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Foundation

The Strategy and Policy Course is designed to teach students to think strategically and to prepare for positions of strategic leadership. Strategy is the relationship between war’s purpose, objective, and means. The aim of the course is to sharpen the student’s ability to assess how alternative strategic courses of action best serve to achieve overall national objectives. Students will be asked to think in a disciplined, critical, and original manner about the international strategic environment, about a range of potential strategies, and about the strategic effects of joint, interagency, and multinational operations.

The Strategy and Policy Course adopts an interdisciplinary approach to strategy, drawing on the disciplines of history, political science, international relations, and economics. It integrates with those academic perspectives critical military factors from the profession of arms—such as doctrine, weaponry, training, technology, and logistics. The result is a coherent frame of reference to analyze complex strategic problems and formulate strategies to address them.

Goals and Objectives

Upon completion of the Strategy and Policy course, the student shall be:
  • Proficient in Strategic Decision Making involving Maritime, Joint, Interagency and Multinational Warfighting, applying sea power and integrating it with other military capabilities and other national instruments of power
  • Prepared for positions of Strategic Leadership, focused on the ability to think strategically about all types of wars and strategic actors, to evaluate alternative courses of action, and to write clearly and speak articulately about the relationship between grand strategy, policy and operations
  • Competent in strategic-level problem solving, demonstrating critical thought based on a wide range of classical and contemporary strategic concepts and grounded in the decision making of historical, real-world strategic leaders
  • Effective Maritime Spokespersons who understand warfare at sea, based on the classic works on sea power and maritime strategy and conversant with the full range of naval capabilities

Methodology

The curriculum consists of two core components: an examination of leading strategic theorists on war and analysis of major case studies. The works of major strategic thinkers—such as Carl von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Mao Tse-tung, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and Sir Julian Corbett—provide a foundation on which the course builds an analytical framework that students can use to understand the interrelationship of the realms of policy, strategy, and operations.

The case studies provide an opportunity to evaluate and discuss the ways in which political leaders and strategic planners in the real world have successfully (or unsuccessfully) grappled with the challenges associated with the use of force to attain national objectives. This course, then, is concerned with strategic leadership that can effectively deal not only with current problems in policy and strategy but also those that might emerge in the future.

All students are required to write two papers that critically examine critical questions arising from the case studies. These papers present an opportunity to demonstrate critical analysis and prepare a paper that requires independent thought and graduate-level writing. Papers should serve to stimulate innovative thinking and to provide provoke and inform discussion within the seminar.