U.S. military officers ordered to the August convening of the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNC&S) are eligible for the 13-month Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS).  U.S. Navy officers are selected from the slate of unrestricted line warfare, Information Operations, Intelligence, and Supply Corps officers ordered to the CNC&S.  Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force officers are selected via consultation with their respective senior service advisors at the Naval War College.  Interested officers are welcome to contact the MAWS staff listed below:

Director: CAPT Brian "Bear" Koehr, brian.koehr@usnwc.edu, 401-841-2532 Faculty Profile

Deputy Director:  Professor Robert Gardner, robert.gardner@usnwc.edu, 401-841-2534 Faculty Profile

Academic Coordinator:  Tom Robb, thomas.robb@usnwc.edu, 401-841-6149

DSN prefix:  841
General email:  MAWS-admin@usnwc.edu


The Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS) is 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.  In a 21st century of complicated threat and opportunity, joint, Navy component, and numbered fleet commanders increasingly require officers who are warfare proven, skilled in operational planning, and well able to apply maritime power effectively.  Such skills are essential in an environment of exceptional speed and complexity; officers must develop them through practical experience built upon a solid educational foundation.  The MAWS mission is to provide this educational experience to officers who are then assigned to planner billets on numbered fleet, Navy component commander, and combatant commander staffs, and postured to fill key leadership positions within their respective warfare communities.


MAWS began as the Naval Operational Planner Course (NOPC), established in 1998 as a Chief of Naval Operations directed curriculum.  The original course has expanded in breadth and depth over the years to its current state.  MAWS imparts significant maritime and joint planning knowledge and skills to select all-service officers for subsequent assignment to the numbered fleets, Navy components, U.S. combatant commands, and analogous operational war fighting staffs.  MAWS graduates are peers to the graduates of the other U.S. advanced war fighting schools: Army's School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) at Fort Leavenworth; the Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW) at Quantico; the Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) at Maxwell Air Force Base; and the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS) at the Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA.

MAWS educates officers to be operational-level leaders: to understand and apply maritime power effectively; to stand up and lead Operational Planning Teams (OPTs); and to think creatively and critically by evaluating complex, chaotic security problems, identifying key causes and effects, developing exhaustive alternatives, and effectively implementing the best courses of action.  MAWS also educates officers to conduct effective operational planning as members of planning teams in multinational, inter-agency, joint, and maritime environments.  A primary aspect of this second objective is uninterrupted interface with other service and joint planners to improve the working relationship necessary in the Joint Planning and Execution Community (JPEC).

Main Components

Naval Operational Planner Course (NOPC)
NOPC is a 13-month, educational course of study, integrated with the College of Naval Command and Staff (Intermediate Level College - ILC) curriculum.  NOPC has three main parts.  First, students participate in the resident ILC core courses: National Security Decision Making, Strategy and War, and a NOPC-tailored Joint Maritime Operations syllabus.  Second, the students take three expanded electives that collectively constitute Area of Study “Joint Operational Planning.”  Third, the course concludes with a three-month, practical planning task in direct support of Joint or Navy operational-level commanders, including U.S. Combatant Commanders, Joint Task Force commanders, and numbered fleet commanders.

Joint and Interagency Interface
MAWS students participate in a systematic program of Joint and interagency education and activities.  The program includes modules taught by visiting teams of subject matter experts (e.g., Joint Information Operations Planning and Education) and travel to other sites for exercises, war games, and collaboration with planners in other commands and agencies.  This includes the annual Theater Campaign Wargame at Maxwell AFB, attended by all Service and Joint Planner schools, and planning seminars at the Department of State, CIA, USAID, and other National Capital organizations.

Direct-Support and Leadership Development
As MAWS students become proficient in operational planning and execution, they routinely travel to joint and Navy operational commands for temporary assignments as member/directors of Operational Planning Teams (OPTs).  These temporary assignments normally take place during the final three months of the 13-month MAWS program, but may also occur after MAWS graduation for officers with time available between permanent duty stations.  The MAWS faculty provides similar direct-support to operational commands throughout the academic year on a not-to-interfere basis with MAWS curriculum development and execution.

Concept of Operations 

MAWS integrates the College of Naval Command and Staff core courses (National Security Decision Making, Strategy & War, and Joint Maritime Operations), three electives comprising the Joint Planner area of study, and real-world planning missions assigned by Joint and Navy operational commanders.  This educational process produces skilled practitioners of the operational art and operational planning in the joint and maritime domains. Graduates can plan, execute, and assess outcomes via the Navy and Joint Planning Processes.  They understand how to integrate campaigns and plans, theater strategies, national military strategy, and national security policy and strategy with operational planning, execution, and assessment.  MAWS graduates are well-qualified to make judgments based on internal evidence or external criteria with respect to the multi-faceted aspects of maritime force employment.  They can apply organizing principles to exercise command and control of joint forces and embedded maritime components.  Graduates are creative, innovative, and capable of developing new operational concepts.


MAWS educates officers who can:

  • Conduct sophisticated multinational, interagency, joint, and component planning, execution, and assessment at the operational level of war.  Capability includes estimate process, plan development, force organization, order writing, execution, and running estimates in the crisis action, adaptive, and contingency environments.

  • Organize and lead an operational planning team (OPT).  Serve effectively as principal element leader in a joint planning group (JPG).

  • Understand and speak all operational planner language -- multinational, interagency, joint, component, and service.

  • Comprehensively understand and apply national security policy and strategy, national military strategy, national maritime strategy and power, theater strategy / campaigns / plans, and relevant multinational concerns to operational planning, execution, and assessment.

  • Think critically and apply results effectively.  Graduates are skilled at evaluating a complex, chaotic security problem, identifying key causes and effects, developing an exhaustive set of alternatives to solve the problem, and implementing effectively the chosen alternative.

  • Competently represent and communicate maritime capabilities, limitations, doctrine, and requirements.  Make well-qualified judgments concerning all aspects of maritime force employment. Develop new maritime operational concepts.

  • Plan effectively with graduates of the other advanced war fighting schools.


  1. Please visit the web pages for the National Security Decision Making, Strategy and Policy, and Joint Military Operations to access the curricula of their respective intermediate core courses.

  2. The MAWS electives complement the Naval War College core courses, maintain consistency with related material covered in the Navy’s education and training continuum, and provide students with the skills necessary to meet the MAWS learning objectives.  Given the Naval War College core curriculum focus on the strategic and operational levels of decision making across the range of military operations, the MAWS electives concentrate on operational art and operational-level planning fundamentals, to include focused study of planning considerations at the maritime functional component level and the joint task force level.

    1. Elective #597A, Fundamentals: Operational Art and Doctrine:  Introduction to MAWS and the Navy planning process; classical thinkers; naval tactics; naval operations; design of major naval operations; operational factors; operational functions; elements of operational warfare; center of gravity development and deconstruction; operational art exam; review of Joint Operation Planning & Execution System (JOPES), Consolidated Planning Guidance (CPG), Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), and the Projected Operational Environment (POE); review of Joint Publications 1, 3-0, and 5-0; review of Naval Doctrine Publication (NDP) 5, and Navy Warfare Publication (NWP) 5-01 (Navy Planning Process); Adaptive Planning, and Combatant Command Planner Perspective.

      -- Fall trimester: 15 sessions over ten weeks.

    2. Elective #597B, The Navy Planning Process and the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) Environment:  Brief introduction to JFMCC concept, command and control, and force employment considerations for planners; addresses the Navy Planning Process with practical exercise (Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Environment [JIPOE] through course of action [COA] decision).

      -- Winter trimester: 15 sessions over ten weeks.

    3. Elective #597C, Operational Planning Considerations for the Joint Force Commander:  Introduction to the Joint Task Force construct, and JFC planning processes and organization; JFLCC, JFACC, JFSOCC, and JFMCC employment considerations; JTF boards, centers and cells; joint deployment process and exposure to force flow planning tools; introduction and practical application of the Standing Joint Force Headquarter (SJFHQ) concept.  Mini-courses by guest experts on information operations (IO) and effects-based approach to operations (EBaO) are conducted concurrently with this elective.  The students also participate in a one-week theater campaign war game (TCWG) with the other advanced war fighting schools at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

      -- Spring trimester: 15 sessions over ten weeks, not including mini-courses and TCWG.

  1. Capstone Planning Project – 12 weeks.  MAWS students are assigned as adjunct planning teams to a numbered fleet N5 (plans) or a standing Joint Force J5 planning staff, to develop JSCP and combatant commander-directed plans.  These plans are typically (although not necessarily) maritime-focused, and each MAWS team conducts the appropriate planning process to meet the commander’s guidance in development of the specific plan. The process includes regular briefings (in-person and VTC) to the Commanders and their staffs.

Graduate Credentials and Assignments

MAWS graduates receive the Naval War College diploma, Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, and certification of Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I Intermediate Level completion.  The Naval War College awards joint operational planner designation to MAWS non-Navy graduates for translation into the appropriate service-specific codes.  Graduates receive Additional Qualification Designation (AQD) “JP-1.”  This AQD is also awarded to Navy graduates of the other advanced warfighting schools (SAMS, SAW, SAASS, and JAWS).

MAWS non-Navy graduates receive post-MAWS assignments as directed by their respective services.  In accordance with specific Chief of Naval Personnel detailing rules, MAWS Navy graduates are assigned to (1) warfare community tours, or (2) operational planner billets on joint, Navy component, and numbered fleet staffs.  Those who first go to warfare community tours are assigned thereafter to operational planner billets.  Navy officers who attend MAWS or another advanced warfighting school, and then complete operational planner assignments, receive AQD upgrade from “JP-1” to “JP-3.”

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