funding the key provisions, Kroger said.
“There’s going to be a significant investment in resources here at the Naval War College and at our other institutions starting this fiscal year,” he said.
In Newport, that influx of funding will go toward improvements in security and the college’s information technology abilities. There will also be more money for faculty support and academic programs, and for current and new war-gaming work, Kroger said.
“It’s a pretty significant financial boost to the institution,” he said.
Another priority, Kroger said, is establishing the new Naval Community College system for enlisted Sailors and Marines. He said the focus will be on providing education in technical fields that are in high demand such as cyber, data science and information technology. Unlike the current tuition assistance program, the cost of schooling toward an associate’s degree will be totally free for students.
This effort aligns with the guidance issued this month by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, Kroger said.
Gilday’s “fragmentary order” – often called the Frago – calls for a focus on warfighting, warfighters and the future U.S. Navy.
“The CNO’s order calls out education as one of the areas where he wants a particular focus,” Kroger said. “I think the CNO sees education as providing a real warfighting advantage.”
Similarly, he added, the National Defense Strategy calls for better strategic education and the “Commandant’s Planning Guidance” for the U.S. Marine Corps notes the need for a bigger investment in educational intensity.
“All three of those primary strategic guidance documents emphasize education,” Kroger said.