Naval War College’s leader development, operational courses grow, expand, diverge

James Kelly, retired Navy rear admiral and dean of U.S. Naval War College’s (NWC) College of Operational and Strategic Leadership, gives a presentation to international NWC students attending a newly designed International Maritime Staff Operators Course (I-MSOC) held in NWC’s Pringle Auditorium.
NEWPORT, R.I. – In a move designed to provide more sailors with better and more relevant training and education in accordance with guidance from the chief of naval operations (CNO), U.S. Naval War College (NWC) has implemented a major organizational change.

The school has separated its College of Operational Strategic Leadership (COSL) into two separate academic entities, the College of Maritime Operational Warfare (CMOW) and a cadre of faculty under the Dean of Leadership and Ethics (LE), each now focus on specific areas of leadership and leader development. 

CMOW develops skills for leaders in the art of operational warfare. LE focuses on personal leadership growth characteristics such as ethics.

“We have outgrown the previous concept,” said new dean of CMOW Jamie Kelly, a retired rear admiral. Kelly had previously been dean of the united COSL. “It’s time for this change. COSL is mature enough to do this. We have enough people who work on leader development issues to make into its own area.”

The dean of LE Peg Klein, also a retired rear admiral, came to NWC from a position as an advisor to the secretary of defense on service professionalism and is eager to advance the CNO’s efforts.

“The intent for what we have here at LE has two main focuses,” said Klein. “First is the internal focus on providing electives here in the college curriculum in the area of leadership and ethics that are up to date and reflective of today’s Navy. Second, externally we are here to help the CNO’s leader development framework move forward.”

That framework was released in January and outlines how the U.S. Navy will develop leaders who demonstrate both operational excellence and strong character at every level of seniority. 

“Throughout the college’s history, developing future leaders has been our main mission and is the most important thing we do here,” said president, NWC, Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley. “This change is the right move at the right time and will make this great institution even greater. The CNO recognizes that we are constantly improving and changing to meet the requirements of the Navy and the nation.”

CMOW offers a variety of operational courses and services such as the Maritime Staff Operators Course (MSOC), Maritime Operational Planners Course (MOPC), Joint Force Maritime Component Commander and Combined Force Maritime Component Commander (J/CFMCC), Executive Level of Warfare (ELOC), Assist and Assess Teams (ATT) and others.

The new LE deanery continues to offer elective courses for students pursuing their master’s degrees. 

“The CNO has charged each of the communities -- aviation, surface, submarine, etc. -- to develop a leader development strategy for their community. We will support those strategies and we will also to help tailor that curriculum,” said Klein. 

Since 2005, COSL had grown from one course designed for joint force flag officers, to more than two dozen courses and teams working to provide training and education to the fleet on ethics, leadership, maritime operations centers, and other efforts often combining with Fleet Forces Command to support the numbered fleets.

“We first worked on how to raise people’s games so when leaders picked up a third star they can they elevate themselves to think at the operational level and not stay buried in the tactical weeds,” said Kelly. “Now, we work with all levels of leaders, officers and enlisted, it makes no difference.”

The split also serves to operationalize the school as it works to maximize its efforts to support the fleet according to NWC’s strategic plan.

Currently, the two new organizations have more focus, direction and are better able to serve the students, according to Kelly.

Until the separation, COSL was responsible for personal and ethical training of sailors as well as the operational and competence aspects of leadership.

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Daniel L. Kuester

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