Curriculum

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  • Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL

Curriculum


The ACSC resident curriculum is a rigorous 10-month graduate-level program taught through intensive small group seminars and engaging lectures. Courses cover topics that include the profession of arms, leadership and ethics, joint operations, airpower, and the international security environment. Additionally, students have the opportunity to conduct research and participate in elective courses that explore topics of varying interests. Successful completion of the ACSC Resident Program are awarded Joint Professional Military Education I credit and the Masters of Military Operational Art and Science Degree to qualified students who meet all curriculum and criteria requirements.


The art of leadership is cultivating the capability, situational awareness, and self-governance to bring oneself to the right point in a particular time and place, with particular people, to achieve multiple overlapping goals.  Leadership and the Profession of Arms, comprising two phases, provides the opportunity to hone these abilities.  The first phase emphasizes personal development for leaders, from composing a leadership philosophy to studying ethical reasoning, emotional intelligence, decision-making, and influence, among other topics.  The second phase focuses on organizational leadership exploring culture, leading change, and elements of resilient, agile organizations.

Foundations of Military Theory fosters understanding of classical thought on the nature and character of war. The course introduces canonical works of military theory, drawing explicit links between historical concepts of war and strategy, the conduct of the profession of arms, and the tenets of contemporary doctrine. Highlighting the effects of emergent ideas and technologies on the practice of warfare, the course analyzes continuity and change in armed conflict over the past three centuries. Foundations of Military Theory is designed to elicit critical thinking about the organization and employment of joint forces in support of national strategic objectives and frame subsequent engagements in the ACSC program.


 ISMS explores the context of international security with a focus on the US national interest, as well as the tools at its disposal for the attainment of its interests. The course introduces “traditions” of International Relations (IR), which present distinct and contrasting perspectives on the causes of war, the conditions of peace, and, in turn, what counts as a national security interest. It reinforces questions of national interests by leveraging the debate over US grand strategy in the 21st century and explores the instruments of national power (DIME) by which national interests and objectives may be pursued and obtained. The course explores the concept of military strategy and what impedes effective strategy conception and execution. Finally, it applies these traditions and tools to better understand and develop responses to challenges in the strategic environment.

Airpower Strategy and Operations examines the emergence and development of airpower from World War I through the early years of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to better understand airpower employment today. Using the lens of strategic competition, the course analyzes the development of key ideas, capabilities, limitations, organizations, and practices that framed the conduct of air warfare in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries as airmen adapted and innovated rapidly in the air domain. The case studies examined in Airpower Strategy and Operations continue to inform debates about airpower’s purpose, utility, and effectiveness. Course readings, lectures, and seminar discussions will cultivate adaptive leaders and critical airpower thinkers. The course challenges students to improve their ability to lead in complex, uncertain times while making ethical decisions with the ultimate goal of applying air power in a joint context to serve national strategic objectives.

 
Leadership in Command arms students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in command.  This course provides practical knowledge and lessons from graduated squadron commanders and other senior leaders in order to better prepare students for both the art and science of command.  Complementing and building on the personal and organizational leadership foundations gained from Leadership and the Profession of Arms, students have the opportunity to learn from scenarios, case studies, and crises that they may face in command.

The Joint Campaigning (JC) course is designed to demonstrate, at the operational level, how the U.S. joint force organizes, deploys, employs, sustains, and redeploys military capabilities in support of national interests. The primary purpose of the JW course is to comprehend and analyze how we, the Joint Force, go to war and prevail. The course will equip military and interagency professionals with skills to articulate and influence the application of the military instrument of power to provide commanders with options for the use of military force in support of national interests. Understanding operational art and design is essential for the military professional, no matter their specialty. Understanding operational context and strategic goals is necessary to properly plan and execute military operations in the modern operational environment. It is also imperative to understand how the U.S. military operates as part of a joint force in a multinational, interagency, and intergovernmental environment.

In conjunction with the core curriculum, students at ACSC take elective courses.  This academic year, the school provides students the flexibility to choose courses that cover various topics from almost seventy electives. These courses afford the students the opportunity to explore in-depth specific subjects that contextualize and enhance their understanding of the core curriculum. Elective courses are grouped into the following categories: Military and Operational Art and Science, Leadership and Culture, International Relations and Strategic Competition, Cyber, and Space.