Conference cultivates naval leadership
Catherine Owers | Thursday, March 6, 2014
On Feb. 20-23, Naval ROTC midshipmen from units across the country gathered to participate in Naval Leadership Weekend on Notre Dame’s campus.
Junior Max Brown said the conference emphasized developing ethical and effective leadership.
“About 150 midshipmen and staff members came from all over the country to listen to really prolific and nationally outstanding leaders in the military,” he said.
The conference provided midshipmen the opportunity to prepare for and examine ethical dilemmas, Brown said.
“We can all sit around the table and share and understand and form our own character and moral compass and ability to answer hard questions that we will be faced with as military officers in the future, beforehand, so that we’re ready to go forth when the time comes,” he said.
There is also an ethical component to the conference, which Brown said emphasizes character development.
“In the Navy, there are three things that we work for in midshipmen development: moral, mental and physical development,” he said. “Physical is making sure everyone is keeping in shape, mental is high standards for academics.
“Notre Dame has always been able to lend a particularly salient perspective to [moral development], in the academic sense and the whole spirit of this place.”
Freshman MJ Jackson said the symposiums and panels at the conference also discussed the qualities of successful leadership and cyber warfare.
“We also talked about military ethics and emerging technologies in warfare and defense, and national security and the impacts those will have on our career as officers and the world in general,” she said.
Colonel Frank Rossi, a professor of aerospace studies at Notre Dame, discussed the relationships between the military branches, Jackson said.
“[He talked] about how relationships between Army, Air Force and Navy officers will become very important throughout our career,” she said. “We need to understand the different cultures of the different forces and learn how to relate to them because we are all fighting for the same goal.”
Jackson said she appreciated the emphasis on communication between the branches of the military.
“I think a lot of the times, in the military, competition between the branches is overstressed, instead of collaboration. I think we need time to understand each other better before we go out and have to interact in high-pressure situations.”
The conference also provided the opportunity for midshipmen from different universities to meet each other, Jackson said.
“It was really cool to interact with people who have very different backgrounds from me,” she said. “There’s an element of sameness because we are all going to be working together in the future, but it was kind of cool to see how some midshipmen from other schools have a completely different culture.
“It was interesting to see people from different places all coming together to contribute their ideas and to have an ongoing conversation about leadership.”
Brown said the large civilian population at the University makes it a unique venue for the conference.
“A lot of other institutions don’t have the military component, a lot of times it’s just the military. Notre Dame provides a really cool opportunity to nationalize perspectives, and show that we’re an institution that has a broad variety of viewpoints,” Brown said.
Jackson said she has since applied the topics discussed at the conference to her academic interests.
“The panelist discussion we had was discussing the ethics of cyber technology and cyber warfare, so now I’m working with one of the professors to expand on that,” she said. “I’m researching the just war tradition as it applies to cyber technology and warfare.”