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The Naval War College hosted its 25th annual College of Distance Education Dinner and Philip A. Crowl Lecture Series at the Catering and Conference Center located on the Washington Navy Yard, May 8.

The dinner is part of the college's tradition which began in 1987 with students and faculty on the Washington, D.C. campus celebrating the completion of an academic year. The dinner also honors Professor Philip A. Crowl, chairman of the Strategy Department of the Naval War College from 1972 to 1980, with a memorial lecture presented by a prominent scholar or national figure.

According to a proclamation signed in 1995 by then president of the Naval War College, Rear Adm. Joseph C. Strasser, Professor Crowl ".was the driving force of the Strategy Department throughout those years during a time of major change and reinvigoration."

This year's lecture was presented by Rhode Island's 46th U.S. Senator, the Honorable John Francis Reed. Reed spoke to students and faculty in attendance on social, economic and technological changes throughout the world that will shape the U.S.'s strategic posture as well as immediate problems the U.S. faces today through his experience in Afghanistan.

"We are here because we understand the extraordinary role that the Naval War College plays not just in the life of our military forces, but throughout the world and how critical your role will be in the future," said Reed. "It is with particular pride that I salute the students that are here this evening.I am delighted to find out that this university here in Washington provides resources and a form of education to so many who are committed to public service here in our nation's capitol."

The College of Distance Educations began its "off campus' seminars in 1974 at the Washington Navy Yard. Today the program is known as the Fleet Seminar Program and has enrolled more than 1200 students at twenty satellite campuses across the country.

Other academic opportunities provided by the Naval War College include: The Nonresident Seminar Graduate Degree Program which enables students to earn a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies; a partnership program with the Naval Postgraduate School where 400 students are pursuing Naval War College courses; and Web enabled and CDROM-based programs for students unable to attend a Fleet Seminar Program.

"It's the future of education and we are keeping the quality while adjusting with the reality of people's busy lives and the difficulty of moving individuals and family. It's really making a big difference," said Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, president of the U.S. Naval War College.

One of the Naval War College's key missions is to develop strategic and operational leaders. By providing a host of professional military educational programs to qualified U.S. officers, Navy enlisted personnel, civilian employees of the U.S. Government and nongovernmental organizations, and international officers the Department of Defense gains a group of leaders who are strategically minded, critical thinkers, proficient in joint matters, and skilled naval and joint warfighters.

"[Students] take away a sense of jointness that we all have to work together. As good as we are in the Navy we can't do it alone," said Charles Chadbourn professor of strategy for the Naval War College. "I also think they come away with the idea of the importance of continuing to study and learn throughout their careers and maybe most significantly they learn to take off the blinders."

Chadbourn described those blinders as any aspect of the Navy, ranging from strategy to concepts as simple as how human beings treat one another. He also recited a quote heard from a former Secretary of the Navy during a Current Strategy Forum in Newport, RI.

"He said your job as students is to figure out what those blinders are and take them off, and it is your job as faculty to help the students figure out what those blinders are and get them off," said Chadbourn. "Otherwise we aren't as efficient as a fighting force nor do we serve the best interest of the nation unless we get those off."

Albert Daniels, a student who recently completed his last year of the three year program, began his studies at the Naval War College as a reserve naval officer and is now completing the program as a Department of the Navy civilian employee with the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. He said that the high standards of both faculty and the students created a learning environment that is different from other academic institutions.

"Most people are very interested in the topic and it creates a level of dedication and a depth of discussion that you may not find elsewhere," said Daniels. "So many countries think that if they build up these large armies or navies that somehow that is about power. Power is nothing without an educated mind wielding it."

For more information on the Naval War College visit