Training vs. Education at the Army War College: The Benefits of a Return to the Past
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Secretary of War Elihu Root founded the Army War College AWC in 1901, but it was General Tasker Bliss who provided the vision for its operations through the Second World War. When directed to design the curriculum for the AWC, Bliss asked himself three questions what should the college teach, how should it teach, and how could the Army maximize the value of this new institution He answered these questions by asserting that the College should work on practical problems that prepared officers for the General Staff or high command, and accomplished this by using war plans as the focus for the hands on training that the College provided to its students. Working in facultystudent committees, students prepared real-world solutions that analyzed the available instruments of national power and how the Army could accomplish its assigned missions. To inculcate the knowledge gained at the AWC throughout the entire Army, AWC students performed staff functions for the Secretary of War and General Staff and the AWC made class lectures available to any visiting officers. The War Plans Division of the War Department also relied on this annual student analysis of real-world war plans to keep them up to date and ensure they stood up to critical analysis. This method of learning differed significantly from the method used at most military schools both then and now. It did not focus on individual scholarship, instead it focused on creating a collegium, or group of men working together, to solve the Armys most important question how to prepare for and execute war. In this manner, the AWC groomed officers for World War I and World War II, and this paper seeks to demonstrate a causal link between this form of instruction and the extraordinary success of War College graduates during both World Wars. After World War II the Department of the Army changed the learning model to an educational model that focused on individual scholarship and attainment of a masters degree.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics