From Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs Office
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (NNS) -- The University of Notre Dame Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) hosted their 19th annual Naval Leadership Weekend to discuss issues critical to their roles as future leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps here, Feb. 21-24.
More than 125 midshipmen and staff members from nearly 30 universities across the country attended this year's leadership event. From New Hampshire to Los Angeles and Washington to Florida, the midshipmen came to Notre Dame discuss and hear speakers address this year's theme: "Military Leadership and Contemporary Issues."
"For 19 years, midshipmen from across the country have traveled to the University of Notre Dame to participate in this leadership and ethics in the military seminar and to discuss the same issues with their peers," said Capt. Michael B. Ryan, commanding officer and professor of Naval Science for the Notre Dame NROTC unit.
"This year we were excited to once again include a panel of distinguished civilian academic minds for a discussion on 'Cyber and Kinetic Warfare'," said Ryan. "As we did last year, leadership and ethics in the military continues to be just as important today as it ever was and we were proud and excited to host this annual event again and welcome the midshipmen and exceptional speakers to the conference. We believe the Naval Leadership Weekend is extremely valuable in the professional development of each midshipman as they look to become an officer in the Navy and Marine Corps."
Ryan also said the event provided an opportunity for midshipmen to step outside their university classrooms and to hear from successful leaders, in both military and civilian communities, providing them with the tools and information for successful development as naval officers.
The three-day seminar began on Friday as the midshipmen had the opportunity to hear from and talk to Adm. John M. Richardson, director, Naval Reactors. Richardson spoke to them about character and what that means to Navy and Marine officers.
"The 19th annual Notre Dame Leadership Weekend was the best yet!" said Richardson. "The weekend is an excellent opportunity for young leaders to come together to talk about leadership in our Navy. As I see it, this weekend changes your "leadership DNA" - through lectures and candid, face-to-face, peer discussions - that will be felt for another 19 years, when these officers are in Command of our ships, submarines, squadrons, and teams. After meeting and talking to these young leaders, I am confident the future of our Navy and nation were clearly here - and they are ready to take the helm."
"All the speakers, I think, helped show the midshipmen what new challenges and new issues there will be in the Navy and Marine Corps when they are commissioned as ensigns and 1st lieutenants," said Lt. Sarah Smith, assistant professor of Naval Science, who was also the advisor to the Notre Dame midshipmen in setting up the seminar. "I think it was also especially gratifying to all the midshipmen that will be seeking positions in the nuclear field to meet Admiral Richardson, who will have to approve them for the Navy's nuclear program."
The midshipman also attended symposiums by retired Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bradley E. Trudell, who talked to them about "The Purpose" of serving in the military and leading men and women in the Navy and Marine Corps. Friday afternoon the midshipmen had the chance to listen to Rear Admiral Matthew L. Klunder, chief of Naval Research, who spoke to them on how the Office of Naval Research is supplying advanced Naval technologies to the warfighter.
"We try to come up with themes each year and try to get speakers to talk on those themes from all Navy officer communities and other branches of the military," said Smith. "We look for people who want to come here and are interested in talking with the midshipmen."
Smith said Friday also saw a return of a special activity for the midshipmen, The Midshipmen Ethical Decision Game. During this more than an hour session, four case studies on ethics are given to the midshipmen and they decide how they would handle it and what they would do.
"I think this weekend was fantastic," said Midshipman 1st Class Kelly Flyn, 21, from Franktown, Colo., and a senior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. "It really gave all of us the opportunity to see extremely successful leaders in the Navy, Marine Corps and other branches of the military talk about their experiences and the difficult things we are about to face and how to face them and be as successful as well."
On Saturday, the midshipmen had the opportunity to listen to United States Air Force Col. Frank Rossi, professor of Aerospace Studies at Notre Dame; retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Latiff, adjunct professor, Reilly center for Science, Technology and Values at Notre Dame; and Navy Capt. David E. Haidvogel, chief of staff for Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific.
Rossi spoke about cross cultural competencies. Latiff discussed ethics and weapons technology in the 21st century. Haidvogel talked about the success the midshipmen can achieve as a junior officer.
Rossi advised the midshipmen to develop cross cultural relationships with other branches of the Armed Forces and not to be afraid to take a joint command.
"I've been very lucky and very blessed," said Rossi, who has served at several joint commands including United States Pacific Command on Camp H. M. Smith in Halawa Heights, Hawaii. "But one of my favorite definitions of luck is where preparation means opportunities. And what I offer to you is, you are going to be lots and lots of opportunities to increase your cultural awareness either within your service or within the military or within federal service. I want you to be prepared to take advantage of those opportunities."
Latiff reminded the midshipmen that leadership will be one of the most important skills that the midshipmen develop in their military careers.
"You'll be challenged with leading a force that is and likely will remain the most technically advanced in the world," said Latiff. "However Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are people, not machines. And not with-standing the highly technical nature of our service leadership requires that there is more than an expertise in science and technology. It requires an understanding of people and that can only be achieved by the study of humans and human nature."
Saturday afternoon also presented a panel discussion on "Cyber vs. Kinetic Warfare" or the ethical and legal implication of cyber warfare.
"We use the panel discussion with civilian academic doctorates to get the midshipmen talking to civilians and get them to think a little outside the box of the military," said Smith.
Midshipman 2nd Class Max Brown, 27, from Bolton, Mass., and a junior at Notre Dame and who helped set up the leadership weekend said one of the great things about the weekend is that is brings everyone together to hear different perspectives.
"I think many times there's compartmentalization of what conversations we having in the military," said Brown. "But one of the great things about the NROTC program is being at a university where there is a lot of diversity and perspective."
The seminar concluded with a dinner at Notre Dame's Club Naimoli above the Fighting Irish basketball court. At the dinner, retired Vice Adm. John M. Bird, senior vice president of military affairs at USAA, gave the keynote address. Many of the midshipmen felt the weekend provided a lot of insight on beginning to build a successful way ahead for these future Navy and Marine Corps officers.
"I think I have a better sense of understanding of leadership and not just in the normal terms like how to lead sailors, but how to build your character that we can apply now in our units back home and then take out into the fleet," said Midshipman 2nd Class Sarah Beadle, 21, from Little Rock, Ark., and a junior at the University of Florida.
Midshipman 2nd Class Sarah Bell, 20, from Petaluma, Calif., and a junior at the University of California-Davis said she will take away how the flag officers and senior enlisted talked with the midshipmen and encouraged them.
"Seeing flag officers and a sergeant major in the Marine Corps just talk to us and tell us what they expect of their leaders has been extremely beneficial because they've been-there-done-that and I think it's helpful for us who are trying to figure out what we want to do and what kind of leader we want to be to know what our leaders will be expecting of us," said Bell.
The University of Notre Dame and the United States Navy share a history steeped in tradition. At the onset of World War II, the university lost much of its enrollment to young men joining the military. Like many colleges during the early years of the war, Notre Dame started to face severe financial difficulties. Fortunately for the university, the Navy selected Notre Dame as a training location for its officer candidates. From 1942 to 1946, over 10,000 Notre Dame students were commissioned as officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps as the Navy kept Notre Dame alive.
Today the NROTC program is overseen by Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. The NROTC program was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values. Those ideals and values are the backbone of all NROTC midshipmen as they work toward becoming college graduates and commission as Navy and Marine Corps officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
Mewbourne and his NSTC staff oversee 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes NROTC at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) on Naval Station Newport, R.I.; Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, at Great Lakes, Ill.; and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.