The "Fourth" Army War College: Preparing Strategic Leaders for the Next Century


From Parameters, Winter 1995-96, pp. 3-17.

"USAWC . . . the nation's preeminent center for strategic leadership and landpower . . . a learning institution . . . preparing today's leaders for tomorrow's challenges . . . pursuing mastery of the strategic art through education, research, and outreach." -- US Army War College Vision Statement, April 1995

Alvin Toffler, addressing society in general, might well have aimed his remarks at the Army: "If we do not learn from history, we shall be compelled to relive it. True. But if we do not change the future, we shall be compelled to endure it. And that could be worse."[1] Toffler's admonition is taken seriously at the Army War College: faculty, students, and staff are dedicated to examining and helping to shape US defense posture for the early decades of the next century. This article describes how the Army War College, drawing upon the Army's Force XXI initiative, will use new technology to analyze and contribute to national security policy, strategy, and operations.

Secretary of War Elihu Root's vision, reflected in his remarks at the dedication of the College in 1903, continues to guide us: "Not to promote war, but to preserve peace by intelligent and adequate preparation to repel aggression."[2] The War College, he said, would become a place where the Army's future leaders could "study and confer on the great problems of national defense, of military science, and of responsible command."[3] These three imperatives have lent continuity to the evolution of the War College from its activation in 1903; they continue to guide us into the next century.

The War College is involved in a process of change distinctly different from the three clearly identifiable previous stages of its development. It will be useful to glance at each of those earlier stages, which for convenience are referred to as separate colleges, and then describe how the Army is producing a "Fourth" Army War College.


The "First" Army War College, from its establishment by Secretary Root[4] until America's entry into World War I, reflected a tentative search for identity expected of an institution in its formative stage. Certainly there was a need to improve the professional preparation of senior officers--command and staff performance during the Spanish-American War had been notably poor[5]--but the ideal organizational solution was elusive. The College, located in Washington, became an element of the War Department General Staff itself, and performed war planning duties.

Those duties immersed students in practical military problems of the period with an obvious training payoff. While "learning by doing," reinforced by mentoring, was the prevailing teaching methodology, there was a risk that day-to-day contact with the general staff would dilute essential academic and theoretical concerns. The faculty sought to balance learning and doing by emphasizing map exercises, command post exercises, staff rides and analyses of Civil War battles, and maneuvers in addition to the day-to-day operational undertakings described above. During the early years, there was no formal academic instruction; the idea that the program should move beyond the concept of on-the-job training and into the realm of theoretical study and acquisition of knowledge took hold gradually. The curriculum emphasized high-level tactics, campaign planning, and war planning, but despite the experiences of the Spanish-American War, there was little attention to preparing for and executing a national mobilization. The immediate aim was to qualify students for service as general staff officers in the War Department and major commands.[6]

The "Second" Army War College emerged in the years following World War I, as the nation evaluated the lessons from its first Industrial Age conflict. The Second Army War College expanded and consolidated its role as an educational institution in which the presentation of formal instruction came to be recognized as paramount. And although the War College had been severed from the General Staff in 1916, vestiges of its original war planning function continued. The poor performance of the War Department General Staff in planning and carrying out a national mobilization for World War I had been a painfully visible weakness. Consequently when the Second Army War College opened in 1919, after a two-year interruption during World War I, the program of study emphasized preparing the nation for war, a topic that became paramount in 1938. In the meanwhile, instruction in "responsible command," the third of Root's defining imperatives, was officially incorporated into the curriculum. As early as 1920 the War Department had ordered greater emphasis on training for command, eventually leading to a course called "Preliminary Command." The College continued its goal of preparing officers for general staff duties in the War Department as well as for command and staff work at senior levels. Content began to include the political, economic, and social issues that create the context for decisions at the highest levels of government. Concurrently there was increased attention to the study and analysis of history; the Historical Section of the War Plans Division was transferred to the War College's control in 1921.[7]

The College shut its doors again in 1940. World War II marked the total mobilization of warring powers and the emergence of the ultimate expressions of industrial warfare--massed armor, high-performance aircraft, carrier task forces, and the atomic bomb. Despite the distractions of war and its turbulent aftermath, however, the nation's military leaders devoted a surprising degree of attention to realigning intermediate and senior education in the armed forces. An Army and Navy Staff College, activated in 1943, became the National War College in 1946. The Army Industrial College (established in 1924) became the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, also in 1946, while the Armed Forces Staff College was activated in 1947. The Army War College itself finally reopened in 1950, after a 10-year hiatus, having been displaced to Fort Leavenworth from its prewar home at Fort McNair. It moved to Carlisle Barracks, its present location, only a year later.[8]

The "Third" Army War College was distinctly the product of World War II, but the shaping reality throughout the 40 years of its existence was the Cold War. It was during the period of the Third Army War College that nearly all the institutional structures of today's War College finally coalesced. For example, the three resident teaching departments--National Security and Strategy; Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations; and Command, Leadership, and Management (corresponding to Root's national defense, military science, and responsible command, respectively)--assumed their present form.

Other modern features of the War College came into being as well. They include the Department of Corresponding Studies; the Military History Institute, housing one of the finest collections of military books, personal papers, and records of any reference facility in the world; the Strategic Studies Institute, providing the focus though not the sole expression of the War College's traditional role of conducting advanced studies for the Army; the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute; the USAWC Library, combining new and traditional principles and practices with technology to become the preeminent research and information center for landpower and strategic leadership; the Advanced Course Program, which enabled students to select a share of their courses from a menu of electives in addition to the mandatory core of basic courses; and Parameters, the Army's senior professional journal. Even the Center for Strategic Wargaming, precursor of the new Center for Strategic Leadership, progressed as far as feasible, given the divided and confined physical plant then available.

The Third Army War College's curriculum mirrored the evolution of US nuclear strategy, ranging from Eisenhower's massive retaliation in the early 1950s to the prevailing form of flexible response when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Even as it fought peripheral wars in Korea and Vietnam against Third World foes, the Army always saw its overriding priority as Western Europe. The type of warfare that NATO and the Warsaw Pact prepared to wage was the epitome of Industrial Age conflict, featuring the phased, sequential clash of huge armored and mechanized formations supported by air, artillery, and missiles relatively close to the line of contact. The ever-present threat of escalation to nuclear war conditioned all theater strategic designs.

Certainly a major aim of the Third Army War College was the immediately practical one of preparing graduates to assume high-level command and staff positions where they would plan and execute the type of warfare envisaged above. But this College went beyond preparing for the next war by undertaking to broaden and elevate the politico-military perspective of its graduates and by imparting a range of proficiencies that might more properly be thought of as purely educational. These advances were unique in the evolution of the College. Since the Cold War showed every promise of indefinite stalemate, the College began to adopt a longer view of the skills its graduates would need. New doctrine and the evolution of joint and alliance warfare required the Third Army War College to move beyond tactics and the field army to examine the operational art and theater strategy. But the College also taught national military strategy, grand strategy, and international security affairs, and introduced students to enlightened concepts for running large organizations. Time was made available in academic programs for students to develop their research, writing, thinking, analytic, and speaking skills. Through personal assessment inventories, students were encouraged in the process of personal growth and maturation.

The locus of instruction in the Third Army War College, the student seminar, took a form that promised to be durable. Each seminar--its 16 students a mix from Army branches, other armed services, government agencies, and foreign armed forces--suggests the joint combined force acknowledged by doctrine as the prevailing model. The instructional methodology within the seminar became purposeful discussion, led by an experienced faculty team and shaped by reading assignments, oral presentations, short writing assignments, and the collective skills and experience of the students themselves. Seminar instruction was reinforced by occasional class lectures by guest experts and by a substantial research-based writing assignment requiring analysis of a pertinent military problem.

The personal computer made its appearance, and students quickly discovered they could not do without it. The card catalog was removed from the library, leaving computer terminals as the students' main conduit to research sources; students could sign up for their advanced courses only through the computer; they learned the value of using computers to prepare written assignments; and computer jargon appeared in the daily discourse of student and faculty member alike. As the Cold War ended and the Information Age began, the War College stood poised on the edge of its fourth incarnation.[9]

When General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, USAWC Class of 1973, launched Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia on 17 January 1991, he initiated a campaign that looked both backward and forward. Operations validated the AirLand Battle concept, the doctrinal evolution of the previous decade, and the technologies in which the services had invested so much human and industrial capital. Looking forward, General Schwarzkopf sought nothing less than total intelligence mastery, demanding an accurate picture of the battle area even while denying such a picture to his foe. He also wanted to execute his attack at such a rapid and aggressive tempo that the enemy commander's mental responses, and thus the physical reactions of his forces, would always be too late to be effective. General Schwarzkopf wanted precisely what the theater commanders of Force XXI will seek. The Army, however, lacked the fully digitized battlespace, the advanced data display capability, and the resulting total situational awareness that may provide to future leaders what was only an aspiration for the commander of Desert Storm and his predecessors.

A View of the Future

The "Fourth" Army War College (1990-ca. 2010) intends to use the microprocessor to help the Army develop and employ Force XXI. To support that goal, the Army War College has developed this vision statement: to be "the nation's preeminent center for strategic leadership and landpower . . . a learning institution . . . preparing today's leaders for tomorrow's challenges . . . pursuing mastery of the strategic art through education, research, and outreach." To achieve preeminence, the institution, its faculty, and its students will strive for national recognition in terms of three core programs: education, research, and outreach related to strategic leadership and landpower. It will seek to produce graduates who are effective practitioners of the strategic art, defined as the skillful formulation, coordination, and application of ends (objectives), ways (courses of action), and means (supporting resources) to promote and defend national interests. The college, with its special organizational culture and associated values, will be a learning institution. It will prepare its graduates--fully qualified in service and joint matters, competent with technology, and able to cope with the complexities of strategy at the highest levels of leadership--for their most productive years of service to the nation.

Military applications of the Information Age will enable soldiers --as part of the joint force--to contribute to an integrated information system for collecting, processing, selecting, distributing, and displaying essential digitized data in near-real time throughout the extended theater domain. The concept of domain ranges from out-of-theater support activities to any point in theater and to any point in between, from the ground to orbiting satellites, and from the theater to any target the joint force is authorized to engage. Such a concept can produce leaders trained and educated to exploit the vast new knowledge resources at their disposal.

In its effort to define the specific attributes of 21st-century leaders, the War College surveyed 432 generals and promotable colonels to learn what traits they felt would be required of senior officers in the following five to 15 years.[10] They named such attributes as flexibility, adaptability, communicative skill, political astuteness, ability to conceptualize, skill in dealing with officials from different governmental cultures, diplomacy, skill in resource management, cultural sensitivity, caring leadership, and a full range of technical, tactical, warfighting, joint, and coalition competencies. No one can quarrel with the inclusion of any of these attributes; indeed, most would have expected them in military leaders serving ten or even 25 years ago.

Based upon inferences derived from TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations,[11] plus the rapidly growing body of associated literature, it appears that strategic competence during the Information Age will require the following attributes:

Simultaneous Awareness of the Strategic and Operational Situation. The 21st-century strategist will have to combine the ends, ways, and means at hand while coping with shared "situational awareness" on a global scale. The successful senior leader will be expert in service, joint, and combined matters; he or she will understand the political, economic, and social elements of power as well. Senior leaders and their staffs will practice the strategic art in an environment where the speed, complexity, and ambiguity of operations have accelerated beyond our ability to define at present and where the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war can at times be so compressed as to appear virtually as a single function.

Rather than the phased, sequential progress that often characterized earlier wars, where success was usually achieved linearly, theater war of the next century will be marked by simultaneous, coordinated battles: rear, intermediate, and deep on land, in the air, at sea, and in space. Tomorrow's theater commander will be capable of visualizing simultaneous operations in all of those forms. He will need to devise command, control, and monitoring protocols for doing so successfully.

Managing and Responding to Change. Strategic leaders of the 21st century must embrace change, think "outside the box," and adapt proactively. They must have the mental agility to forge fresh insights about probable future conflicts such as those discussed in Sam Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" or Ralph Peters' "The New Warrior Class," "After the Revolution," and "The Culture of Future Conflict." Information-age leaders will fight and operate in various domains, to include low-tech as well as high-tech environments, and against nontraditional as well as traditional foes.

Our information edge--near-real time situational awareness--should allow the commander to take informed initiatives more quickly than the enemy can generate informed reactions. Some call this getting inside the opponent's decision loop. We recognize, too, that the advantage that accrues from information is transient. The search for commanders who can recognize the "unforgiving minute" will be as important in the next century as it was when Patton looked for such officers during World War II.

Knowing How to Lead in Learning Organizations. Just as the Army is a "learning" organization rather than one that has settled on permanent solutions, so the various units and commands within the Army will be learning organizations, evolving toward an ideal that is itself constantly subject to revision. Successful command of such organizations will require assurance that though the force will fight smart today, it will fight still smarter tomorrow. The commander must embody in himself, and foster in his subordinate leaders, a determination to innovate, to trust subordinates to exercise initiative, to capitalize upon flux and uncertainty, to support risk-taking but to tolerate and learn when it goes awry, and to fight as one integrated team within the Army and with the other services.

Facility in Managing an Avalanche of Data. The term "information overload," already a cliché by the mid-1980s, suggests the clogging of data circuits and the inundation of in-boxes with information faster than it can be assimilated and put to use. Consider, then, the scale of the potential problem early in the next century, when our capacity for data collection will have expanded geometrically. Fortunately, the problem is recognized; the Army and the other services are working to capture the relevant data for the right individual in a timely manner and display it in useful ways. Even so, there is no doubt that the strategic leader best adapted for the Information Age will be one with a retentive but discriminating mind, capable of separating the essential from that which is interesting and acting with confidence on his or her conclusions.

Knack for Exercising Enlightened Control. The Army's goal for the digitized battlefield of the 21st century is to provide leaders at all echelons, from platoon to division and even higher, a common situational awareness. The ability of platoon leaders to see much of what the division commander sees electronically raises important questions about leadership style at the division and higher levels. Some analysts of the Force XXI battlefield reason that since the lower-echelon commander will possess so much greater situational awareness, he should be empowered with far greater latitude and independence than in the past.[12] Armed with all the data and information available, they argue, he should be given scope to exercise his initiative to the fullest, in a sense revalidating the concept of Auftragstaktik.

But one can reasonably argue the other way. The primary reason for decentralizing battle authority in the past was that only the lower-echelon commander knew the local situation and could remain abreast of fast-breaking events. Thus he needed to be empowered to act on his unique awareness, always in consonance with the higher commander's general intent, so as to exploit any quick-developing opportunities. On the digitized battlefield, however, the lower-echelon commander's situational awareness will no longer be unique. Since his commanders may have the same picture, we could expect some senior commanders to exercise tight centralized control, assuring that every subordinate element operates in a carefully developed unified effort.[13] The most likely outcome is that the degree of control will vary according to circumstances.[14] It may prove wise, for example, for a commander to exercise tight control during the early stage of an offensive, gradually relaxing that control as units enter the breakout and pursuit phases.[15] The jury is still out as to which of these two views will prevail.

In either case, future theater commanders will have to be versatile in their approach to control, particularly as they school their subordinate commanders. In another of the paradoxes common to technology enhancements, improved command awareness could encourage commanders already given to over-control or offer opportunities for developing flexible techniques at all levels of command.

Psychological and Physical Stamina. As the commander comes to rely on brilliant automated machines to supplement his physical and intellectual abilities, it may appear paradoxical--again--to be told that in some respects he is going to have to be mentally and physically tougher than his predecessors. But such is true--the brilliant machines never sleep. Assuming that our logistics and maintenance units can meet the demand, we will have the technological potential for operating 24 hours a day throughout a protracted campaign, regardless of the weather. The senior leader in such operations must possess the physical stamina to stand up to the strain, and he must organize and train his staff to do the same.

Information Age operations also will place a high premium upon psychological stamina. We have noticed the grinding pressures inherent in simultaneous battles and the effects of information flows that exceed our capacity to analyze and synthesize them. Consider the tempo of operations in a conflict that allows us to bring to bear all of our technology. Doctrine dictates a relentless assault on the enemy's reactive capabilities. If we are to capitalize on our information edge, then aggressive but informed battle initiatives must be undertaken without let-up, as each commander tries to overwhelm and disrupt the enemy's command structures and neutralize or destroy his forces. Easy enough in theory, in practice it will require a senior commander and staff who possess the mental staying power, implacable will, and the organization and training to apply pressure around the clock, while pacing themselves for the marathon rather than the sprint.

We are also examining asymmetric situations, those in which our technology may not provide the edge we want. Recent experience in peace operations indicates that we need to prepare ourselves specifically for conditions common to many operations other than war. Peace operations, under the auspices of the UN or in a coalition, require special skills and can involve groups not encountered in traditional planning, training, and operations. The War College, led by its Peacekeeping Institute (PKI), is making a major contribution to understanding the requirements of peace operations, training soldiers and civilian counterparts in matters as diverse as the nuances of negotiations, conflict resolution between hostile factions, and coordination with humanitarian relief organizations and other government and nongovernment groups. Planning exercises related to peace and humanitarian relief operations are part of the core requirements for resident and nonresident students alike. I will have more to say about PKI.

Hands-on Skill at the Computer Terminal. Unlike senior leaders of the past, the commander of the 21st century may have to confront the flow of information with little intermediation by assistants. Much of his picture of the battle area, his situational awareness, and the answers to his own queries for data will be conveyed to his eyes directly via images on the color monitor of his computer, either a PC in his command post or a laptop while he is mobile. He must therefore be computer literate. To the strategic commander of the Information Age, the laptop computer, or its successor, will be a natural extension of his mind, as familiar as the telephone, map, and binoculars. Aspiring future commanders who are not already computer literate take note.

Knowledge of Force XXI Doctrine and its Implementing Structures. The period for reasonably meeting Force XXI objectives extends ten or 15 years, possibly longer if resources lag.[16] The point to understand about Force XXI, however, is that we shall never achieve the end-state as we know it today because the concept is continually evolving. The Army traditionally has changed in discrete steps, with division reorganizations determined by sporadic emergence of new systems of weapons, communications, transportation, and logistics that altered the concept of land warfare. New military applications of technology emerge so rapidly that a different mechanism for change has become necessary. No longer will military organizations change by dramatic, infrequent bounds; frequent small steps will be the norm. Change will be an iterative process in which experimentation, relying on live exercises as well as computer simulations, leads to successive refinements and adjustments. The pattern of prolonged status quo, punctuated by massive change, will be replaced by a steady search for improvement. This new process has been institutionalized in the Army by such organizations as the Louisiana Maneuvers, the vehicle for generating purposeful change within the Army, especially with regard to Force XXI.

Since Force XXI will be continually evolving, it follows that operational doctrine will similarly remain in flux. This means that TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations (plus the entire family of specialized doctrinal documents that will follow) will remain provisional, subject to constant refinement as tests are completed and experience accumulates. Unlike in the past, when an officer could learn Army organization and doctrine early in his professional schooling and expect to remain current for the following ten years or so, graduates of the Fourth Army War College in 2010 will have followed throughout their careers changes large and small in both.

The main lesson to be drawn from this excursion through the Army's concept of change and the way we plan to adapt physically and intellectually is simply this: the Army's management of change and the ensuing organizational and doctrinal innovations will be professional preoccupations. The leader who aspires to mastery of strategy will acquire knowledge not as a result of last-minute preparation. Rather he or she will need to grow into the culture from the beginning so that an understanding of how the Army changes--presently represented by Force XXI and its evolving doctrine--becomes integral to professional development throughout his or her career.

The Fourth Army War College

We have so far identified eight attributes required for senior command and staff activities over the next 15-20 years. It will be the task of the Fourth Army War College to help students acquire them--along with the traditional elements of senior officer education--by integrating necessary new material into time-proven academic programs. This concept is embodied in a useful formula: change (as dictated by the end of the Cold War and beginning of the Information Age) plus continuity (hearkening back to Elihu Root's enduring trinity of basic War College purposes) equals growth (in the College's capacity to promote personal and intellectual development). We cannot forget that "in order to get to the future we have to go through the present."[17] We must remain ready for today's wars even as we prepare for tomorrow's; the Fourth Army War College, and indeed the Army at large, will assimilate change in ways that maintain current operational effectiveness.

Some new elements of our academic programs are not defined by technology. The Goldwater-Nichols legislation of 1986, for example, whose effects even yet have not fully registered, mandated a series of measures designed to promote greater unity and coherence of effort among the services. Similarly, America's post-Cold War military drawdown and the frequency of United Nations peacekeeping initiatives have brought us to prefer alliances and coalition operations over unilateral solutions to international challenges. These two impulses--the joint and the combined--are reflected in the expanded purpose of the Fourth Army War College: to prepare senior commanders and staff officers--all joint-specialty qualified, all competent in the strategic art--for service at high-level joint, combined, and interagency headquarters, capable of responding to general war, regional conflict, or operations other than war.

Just as Force XXI capitalizes on modern information technology in how to wage war, so the Fourth Army War College will use the technology to teach its students. The College will expressly encourage creativity, innovation, experimentation, intellectual outreach, and informed nonconformity in the classroom and in its administration--and in professional writing as well. As former Army Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan often noted, "Disagreement is not disrespect."[18]

The laptop computer, provided to every student for use during the academic year, is the basic tool for interactive learning at the Fourth Army War College. Computers support our intent to evolve from an institution in which internal communications rely on the transfer of paper, to a near-paperless environment in which most internal communications are passed electronically. The computer terminal's ubiquity at the College serves the dual purpose of facilitating instruction while allowing students to develop skills they will later need as leaders. The majority of students arriving at the War College today possess basic automation skills, a change from our experience as little as three years ago.

The seminar group remains the basic learning unit at the Fourth Army War College. Seminars meet in rooms configured on our Classroom XXI model.[19] This classroom, the product of several years' study and experimentation, has been carefully designed to provide the latest instruction-enhancing technology while retaining the benefits of the seminar environment. Comparison of the level of automation in the War College with a report of how civilian universities are adapting to the Information Age reveals how well we have integrated technology into our education, training, and administrative functions.[20] The concept of Classroom XXI ensures that instructors and students alike will have ready access to every educational resource that contemporary science and engineering can provide.

The recently opened Collins Hall, which houses the Center for Strategic Leadership (CSL), is representative of our commitment to physical and intellectual change, continuity, and growth. The new facility has the dual mission of supporting education at the Army War College and planning and decisionmaking by DOD agencies. In support of the College's educational role, CSL greatly extends the seminar learning boundaries, providing new options for leader development at the strategic level. In support of DOD leadership, CSL serves as a high-technology "laboratory," focusing on improving decisionmaking processes at the operational, interagency, and strategic levels. This laboratory also supports Army component commanders and combatant and joint task force commanders through seminars, symposiums, round tables, conferences (both on-site and remote via teleconferencing), exercises, computer simulations, wargaming, and in-house studies and planning.[21]

As an adjunct to CSL, the Peacekeeping Institute (PKI) serves as the focus of Army study and advice related to peace operations. A wide-ranging charter requires PKI to "refine the application of landpower in peace operations"; when PKI does so, it touches all of our interests in education, research, and outreach. Within DOD, PKI has led or supported staff development and training at unified, major command, and regional headquarters through role-playing and other support of staff exercises. On request, members work with units undergoing training at the Army's combat training centers. PKI helped to develop and conduct the first peace operations exercise involving the senior staffs of all unified commands, now an annual event at CSL, and the Institute has assumed responsibility for coordinating after-action reviews of US participation in peace and humanitarian relief operations.

PKI outreach activities include recruiting representatives of UN agencies and nongovernment organizations to join in Army training, and participation in meetings and colloquia in civilian and academic settings as diverse as the United States Institute for Peace and Harvard's John F. Kennedy Center. When the opportunity arose, PKI participated in the first predeployment training ever undertaken for UN staff personnel, preparing those who were to work in Angola and Haiti.

Perhaps our most significant contribution to understanding what one Army officer has called "savage peace"[22] is frequent participation on the ground in peace operations. PKI personnel have served as staff augmentees to the UN or other organizations in Cambodia, Kuwait, northern Iraq, Somalia, Macedonia, Rwanda, Angola, Haiti, and the Military Observer Mission Ecuador-Peru. Their experiences help to shape our curriculum and influence training and education throughout the Army. The Peacekeeping Institute will remain fully engaged in the kinds of change, continuity, and growth that are emblematic of the Fourth Army War College.

Through instructional technology in Classroom XXI and Collins Hall, Army War College students learn much that is directly transferable to the next century's war rooms and command posts. Even more important are the academic courses themselves, both core and advanced. The core courses--Responsible Command; War, National Policy, and Strategy; Implementing National Military Strategy; and Regional Strategic Appraisals--are all designed to explore new issues and ideas even as they impart contemporary theory and practice.

Nearly 100 advanced courses are offered each year, enabling students to develop a deeper understanding of topics covered in the core curriculum. Many of these courses, which emphasize competencies associated with increased uses of technology, also look at aspects of the War College's enduring and special themes for academic work. Representative titles are Louisiana Maneuvers and Force XXI; Joint Crisis Action Planning for Operations Other Than War; Military Space Operations; Training Force XXI (Directed Study); Revolution in Military Affairs--The Military Technical Revolution; Logistics Systems--Models and Simulations; Advanced Warfighting Studies; Information Management; Joint Land, Aerospace, and Sea Simulation--Northeast Asia War Game; Concurrent Campaign Planning Using Decision Aids; and Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence. Advanced courses are taught by faculty in the three resident teaching departments, the Department of Corresponding Studies, the Center for Strategic Leadership, the Military History Institute, and other elements of the College.

Other academic programs that contribute to the education of 21st-century leaders are the Strategy Research Program and the Strategic Crisis Exercise. The former, a major thesis-like research effort, encourages students to examine in depth a relevant topic of particular interest to them. Such a paper has the advantage of developing bona fide expertise in a particular facet of strategic endeavor while honing the student's skill in research, analysis, and writing. The Strategic Crisis Exercise (SCE) serves as a capstone experience in which students translate theory into practice. Drawing upon their course work and research, students explore the interagency process by drafting Presidential Decision Directives, preparing strategic guidance, allocating forces, distributing strategic lift, and executing campaign plans through realistic scenarios involving regional conflict and operations other than war. For USAWC students, the SCE serves as their "Battle Command Training Program" at levels where political and military activities merge. In the virtual world of Collins Hall, they are able to practice what they have learned about the strategic art.

The Army War College recognizes the importance of the human dimension in the military profession, of examining second- and third-order effects as theory becomes doctrine. When we refer to the collapse of the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war into a virtual single entity, we are describing the challenges facing a young sergeant whose mission to escort a convoy of relief supplies has encountered an unanticipated roadblock. He has been trained to take immediate violent action to clear the obstacle. His preparation for the peace operation, however, has shown him how to discuss, to negotiate. The eventual reply to his request for guidance may have reached the pol-mil level in theater or in Washington. The young sergeant's next actions can have strategic import.

Army Chief of Staff General Dennis J. Reimer has observed that "Soldiers are our credentials." We are in the business of educating and training senior leaders in the nuances of policy, strategy, operations, and leadership so that the troops at the roadblocks can always count on the right answers. Graduates with those skills are our credentials.

A Way Ahead

The Fourth Army War College will become reality through a planning process that is orderly and continuous. The key document is the USAWC Strategic Action Plan, now in preparation as a continuation of the process that shaped the College vision. The Strategic Action Plan represents a serious institutional effort to define our core businesses of education, research, and outreach. It sets forth the College's vision, mission,[23] and objectives, as well as our intent in establishing those objectives. Perhaps most important, the plan will match resources to requirements.

Work on the following institutional objectives should be completed within 12 to 18 months.

Each institutional objective will be assigned to a separate staff and faculty task force for planning and execution. A USAWC strategic planning office has been established to coordinate the entire effort. Some initiatives are already under way, and others will soon follow. For example, within certain advanced courses, the talents of students are being harnessed to examine and debate the issues raised by Force XXI. Results will be provided to the Army staff and published in military periodicals. Distance learning via electronic methods will soon be a reality for our nonresident students. Laptops, CD-ROM, and modems, combined with other informational technology, will help to reduce our sizable printing and mailing costs, enable the creation of virtual seminars among geographically dispersed students, and create a learning environment comparable in some ways to resident seminars. The Strategic Studies Institute is investigating whether the Army's venerable Principles of War require adaptation to meet the exigencies of the Information Age. The curriculum review task force, in addition to its other areas of investigation, will assure that as Force XXI evolves, appropriate instruction will be included in the curriculum. Another task force will enlist the help of corporate futurists in keeping the College faculty abreast of leading-edge information and educational technology. Such efforts are designed to ensure that the War College, the Army's senior educational institution, remains in the intellectual vanguard as Force XXI becomes a reality.

Dean Rusk once reminded us that "unless we can find some way to keep our sights on tomorrow, we cannot expect to be in touch with today."[24] He was profoundly right. Unless we know where we are going, or where we are trying to go, each day's work will tend to be aimless and unconnected to our past or future, animated by no higher goal than simply emptying the in-box by quitting time. Carlisle Barracks has its vision, and we are creating the apparatus to guide and sustain progress toward attaining that vision over the long haul. By this means, we will explore, discover--and create--the Fourth Army War College.


The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Colonel Lloyd J. Matthews (USA Ret.) in the preparation of this article. An abbreviated, earlier version of this article appeared in the "1995-96 Army Green Book" edition of Army magazine, October 1995.

1. Alvin Toffler, "Introduction: Probing Tomorrow," in The Futurists, ed. Alvin Toffler (New York: Random House, 1972), p. 3.

2. George S. Pappas, Prudens Futuri: The U.S. Army War College, 1901-1967 (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: Alumni Assn. of the US Army War College, 1967), p. 28.

3. Harry P. Ball, Of Responsible Command: A History of the U.S. Army War College, Revised Edition (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: Alumni Assn. of the US Army War College, 1994), p. 80.

4. Secretary Root signed the order establishing the Army War College in 1901, but the College was not activated until 1903.

5. Ball, pp. 44-47.

6. Ball, pp. 79-146, 493. I wish to thank Harry Ball for his idea of referring to the earlier colleges as the First, Second, and Third.

7. For details of the Second Army War College, see Ball, pp. 147-255.

8. Ball, pp. 257-80.

9. For the Third Army War College, see Ball, pp. 281-489.

10. USAWC General Officer Survey, October 1991-May 1992.

11. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations: A Concept for the Evolution of Full-Dimensional Operations for the Strategic Army of the Early Twenty-First Century (Ft. Monroe, Va.: Headquarters TRADOC, 1 August 1994). Force XXI is the Army's vision to ensure a trained and ready force capable of decisive victory into the 21st century. It will accomplish this through three complementary activities: redesign of the TOE force; redesign of the "institutional" Army; and evaluation of technology, initially through digitization of our organizations and institutions.

12. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, p. 3-4.

13. See Robert R. Leonhard, "The Death of Mission Tactics," Army, July 1994, pp. 15-18; and David Jablonsky, "US Military Doctrine and the Revolution in Military Affairs," Parameters, 24 (Autumn 1994), 28.

14. See, e.g., TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, pp. 2-8, 3-5, 4-4.

15. See Leonhard's thoughts on this subject, p. 18.

16. Caleb E. Baker, "The Disconnect Between the Force and the Funding," Army, February 1995, pp. 35-38.

17. General Gordon R. Sullivan, meeting with students and faculty, USAWC, 6 January 1995.

18. General Sullivan, 6 January 1995.

19. Classroom XXI is designed around a compact console with a touch-screen panel through which students and instructors can control multimedia presentations. The overhead video projector is the primary display device; a 35mm slide projector is also available. The instructor's console computer as well as student laptops link through the local area network to military and civilian networks, both operational and informational.

20. David L. Wilson, "Extending the Web," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 August 1995, pp. A17-A18.

21. Collins Hall provides state-of-the-art automation, computer, and communications facilities, including gaming rooms, a video teleconference center, an executive conference room, access to the Defense Simulation Internet, and a node for the World Wide Military Command and Control System.

22. See Ralph Peters' review of Daniel P. Bolger's Savage Peace: Americans at War in the 1990s, on pages 159-61 of this issue of Parameters.

23. USAWC Mission Statement: To prepare selected military, civilian, and international leaders to assume strategic leadership responsibilities in military and national security organizations; to educate students about the employment of the US Army as part of a unified, joint, or multinational force in support of the national military strategy; to research operational and strategic issues; and to conduct outreach programs that benefit USAWC, the US Army, and the Nation.

24. As quoted in James B. Simpson, Simpson's Contemporary Quotations (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988), p. 368.

Major General Richard A. Chilcoat is the 43d Commandant of the US Army War College. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College, and he holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University. He served two tours in Vietnam with aviation and air cavalry units. Prior to his current assignment he was Deputy Commanding General of Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Before that General Chilcoat served in Washington as Executive Assistant to General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Deputy Director, Strategy, Plans, and Policy, in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans.

Reviewed 25 November 1996. Please send comments or corrections to