By Daniel L. Kuester, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- A group of 66 naval officers representing 48 nations participated in the inaugural Naval Staff College (NSC) war game, May 15, at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island.
The new war game was designed to test naval strategy and tactics in a simulated environment and, for the first time, incorporate learning objectives from the entire academic year.
"It's the first capstone war game of its kind that challenges the international officers with a unique, hands-on learning opportunity," said Capt. Mark Turner, director of the NSC. "Students get to synthesize and apply all components of their educational experiences over the last 11 months in a practical way."
Students were divided into 'Blue' and 'Gold' coalition teams, with coalition task force and national teams comprising each side.
The game began with a series of informal and formal student planning sessions to develop national and coalition strategies.
Throughout the game, students evaluated and refined their strategies and then came together at the battle board for five game turns to employ maritime and joint forces in a contested joint maritime environment.
Each team worked together to gain control of fictitious 'Green Island.'
"Every aspect of the war game stimulated players to think, from mission command to balancing operational factors," said Lt. Cmdr. Yen-chang Tsai, NSC student from Taiwan. "The robust command and control structure employed by Gold enabled us to consistently adapt to the operational environment and dominate the operational tempo."
The 11-month-long graduate program is designed to prepare international naval officers for positions of higher responsibility within their own maritime services. The course emphasizes naval planning and decision making, with particular attention to broadening the students' understanding of the importance and role of sea power in international affairs.
"The versatility of seapower and the decisive influence it brings to the contested maritime environment was succinctly revealed to the class throughout all the phases of planning and execution of the game," said Maj. Jonathan Lim, from Singapore. "This was a very visual and impactful lesson, which was extremely effective following on from the conceptual learning in our seminars."
Since its inception in 1972, more than 2,000 naval officers representing 126 countries have graduated from the NSC. More than 313 graduates have attained the rank of flag officer and 122 have served as chief of service, with 19 currently serving in the latter capacity.
"War gaming has been integrated into the NWC curriculum since 1894," said professor Walter Berbrick, the NSC war game director. "It not only makes learning and teaching an active, effective and enjoyable way to discover and transfer knowledge in the classroom, but strengthens relationships between people in the process."
While gaming technology and techniques have evolved over the centuries, the purpose has remained the same - to provide decision-making experience for game participants, and decision-making information for military and civilian leaders.