News: RI Leaders 'Cross the Line' with NAVSTA Newport Experience
Story by Ezra Bolender
NEWPORT, R.I. – Sixty-one state leaders and eight staff members from the KAPPA II class of Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) participated in Defense Day 2014, as part of their military orientation day at the Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, Wednesday, Aug. 20.
The visit included a panel discussion and a war gaming exercise on national security affairs, held at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC). The KAPPA II class is the first LRI class to be exposed to NWC scholarly perspectives on national security.
NAVSTA Newport has hosted LRI visits annually for more than a decade, bringing together leaders from the community with faculty from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Surface Warfare Officer School Command (SWOS) and NWC. The program provides LRI members with the opportunity to experience leadership and operations from the Navy’s point of view.
“Recognizing the critically important impact the military and the defense industry has within our state, Leadership Rhode Island has reserved a full day each year to explore this sector since 1998, thanks to a long-standing partnership with the employer support of the Guard and Reserve,” said Mike Ritz, executive director of LRI.
LRI is a nationally-recognized community leadership development organization, composed of 50 to 60 state leaders from a wide range of industry, government and education backgrounds. Their mission is to provide emerging state leaders with the knowledge and access to resources needed to positively affect their communities.
In support of this year’s theme, “Crossing the Line,” participants of the KAPPA II class ‘crossed the line’ from being casual observers of national security strategy and foreign affairs to becoming informed citizen leaders.
Don Marrin, NWC associate research professor of war gaming and LRI alumnus, met with the LRI participants for a panel discussion and war gaming exercise on national security.
"The exercises are intended to show the participants that all the instruments of national power must be considered when dealing with national security issues — not just the military — and that the ability to employ those tools will vary, based on the situation,” said Marrin. “If, at the end of the day, they have gained an appreciation for what NWC does and the importance of our mission, the program will have been a success."
The session included addresses by NWC professors on the topics of Pacific, Middle East, and European security as well as nuclear deterrence and escalation control. The goal of the event was to expose LRI participants to the type of work that is being done at the NWC, and how it contributes to national defense.
“The war game simulation and panel discussion were impressive. Being able to listen to an abundance of knowledge from around the world gave me a more in-depth understanding of current events relating to decision making and leadership from the Navy’s point of view,” commented Everett Brooks, director of community relations at Johnson & Wales University and member of the KAPPA II class.
“It’s clear to me now that the NWC is a valuable asset to the community that not many civilians are aware of. I think it’s important for people to see just how much of a landmark it is,” he concluded.
In addition to the events at the NWC, LRI participants visited SWOS where they received demonstrations of the new Littoral Combat Ship Full Mission Bridge (LCS FMB) simulator and the prototype of the Immersive Virtual Shipboard Environment (IVSE). IVSE, due to be released to the fleet in the fall of 2015, uses gaming technology to train and familiarize sailors before they report for duty onboard a LCS.
“We’re taking non-profit business owners and people working in government and showing them the various commands on this base,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Sanford, operational support officer at SWOS. “It’s important that these future decision makers are keenly aware of the importance of commands like SWOS and NUWC to our national defense.
“People can be skeptical of how our defense dollars are spent, but programs like LRI help open their eyes to all that the military does.”
Following the tour, the group listened to briefings from faculty members of both NUWC and the NWC, which included an introduction on sub-surface warfare and an overview of the additional unmanned systems currently being employed by the U.S. military around the world.
“The scenarios were very thought provoking,” said Sally Sutherland, deputy chief technology officer at NUWC and member of the KAPPA II class. “It is important that we are aware of real-world conflicts and that we are continuing to research and develop technologies to keep the U.S. fleet submarines and surface ships strong not just today but five, 10, 30 years into the future.”
At the conclusion of the visit, Rear Adm. P. Gardner Howe III, president of the NWC, spoke about the similarities between the NWC and LRI.
“The mission of the Naval War College is similar, in many ways, to that of LRI. We take the brightest young men and women we can find, and we offer them the opportunity to learn about organizations and activities that fall outside of their normal area of interest,” he said. “Our state, and our nation, needs well-informed young leaders who will make a difference.”