Newport, R.I. – At a graduation ceremony on March 8, 2023, staff, faculty, and alumni of the U.S. Naval War (NWC) college traversed the corridors of Spruance Auditorium to celebrate the college’s graduating class of spring 2023. The ceremony included 46 U.S. Navy graduates and 10 U.S. Army graduates. Sean Sullivan, associate professor of joint military operations, was the keynote speaker.
The first of 2023, the graduating class included eight students from the College of Naval Warfare (CNW) and 48 students from the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNCS). All were lauded, having received either a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies or a Master of Arts degree in Defense and Strategic Studies. Both colleges offer a stalwart curriculum on strategy and policy, joint military operations, leadership and security. Over the course of three trimesters, CNW and CNCS programs advance the core teachings of the NWC and prepare students to think critically, strategically, and operationally in military and civilian environments. Each program attracts officers and civilians at varying levels in pursuit of greater responsibility: senior level students for CNW and intermediate students for CNCS.
During the ceremony, Sullivan, a retired U.S. Navy commander and surface warfare officer, congratulated the students, calling their attention to military operations in a future environment and the preparation of force structure for warfare in the 21st century. Sullivan contended that future force design will consider the future security environment from a strategic, operational, and capabilities standpoint and will be fielded by service programs and a budgeting process.
“Critically,” he asserted, “it will all be done through the collective and coordinated effort of all organizations, all warfare specialties, all branches, all functional areas – both military and civilian - all working together. And all of you will be part of that.”
The graduation ceremony was not without the traditional extoling of those with noteworthy accomplishments. For CNW, the March 2023 President’s Honor Graduate Award went to Cmdr. Andrew Darjany. And for CNCS, that honor went to Lt. Cmdr. Victor Schaefer.
Both honorees credited the Naval War College experience with improving their personal attributes. Schaefer credited the institution with inspiring critical reflection, stating that, initially, he challenged the relevancy of academic material to his everyday life. However, with continued exposure, he resorted to asking: “What if I’m wrong?” and ultimately discovered that he was wrong. Fellow honoree, Darjany, applauded the institution for increasing his appreciation for the inner workings of the U.S. government and its partnerships around the world.
Highest distinctions were also awarded to Lt. Cmdr. Victor Schaefer, Cmdr. John Shaffo, and Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Tenbusch while distinctions were granted to Lt. Cmdr. Ivan Chernov, Lt. Cmdr. Evan Coleman, Lt. Cmdr. Ian Gill, U.S. Army Maj. Jonathan Kelley, Lt. Cmdr. Jenna Rose, Lt. Cmdr. Kailey Snyder, Lt. Cmdr. Carson Talley, and Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Tibbetts.
At ceremony’s end, Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, president of the Naval War College, reminded the graduates that their goal as leaders is to create a decisive advantage that will enable political leaders to have the most flexibility to formulate the best decisions on behalf of the country.
“We also need you to build a strong world-wide network of partnerships united in a common purpose and a relentless drive to anticipate, think creatively, and think through change,” she said. She then charged them to set an example for inclusive leadership and dignity, holding the standards high for all to see.
Established in 1884, NWC is the oldest institution of its kind in the world, earning a reputation as “the nation’s premier war college.” More than 50,000 students have graduated since its first class of nine students in 1885, and about 300 of today’s active-duty admirals, generals, and senior executive service leaders are alumni. Since creating a program for international officers in 1956, the college has more than 4,500 international alumni from 137 countries worldwide. Approximately 10 percent of these alumni have become chief of their country’s respective navy.
To access a recorded video of the graduation ceremony, visit here. Photos are also available here.