Naval War College, Harvard Open Disaster Relief Talks

Story Number: NNS150312-20Release Date: 3/12/2015 3:36:00 PM
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By Daniel L. Kuester, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- U.S. Naval War College (NWC) and Harvard University put their recently signed education and research agreement to work, March 10, during an Executive Level Operational Level of War (ELOC) course at the NWC's College of Operational and Strategic Leadership.

The two schools signed the agreement late last year, to explore mutual academic collaboration in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

"It is invaluable to have that ground truth from someone who is coming at the exact same problem from a different perspective," said Dr. Michael Lappi, a practicing physician and director of field operations for the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative based out of Harvard School for Public Health. "Because at the end of the day when we have things like humanitarian assistance and disaster response, we are working collectively - sometimes in parallel and sometimes in opposition - and it can resolve those friction points."

Lappi, who's also a U.S. Navy reservist, speaks from experience after being directly involved in both the Hurricane Katrina and 2010 Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

"If we can train together and have the same common language, we can do twice as much as we have ever been able to do before and twice as well. The opportunity here is unbelievable," he added.

ELOC, targeted toward staff principals and single digit N-code personnel at numbered fleets, is an intensive week-long course offered three times per year. The course involves dealing directly with current and former commanders and finding out how staff principles can better support their commanders.

"The whole intent of the course is to have a discussion over a week on what does it mean to be a staff principal," said Stephan Kornatz, ELOC course director. "It is a position that comes with a lot of power and a lot of requirements and expectations.

"The leadership of the planners and other staff are the go-to people for the commanders, and they provide the linkage between the commanders and the staff."

The partnership chose ELOC as the pilot course due to it already having a humanitarian assistance element built into the curriculum.

"When we mapped out the course, we talked about baby steps. The first step was giving capabilities to existing courses, so something like this ELOC course that had a humanitarian assistance component was perfect," said Lappi.

While the agreement between the two schools is just getting its sea legs, there could be other areas for cooperation.

"We have a civilian-military focused organization, so this capability is only going to grow and expand our partnerships," said Lappi. "I can see in the near future collaboration with all the other schools at Harvard."

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