Course Description for JAWS

The JAWS curriculum includes four Fields of Study: Foundations in the Theory and History of War, Strategy, Operational Art and Campaign Planning, and JAWS Synthesis. The fields of study are carefully woven together to enhance the relationships between the subjects and improve student learning. A Thesis Program is associated with a Research Seminar in one of six subject areas.

The Theory and History Field of Study prepares students to develop a three-fold set of skills: Critical thinking about warfare; understanding the characteristics of the operational and strategic environments; and versatility in applying history to operational planning. It strives to prepare planners and strategic thinkers who are able to use history effectively to frame complex problems, evaluate the operational design of a campaign, and create effective operational plans.

  • The purpose of the Strategy Field of Study is to develop strategically minded professionals who can synthesize the theories and concepts of strategy; assess the strategic environment and discern its context; apply refined critical thinking skills to complex, ill-defined strategic problems; apply creative thinking skills to develop practical approaches and solutions to those problems; and most importantly to clearly and effectively communicate their analysis, assessments, approaches, and solutions to senior leaders across the national security enterprise.
  • The Operational Art and Campaign Planning Field of Study integrates the strategic vision developed in the Strategy Field of Study and the appreciation of historical campaigns and theories of war into a joint operational planning construct to solve strategic to operational problems and further national interests, policies, and strategic objectives. Inherent in the operational art is critical and creative thinking, as well as insight, knowledge, and an understanding of the historical experience of the operational level of war. These skills are essential to both leaders of planning efforts and commanders.
  • The JAWS Synthesis course consists of unique lessons and field research events which enable the student to synthesize all elements of the JAWS curriculum through thoughtful study and reflection. Contained within this course is the Overseas Field Research Trip, which provides unique opportunities for students to analyze the operational level of war in historical, practical, and realistic contexts. The Capstone Exercise provides an opportunity for students to display their knowledge and synthesis of the JAWS course material by analyzing, framing, and developing options that adequately address the kind of complex problems they will face in the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment of their future assignments.
  • Student individual original research, analysis, and writing culminates with the completion of a Master’s Thesis, written on a strategic/operational or interagency topic, normally within the scope of their assigned research seminar.