At the College of Naval Warfare (CNW) and College of Naval Command & Staff (CNCS) graduation ceremonies on June 11th, the U.S. Naval War College (USNWC) announced the two individuals who achieved the top academic standing in their respective classes. As the top graduate in CNW, CAPT Sachin Dhir of the Indian Navy received the Stephen B. Luce Award, and Maj Michael Harper, USMC, received the William S. Sims Award as the top graduate in CNCS.
CAPT Dhir is one of more than 100 international students that studied at the USNWC as part of the International Programs (IP) Department. Each year, IP hosts officers from more than 50 countries at the College, immersing them in a program that encourages and fosters relationships between American and international officers. While the restrictions posed by COVID-19 made it significantly more challenging to execute on that purpose, CAPT Dhir was still able to get the most out of his time in Newport. “Despite the challenges, the College navigated choppy waters with outstanding success and ensured that the education for resident students were not adversely impacted. The online medium was managed and adapted exceptionally efficiently,” he shared.
In addition to the Luce Award, CAPT Dhir was the winner of the Robert E. Bateman International Prize Essay Award and The Diane M. Disney Writing Center Award, and received an honorable mention for the Foreign Area Officer Award for Excellence in International Affairs. When he returns to India, CAPT Dhir will be assigned to the Indian Navy’s Headquarters in New Delhi, where he will work with the Directorate of Personnel in the Human Resource Development Division. Before his departure, CAPT Dhir shared some advice with the incoming class of international students, who will arrive in Newport this summer. CAPT Dhir emphasized that “the exposure to international officers is all about building ships … scholarship, relationships, and friendships. Do not lose sight of the latter two, which are as important as academic pursuits.”
CAPT Dhir further reflected on his experience. “For international officers, coming to the USNWC is a privilege reserved for a select few. Personally, the opportunity was a time to leverage every second of my time to enhance my thinking, broaden my perspective, and develop a nuanced understanding of complex problems. I knew that the top-class education offered at the USNWC remains unparalleled, and I tried my best to make the most of my war college experience.”
Maj Harper found the opportunity to broaden his perspectives while at the USNWC similarly enriching. “The highlight for me was [being] exposed to a wealth of diverse perspectives, particularly from my international and civilian colleagues, regarding the challenges and opportunities facing our nation today. They really helped expand my horizons, and I am very thankful to have the opportunity to learn from them,” he commented.
Maj Harper, a UH-1Y pilot, will be a Department Head in Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 369, the “Gunfighters”, at Camp Pendleton. He plans to take what he learned at the College and apply it to his operational duties. “Military leaders must appreciate the trans-regional, all-domain, and multi-functional nature of military operations today,” stated Harper. “I hope to carry forward and pass on that kind of thinking back to the tactical level, along with a newfound understanding of the operational and strategic effects of tactical actions.”
He offered this advice for the incoming Class of 2022: “Take advantage of this incredible opportunity to learn, whether through the plethora of research programs available or simply by taking electives on subjects that intrigue you, and to spend quality time with family. This tour is quite possibly a once-in-a-career opportunity!”
Bravo Zulu to CAPT Dhir and Maj Harper for their significant academic achievements while at the USNWC. The Naval War College Foundation wishes them great success in their next assignments.