JFOWC Information Guide

  • Published
  • By Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education
  • Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL

The Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course is an evolutionary step in the continuing education for flag officers in joint and combined matters. This 2-week course combines previous programs taught at the Air University and Army War College and is co-sponsored by the Army War College, Naval War College, Marine Corps University and Air University. The LeMay Center conducts two courses each year at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The military service chiefs designate 18 two-star (two-star select) flag officers from all four services. The desired class mix is 6 Army, 6 Air Force, 4 Navy and 2 Marine attendees.

Prior to the first jointly sponsored course in March 1987, the Army and Air Force developed and conducted individual yet similar courses, for flag officers from their respective Services.

The Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Air Force introduced Joint Initiative #37 of the Joint Force Development Process that directed the US Army War College and Air University to jointly develop and sponsor a warfighting course for flag officers. The initiative was approved in the fall of 1986.

The Service Chiefs implemented this course because:

  1. Many current flag officers (then) had little or no combat experience serving in flag officer positions. This high-level perspective of war was available only through written works and discussion with active and retired senior officers who served in combat as generals.
  2. The demands of peacetime duties and responsibilities make it difficult for serving flag officers to devote time to the study or contemplation of war. 

Course attendees represented all services since course inception. Course support reflects formalized co-sponsorship from the four Services through the Naval War College, Marine Corps University, the Army War College and Air University.


The Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course prepares selected flag officers for leadership responsibilities in planning and executing joint theater-level and joint task force warfare operations.


Learning Area 1 — National Security Strategy

  • Comprehend the role of Congress in military affairs and how Congress views the military.
  • Comprehend the role of military leaders in developing national political objectives.
  • Comprehend the four elements of national power: diplomatic, informational, military and economic and how the elements are used during crisis situations.
  • Analyze the relationship between the strategic and military endstates and how they differ and influence stability operations and re-deployment.

Learning Area 2 — National Planning Systems and Processes

  • Comprehend the role of joint doctrine with respect to unified command as it applies to operations planning, mobilization, deployment, employment and sustainment and redeployment.
  • Analyze how time, coordination, policy, politics, doctrine and national power affect the planning process.
  • Apply the principal joint strategy development and operational planning processes.

Learning Area 3 — National Defense Strategy

  • Comprehend how the military operationalize the national defense strategy to address strategic challenges by setting priorities among competing capabilities.
  • Comprehend how the military dissuades potential adversaries from adopting threatening capabilities, methods and ambitions, particularly by sustaining and developing our own key military advantages.

Learning Area 4 — National Military Strategy and Organization

  • Comprehend the combatant commander's perspective and the role of subordinate commanders developing, deploying, employing and sustaining military forces.
  • Analyze the roles, relationships and functions of the President, SecDef, CJCS, JCS, combatant commanders, Secretaries of the Military Departments and the Service Chiefs as related to the national military strategy.

Learning Area 5 — Theater Strategy and Campaigning

  • Examine the role of the unified commander in developing theater plans, policies and strategy.
  • Examine the complexities of interagency coordination and support in campaign planning and execution of military operations.
  • Examine the potential challenges and opportunities that may accrue from the combatant commander's regional focus and an ambassador's country focus.
  • Comprehend a multinational campaign plan for a geographic combatant commander in support of national and coalition objectives.

Learning Area 6 — Role of Strategic Communication in 21st Century Warfare

  • Describe how theater commanders, component commanders or JTF commanders access information operations resources and develop responsive information operations plans.
  • Comprehend the impact of national agencies that support the theater commander's requirements for information operations on national security issues.
  • Evaluate how the joint operational planning and execution system is integrated into both theater and operational information operations campaign planning and execution to support theater and national strategic sustainment and warfighting efforts.
  • Comprehend the importance of strategic communication in a multinational environment and the impact it has in shaping the information environment.
  • Evaluate how public diplomacy and public affairs are integrated in theater and operational information operations planning and execution to support theater and national strategic sustainment and warfighting efforts.

Learning Area 7 — Strategic Leader Development

  • Comprehend the unique challenges of command at the three- and four-star levels.
  • Comprehend leadership challenges in a coalition environment.
  • Comprehend the leadership challenges in working with and understanding the cultures of other members of the interagency.


  • The focus is on the practical, realistic aspect of war. The course orientation is on come-as-you-are war with existing unified, joint and combined forces, and how we would fight with those forces.
  • This course aim is an intellectually demanding environment. Our intent is to develop discussions that will mentally stimulate participants to consider how they would react in various wartime situations as a theater, joint task force or component commander.
  • Attendee participation and decision- making is stressed.
  • Guest lecturers should be senior in rank to the attendees.
  • Subject matter will deal with the joint employment of military forces across a wide spectrum of military operations.

Primary methodology will be interactive seminars:

  • Exercise and decision scenarios foster interaction of participants and exchange of knowledge.
  • The objective is to probe issues and processes, rather than to achieve solutions.
  • Seminars and lectures are conducted in an atmosphere of open and free exchange. (Nonattribution policy applies to all lectures, discussions and seminars.)
  • Seminar and lecture attendance is limited to guest speakers, attendees, course directors and flag officer hosts/guests.
  • Discussions will be conducted up to TS-SCI clearance level.

Guest speakers include:

  • Active Combatant Commanders, current and former joint task force commanders-to address war planning and execution from theater and joint task force perspectives.
  • Senior service speakers-to address joint issues and force employment, structure, manning, equipping and training from a service and joint perspective.
  • Retired flag officers (former flag officer wartime or crisis/contingency commanders)-to address the challenges of combat command and considerations in combat decision-making.
  • Senior military (active and retired) and civilian speakers-to address political versus military, strategic and operational-level issues, such as intelligence, communications and logistics.

Attendees will develop key elements of a theater campaign plan. The objective is to:

  • Emphasize the joint and combined nature of military operations at theater level.
  • Stress the impact of logistical support and constraints on joint and combined combat operations.
  • Discuss the impact of joint communications and intelligence capabilities on operational-level decision-making and operations.

A theater campaign planning exercise enhances attendee understanding and appreciation of operational-level warfare. These discussions will:

  • Stress the need for understanding the relationship between strategic objectives, campaign-plan mission statements and concepts of operations.
  • Reinforce the importance of joint doctrine; clear-cut command relationships; understanding of unified, joint and combined force capabilities; and limitations imposed by finite resources.
  • Encourage innovation in employment of joint and combined combat forces.

Evening dinner sessions will be an integral part of the course. They provide an opportunity, while in a social environment, to discuss subjects of historic significance and current relevance, contentious issues that face today's theater commanders and an opportunity to exchange joint warfighting perspectives.

Organizational Structure 

The four Service Chiefs share ownership of the course. The Commandant, Army War College; President, Naval War College; President, Marine Corps University; and the Commander, Air University, are designated as the Service Chiefs' executive agents for development and conduct of the course. As executive agents, they are responsible for ensuring each course is developed and conducted in accordance with this guide. Each Service provides one or two course directors.

These officers are charged to develop the course curriculum, arrange for guest speakers, facilitate discussions and coordinate staff actions to make the course as meaningful and enjoyable as possible.


This course will be funded by the respective Services. Executive agents will ensure course requirements are fiscally supported on an equitable basis. Monies will be designated specifically for course support. Responsible course directors will develop annual budgetary requirements to support the course.

Nonattrribution Policy 

This is a critical portion of the course ground rules. Open and frank discussions will occur when speakers know their statements will not be linked to them outside the room or to other speakers. When making a point with a follow-on speaker, based on issues raised by a previous speaker, attendees are instructed to limit the association by saying only, "A previous speaker stated..."