The United States is a maritime nation. Its Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and maritime industry have a long, proud history of supporting and defending the nation’s economic and national security interests in peacetime and in war. The Coast Guard today is on the front lines of homeland defense at home and globally. As it always has, the Merchant Marine provides the backbone of the U.S. economic engine, the means to deliver warfighters to the fight, and a ready source for Navy officers and enlisted should the need arise.
The United States has the world’s best military because it invests in the education and professional development of its officers and senior enlisted. The Army has the Military Academy at West Point and war colleges at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Navy has the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. For the Air Force, it is the academy at Colorado Springs and the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. However, while the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Merchant Marine have federal academies at New London, Connecticut, and Kings Point, New York, respectively, neither has a war college equivalent.
A U.S. Maritime War College would provide Coast Guard and Merchant Marine officers (to include civilian mariners with the Navy’s Military Sealift Command) a focused curriculum that would allow them to apply their decades of practical experience to complex national security matters in the maritime security, ship and port operations, and marine environmental domains. The college would be established as a nonprofit 501(c)3 entity and would include four core programs:
• College of Maritime Studies, a ten-month in-residence program patterned after and on par with the Naval War College’s trimester program. The three terms of study would include historical maritime operations, missions of the U.S. Coast Guard, and maritime strategy and policy.
• College of Continuing Education, a schedule of professional courses for Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and maritime professionals and maritime-specific courses for active and reserve components of the U.S. armed forces.
• Undergraduate Programs, evening, weekend, and summer programs for college, high school, and younger students working toward or considering a career in the Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, or maritime industry.
• Special Events, speakers programs, conferences, and other events of particular significance to the Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and maritime community.
Depending on the time line, numerous properties come available that would be suitable locations for the war college. For example, Dowling College on Long Island, New York’s southern shore entered bankruptcy and was sold a few months ago. Its former main campus, a beautiful 25-plus acre waterfront property on the Connetquot River, might have been an ideal location given its proximity to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College, and the vast maritime industry resources of New York City and the tristate area. The Brooklyn Navy Yard could offer another option.
This could be an exciting opportunity to have a dramatic impact on maritime education and U.S. national security more broadly.