Naval War College Hosts 4th Annual Intermediate Flag and Executive Course

Intermediate Flag and Executive Course web banner with multiple people in a circle.

Newport, RI - The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) kicked off the fourth annual Intermediate Flag and Executive Course (IFLEX), “Partners in the Navy Profession,” Nov. 2-6. The course, developed by NWC’s College of Leadership and Ethics (CLE), provides leader development for 2-star flag officers and tier 2 Senior Executive Staff (SES) level civilians.

"The course’s focus in 2020 was to prompt thinking and discussion around the learning organization, as the strategic environment calls for continuous, rapid and sustained learning within all of our systems and at every level,” said IFLEX co-lead Liz Cavallaro, College of Leadership and Ethics.

Prior to the course beginning, each participant completed the Hogan Leadership Forecast Series and the Hogan Assessment. Participants received a report of their assessment results, and faculty discussed their development at the individual level and what they could focus on during the course instruction. 31 flag officers and SES-level civilians participated in the November leader development course launch.

"We applied the science of teaching and learning and got smart at enabling learning through virtual experience. Most importantly, given the challenging context we are all experiencing, we were determined to develop and execute IFLEX through the ‘human dimension’ lens -- and it paid off,” said IFLEX co-lead Olenda Johnson, College of Leadership and Ethics.

The course was adapted for the first time this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. IFLEX shifted to fully virtual and will now extend beyond the traditional week-long residency to include six months of half day virtual classroom sessions comprised of presentations, facilitated discussion and small group work. The course sessions include guest speakers on diverse topics that are linked to the concepts that are being taught in the course. Instructors teach academic concepts, theories and tools in the course. Then the students take the opportunity to apply them to the initiatives that they are working on collaboratively in small groups and sometimes as a large group.

“The learning organization is one that fosters people development, which enables us to leverage the human weapons system for intellectual overmatch as asymmetric advantage over near-peer and peer competitors,” said Cavallaro.

The IFLEX course started with a week-long residency, concluding on November 6th and will continue with six one-day sessions from January 2021 until June 2021.

The IFLEX course provides an executive leader development course focused on expanding senior leader thinking capacity and strengthening relationships at the flag level. Through a combination of CLE content, targeted guest speakers and classroom exercises, attendees are introduced to emerging and validated concepts and theories in the areas of cognitive development, bias, mental complexity and critical thinking.

CLE also hosts the virtual 3-Star Advanced Flag and Executive Course (AFLEX). The AFLEX course introduces fresh ideas and concepts in a collaborative and interactive format meant to challenge and evolve senior leaders critical and strategic thinking.

Both courses bring together senior leaders for a challenging week of disruptive engagement, peer interaction, facilitated discourse and directed reflection. Adaptations for the virtual environment included extending the course into a six-month period of continued engagement and collaboration on key issues.

For more information about the courses, you can go to and Partners in the Naval Profession.

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Michael Guterl, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
December 18, 2020

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