Newport, R.I. - The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) hosted their inaugural “Authentic Conversation” discussion series event in Spruance auditorium, Feb. 25.
The first discussion series event’s theme was “Authentic Conversation on Race and Profession of Arms.” Students, faculty and staff gathered in person and virtually to hear opening remarks from U.S. Naval War College President Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield.
“Our Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday has specifically charged us to stretch and grow as leaders through listening sessions and other similar engagements that allow us to understand the many perspectives of our membership across the Navy and Joint Force,” said Chatfield. “With this charge in mind and in honor of Black History Month, our first event in the ‘Authentic Conversations’ series will discuss perspectives on race, diversity and inclusion in the Joint Force.”
Chatfield presented the discussion series as events that will facilitate authentic conversations on societal issues relevant to the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense. The series will expand on broader experiences and inclusivity, and will include panel discussions, lectures and fireside chats. Three panelists were in inaugural discussion event.
The panel included Col. Dwayne Wagner, assistant professor, Army Command and General Staff College; Dr. Jon Scott Logel, NWC professor, Center for Naval Warfare Studies; and Cmdr. Chris Williams, diversity, equity and inclusion director, Naval Air Forces.
Wagner provided his insight into the “Authentic Conversation” discussion series event.
“The inaugural ‘Authentic Conversation’ provided a venue for Naval War College students and faculty to discuss face to face and virtually the importance of understanding race and diversity in our Joint Force,” said Wagner. “The panel discussion enabled the audience to understand that we need to know our history to be successful leaders for today’s diverse service members.”
Williams also provided remarks and discussed why the discussion series was so important.
“The ‘Authentic Conversation’ event held at the Naval War College is exactly the event that needs to be happening everywhere. We need to ask ourselves: where are we now, where do we want to go, and how do we get there?” said Williams. “If people are truly our most valuable and lethal weapon system across the Department of Defense, then we need to prioritize eliminating barriers to personnel and optimizing performance for the organization.”
“Having a better understanding of that diversity, understanding the present ‘as is,’ and a path forward ‘to be,’ will undoubtedly enable our war-fighting element to not only compete, but to fight and win in this great power competition environment,” Williams continued. “Diversity, equity and inclusion should not be an afterthought but ingrained in everything we do because it reflects [on] who we are. Make no mistake, this topic is a strategic war-fighting imperative.”
The next “Authentic Conversations” discussion series event is scheduled for March 31 and will focus on women, peace and security. The series events are expected to take place every month.