Newport, Rhode Island - Participants in the annual competition for the James V. Forrestal Award for Excellence in Strategy Development and Force Planning at U.S. Naval War College (NWC) presented realistic, creative and flexible approaches to dealing with a scenario presented by faculty, according to one of the judges of the February 16-26 event.
"It was striking that the seminars focused on nontraditional assets, not just looking at military capabilities," said Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, a judge for the competition and former under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs. "They understood the importance of using diplomatic, economic, humanitarian other kinds of assets to advance a strategy.
"And the implementation strategies were extremely realistic, creative and flexible, and that jumped out as a new way forward and which could potentially be very impactful in putting forward a strategy and getting the outcome you want."
For the competition, students were divided into 16 seminar teams and were asked to look 20 years into the future and anticipate the challenges and opportunities in the security environment around the world. They were then asked to develop strategies and concepts for dealing with those challenges, conduct force planning to develop a joint force within prescribed resource constraints, and detail how those forces will operate, fight and win in that anticipated environment.
"The purpose of the exercise is to act as a capstone and allow the students to synthesize all the information they have learned over the 13-week National Security Decision-Making course and apply it all to a specific problem," said Jim Cook, associate professor of national security affairs and one of the course leaders.
The winning team was Seminar 12, which succeeded by taking a more focused and innovative approach to security.
"We decided that, out of necessity, we had to be a little less ambitious with our application of power around the world," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mike Ray, one of the presenters for Seminar 12. "With less money, less people and less equipment, the U.S. has less ability to try to solve all the world's problems."
The team captain for the winning seminar said the group used a theme of selective engagement in their presentation to judges.
"We made the linkage between the cuts we were given on the defense budget, and we lined that up with the different engagement strategies," said U.S. Army Col. Philip Sheridan, captain of Seminar 12. "We naturally came to the idea of selective engagement as our strategy, due to the fact the budget was so greatly reduced in the exercise."
Members of the winning team included: Ray, Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Decker, Lt. Cmdr. John Heavrin, and Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Palmer, U.S. Navy; Sheridan, Lt. Col. Ross C. Poppenberger, and Lt. Col. Brent Flachsbart, U.S. Army; Col. Jacob Trigler and Lt. Col. Thaddeus Janicki, U.S. Air Force; Lt. Col. Coby Moran, U.S. Marine Corps; Alan Johnson, U.S. government civilian; Cmdr. Ramli Mohamed, Morocco navy; Cmdr. Anna-Karin Broth, Sweden navy; and Capt. Raul Abonitalla Regis, Philippine navy.
The judging panel included: Edmund Giambastiani, retired U.S. Navy admiral and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; David Chu, former under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness; and Dobriansky.
The 10-week NSDM course is part of NWC's yearlong resident program and is designed to prepare senior level joint and international officers and civilians for executive positions in large national security organizations. Major attention is given to joint and allied perspectives at the theater level or above and studies stress the growing complexity of decision making at higher levels of responsibility and authority.
NWC is a one-year resident program that graduates about 600 resident students and about 1,000 distance learning students each year. Its missions include educating and developing leaders, helping define the future of the Navy, supporting combat readiness, and strengthening maritime partnerships. Students earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) credit and either a diploma or a Master of Arts degree. 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 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.