War College embarks on 'golden age'

Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski officially took over as president of the Naval War College last month, amid plans to take on new missions to develop warfare concepts and doctrine as well as to place more emphasis on network-centric warfare.

At a change-of-command ceremony, Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of naval operations, forecast a "golden age" for the Newport, R.I.-based War College, with new roles and missions that include the addition of a Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) and a Maritime Battle Center. Johnson said the new War College will "provide the focus and organizing principles for the Navy's many intellectual centers of excellence."

Rear Adm. Bernard Smith, commander of the Naval Strike and Warfare Center in Fallon, Nev., will command NWDC, and Rear Adm. Peter Long took over last month as Provost of the War College, a War College spokesman said.

As part of the War College's new mission, NWDC will take over responsibility for the fleet battle experiments (FBE), which take high-technology concepts and test them in realistic exercises, Johnson said. Last year the Navy conducted the "Ring of Fire" experiments, which are part of the FBE. In the first phase of Ring of Fire, the Navy used what it calls a "battle" local-area network to transmit photos of a target to a jet-fighter pilot.

At the change-of-command ceremony, Johnson said NWDC will also help the Navy "synchronize and standardize the Navy's doctrine." During the ceremony, Cebrowski— formerly the Navy's director of the Space Information Warfare, Command and Control Directorate— relieved outgoing president Rear Adm. James Stark.

Stark said the inclusion of NWDC within the War College will provide the "potential for the daily exchange of ideas between the academic and operational sides of the house." He added that "the expanded involvement of the War College in the exploration of strategic warfighting concepts for the next century offer a tremendous opportunity."

While optimistic about the changes at the War College, Stark also made cautionary notes. "We need to make sure that we give this new creation all the resources it needs to succeed," he said. "If we starve [the War College] and 'salami-slice' it, and give it the 'old Pentagon two-step' when it comes to quality people and sufficient funds, it will wither and die."

Stark also cautioned against following the latest craze, urging the War College's new leadership to stay the course of "academic excellence that we have nurtured here for over a century.... Relevance to the fleet and the Navy's future is absolutely the right goal. But if we take it too far, if the War College becomes simply a staff adjunct for various Navy headquarters, with a curriculum based on the latest fads in Washington... then we risk losing the very core competency that caused us to start down this path."

Cebrowski, whom Johnson described as a "thinking man's fighter pilot," said he wants to use his new command "to foster a renaissance in naval force planning and in the planning of joint operations from the sea."

Cebrowski added that he plans to "link the conceptual development at the Naval War College with Information Age technology, modern concepts in economics and management and rigorous operation experiments."

Cebrowski is the right man to spearhead insertion of information technology into the new War College organization, Johnson said, because he "understands the relationship between naval warfare and the Information Age better than any person I know."

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