The student experience: Army War College


"Our graduates will be highly valued, respected and in demand." – USAWC Vision statement

In this section, find: The Academic Plan, Academic Choices, the Seminar Experience, and introduction to Faculty, Extra-curricular Activities, and Academic Resources.

The academic curriculum offered by the School of Strategic Landpower includes both required core courses and elective studies and educational enrichment programs that will enable you to craft your own student experience. With your faculty advisor, you’ll develop an Individual Learning Plan that establishes personal goals and a plan to complete them this year.

In addition to your professional education, the Army War College year provides opportunity to think about, change, and/or improve many aspects of your life. The wide range of activities – personal, professional, family, spiritual, and more – are presented with the expectation that each student will determine how to make the best use of time for a healthy, happy, productive academic year.


Academic Choices

Col. Jay Wolter

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All students complete the core course foundation of about six months (accelerated for Carlisle Scholars so as to divert more time to research and publication). Building upon that foundation, each student chooses during February registration his or her own set of electives, pursuing professional development and personal interest.

The elective roster of ay2016 will change to some extent in 2017, but suggests the scope of elective choices offered typically March thru May.

  • Most electives are weighted at 2 credit-hours, representing 30 hours contact time and appropriate time for reading, writing, and preparation.
  • A few electives coincide with the term I core courses. Selected comprehensive electives are weighted at more than 2 credit-hours.
  • The School will introduce to the student body the details about special programs, to include distinctions about schedule, requirements, and credits, at the Special Programs Brief on Sept. 7
  • All students will take a regional studies elective, coinciding with the Theater Strategy & Planning core course. You’ll select the region to study; some will elect to study a region for which you have some familiarity, and some will seek to explore something new.
  • Your Strategy Research Project (SRP) is exemplifies professional choice to shape your professional identity. Students are encouraged to select a topic from the Key Strategic Issues List because it aligns your research effort with validated research requirements on behalf of the Army and/or DOD. Each student will complete an SRP contract with project advisor in December and finalize the SRP by March 31.
    • SRP options may include group projects.
    • Integrated Research Projects include projects that integrate the work of student(s) and faculty/researchers; or, integrate support across College capabilities and resources (e.g., the School’s academic support integrated with strategic wargaming capabilities of the Center for Strategic Leadership to test and refine concepts); or, integrate student/faculty work with external sponsors; or any/all of the above.

Lt. Col. Teresa Schlosser

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COL Bob Forsten

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Special electives/ programs take the place of some or all electives. The following programs package learning and experiences for specific student outcomes. The Special Programs Brief will offer details to the full student body on Sept. 7. Students should consider all alternatives, so as to understand the implications of selecting into a specific academic program. For each of these programs, scroll to Academic Resources for additional information and faculty contact.

  • The Advanced Strategic Art Program (ASAP) offers ~15 selected students a concentrated course of study that uses history, theory, and strategy to develop a rich professional perspective on interagency and theater-strategic operations. ASAP focuses at the nexus between national policy and theater strategy. It is designed to prepare students for assignments as advisers to strategic leaders, to include theater strategists and campaign planners.
  • Lt. Col. Ben Jonsson

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  • The Carlisle Scholars Program (CSP) integrates the seminar experience of traditional Professional Military Education with the autonomy of a self-directed fellowship. Selected students will form a single seminar to complete approximately 10 weeks of intense course work, and then shift focus to research, writing, and advising senior leaders through a combination of individual, team, and faculty-coordinated work. The essence of the Carlisle Scholars is competitive analysis of strategic challenges, and contribution to broad strategic dialogue among national security leaders and stakeholders about problems/opportunities of national security. Coordination for the Carlisle Scholar program begins in the months prior to arrival.
  • The National Security Policy Program (NSPP) immerses students in study of policymaking and planning and the national and theater levels. NSPP incorporates case study analysis, engagement with policy practitioners, policy-based exercises and staff rides to relevant agencies so as to prepare students for critical policy planner positions in the Washington-based interagency community, with any of the combatant commander staffs, and in U.S. billets in international organizations such as NATO and the United Nations.
  • Advanced Defense Management Course (ADM) is a tailored elective course for US students, providing a detailed understanding of the key process of DoD force management that drive military programmatic and policy decisions: ideal for students who will serve within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, on the Joint or Service staffs.
  • Joint Warfighting Advanced Studies Program (JWASP) is an intensive elective for US and international officers and civilians, focused on understanding the challenges facing contemporary commanders through the study of senior joint/combined command, strategic ‘hotspots’ and the operational design, organization, and execution of theater level campaigns across the spectrum of warfare.
  • Joint Land, Air, and Sea Strategic Exercise (JLASS) is an elective preparing students to participate in a strategic crisis response exercise conducted in a wargaming environment, 10 years in the future, across all of the Senior Level Colleges, in which students roleplay key leadership roles, e.g., positions in Geographic Combatant Commands and policy-making interagency organizations.
  • COL Nick Lancaster

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  • Eisenhower Series College Program invites 10 students -- selected for their professional experience, education, understanding of national security and academic issues, and communication skills -- to discuss national security and public policy issues at public and private colleges and universities throughout the country.


The Academic Plan

Below, you'll find an overview of the resident education calendar for ay 2016-17.


Find hyperlinks to curriculum detail for AY 2016 (to be updated when 2017 is available)
in the chronological list below:

For the resident academic year 2017, students will sign in at Carlisle Barracks no earlier than 18 July, no later than 27 July. See the “First 30 Days-Plus” section to ensure your familiarity with the specifics of transition to Carlisle Barracks, to the Army War College, and to your seminar.

Typical class schedule during core courses, prior to Oral Comprehensive Exams, is seminar or lecture, 0830-1130, followed by individual study time. The school anticipates a ratio of 1:2 contact hours: study & preparation.

Fully detailed academic schedules, lessons, reading assignments and requirements are published on USAWC Blackboard. Initial information technology sessions will ensure students’ familiarity with the blackboard space for interactions with faculty instructors, with fellow seminar students, and with the readings (in many cases; some books will be provided during Zero Week at the Root Hall Library: see First 30 Days)

To understand acronyms, scan the key dates discussion, below.

As of 26 July 2016

Key dates for planning (subject to minor changes, e.g., *RWR dates may shift)

August 1-3
Centralized In-Processing


August 8-12
Zero Week: the academic experience begins


August 9 & 30
Strategy Research Project (SRP) begins with classes/ guidance


August 15-19
Introduction to Strategic Studies Core Course The interdisciplinary ISS course exposes students intellectually to the most demanding context – war – in which they’ll apply their professional skills. Using a case study, the course introduces key themes of the curriculum as an examination of war in all its complexity. The ISS is a platform for role-modeling students’ responsibilities for class preparation, engagement in seminar, and written requirements.


August 22
*Reading, Writing, Research (RWR) Day, student-directed


August 23-Sep 19
Theory of War & Strategy Core Course TWS provides a broad theoretical basis in war and strategy, and sets the intellectual framework for all subsequent courses. The course advances understanding of theory and nature of war; relationships between warfare and the complex, interdependent, contemporary strategic environment; strategic theory. TWS introduces the ends-ways-means strategy model.


Sep 22 – Oct 20
Strategic Leadership Core CourseThe SL course addresses the application of strategic thinking skills to assess and creatively address the host of challenges that strategic leaders face, to include scanning the future for trends and issues, managing and changing the organizational culture, leading the profession, establishing a command climate within the senior leader team, and making strategic and ethical decisions.


*RWR Sep 2,14,28


Sep 5
Labor Day observed


Sep 7
Special Programs Brief


Sep 20 & 21
SRP Day / Gettysburg Battlefield Staff Ride


* RWR Oct 7, 26; SRP Oct 18


Oct 10
Columbus Day observed


Oct 21 - Nov 18
National Security Policy & Strategy Core Course NSPS examines key national security issues; national security policy and strategy formulation; instruments of national power; and U.S. government processes for integrating, balancing, and synchronizing the instruments of power in promoting and protecting the national interest.


*RWR Nov 2 & 28; SRP: Nov 16


Nov 11
Veterans Day observed


Nov 21 – Feb 13
Theater Strategy & Campaigning Core Course TSC provides detailed exploration of U.S. military ways and means that connect operational efforts to strategic ends (policy aims). The course examines the implementation of national guidance through the application of joint doctrine, translated into theater strategies and campaign plans to conduct joint, unified, and multinational operations.


Fall Recess
Nov 22 @ noon – Nov 27 (classes resume Nov 29 @ 0830)


Dec 7


Dec 1 – Feb 2
Regional Studies Program Students pursue in-depth exploration of how culture can affect policy and strategy formulation, implementation, and outcome -- selecting one of seven Regional Studies Courses that address sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, East Asia, South Asia, Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East/ North Africa.


Winter Recess
Dec 15 @ noon – Jan 2 (classes resume Jan 3 @ 0830)


*RWR Jan 13; SRP Jan 25


Jan 16
Martin L. King Jr Day observed


*RWR Feb 1 & 17; SRP Feb 8


Feb 14 - Mar 7
Defense Management Core Course DM addresses the systems and processes used by DOD, the military departments and the Joint Staff to develop trained and ready combat forces for Combatant Commanders.


Feb 20
Presidents Birthday observed


SRP Mar 1, 22


Mar 9-10
Strategic Studies concluding Core Course


Mar 13
Prep Day, Oral Comprehensive Exams


Mar 14 - 24
Oral Comprehensive Exams Each student is scheduled for a structured dialogue with a faculty team (not their own) so as to reflect the student’s ability to address complex topics clearly and succinctly, express multiple perspectives concerning strategic issues within the context of core curriculum topics, and demonstrate personal self-awareness and frames of reference as they apply to strategic issues and topics.


March 14 – Jun 2
Elective courses


March 31
Strategic Research Project (SRP) due


* RWR April 4


April 5-7
National Security Staff Ride #2


April 13-17
Spring Recess


April 20-22
Jim Thorpe Sports Days


April 25
Army Leader Day


April 26-28
Strategy Conference


* RWR May 26


May 9-11
National Security Staff Ride #3


June 5-8
National Security Seminar


June 9 (Friday)
Graduation @ 0900


The Seminar Experience

Ms Sonya Tsiros

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COL Carl Ramsey

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When graduates recount the most valuable take-away of the Army War College year, invariably they'll point to relationships. Seminar colleagues form relationships that benefit both professionally and personally. As a member of a U.S. Army War College Class, you'll join a body of students selectively identified for their potential to leadership at the strategic level.

Class composition is expected to be approximately 380 students, including US military officers, US federal agency civilians, and 80 international officers. The center of academic operations will be your seminar – one of 24 seminars for the class of 2017. Seminar composition, combined with the adult learning model is the key to the USAWC educational system: a deliberate effort to create a diverse, representative group of joint, interagency, international professionals. A seminar aggregates more than 300 years of diverse experience and knowledge. Faculty members liberally draw upon this experience in seminar discussions.

Army     10-11   Basic branches, Special branches, National Guard / Army Reserve

Air Force     1-2   

Sea Services     1-2   Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard

Civilians     1-2   DOD, DA, State Dept, Homeland Security, USAID, other interagency partners of DOD

Internat’l Fellows     3-4   

Lt. Col. Nate Aysta

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All students are selected through competitive, centralized selection process; officers chosen for schooling are typically in the top 10 percent of their peer groups. Civilian students are selected through their organization’s chain of command, e.g., DoD civilians must be in the grade of GS14 or higher for resident education.

The Chief of Staff of the Army invites International Fellows from select countries to attend the resident and distance education programs each year. These programs offer an opportunity for senior international officers to participate with U.S. students in seminar and to study, research, and write on subjects of significance to the security interests of their own and allied nations. The International Fellows establish mutual understanding and rapport with student colleagues and enrich the educational environment of the US Army War College. The International Fellows attend a 6-week orientation prior to the start of the academic year, encompassing 2 weeks of administrative and living basics (home, bank account, transportation, driver’s license …) and 4 weeks of the Field Studies Program, required by US Army Regulation to introduce international students to US values and culture, government, public health, education, free speech, civil society groups, etc. through classes, visits, and experiential engagements.

International officers are termed “International Fellows” to reflect their dual role, learning and contributing to others’ learning by representing their countries’ and regional perspectives.

Seminar experiences extend beyond the Root Hall seminar room. Each seminar develops a distinct character that reveals itself in how decision-making, social events, and athletic/fitness pursuits, among other things. The seminar will plan its path for weaving academic life with spouse/ family life, and College and post activities, like the Oktoberfest weekend, charitable actions like the Spouses Club auction, community interaction with the VA or retirement homes at the Winter Holidays, seminar dining plans for the national security staff ride to New York City, among many possibilities.

Seminar team-building begins on day 1, continues as members set the seminar norms, and gets a plus-up through laughter during the ‘boatyard wars’ at the Class Welcome Picnic (think: nearly-impossible task in a laugh-filled setting by the pool and picnic area). Softball will play a key role in team-building. Everyone participates, as player, or coach, or score keeper, or fan. One seminar will win a trophy. All win in terms of family and seminar enjoyment.

Uniform note: Military students will be prepared for the following uniform requirements: Army Service Uniform (ASU)/ Class A; Class B; Army Combat Uniform (ACU/OCP) -- or Service equivalent of each. Military and civilian students will be prepared for ‘Carlisle Standard’ civilian clothing (coat & tie/ business dress) and ‘Carlisle Casual’ civilian clothing (collared shirt & slacks/dress). [See the ‘Before You Go’ section for details] For many class days, military students can choose between Class B or Carlisle Standard.


Faculty Instructor Team

Prof. Chuck Allen

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Each seminar will be guided by a faculty team of 3-4 instructors. Student-Faculty relationships at the Army War College extend far beyond a weekly 'student-time' schedule. They make themselves available; they participate in the whole-of-War College activities and Carlisle Barracks garrison-sponsored events. In fact, faculty members balance their professional responsibilities -- to educate, to research and publish, and to serve -- with their personal commitment to students, student families, and student success.

The faculty team of 3-4 instructors represents the integration of three teaching departments within the School of Strategic Landpower: National Security and Strategy (DNSS); Command, Leadership and Management (DCLM); and Military Strategy, Planning and Operations (DMPSO). One faculty instructor will serve as a faculty advisor for one-on-one counseling and academic mentorship. Faculty advisors will offer guidance to students for the Individual Learning Plan, and suggestions for the right faculty mentor for the student’s Strategy Research Project.

As with the student body, the faculty will be no more than 60 percent Army officers. In fact, the faculty is a diverse combination of Civilian academics; senior military officers typically with experience in large, complex headquarters; and 'hybrid' uniformed professors with doctoral credentials. These "professors of academics" and "professors of practice" create academic challenge and support, with awareness of the professional responsibilities that await the Army War College graduate. See the Faculty Directory to survey faculty expertise.

The Army War College faculty includes the full-time faculty of the School's teaching departments. It includes as well a diverse selection of talented professors, researchers and staff members who offer electives, provide functional expertise for specific lessons, and support student learning in other ways. These instructors are assigned to the Army War College centers and institutes that complement and support the School.


Extracurricular Activities

The family section of this welcome site lays out the rich layers of recreational activities and professional development opportunities for spouses, teens, and families.

And … a host of student activities complement the academic experience.




Team sports begin for all student with seminar-based softball: a group-development opportunity built around an all-American favorite. As the year progresses, the Sports Office organizes multiple games and championships for intramural play: basketball, volleyball, flag football. Highlights: the USAWC Army-Navy football game on Indian Field just prior to The Army-Navy Game; and, Jim Thorpe Sports Days to which students from the senior service colleges gather at Carlisle Barracks for 2.5 April days of competition and camaraderie – in the spirit of Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe who played many sports at Carlisle during the Carlisle Indian Industrial School days. USAWC teams form in late Fall for skeet & trap, basketball, tennis, volleyball, golf, bowling, cycling, 1-mile relay races, 5-mile race, and soccer.

Three fitness centers and other fitness options --

  1. Thorpe Hall Fitness Center – TRX and MMA Fitness, Spinning, boot camp classes, a cardio room, indoor track. 245-3418 , 23 Lovell Avenue
  2. Indian Field Fitness Center –treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary cycles, strength equipment and free weights. 119 Forbes Avenue.
    Mon - Fri 5 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
    Sat 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Sun 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Holidays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  3. Root Hall Gym – basketball, volleyball, racquetball/handball; lockers; 120 Forbes Avenue , 245-4343
    Mon - Fri: 5:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
    Sat & Sun: Closed
    Holidays: Closed
  4. Racquetball/Handball Court, in Root Hall Gym
    Mon - Fri: 5:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  5. Bowling Center, 686 Letort Lane, 245-4109
    (Summer Hours) Memorial Day - Labor Day
    Mon-Tue-Wed 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    Thur-Fri 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sat 1 – 9 p.m. and Sun CLOSED
  6. Golf Course, 901 Jim Thorpe Road, 243-3262
    Mon - Fri 7 a.m. - dusk
    Sat & Sun 6 a.m. – dusk
  7. Indian Field running track – oval track 1/4 mile, behind Indian Field Fitness Center
  8. Golf Course running track – 1.9 miles begin at Rail Road crossing
  9. Tennis Courts, next to Thorpe Hall


Educational pursuits


  • Army War College Library – one collection/ two locations. Academic library is in Root Hall basement with full library assistance, open daily to USAWC students; Army Heritage & Education Center houses the military archives collection with expert assistance in accessing historical documents, open Mo-Sa, 10 am to 5 pm and Su noon to 5 pm …. One search engine puts the collection at your fingertips:
  • Army Heritage & Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive
    • One-mile circular Outdoor Museum, open daylight hours, with equipment, weapons, fortifications, buildings evoking the span of American military history
    • Perspectives in Military History, monthly, and Kleber Readings, occasional: military history authors share insights with public audiences in free events: see schedule at
    • Visit The Soldiers Experience Gallery and rotating photo exhibits (extraordinary Civil War imagery) and museum displays, e.g., Treasures of the USAHEC (must go: you won’t believe the unique holdings) open Mo-Sa, 10 am to 5 pm and Su noon to 5 pm
  • USAWC Strategic Art Film program
    • August – May, the local AUSA chapter sponsors Snacks ’n’ a Movie ‘n’ a Faculty guide to share the ‘rest of the story’ behind classic stories in A Bridge Too Far, Pentagon Wars and SGT York, Tuesday nights 4:30 p.m., in Root Hall’s Wil Washcoe Auditorium
  • New for ay2017: Educational Wargames, to be scheduled through the year, providing players with decision-making experience and illustrate teach points, e.g. the GO Game, an ancient Asian war game that introduces students to Chinese thinking and the strategic art.


Social Activities


  • On-post and off, in homes and back yards … students find their way to like-minded individuals. Popular Seminar get-togethers
  • Geo/Bachelor dinner – 2nd Wednesday of each month, open to ALL students, nondenominational, no RSVP required
  • Trivia pursuit club
  • Women of the War College
  • Chapel Fellowship Breakfast
  • Every Man a Warrior
  • Cycling Club
  • Boy Scouts
  • Hunting and Fishing group/Skeet & Trap (through Carlisle Game and Fishing organization)
  • Gideons
  • Stephen's Ministry
  • Young Life
  • Safe Harbor
  • Samaritan's Fellowship
  • Conversations and Culture, with International Families
  • Quilting Guild
  • Rotary Club of Carlisle (Noon and Sunrise)



Find your way to Outdoor Recreation, ODR, for rentals, group trips and classes FOR: mountain biking, camping equipment rental, banquet rentals and other adventure activities such as: skiing, hiking, and fishing trips. At Leisure Travel, find tickets and suggestions for Carlisle Events Car Shows, Skiing, Hershey Park, and a host of entertainment meccas.


Academic Resources

USAWC Library

Army War College Press

USAWC/Carlisle Barracks Online News

Advanced Strategic Art Program, Dr. Bill Pierce,

Carlisle Scholars, Dr. Andrew Hill,

National Security Policy Program, COL Sanborn,

Advanced Defense Management Course, Prof. Waters,

Senior Civilian Advisor Ms Manta

USAF Senior Service Rep COL Scheel

USMC Senior Service Rep. COL Frantz 717.245.4862

USN Senior Service Rep. CAPT. Kitzmiller

Reserve Officer Senior Service Rep. COL McDonnell

National Guard Senior Rep. COL Siegfried