Naval Academy Midshipmen Learn Leadership Skills at Civil War Battlefield


Story Number: NNS130724-07Release Date: 7/24/2013 2:50:00 PM
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By Mass Communiction Specialist 2nd Class Class Julia A. Casper, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Naval Academy midshipmen team captains and brigade leaders attended the academy's second annual Leadership Encounter in Gettysburg, Penn., July 18-19, to discuss potential challenges they could face in the upcoming academic year.

The two-day retreat is designed to give midshipmen in leadership positions the opportunity to develop their leadership and decision-making skills and discuss their obligations both to their teams and the Brigade of Midshipmen.

Midshipmen discussed topics such as communication, balancing loyalty to team members and adherence to Naval Academy standards, alcohol use, and sexual assault prevention. The midshipmen participated in simulated scenarios that challenged them as leaders of their peers to be mindful of and combat sexual assault as well as other situations that may arise during the academic year.

"Leadership today can often be met with challenging situations," said Cmdr. Wes Huey, chair of the Leader Development and Research Department. "The idea is to bring the midshipmen here to Gettysburg - a place where so many leaders had to make difficult decisions - to talk to them about their new responsibilities as leaders of athletic teams and of the brigade. Here, they gain tangible examples of what they can face at the Naval Academy and in their careers by taking on the mindset to lead and follow with purpose."

The Leadership Encounter involved the midshipmen taking a deeper look of the Battle of Gettysburg and tactical decisions Union and Confederate leadership made during the significant event. During their visit, they evaluated the pivotal battle that took place at McPherson's Ridge between the Union Army, led by Gen. John Buford and Gen. John Reynolds, and the Confederates.

"It gave me a practical application to see what they went through, what they might have been thinking, and how I can use their logic in decisions I make," said Midshipman 1st Class Hunter Beck, squash team captain.

The Gettysburg battlefield "provides a great leadership example," said Marine Maj. Kyle Phillips, associate chair of the Leader Development and Research Department. "The history and power of being on that battlefield aids in developing cohesive relationships between midshipmen so they can rely on each other when faced with demands in their roles. We wanted to make it meaningful, engage their emotions, get them moving, and inspire ownership."

During the conference, the midshipmen heard from Vice Adm. Michael Miller, U.S. Naval Academy superintendent, when he addressed the challenges President Abraham Lincoln faced 150 years ago when reaffirming our nation's principles.

Seminars and group discussions focused on "Standards, Loyalty, Action," the framework for inspiring a leadership mindset among participating midshipmen. The midshipmen discussed decisions made during the Battle of Gettysburg and how they relate to the responsibilities of their roles, said Phillips.

"Last year this conference opened my mind to different options," said Marine 2nd Lt. Mel Sluzewicz, who was a team captain last year's. "We came in with open minds and the participation was phenomenal. This year we focused on the same thing, so new leaders can manage difficult decisions. "

For more news from U.S. Naval Academy, visit www.navy.mil/local/usna/.

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