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Warfare center employees afforded unique NAVSEA opportunity through Bundy Scholar Program

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs | Nov. 20, 2020


A 10-month master’s degree program that offers Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) warfare center employees a better U.S. Navy operational perspective is being offered by NAVSEA at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island.

Participants in the first class of the NAVSEA Dr. William F. Bundy Warfare Center Scholar Program include Chris Kona of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport; Emily Hester of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division; D. Max Jones of NSWC Carderock Division; and Mary Westlake and Jamie Jones both from NSWC Port Hueneme Division.

The program was named for Dr. William Bundy, the former associate provost for Warfighting Research and Development, and director of the Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Jr. Naval Warfare Research Group, who died in December 2019.

The program originally was endorsed by U.S. Naval War College President Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield and Rear Adm. Eric VerHage, former commander of the NAVSEA Warfare Centers.

On a recent visit to Division Newport, current Warfare Centers Commander Rear Adm. Kevin Byrne met with members of the first cohort of Bundy Scholars to learn more about their backgrounds and what they are studying in the program.

“This program is creating better employees not only for the Warfare Centers and the Navy, but for the nation as well,” Byrne said. “I appreciate your taking a year of your life to better this organization and this Navy. We’re going to see an immediate return.”

Dr. Thomas Choinski, deputy director of Undersea Warfare at NUWC Headquarters and NAVSEA’s liaison with NWC, was a longtime friend and colleague of Bundy’s, including working together on the Diffusion and Adoption of Innovation Studio Summit held at NWC in 2018 and 2019. Choinski said he is committed to helping the scholars program be an important part of Bundy’s legacy – and the warfare centers’ professional development initiatives.

“The pursuits of our Bundy Scholars help bridge the gap between a broad base of operational concerns and warfare center technological solutions,” Choinski said.

The Bundy Scholars kicked off their program by attending NWC’s Future Warfighting Symposium, which laid the foundation for the academic year and beyond. Speakers focused on the great power competition with near-peer competitors, as well as the changing character of war in this period of rapid technological innovation. Esteemed military and civilian representatives from the cyber and space communities contributed their perspectives.

The highly competitive Dr. William F. Bundy Warfare Center Scholar Program requires each student to complete a 10-month operationally oriented project, working alongside officers from the Navy, other services and other nations under the tutelage of a NWC professor. Five positions are part of the in-residency program and NAVSEA can place mid-career employees to earn a master’s degree in defense and strategic studies or a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies.

Meet the Bundy Scholars

Chris Kona, a warfare analyst in NUWC Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare Mission Engineering and Analysis Department, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer and strategic advisor to Vice Adm. Richard Breckenridge, was accepted into Halsey Alpha, an advanced research program that examines the character of near-future operational-tactical warfighting at the high end of conflict spectrum. Kona will be doing a deep dive into

scenarios that involve a technologically sophisticated military competition in East Asia. He will contribute to iterative, free play wargaming and warfare analysis as part of Halsey Alpha’s primary methodologies.

"The Naval War College helps show how undersea warfare fits into the military and the nation as a whole, and where technology we've helped develop is needed to support the joint fight," Kona said.

Emily Hester of NSWC Dahlgren Division, has a background in Littoral Combat Ship Surface Warfare Mission Package background and a master’s degree in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. Hester is taking junior-level courses and is in Halsey Bravo, a collaborative faculty-student advanced research program seeking to derive insights and recommendations for joint operations in increasingly challenging, maritime-relevant, real-world contingencies in the Middle East.

The Halsey Bravo research process includes group free-play war games, lectures, individual and group research efforts, and group seminars. Halsey Bravo research is focused on the tactical-operational level of warfighting, within a realistic theater strategic framework. Insights and recommendations are provided to a broad range of commands and leaders in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, the Navy, other joint services, and the Department of Defense.

Max Jones of NSWC Carderock Division is a naval architect in the Platform Integrity Department who has transitioned to supporting the acquisition community as a technical lead and respective program manager for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants. Through the Bundy program, he is focusing on how the INDO-PACOM security environment is being affected by technological advancements and the changing character of war in this era of great power competition, the transition of wartime operational control to South Korea, and developing ethical leaders.

Mary Westlake, a Department Supportability manager at NSWC Port Hueneme Division and a former enlisted Interior Communication electrician, arrived at the program with a supportability in design background. Westlake is pursuing an elective in cyber studies.

“From a logistics and cyber standpoint, as we transition to cloud-based environment, I’m interested in understanding the types of logistics information and data we need to protect during our maritime operations in a contested environment,” Westlake said.

Jamie Jones of NSWC Port Hueneme Division is an attorney with the Navy’s Office of the General Counsel. Her research at NWC is mostly focused on economics and development, including how to use economics and the law to better position the U.S. in the South China Sea.

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.