Date of this Version
Carter, Walter E. Jr. (2013) "This is an exciting place, and these are challenging times.," Naval War College Review: Vol. 66 : No. 4 , Article 3.
In early July of this year I became the fifty-fourth President of the U.S. Naval War College. Out of respect for the tremendous legacy of the naval officers who have preceded me in this position for nearly 130 years, I made a pilgrimage to the nearby grave site of the College’s founding President, Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, on the ninety-sixth anniversary of his death. Luce was one of the greatest maritime minds of his generation, and in the 1880s he envisioned a Naval War College that would be “a place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war.” Nearly thirteen decades later I believe that Luce’s vision has largely been achieved, but I fear that the College’s full potential has yet to be realized by many current and future naval leaders. In the coming months, I plan to use this forum to address some of the factors that have historically limited our Navy from taking full advantage of the capabilities that exist here in Newport while not fully welcoming all designators of our brightest and best officers from achieving the strategic outcomes this College is capable of facilitating. My commitment as President of this venerable institution is to ensure that this College maintain a laser-like focus on educating and developing the enlightened leaders that America, and our allies, must produce if we are to succeed in the face of the formidable and unforeseeable challenges that lie ahead. I am further committed to ensuring that our Navy and our nation receive a full return on the investment they make in the education and research provided here.
I have worn the cloth of the nation, as either a midshipman or a commissioned officer, for more than thirty-five years. Over this period I have frequently heard the Naval War College referred to in almost reverential terms, and when I arrived I thought I knew what the institution was all about. It didn’t take me very long during my turnover briefings, however, to recognize that so much of what the College accomplishes has changed since 9/11. From a national security perspective, a new age, and the new century, began not on New Year’s Day of 2000 but instead on that terrible morning in September 2001. From that day onward, the Naval War College has refined and adapted its programs to meet the challenges of what is often called the “post-9/11 world.” Today’s College is a multifaceted educational and research institution that enhances and enriches the analytical skills, leadership abilities, and strategic and operational expertise of our maritime and joint warriors.