The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) hosted the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) 2022 Commander’s Conference in Monterey, Aug. 8-9.
The conference brought together senior-level commanders from across the Navy and Marine Corps to the NPS campus in order to assess the current operational environment and to discuss the fleet’s priorities and challenges, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, explained why NPS served as the ideal location for the commander’s conference.
“NPS is the premier DOD school of technology for warfighting. It’s also close to the center of U.S. innovation and the preponderance of forces assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet,” said Paparo. “We continue to deepen ties between NPS and the Fleet to identify relevant challenges and find solutions to build out our capabilities today while also simultaneously guiding generations of warfighters in the future.”
In additional to leadership from across the naval forces, the conference also incorporated representatives from academia, industry, and senior mentors to cultivate profound discussions on the strategic environment and provide constructive feedback on Paparo’s Fleet Orders which include safety, ready to fight, ship shape and seaworthy, teamwork, morale, and family.
As part of the two-day conference, NPS leadership, faculty and students briefed the institution’s current education and research initiatives with Pacific Fleet, including the Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) and the Nimitz Research Group, which launched in February 2022. These sessions allowed NPS personnel to receive immediate and invaluable feedback and guidance from the region’s top commanders.
During the conference, flag and general officers also received updates on recent NPS research collaborations with industry partners such as Microsoft, which announced a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with NPS in May 2022.
“NPS has significantly increased the number of CRADA partnerships we have with world-leading companies, more than doubling the number of projects during the past year,” said NPS Vice Provost for Research Dr. Kevin B. Smith. “These agreements, combined with our close relationship with the operating forces, and especially with the U.S. Pacific Fleet, are allowing our faculty, our mid-career warrior-scholars, our civilian engineer students, and our DOD and industry partners to work together on the most pressing warfighter problems in a highly collaborative and iterative way. It is an exciting new way for NPS to help support Naval warfighting innovation.”
Paparo and other leaders present discussed how to leverage these agreements in areas such as gaming, exercising, modeling and simulation (GEMS) in order to improve decision-making processes.
“There is no substitute for the experience and insights gained through wargaming,” said Capt. Bill Sherrod, air warfare chair and director of the President’s Action Group at NPS. “Our GEMS project focuses on enhancing decision advantage by leveraging machine-enabled warfighting analytics to forecast probabilities of various outcomes and understand the consequences of decisions.”
In his discussions with NPS leaders on PACFLT’s relationships with the Navy’s advanced educational institutions, Paparo described NPS as the “operational science of war” and the Naval War College as the “operational art of war.” He emphasized PACFLT’s desire to bring together the fleet’s operational experience with NPS’ research and development capabilities in order to assist decision-makers and develop solutions in the PACFLT area of operations.
“The opportunity to host this conference on behalf of Admiral Paparo further underscores the symbiotic relationship between NPS and the U.S. Pacific Fleet,” said retired Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau, president of NPS. “NPS delivers innovative leaders and transformative solutions to the Pacific Fleet. The direct feedback we receive from our fleet and force partners continues to enhance the learning and relevance of our work on their behalf.”