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January 2013

Bringing the Boardroom to the Battlefield

Corporate Staff Ride NEWSLETTER - Naval War College 3-Day Staff Ride to Saratoga

October 16, 2013

Maritime Advanced Warfighting School
June 14, 2013

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Students and faculty from the U.S. Naval War College's Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS) participated in a staff ride to Ticonderoga and Saratoga, N.Y., from June 10-13.

The students followed British army Gen. John Burgoyne’s route of the Northern Campaign of 1777 from Canada through the Hudson River Valley toward Albany, N.Y. While Burgoyne had intended to cut off New England from the rest of the colonies during the American Revolution, he did not expect the high level of conflict that ultimately led to his surrender on October 17, 1777, at Saratoga.

“Studying the Saratoga battle and then getting to visit the actual battlefield has reinforced the classroom lessons tremendously and provided great opportunities to discuss timeless aspects of warfighting,” said MAWS student, Maj. Matt Danner.

During the course of their NWC studies, the students analyzed and discussed the original campaign in detail. The staff ride provides an opportunity to walk the terrain and observe, first hand, the challenges faced by leaders in fighting at the operational level of war. Making several stops along the route, small groups of students briefed the courses of action, leadership, logistical challenges, operational objectives and battlefield conditions at decisive points in the campaign.

“The Saratoga staff ride was an excellent finale to three trimesters of planning and the study of operational art,” said MAWS student Lt. Cmdr. Jason Tumlinson. “The battlefield study reinforced the necessity of balancing operational factors in addition to pointing out the pitfalls of neglecting operational functions and the principles of war.”

MAWS students are mid-grade officers from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy who will graduate from the NWC’s College of Naval Command and Staff with a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. Beyond the traditional 10-month resident NWC academic program, MAWS students dedicate an additional three months through the summer for the practical application of joint operational planning. They provide real-world planning support to fleet and combatant commanders.

Professor Gerry Duffy, a MAWS faculty moderator, was onhand to facilitate the staff ride, despite any hurdles presented by mother nature.

"It was wet, but it was great. The opportunity to study a campaign in a classroom and then walk the actual ground of the battles, helps to highlight the warfighting lessons we try to instill in our students,” said Duffy. “They will be better military planners because of this experience."

MAWS first began as the naval operational planner course, established in 1998 as a chief of naval operations directed curriculum. Since then, MAWS has continued to be an integral component of the NWC educational mission to develop strategic and operational leaders with the skills required to plan, execute, and assess combined, joint, and naval operations.

The present mission of MAWS is to educate and develop a select group of future leaders to serve as planners on operational level staffs who can think critically, creatively and provide solutions to complex problems, and who are prepared to fill key warfare and joint leadership positions throughout their careers.

Quick Links

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An intensive, experiential learning-based, leadership exercise conducted on the site of the "bloodiest day" in American history. The battle ended all hope of foreign intervention and was a major strategic Union victory, but the decisions, indecision, blunders, and perfectly calculated risks are a rich source for studying leadership in action at the pinnacle.
Structured around the Saratoga Campaign, 1777, this staff ride explores the most decisive strategic encounter of the Revolution, pitting the vainglorious, but diversely talented British General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne against the flagrantly ambitious and resentful Northern Continental Army commander, Gen. Horatio Gates. Minutes from Albany in an almost untouched condition amid beautiful surrounding (and manifold attractions).