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General Mattis at NWC

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Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, former 11th commander of United States Central Command, speaks to U.S. Naval War College (NWC) students, faculty and...
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Ethics symposium punctuates beginning of NWC academic year


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Ethics symposium punctuates beginning of NWC academic year By Daniel L. Kuester
U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. – The academic year at U.S. Naval War College (NWC) began with several events Monday, including the Ethics Symposium which aimed to instill an ethical base for incoming students.

The emphasis on ethics is part of the Chief of Naval Operation’s strategy for developing Navy leaders, outlined in his Navy Leader Development Strategy document published in 2013.

Symposium speakers included Olenda E. Johnson, professor of strategic leadership, who gave a presentation titled, “Fold in Your Mirrors”; Martin L. Cook, Stockdale chair of professional military ethics, who spoke on “Education as a Professional Ethical Obligation”; and Rear Adm. P. Gardner Howe, III, president of NWC, who discussed “The Ethical Foundation of the Military Profession.”

During Howe's presentation, he emphasized the importance of how Navy members see themselves.

“There is an operational imperative, a war-fighting imperative, that we view our Navy and that we view ourselves as professionals,” said Howe.

Howe went on to distinguish between organizations that are bureaucracies and those that are professions, adding that both types of structures serve well in different circumstances.

He said that Navy leaders need to “ensure the overarching characteristic of the Navy is – and remains – that of a military profession,” and that “a bureaucratic organization won’t succeed in combat, a professional organization will.”

During Johnson’s remarks, she told students to enjoy their upcoming educational journey and to embrace the new ideas and ways of thinking they will be exposed to during their time at the college.

“The goal here is for you to strive to become an even better leader, to prepare for the more complex challenges of your next level of leadership, which require higher levels of decision making and involve more nuanced ethical dilemmas,” said Johnson.

Johnson went on to point out that students must embrace a new mindset as they advance in their careers.

“The evolution into a strategic leader is less dependent upon past achievements or how you previously excelled as a leader than it is on the further development of more advanced abilities,” she added.

During Cook’s presentation, he reinforced the need for service members to meet ethical responsibilities as they advance in their careers.

“You in this room are the leaders and future leaders of the profession,” said Cook. “You have the professional ethical obligation as you rise in rank and responsibility to grasp how all-encompassing professional ethics becomes.”

Cook went on to ask students to consider ethics throughout their time at NWC.

“This year recognize that much of what you study has a professional ethical dimension,” he added.

All three presentations can be viewed on the college's YouTube channel at http://ow.ly/R7f0q.

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