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National War College
Curriculum Overview and Key Dates
Incoming Students - Class of 2017
6000 – Introduction to Strategic Leadership
6100 – Foundations of Strategic Thinking
Course 6100 introduces the elements of strategy, critical thinking and strategic analysis to develop and provide the foundational strategic thinking skills required for the balance of the curriculum. Using selected frameworks and examples of strategy, students begin their year-long examination of the components of national security strategy; assumptions behind strategic choices; relationships among the instruments of national power; orchestration of the instruments of power in pursuit of national security objectives; methods of evaluating the utility of different strategies; and the importance of strategic leadership in the formulation and implementation of national security strategy.
6200 – War, Statecraft and the Military Instrument of Power
Course 6200 focuses on how states-and non-state actors-use the military instrument of power to achieve their political goals, often through the instrument of war. Because war can threaten a state's very existence, it receives much attention in the course. In particular, 6200 examines the elements that comprise war-those that endure over time, as well as those that change from one conflict to the next. The course highlights how those elements shape a state (or non-state actor) that wages war, and in turn how the composition of a state (or non-state actor) shapes the way that war is waged. In addition, the course builds upon the foundation for developing strategy provided in 6100, and provides ample opportunities for students to enhance their skills as a strategist and "strategic leader." Students will engage in solving national security problems from the past, present, and future in four distinctive exercises using a framework for military strategy as a guideline and evaluating the applicability of notions from military theorists. Students will further complete a term paper that analyzes the logic a wartime strategic decision to assess the elements of strategic leadership utilized and the insights offered by the case for decision-makers today.
6300 – The Non-Military Instruments of Power
Core course 6300 focuses on the utility of the non-military instruments of power in achieving national security objectives. Specifically, the course analyzes the nature, purposes, capabilities, leadership potential, and limitations of the non-military instruments of statecraft, with blocks of instruction on the diplomatic, informational and economic instruments. The course also investigates and critiques a variety of ways to orchestrate these instruments into coherent strategies. The focus here is on coordinating the use of non-military instruments in persuasive, inducement, and coercive strategies. Deliverables for the course include individual seminar participation, in-class exercises, and a take-home exam.
6400 – The Domestic Context and U.S. National Security Decision-Making
Course 6400 examines the U.S. domestic context of national security decisions as well as various national security decision processes. The premise of this course is that national security strategy, and strategic decisions, are not made in a vacuum. Instead, they are in part shaped by, and help shape, domestic political debates and processes occurring at the time of the decision. This course will develop your analytic capabilities with regard to U.S. domestic politics, constraints, and opportunities and help you anticipate how domestic debates and processes influence strategy. More importantly, it will enhance your ability to assess the domestic viability of a proposed or given U.S. strategy.
6500 – The Global Context
Course 6500 is to help students understand the world and assess emerging strategic threats and opportunities in the global arena. Students will study selected drivers of international relations, and their impact on a range of nation-states and international regions. Students will examine how states respond to these drivers – analyzing trends and developments within nations, comparing and contrasting regional contexts and national perspectives, and recommending how best to prioritize US interests within and across regions. The course incorporates states, non-state actors and transnational actors in enhancing student understanding of the global context. Through their examination of trends, national responses to those trends, and US responses to changes in the global context, students will develop a working knowledge of the international security context essential for creating, analyzing and carrying out national security strategy and policy.
6600 – National Security Strategy Practicum
Course 6600, National Security Strategy Practicum, is designed to integrate all the themes of the core courses and meet NWC/JPME objectives. This course provides the opportunity for NWC students and faculty to go to "the field" to discuss pertinent policy issues with political, military, business, media, religious, and academic leaders of other nations, and to discuss the issues that affect both the security of these nations as well as the security of the United States. Course 6600 transitions the emphasis from the theoretical to the practical and serves as a bridge from the BOJET foundations course to the NWC capstone course.
6610 – Applications in Scenario Planning (Mandatory Elective)
Our future leaders in national security will be challenged to develop scenarios, also termed alternative futures, for the region they have studied, and experienced through travel, building on the skills, exercises and knowledge gained from other parts of the academic curriculum. Developing and using a scenarios planning process provides a foundation for thinking comprehensively about the impact of their actions. They will see, most clearly, the possibilities resident in the strategic environment in which their actions will take place, and how their actions fit with or stand against the prevailing forces, trends, attitudes and influences of today and tomorrow. The desired outcome is to provide a senior decision-maker with recommendations to consider based on the following questions. Under what conditions will the current strategy need to be modified? What are the most significant emerging opportunities requiring a new strategic direction? What are possible fundamental shifts -- or possible discontinuities – requiring decisions beyond the extrapolation of current strategies, which can mitigate the risks of major strategic surprises.
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