From 19-23 August, students and faculty staff from the United States Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island, hosted a visit from 13 students and staff members from the Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC).
The visit served as an opportunity for NWC and ACSC to strengthen and build upon a robust maritime partnership, improve relations and gain professional experience for each institution.
“One of our primary missions at the War College is to strengthen global maritime partnerships,” said NWC professor and Chair of the National Security Affairs (NSA) department, David Cooper.
“Through this type of exchange, we can help counterpart institutions in partner countries to learn from our experience in order to better develop leaders and promote an open exchange of views and ideas.”
The visiting Australians immersed themselves in the NWC experience right from the start. Soon after their arrival, they attended the Convocation ceremony, which kicked off the 2013-2014 academic year for 545 US and international students at the college.
NWC intermediate students began this trimester of study in the NSA lead Theater Strategic Decision Making (TSDM) portion of the course. The Australian group joined NWC students in the opening course overview briefing in the Spruance auditorium.
Afterward, they participated in a roundtable discussion with Cooper, which featured a two hour exchange between himself and the students. The seeds for future development were sown during the meeting.
“We can learn from each other,” said Cooper. “These exchanges help us and we always have things to learn from other institutions.”
Over the course of the week, the students were embedded in TSDM seminars and case study sessions, alongside NWC students. One of the guests participating was Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Rachel Thompson.
“The sessions were great,” said Thompson. “We’d just completed a section on command and ethics prior to arriving here. It better prepared us to provide our input to the seminars that we took part in here.”
Thompson and her fellow students were able to experience firsthand the benefits of shared viewpoints and knowledge throughout the week in multiple sessions.
“This visit really helped solidify the knowledge that we have gained from the ACSC,” said Thompson. “We also were exposed to a variety of perspectives on issues, not only from US students, but also from officers from the Philippines and South Korea.”
The importance of cooperation and partnership was evident during the visit. The US and Australia a have a history of collaboration, having fought alongside each other as far back as World War I.
Lieutenant Commander Andrew Maher, a previous Executive Officer of an Australian guided missile frigate, spoke on this subject.
“I think it is absolutely essential that countries work together,” said Maher.
“Multilateral security partnerships are definitely going to be the way of the future. No one country is going to be able to resolve everything on their own.”
The visit was concluded with a tour of the NWC Museum and a reception hosted by the ACSC. NWC President, RADM Walter E ‘Ted’ Carter, Jr, and the Director of ACSC, Australian Army Colonel Simon Johnstone were both in attendance. Carter spoke briefly to the attendees.
“We are honoured to have our Australian contingent and close ally at the US Naval War College helping to support the mission of their War College,” said Carter.
“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of these types of engagements as they build upon our already strong partnership and are paramount to enhancing and to ensuring we maintain our long lasting relationship.”