Naval War College Forum examines security issues in contested environment

by Daniel L. Kuester, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
U.S. Navy

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) hosted its 66th annual Current Strategy Forum (CSF), June 16-17, bringing together national security experts from military, academia, government and private industry.

As the annual capstone event for the academic year, this year's theme examined maritime security issues in a contested environment.

"The Current Strategy Forum is all about the students," said Michael J. Sherlock, director of the forum. "We want to bring in perspectives they haven't heard before. We have to present to the students the idea that because of changing world situations, they will be required to find new solutions. We are not going to be able to do things the same way anymore."

The forum featured a keynote address by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle J. Howard, who spoke on "All Domain Access and Future Challenges." The topic was chosen due to the changing global environment that graduating students will soon face, in particular, cyber threats.

"We have to be able to fight in this domain," said Howard. "This domain has criminals in it. This domain has hackers in it. This domain has honest businessmen in it. This domain has family in it. This is like an urban fight. And there will be a lot of collateral damage if we choose to fight in it."

Complicating the cyber domain is the ability to identify the enemy, she said.

"This environment is not only contested," said Howard, "We have the challenge of getting to attribution, making it hard for us to counterattack. Who is doing this to us?"

Changing world conditions have forced defense and security strategies to evolve and change, and students attending this year's forum were provided with fresh perspectives.

"During the Cold War, we had a contested environment," said Sherlock. "Then we had a few years where we, the United States, had a primacy and were uncontested. Now, with the rise of other powers around the world, we have a contested environment again."

That return to a contested environment is shaping international affairs, something that current and future military leaders will operate in and need to be prepared for.

To help students prepare and gain a broader understanding of these challenges, the college brings in a variety of speakers from different backgrounds.

"We value practitioners, and we also value those that have studied the subject matter and have had significant scholarship on these topics," said Sherlock.

Other keynote speakers included Andrew F. Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Peter W. Singer of the New America Foundation, and Henry M. Paulson of The Paulson Institute.

The forum also featured three panel discussions, which focused on contested arenas, challenges and trends, and national, military and maritime strategy.

A complete list of CSF participants can be found at

Photos of the event can be viewed and downloaded at

Video of keynote speakers and panel discussions can be watched at

For more news from Naval War College, visit

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