International Maritime Staff Operators Course

The International Maritime Staff Operator Course (I-MSOC) was jointly designed by the United States Naval War College International Programs and the College of Maritime Operational Warfare, to to teach international students the fundamental concepts and processes necessary to support a multinational maritime component commander at the operational level of war.
Philippine navy Lt. Arther Jefferson Layug, a U.S. Naval War College International Maritime Staff Operators Course (IMSOC) student, participates in a “Rehearsal of Concept” drill which refines the operational level plan the IMSOC students have developed in response to a fictitious scenario.

General Information


O3-O5 (NATO OF-2 to OF-4) maritime officers with an English Comprehension Level (ECL) of 80.

Location & Duration

I-MSOC is a 12-week course taught at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

Learning Format

The course is conducted in a seminar format augmented by team planning exercises, tabletop discussions, case studies, and on-site visits.


The overarching student course objectives are to: understand the art and science associated with planning and conducting coalition maritime operations across the range of military operations; understand the influences in the maritime domain that impact multinational maritime operations; understand the detailed steps of the U.S. Navy Planning Process (NPP); understand the organization and functions of a U.S. Maritime Operations Center (MOC); apply the NPP in a fictitious scenario; and understand interrelationships between the U.S. NPP and other planning processes (NATO, UN, Civilian/Military etc.)

Program Structure


Welcoming New Students

Orientation welcomes new students to the college and includes a tour of the campus, the Newport Naval Station, and city of Newport. The orientation also includes lectures on the history of the Naval War College, US government, American society, and US Military culture.

Regional Maritime Capabilities/Challenges

Students from each country will brief the unique capabilities of their nation’s maritime forces, multinational relationships that influence operations in their region, and cultural considerations.

Core Curriculum Foundation


Student will receive approximately 45 lectures on topics ranging from an Introduction to Combined Maritime Operations to Operational Law. US doctrine is the predominate focus for the class.; however, students will also be exposed to other multinational concepts and planning processes (UN, NATO, and Interagency). Most lectures are delivered by faculty from the College who also teach MSOC, aided and assisted by international officers on the faculty, specifically to broaden the scope and perspective of the course.

Practical Exercises

Many of these lectures will include a practical exercise. For example, following the one-hour lecture on Command and Control is a two-hour practical exercise in which students will apply those C2 principles to actual events that occurred during Operation Neptune (the Normandy landing in World War II).

Senior Leader Engagement

Additionally, several retired, international ‘four star’ admirals (all College alumni and former chiefs of their navy) and retired US admirals on the faculty, engage with the students during discussions on regional challenges, leadership and optimizing coalition operations.

Planning Process

Naval Planning Process (NPP)

This portion of the course, which is five weeks long, requires students to work through the steps of the Navy Planning Process developing the same products required for real operations. The faculty mentor the student-led operational planning teams through each phase of the planning process.

Execution Phase

Command Post Exercise (CPX)

During the two-week execution portion of the course students will rotate between typical Maritime Operations Center (MOC) cells. This rotation helps reinforce the knowledge gained in the foundational and NPP portion of the course.

Current Operations (COPS)

COPS primarily focuses on monitoring and assessing on-going operations and execution of the commander’s intentions. It is the central point for all planning cells to forward key events and receive information related to the execution of operations.

Future Operations (FOPS)

FOPS conducts operational level planning for near term operations and branch plans. FOPS serves as a continuity linkage for transition planning from the Future Plans center to Current Operations cell.

Future Plans Cell (FPC)

FPC is responsible for operational planning in support of assigned missions and the command's involvement in the Theater Security Cooperation Plan (TSCP). It conducts analysis and coordination of future operations, phase 0 and beyond.

FSP & Workshops

The Field Studies Program (FSP)

The FSP is designed to ensure students gain an understanding of the responsibilities of governments, militaries and citizens to protect, preserve, and respect the rights of every individual.

Operational Capabilities Workshops (OCW)

In support of the core objectives of this course, the OCW consists of a visit to Norfolk, Virginia, Naval Station/Joint Expeditionary Base, where students will tour a major naval ship, and receive briefs on operational planning. This trip includes a visit to the NATO Allied Command Transformation, Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence, and U.S. Fleet Forces Command MOC.

Harvard/Yale/MIT University

Students will visit a local university to gain insight into how non-government organizations conduct Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations and participate in an exercise.

Other Venues

Students will visit other venues, on an opportunity basis, that support the curriculum.

Incoming Students

Contact Information

Program Manager

More Information

Prepare for your arrival at International Maritime Staff Operators Course—and see what others have done after completing our program.

F/A-18 Hornets assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., conduct a flyover in Newport, Rhode Island.
F/A-18 Hornets assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., conduct a flyover in Newport, Rhode Island. During their visit to Newport, VFA-106 took part in an air show at the Quonset Point Air National Guard Station. As the east coast fleet replacement squadron, VFA-106’s mission is to train FA-18 replacement aircrew to support fleet commitments. (U.S. Navy photo by Edwin “Bo” Wriston/released)
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Life at U.S. Naval War College

Each year, more than 600 outstanding intermediate- and senior-level officers and civilian leaders participate in the 10-month resident program at U.S. Naval War College (NWC). For about a year, you’ll call the NWC campus and Newport, Rhode Island, home.

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