NEWPORT, R.I. -- U.S. Naval War College graduated more than 1,500 students on Friday, June 14, in a ceremony at Naval Station Newport overlooking Narragansett Bay.
The graduates are officers in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard, in addition to civilian employees of the Department of Defense and other U.S. federal agencies. They were joined by international military officers hailing from 73 nations that are U.S. partners.
In dress uniforms and suits, more than 500 graduates were in attendance to cross the stage on historic Dewey Field.
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer delivered the keynote address, describing the challenging geopolitical picture facing the nation’s military and urging the new graduates to play a leadership role.
“The influence of sea power on today’s global commerce goes beyond anything Alfred Thayer Mahan could have imagined when he helmed this institution. Today’s distributed battlespace would send Clausewitz back to the drawing board,” Spencer said, referring to the military thinker Carl von Clausewitz.
“And the information warfare today outpaces the world of Sun Tzu. But the creative problem-solving and strategic thinking that these strategists personified is more important than ever,” he said. “Like the curriculum you all completed, the Naval War College is rooted in tradition but fueled, fueled by your innovation.”
Spencer told graduates to be emboldened by their recent education to speak up and to challenge assumptions as soon as they arrive at their next command or position. Time is of the essence in this era of heightened competition among nations, he said.
“Over the past three years we’ve been rebuilding, modernizing and recharging this force. But the technology gap that we have enjoyed for years is under threat,” Spencer said. “We have the resources to widen that advantage again. We have the money. And as I look out here, we have the intellect and the energy. What we do not have is time. Put your academic achievements to work -- immediately and relentlessly.”
The college recognized its top graduates with academic awards.
The Drs. Daniel and Susan Thys Academic Prize for the highest grade point average by a U.S. Navy student was awarded to Cmdr. Christi S. Montgomery.
The Capt. James T. Larkin Award for Academic Excellence by a Marine Corps student went to Lt. Col. Jesse L. Sjoberg.
The Edward H. Bragg Award for Academic Excellence among Coast Guard students was earned by Cmdr. Thomas C. D'Arcy.
The Adm. Ike Kidd Naval Intelligence Foundation Award for achievement among intelligence officers went to civilian Andrew J. Rhodes.
Each June, two graduates who demonstrate a high degree of academic performance, participation in college and community activities and promotion of government service in the public interest are recognized. This year, the William Sowden Sims Award went to Army Maj. Steven J. Orbon and the Stephen Bleecker Luce Award went to State Department civilian Mr. Christopher W. Smith.
Among international students, the Rear Admiral Joseph C. Strasser Naval Staff College International Leadership Prize was awarded to Cmdr. Carlos Eduardo Ribeiro de Macedo, Navy of Brazil.
The Rear Admiral Joseph C. Strasser Naval Command College International Leadership Prize was awarded to Cmdr. Senior Grade Christophe Colonval of the Belgian Navy.
The college also awards 20 prizes for distinguished writing. For a list of all award winners, please go to the June 2019 graduation events page.
Established in 1884, U.S. Naval War College is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. More than 50,000 students have graduated since the first class of nine students in 1885.
Today, the college offers a one-year graduate-level program to roughly 600 resident students annually. Graduates can earn a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies or defense and strategic studies. While many students graduate in June, others receive their degrees in March and November.
Another 1,000 distance-learning students complete the college’s core joint professional military education courses each year from locations around the country, with some going on to earn the master’s degree.
The college has a prestigious group of alumni: About 300 of today’s active-duty admirals, generals and senior executive service leaders are graduates. Since creating a program for international officers in 1956, the college has more than 4,500 international alumni from 137 countries.
On Friday, Acting President Lewis Duncan sent the graduates off with the charge to be leaders.
“To our graduates, you depart Newport to be part of the solution, to meet the great challenges that fall to the free nations represented beneath this tent,” Duncan said.
“You go forward stronger, smarter and spiritually reinvigorated for the tasks ahead. You take with you the knowledge of centuries relevant to the challenge of today – and the greater trust and confidence you have gained in your classmates from other services, from other countries,” he said.
“You leave ready to lead.”
June 2019 Graduation Photos