Study, Listen, and Produce
The Army War College is another pleasant year, with housing for all students and their families. All are Army officers of Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel rank, with some exceptions. Some State Department civilians are included, and a hand full of Navy, Marine, and Air Force Officers. The entire class is 100 or less. And all have been selected because they are considered among the brightest and best. Thirty seven to forty one or two years old.
The assignment is quite 'family friendly' as the wives and children, most all of school age, are together with lots of family oriented events, sports, outings. I cherished that because I knew that at the year's end I would be going to Vietnam, where the casualty rates were high, including, because of Air Mobile operations, officers through lieutenant colonels were vulnerable to Viet Cong and NVA efforts to shoot down helicopters during search and destroy missions - the bread and butter of anti-guerilla operations. I would be going off to war at the end of the year, and all that implies for family life.
The War College course consists largely in listening to lectures by senior officials in the Federal Service - most often with respect to current national affairs, lots of reading about 'national' affairs, discussing various subjects in small groups, and then doing at least one project aimed at making a National recommendation. While most of the students will top out their career as full colonels, perhaps a fourth to a third of the class will go onto be general officers, both in command or staff.
I already knew what my study topic would be - a more academic summary of the findings of the WINII study, but more importantly, my recommendations for a US and US Army strategy for waging such wars from the US viewpoint.
Circulation of such unclassified studies from War College graduates within US agencies and the Army had the potential of affecting US and Army warfighting policies. Since the Vietnam War was not going well, from the US government standpoint, and was being loudly and dramatically opposed by a portion of the American population, especially the '60s Generation' useful suggestions about how to deal with all the complex considerations in fighting such wars might be welcome.
Ironically, while many War College students in our class would work on making the case for advocacy policy topics internal to the Army, some dealt with the other end of the 'Spectrum of War' from Insurgency and Vietnam - the standoff with the Soviet Union over the nuclear deterrent.
One of my War College classmates was Colonel Danny Graham, West Point graduate who pursued a military career in Army Intelligence. At the War College in 1967 he selected, and advocated the anti-nuclear war program announced 16 years later by Ronald Reagan as 'Star Wars.' An anti-ballistic missle defense program. His later work on that propelled him to Lieutenant General (3 Star) rank, founder of the "High Frontier Foundation" and before he died of cancer in 1995 at 70, was greatly acknowledged and honored by President Reagan for his effective advocacy of SDI.
He is but one example of how the Army War College becomes a launching pad for many a steller national career even beyond Military.
Danny and I would sit in the same classroom with perhaps 10 other classmates, each of us giving lectures and defending our pet War College thesis before a very bright peer audience, he about post-nuclear deterrent - Star Wars and space - the highest point on the Spectrum of War - while I was arguing the nature of Insurgency and how the US should fight wars at the lowest level of the spectrum of wars.
In fact it was out of those debates and discussions that I decided, also, to create a new 'Spectrum of War' paradigm for the US, which had to deal with conflicts from the nuclear and ballistic, to the political insurgent among the poorest people on earth.