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U.S. Naval War College Strategic Plan 2014–2018

The United States Naval War College (NWC) holds fast to the vision first articulated by its Founding President, Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, USN: “[The War College] is a place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war.” Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN, the College’s thirty-seventh President, added focus and specificity to that depiction of the character of the institution with the following injunction. “Any new improvement in the College’s courses of instruction must support the objective of the Naval War College, which is to enhance the capability of naval officers to make sound decisions in both command and management positions. To do this the College will emphasize intellectual development and academic excellence.”  These timeless words of Luce and Turner embody the tradition and mission of the College.
Our central focus is to educate leaders—that is an element of all four core NWC missions: educating and developing leaders; helping to define the future Navy and its roles and missions; supporting combat readiness; and strengthening global maritime partnerships. To accomplish these missions, the College must continue to attract and retain talented and expert faculty and staff who are committed to collaborating across organizational lines.
Each of NWC’s core missions is relevant to the future security environment envisioned in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2014. Of particular importance will be the College’s continuing ability to infuse a culture of innovation and adaptation into our courses and programs, in order to address the challenges of reshaping and rebalancing the U.S. Navy for an uncertain future. In this climate of fiscal austerity, the College will face hard choices and must continually prioritize and assess its efforts.

The hub of the College remains the educational enterprise built around our professional military education / joint professional military education (PME/JPME) resident core curricula. The expertise required to deliver this core enterprise underpins excellence in other mission endeavors. Sophisticated war gaming, research, and analysis will continue to support the Navy’s senior leaders, who often turn to NWC for the visionary strategic thinking that supports the Navy’s needs. Demands on the operating forces will continue to require expertise at the operational level of war, deeper understanding of joint warfighting, and a more robust contribution to the fleet’s joint/combined command and control in overlapping domains. The ever-increasing role that alliances, coalitions, and partner nations play in global and regional security will require the College to continue to strengthen the Navy’s global maritime partnerships. Because resources will be constrained, the College must be innovative in meeting mission requirements, identifying efficiencies, and controlling costs.

Despite the resource challenges the armed services will face, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has committed to protecting education as the linchpin of strategic thought and innovation. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), and the Secretary of Defense have all increased focus on the profession of arms and the need for strong, ethical leaders to respond to future challenges. The CNO has recently named NWC as the Navy’s executive agent for leadership and ethics, further increasing our responsibility for educational outreach across the Navy’s total force. This is now a key component of our mission to educate leaders.

The College’s Mission, Functions and Tasks (MFT) statement serves as a primary guide for the College’s operations. This strategic plan places those requirements in the context of our resourcing priorities. Due to the uncertainty of resourcing in the years ahead, we anticipate annual reviews of our strategic plan to determine program objectives. 

The plan’s strategic goals and their related objectives should animate and inform the agendas of the departments within the College. To this end, deans, chairs, directors, faculty, and staff are charged with understanding this plan and implementing its goals by developing supporting objectives and monitoring progress toward their achievement. Annual assessment of our tangible results will play a critical role in prioritizing future endeavors. 

In the years covered by this plan, the College must navigate through a web of competing demands, emerging requirements, and uncertain resources. Hard choices and tough decisions lie ahead. To guide our judgment, we will follow these three priorities:
  • We will respect the institution, its values, and its unparalleled legacy of excellence—protecting
    the mission in this era of resource scarcity.

  • We will promote the good things that are happening and seek opportunities to communicate
    them to senior Navy leadership and the naval profession of arms.

  • We will maximize NWC value to the Navy and the nation and strive to demonstrate the
    significant impact of the NWC education on innovation and intellectual agility in the Navy.

NWC again faces a historic opportunity to increase its service to the Navy, the nation, and the
international community. Guided by the vision, values, and goals laid out in this plan, the College will work to realize that opportunity.

Walter E. “Ted” Carter, Jr.