Academic Journals

Academic Journals | Jan. 24, 2022

Meeting the Need: Leading Joint Education for 75 Years

By Glenn H. Jones, Frederick R. Kienle, and Patrick H. Hannum

To those of you that come to a school like this, I think you are due double congratulations. Not only do you get the opportunity to think of your profession, but you are given the opportunity to think about it in its widest terms. —General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Opening Remarks to the Armed Forces Staff College, Class 3, February 2nd, 1948i

Founded on the core values of teamwork, trust, and mutual understanding among the Services, the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) celebrates seventy-five years of joint education in 2022. Established by the General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz brain trust during the tumultuous period following World War II, a time when joint education and assignments held limited value, Armed Forces Staff College (AFSC) met unique challenges and found its way.ii The College began as a five-and-a-half-month Staff College aimed at officers in the early field grade rank. Today, JFSC is a leading innovator in Joint Professional Military Education Phase-II, offering a range of programs that vary in duration and delivery method.

The Goldwater-Nichols Act (GNA) of 1986 and the creation of the Joint Specialty Officer (JSO) program renewed the call for cooperation and established new systemic roles and requirements for joint education. In 1989, the Skelton Panel recommended establishing the two-layered approach to Joint Professional Military Education (JPME).iii As a result, joint promotions and assignments increased in relevance and therefore elevated the College through increased relevance. Later, the attacks of 9/11 and the escalation of the Global War on Terrorism drove increases in the size of the force, which caused an increased demand for JPME-II graduates who could operate jointly with unity of effort.

In 2005, to address what had become the persistent challenge of teaching the right student at the right time, JFSC converted three twelve-week courses to four, ten-week courses, providing greater scheduling opportunities for its one thousand twenty-five students annually. Simultaneously, JFSC launched the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS), which leveraged senior faculty positions to create the first-ever joint War College focused on the Operational Level of War. Today, in its seventy-fifth year, JFSC offers multiple methods to attain JPME-II credentials, produces over fifty percent of the annual JPME-II graduates, and remains the only college offering JPME-II to Major/Lieutenant Commanders enroute to their first joint assignment.iv JFSC continues to lead in teaching emerging joint doctrine and solidifying an authentic joint culture.

Figure 1: Image of the Joint Forces Staff College 75th Anniversary coin frontside. Coin designed by YN2(SW) Wendi Settle.

Identifying the Need: 1946-1950

There is a need for a school which will conduct short courses of approximately five months duration in joint staff technique and procedure in theaters and joint overseas operations —General Eisenhower, A Memorandum to Admiral Nimitz, April 17th, 1946)v

Before the Second World War, the United States military operated under the concept of “mutual cooperation.”vi The Department of War and Department of the Navy competed for resources and relevance. Service parochialism existed at its zenith. The wartime industrial, societal, and military mobilization following the attack on Pearl Harbor necessitated a shift to Unified Action, leading to integrated joint operations on a scale never imagined.vii Through wartime necessity, and at the staggering cost of lives in global conflict, the Services developed joint and multinational procedures. General Eisenhower and Admiral Nimitz sought the preservation and advancement of the hard-earned processes and procedures while considering the advances essential to maintaining the nation’s military edge.

The emergence of the post-World War II Soviet Union fostered uncertainty, and The Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack delivered their findings on June 20th, 1946viii The committee identified significant governmental, structural, and joint leadership shortfalls contributing to the Pearl Harbor disaster five years prior. The National Security Act of 1947, enacted on September 18th of the same year, addressed the historic and growing concerns by creating the National Defense Establishment, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the United States Air Force. As such, AFSC Class Number One existed precariously on the cutting edge of joint warfighting, between the recent past and emerging future.

Meanwhile, juxtaposed against the urgency to capture the lessons of WWII were the calls for rapid, immediate demobilization. In late 1945, more than four million men and women, over half the Army, separated from the service. To address the mass exodus, in January 1946, fifty officers chosen for their combat experience in World War II formed the Joint Operations Review Board with a charter that directed "formulating recommendations for changes in existing procedures in the light of combat experience and of current developments in modern weapons."ix Essentially, in the haste to demobilize, as a war-weary nation sought to return to peace and life at home, leaders struggled to preserve the lessons learned from the war. While working to chart a course for the future, military leaders instead dealt with constabulary duties, rioting servicemembers, and intense pressure from civil leadership to quickly draw down the wartime military. The Services still tended to protect service budget priorities, often resulting in a return to the ineffective doctrine of cooperation. Seeing this, General Eisenhower and Admiral Nimitz fully embraced joint integration. Their premier goal was to develop a post-war military education system.

The Army-Navy Staff College (ANSCOL) had been established in 1943 to meet the emergent wartime need to train officers on joint operations, emphasizing airborne and amphibious assault. ANSCOL's most significant contribution emerged after Victory Over Japan (VJ) Day in developing "A General Plan for Post War Joint Education of the Armed Forces," which ultimately established the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) and AFSC.x During the post-war period, through correspondence, General Eisenhower and Admiral Nimitz agreed on building the AFSC; however, they disagreed on the focus. Eisenhower envisioned a Command and Staff approach for officers at the 12-year level, producing qualified future joint commanders and "key" staff. Nimitz believed the post-war education system should separate commanders and staff with war colleges focused on the higher command level.xi The Eisenhower-Nimitz tension established an enduring principle of the College: Acculturation. Of the four proposed founding principles, Nimitz agreed only "To foster mutual confidence and understanding among officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force."xii Eisenhower eventually succeeded in shaping the scope of instruction to include "study of the organization, composition, and functions of theaters and major joint task forces and responsibilities (strategic, tactical, and Campaigning: The Journal of the Joint Forces Staff College 24 January 2022 logistical) of commanders thereof."xiii Through their interactions, they identified the core principles of teamwork, trust, and mutual understanding, eventually shaping the College’s motto, “That All May Labor as One.”

Eisenhower and Nimitz believed the AFSC filled the need to develop and share joint and multinational service perspectives "as an exemplification of the truism that there no longer exists any separate land, air, and sea warfare. It is all one."xiv

The Emergence of an Educational Philosophy: 1950-1986

Above everything else, I would place the mutual respect that you have developed for each other here. You've had no marks, you've had no class standings, but what you have gotten here and which I know you will always carry with you with great pride is the reward of knowing that your fellow students have admired and respected you for your opinions that you have expressed here and the work you have done

—Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill, AFSC Graduation Address, January 22, 1949xv

Inter-Service teamwork at a location where members of all Services and their families could live, work, and play together realized the founding stakeholders’ philosophy for the College.xvi The founding philosophy promoted higher education to improve students’ "habits of thought" and discourage a rote training mentality.xvii The philosophy was transformational for its time. A military institution that embraced teamwork between Services and abandoned the idea of individual grades in favor of a team evaluation proved simultaneously radical and effective. Accordingly, an environment emerged in which teamwork overshadowed individual achievement. The core of this philosophy noted: "Individual achievement grades are not given, and there is no ceremonial recognition of outstanding students."xviii Simply put, an institution that valued individual grades, distinguished graduate awards, and personal achievement over teamwork proved counterproductive. The adverse effects of individual competition in a course founded on teamwork were so profound that the recorded Distinguished Graduate Program's trial run ended abruptly.xix The College returned to an Exceeds/Meets Standards approach, abandoning grading on a standard college scale.xx It became difficult, ineffective, and counterintuitive to compare students from different educational backgrounds and experience levels. Rather, including diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds produced improved operational concepts. Much of the early curriculum’s focus on building off the student experiences from WWII led much to be desired in terms of helping students implement their newfound acculturation after graduation.

Working as joint staffs and solving complex joint problems at the operational-strategic nexus, students became experts at planning and executing joint, combined, and interagency operations. Their expertise filled a need. From mutual respect, teamwork, and understanding emerged the concept of freedom of discussion and an emphasis on student attitude and perspective.xxi Free and open discourse (academic freedom), combined with a joint philosophy, helped acculturate students and defend against service parochialism.

Services enrolled students in initial AFSC classes based on their World War II combat experience. The first classes enrolled practitioners, and the students had generally not been afforded opportunities in higher education through peacetime staff colleges. Some were high school graduates with limited higher education. The degree of education tempered the initial seminars and framed the first College mission statement: "Train selected officers of the Armed Forces in Joint Operations." xxiii xxii The initial curriculum and student body focused on the experiential aspects of planning and less on the academic and intellectual underpinnings. The Joint Overseas Review Board codified their conclusions with the publication of the “Joint Overseas Operations,” the precursor to the JFSC Joint Staff Officer’s Guide, or what is more commonly referred to as the Purple Book.

Figure 2: Image of the Joint Forces Staff College 75th Anniversary coin backside. Coin designed by YN2(SW) Wendi Settle.

Continuing Trends and Tensions

Over the coming decades, informed by world events, the core curriculum evolved. The influence of the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and a changing student body led to adaptations in scope, delivery, and student body. As the composition of the student body changed, the College philosophy adapted towards education and exploration from the tradition of training on specific doctrinal tenets. JFSC adapted to meet the changing needs of the 20th century. Students learned to become skilled joint leaders, world-class problem-solvers, and highly proficient joint planners.

By the 25th Anniversary, the AFSC’s curriculum evolved to include education in joint/combined operational planning by focusing on students’ critical thinking skills. Joint doctrine remained, as today, at the core of the curriculum—a balanced artistry of academic freedom with doctrinal requirements. As the College recognized that doctrine is sometimes inadequate for solving complex problems, the curriculum evolved to foster intellectual freedom, lasting friendships, and teamwork among Services.xxiv Despite continuing pressures to focus singularly on individual academic development, the emphasis on building trust, understanding, and camaraderie across Services remains paramount to achieving acculturation.

The original student body, with its experiences of WWII, expanded to include a blended practitioner, post-WWII students who had military expertise grounded in broader academic concepts of war. Though the statistics are incomplete, in 1951, only 60% of AFSC students possessed an undergraduate degree. By 1968, the percentage had risen to 90%, with 20% possessing graduate degrees. xxvii xxv By 1972 the ratios had increased again to 92% of students possessing undergraduate degrees and 42% maintaining graduate degrees.xxvi By 1976, the numbers increased to 95% with undergraduate degrees and 55% holding graduate degrees. Now, in the 75th year of JFSC, an undergraduate degree is a prerequisite for attendance, with an estimated 93% of attendees having at least one graduate degree.

The problem of gaining the right student at the right time plagued the AFSC from its earliest days. Service approaches have varied for determining attendance, and at times the Services have diminished the value of a joint education compared to Service education. As Services expanded their Command and Staff and War Colleges, encroachment on the joint curriculum by Service Colleges created uncertainty. The tension limited College attendance at various periods as officers attended Service College in lieu of JFSC. Notably, the practice led to courses with no Army Staff College graduates during parts of the 1960s. At other points, the Air Force considered the five-and-a-half-month course a “consolation prize” for officers not selected for senior-level colleges.xxviii

While the Army and Air Force proved recalcitrant in their student selections, the Navy proved the most difficult. During the 1950s, the Navy sent officers with significant "at sea" time but limited military education, to the College. Naval Officers were often not considered solid contributors to seminars and resisted attempts at acculturation. The trend led to the study titled, "Rank and Experience of Naval Students," in 1957. The study concluded that the “Navy's policy of selecting naval students if continued, would eventually be detrimental to the accomplishment of the Staff College mission.”xxix Later, The Naval Officer Professional Study Group concluded that the Navy treated JPME as something "nice to have" and placed little value on joint

All too often, jointness was undermined in favor of Service priorities, which led to a weakening of the growing joint force. It negatively impacted JFSC graduates, curriculum design, delivery, and assignment opportunities for faculty and students. The imbalance of experience, education, and application of Service values became detrimental to officers accepting joint assignments. Persistent Service parochialism undermined the progress and values of Eisenhower and Nimitz and risked reverting to the problems of the past. Today, service manning and student throughput reflect a noticeable return to the earlier devaluing of joint education. Changes to joint tour lengths have driven Combatant Commands to conclude they can no longer spare the students for their joint education. Congressional legal intervention, by creating legal standards and requirements, has proved most effective and resilient to countering service parochialism. 

Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986

Joint education includes what the Armed Forces Staff College terms “affective learning”: the mutual understanding and rapport that develops when students from all services study in mixed seminars and share the ideas, values, and traditions of their services when they solve joint military problems together, and when pre-conceived notions about the nature of and solution to problems of warfare, learned in service training and education, are challenged daily. In mixed seminars, a student who attempts to impose his service bias on the discussion will immediately be challenged. —Report of the Panel on Military Education, April 21, 1989xxxi

The period from 1946-1986 revealed repeated shortfalls and failures regarding joint integration. With the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the Fall of the Shah of Iran, the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, and troubled operations such as the Mayaguez Incident, Desert One, and Operation Urgent Fury, the integration of the joint force once again emerged at the forefront of national security issues. The National Security Act of 1947 and subsequent revisions had not forced an environment of effective joint integration, which resulted in the hard-fought enactment of the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, more commonly known as the Goldwater-Nichols Act (GNA). GNA imposed significant changes on the DoD. The most significant change relevant to AFSC, then approaching its 40th anniversary, regarded new legal requirements for “joint officer personnel policy.”xxxii

By creating requirements for Joint Specialty Officers (JSO) and developing a specific career path for them, GNA eliminated structural bias against JSOs seeking career advancement and promotion. The GNA requirement for a Joint Professional Military Education Phase II course resolved the challenges of student selection for JFSC. Designated prerequisites and a mandated class size and composition attempted to ensure the Services placed students enroute to joint assignments. GNA established a unique 1/3 service mix requirement for joint education and prerequisites that held the Services accountable for sending the right student at the right time.xxxiii Four years later, 1990, marked a significant transition from the five-and-a-half-month course students and families attended in a permanent change of station (PCS) status to the now truncated temporary duty (TDY) course.xxxiv Gone were family support groups, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Little League, and a vast assortment of activities to build camaraderie across the joint "families." Intramural sports, social activities, seminar photos, and joint planning and operations remained.xxxv The emphasis on jointness enhanced teamwork, attitudes, and, ironically—family, through acculturation and shared experiences. Engendering trust, cooperation, and understanding, while receiving a rigorous joint education remained a cornerstone of the College experience despite the dramatic reduction in course length.

The transition to a TDY school with a much shorter course increased student throughput but created significant turmoil. From August 1990-November 1993, GNA established the course at nine weeks for junior field grade officers and launched a five-week senior course for O6s. In 1994, Title 10 United States Code (U.S.C.) re-established the course length to 12 weeks. Over the next ten years, JFSC refined the delivery of the 12-week Intermediate and Senior program. 1999 marked completion of the construction of Okinawa Hall, which housed a new library and wargaming suites. In 2000, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) redesignated AFSC as the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC). The curricular revisions and the facility developments marked a significant moment largely attributable to the oversight of the House Armed Service Committee and the support of Congressman Ike Skelton. Under their auspices, JPME strengthened the joint force.

The 21st Century

The first essential of an efficient training system is a strong corps of highly qualified Regular officers. Such a body must attain the professional ability to analyze and interpret the lessons of history and evaluate them in the light of present and constantly changing conditions. From these, it must develop correct principles, methods, and technique applying to every phase of the military art —General Douglas MacArthur, Report to the Secretary of War, 1933xxxvi

By the beginning of the 21st Century, stability appeared to have returned to the now redesignated Joint Forces Staff College.xxxvii xxxviii xxxix Yet, the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, increased the need for graduates. After 9/11, the Joint and Combined Staff Officer School (JCSOS) and Joint and Combined Warfighting School (JCWS) produced approximately eight hundred graduates annually through an Intermediate and Senior twelve-week program. As the Global War on Terrorism grew in intensity and the force increased in size, demand grew proportionally for JPME-II graduates. To meet the demand, in 2005, based on the 2004 NDAA, JCWS converted to four ten-week courses, which increased output to over one thousand students annually.

Then, with the establishment of the Joint, Continuing, and Distance Education School (JCDES), the College transformation intensified. The 1999 NDAA had called for establishing a JPME-II equivalent course for the Reserve Community. JFSC developed the Advance Joint Professional Military Education (AJPME) course integrating online instruction (asynchronous and synchronous) and face-to-face modules to provide a JPME-II equivalent experience. Initially developed for part-time Reservists and National Guard, the School filled a need identified back in 1959 by Vice Admiral Charles Wellborn, then Commandant. JFSC established the Reserve Officer’s Orientation Course (ROOC), integrating reserve officers into the National Security instruction of the course.xl The ROOC continued until the development of the 12-week JPME-II course. The ROOC course eventually ended, but to fulfill the need of teaching reserve officers, reserve student enrollment was directed into AJPME or what is now known as JCWS-Hybrid.

JCDES also included the Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education (SEJPME) Course. SEJPME was initially a 40-hour online course introducing Senior Enlisted (E-7 to E-9) to joint principles and doctrine. The program evolved to a Phase I and II course and migrated to Joint Knowledge Online in 2015. Concurrently, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reinvigorated an initiative to bring Senior Noncommissioned Officers into JCWS. JCWS has historically been an officer-oriented course, and there is no JPME-II requirement for NCOs. However, the initiative has met little resistance and enriches seminar dynamics. Since 2016, fifty-two Senior NCOs have participated in JCWS with continued success.xli

The Joint and Combined Warfighting School-Resident is tied most directly to the development and time-honored outcomes of the JFSC in line with Eisenhower’s and Nimitz’s original concept. The school emerged as the largest producer of JPME-II graduates in the Department of Defense through a series of innovations. The Resident Course delivers four ten-week courses annually and is the “brick and mortar” course founded in Title 10 U.S.C. JCWS is considered the “gold standard” for JPME II graduates and joint qualified officers.

Allowing servicemembers to TDY to Norfolk proved inconvenient to CCMDs during the high operational tempo that defined the decades of the Global War on Terror. To lessen the TDY impact of servicemembers and ensure joint staffs received joint education amidst the continuous deployments during the Decade of War, JFSC initiated the Satellite delivery method. The Satellite delivery method entailed sending teaching teams to Combatant Command Headquarters and the National Capital Region to conduct classes at the student’s current duty assignment location. Conducted in parallel with resident deliveries, the satellites take advantage of local guest speakers, senior fellows, and teleconferencing to deliver a near-identical resident experience at the student's home station. One significant change is that the Combatant Command determines the seminar composition instead of the Services, aligning the satellite courses more directly to the needs of the Command. The Satellite Program continues the tradition of the Joint Planning and Orientation Course (JPOC) that exported courses directly to the point of need and exposed faculty to the operations of Combatant Command and select joint staffs.xlii

Joint Command, Control, and Information Operations School (JC2IOS) provide significant support to the joint force through tailored, shorter designated, Joint Point Certified courses in Joint Command and Control, Information Operations, and Intelligence.xliii JC2IOS traces its lineage to the Joint Command, Control, and Communications Staff Officer Course (JC3SOC) of 1977, designed to expand education for mid-grade officers on command, control, and communications concepts.xliv Additional courses from JC3SOC included the Joint Electronic Warfare Staff Officer Course (JEWSOC) and expanded to include Information Operations functions. A significant benefit remains the opportunity to integrate into the core JPME-II programs the specialized and emerging functions of Information Operations, Cyberspace, Space, Military Deception, and Operations Security in an era of strategic competition.

The initial idea for the Joint Advanced Warfighting School appeared in an article by Ike Skelton in a 1992 issue of the Military Review, though some suggest the seed of the idea originated in 1989 House Armed Services Committee discussions. In the Military Review article, Skelton suggests that “one idea that merits serious study is the establishment of a Joint SAMS course under the auspices of the AFSC.” xlvii xlviii xlv The idea seemingly disappeared for another decade until 2002, when the Director of the Office of Net Assessment, Andrew Marshall, sent a memo to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that outlined the need and proposed the mission of the Joint Advanced Warfighting School.xlvi Marshall explicitly stated that “the Chairman should own the school.” Rumsfeld replied enthusiastically, suggesting, “it could be a terrific thing.” The original proposal, in what would continue the original debate between Eisenhower and Nimitz, even argued for not locating the school in Norfolk at the Joint Forces Staff College.xlix

Subsequently, in 2004, the CJCS directed that JFSC explore developing and delivering a joint course similar to the Services’ rigorous advanced military studies programs. Accordingly, JFSC launched the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS). JAWS leveraged the senior faculty positions to create the first-ever joint war college focused on the Operational Level of War. The addition of the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS), with its first graduates in 2005, expanded the JFSC student body. Previously, JFSC had graduated primarily junior O4’s to the joint strategist designation; JAWS graduates O5s and O6s, interagency planners, and select international officers. JAWS is a truly unique initiative, offering an exclusive master’s degree in Strategy and Joint Campaign Planning, preparing graduates to operate in designated and coded joint planning positions. The demand for JAWS graduates remains very high, as the JAWS curriculum provides an extraordinary depth of education in creating world-class campaign plans.

Most recently, in 2020, JFSC demonstrated its resilience, adaptability, and teamwork when challenged by COVID-19. Required by law to conduct the JFSC resident program in not less than ten weeks, JCWS transitioned to a virtual course. It was taught synchronously but leveraged the lessons from the Hybrid “online” components. Although acknowledged as a sub-optimal approach to acculturation, the online model rapidly and expertly met the needs of the force within the limitations of the pandemic. Concurrently, JAWS remained in a resident delivery mode using the space made available by JCWS’ virtual delivery.


The most fundamental conclusion of the panel is that joint specialist education should take place in joint schools. Joint schools have equal mixes by military departments of faculty and student bodies. They are under the control of the Chairman, JCS, so that joint matters dominate the curriculum and joint viewpoints prevail. This conclusion of the panel coincides with that of our World War II military leaders who determined that joint schools were essential. —Report of the Panel on Military Education, 21 April 1989l

For the past three-quarters of a century, the Joint Forces Staff College has proudly executed and staunchly defended the joint vision of General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and Congressman Ike Skelton. The College maintains its founding principle, “To foster mutual confidence and understanding among officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.”li The College embodies those values in its mission statement: “to educate national security professionals to plan and execute operational-level joint, multinational, and interagency operations to instill a primary commitment to joint, multinational, and interagency teamwork, attitudes, and perspectives."lii As the world has evolved, JFSC has adapted and transformed to meet the joint force's needs. It produces practitioner-scholars operating at differing capacities based on their experiences and knowledge of joint operations. The Joint and Combined Warfighting School today addresses a diverse student body. Officers completing Fellowships as their War College equivalent attend JCWS to satisfy their JPME-II requirements. Satellite offerings reduce TDY costs of Combatant Commands and provide an opportunity for students not afforded the preparatory education enroute to their assignment. The Joint Advanced Warfighting School produces graduates capable of performing as senior joint planners at Combatant Commands and the Joint Staff. The Reserve and National Guard in non-active status attend a Hybrid approach tailored to balancing the demands of a civilian career. Finally, the Joint Command, Control, and Information Operations School (JC2IOS) provides specialized courses on cutting-edge concepts and supplements the other JFSC Schools with subject matter expertise.

JFSC seeks to prepare, acculturate, and graduate students who meet the needs of Combatant Commanders and Joint Staffs, yet a problem with getting the right student at the right time persists. While O4s and O5s ideally attend JCWS prior to their first joint assignment, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recent vision statement, Developing Today’s Joint Officers for Tomorrow’s Ways of War, requires better integration of service talent management practices and joint education and promises to get closer to resolving the problem. With the proliferation of additional and often Service-centric programs offering JPME-II, acculturation and mutual confidence, core tenets of successful joint operations, are at risk.liii During today’s uncertain environment and increased concerns of strategic competition, the commitment to Unified Action of the Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) community requires strengthening. JFSC remains the most agile, cost-effective, and diverse organization for continued leadership in joint education.

Looking to the future, JFSC continues not only to provide a preponderance of JPME-II graduates annually but also has diversified alumni capable of operating across the spectrum of military operations. Its alumni are prepared to operate in an uncertain future with the most critical of tools: Teamwork. There is no doubt that Eisenhower and Nimitz would be proud of and delighted by the College they created. JFSC continues to bring their initial vision to life and serve as insurance that jointness thrives across the force.

That All May Labor as One!

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of Joint Forces Staff College, National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. 

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i General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Opening Exercises Address (Armed Forces Staff College, February 2, 1948)
ii Armed Forces Staff College was redesignated Joint Forces Staff College in 2000. Except in usage of direct quotes, JFSC is used in referring to the College.
iii The Goldwater-Nichols Act established Joint Specialty Officer. The Skelton Panel of 1988 developed the layered approach to Joint Professional Military-Education; Phase I at Service colleges, Phase II at Armed Forces Staff College. Later, JPME Phase III, CAPSTONE, would focus on officers selected for Flag or General Officerat National Defense University.
iv JFSC JPME-II programs include: Joint and Combined Warfighting Resident, Hybrid, Satellite, Joint Advanced Warfighting School. Additionally, JCWS offers seminars providing JPME-II tailored to senior officers completing civilian Fellowships in lieu of War College attendance.
v General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower: Memorandum to Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz: April 17, 1946
vi The Joint Board, Joint Action of the Army and the Navy: (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1927): 3. Washington DC, 1927. Specifically stated, the Army and Navy operated “Conjointly and in cooperation to defend the territory of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” Locher, James R. III, Victory on the Potomac (College Station: Texas A&M University Press):16. Locher quotes: Davis, Vernon E. The History of the Joint Staff in World War II: Organization and Development, Vol I, Origin of the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff (Washington: JCS, 1972) 7. “Army and Navy limited the board to “providing sufficient coordination to allow the two services to continue to operate autonomously in all major essentials”.
vii Vice Admiral J.L. Hall: Comments on Joint Operations (presentation, National War College, May 1, 1951): 8
viii John Lewis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: The Penguin Group, 2011), Kennan’s Long Telegram, 22 February 1946, outlined the dangers of the emergent Soviet Union; Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. 79th Cong. 2nd Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1946). This report was similar in relevance to the 9/11 Commission Report. Key findings led directly to the National Security Act of 1947. The directive establishing the Armed Forces Staff College was signed on 18 June 1946.
ix Army-Navy Journal. Study Joint Operations. (Washington, DC, 12 January 1946): 631
x Armed Forces Staff College. “To Labor as One”; the First 35 Years, Part 1 the First 25 Years, 1946-1971. (Armed Forces Staff College: Norfolk, VA) 3. ICAF was later renamed the Eisenhower School and part of the National Defense University (NDU)
xi Ibid., 4.
xii Ibid., 5.
xiii Ibid., 5.
xiv General Eisenhower. Opening Remarks (AFSC, February 2, 1948)
xv Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill. AFSC Graduation Address. (Armed Forces Staff College: Norfolk VA, January 22, 1949). VADM Hill had served as Commandant, Army, Navy Staff College, First Commandant of National War College, and later Superintendent of the Naval Academy.
xvi This idea has been paraphrased by many, to include General Eisenhower, in relation to AFSC’s objectives. It is originally attributed to Admiral (Ret) James L. Holloway, then Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and speaker at the Opening Ceremony on 3 February 1947. The specific comment was “You officers of the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps will work together and play together: your wives and children live within the same compound and will come out as friends, with a mutual understanding and mutual customs”. Armed Forces Staff College. Opening Exercise Class #1 (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA, February 3, 1947)
xvii Armed Forces Staff College. Part 1 the First 25 Years. (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA). 22.
xviii Ibid.
xix Armed Forces Staff College. Fifty-Year Commemorative History; 1956-1996 (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA). 57.
xx Ibid.
xxi Ibid., page 21
xxii Armed Forces Staff College. Program and Schedule, First Course. (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA, 1947).
xxiii In 1959, faculty of AFSC published the Joint and Combined Staff Officer’s Guide. The following year, the Joint Staff Officer’s Guide was produced by the AFSC. Over the next sixty years a variety of products with similar title and focus has been core to the curriculum at JFSC. In 2010, the product was designated Student Text-1. Budgetary and faculty reductions have driven the decision to discontinue this document.
xxiv Ibid., 61.
xxv Armed Forces Staff College. Part 1 the First 25 Years. (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA). 21-22.
xxvi Armed Forces Staff College, 50h Anniversary History (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA). 77.
xxvii Ibid., 78.
xxviii Armed Forces Staff College, 50h Anniversary History (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA). 43-45.
xxix Armed Forces Staff College. Part 1 the First 25 Years. (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA).33.
xxx Armed Forces Staff College. “To Labor as One”; the Final Decade; 1971-1981. (Armed Forces Staff College: Norfolk, VA). 78.
xxxi U.S. Congress Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives. Panel on Military Education. 100th Cong, 1st sess. (Washington: Government Printing Office: 1989). 64.
xxxii U.S. Congress Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives. H.R.3622 Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.
xxxiii Armed Forces Staff College, 50h Anniversary History (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA).70. GNA established the requirement for a 1/3 mix of Air, Land and Sea Service, both in student make-up faculty, ensuring an appropriate ratio to achieve “Acculturation.” Campaigning: The Journal of the Joint Forces Staff College 24 January 2022
xxxiv Ibid.
xxxv Ibid., 70-71.
xxxvi General Douglas MacArthur. Report to the Secretary of the Army. (Washington DC, 1933). 21.
xxxvii Armed Forces Staff College was officially redesignated Joint Forces Staff College by the National Defense Authorization Act of 1999
xxxviii Joint Forces Staff College. Educating Joint Warfighters for the 21st Century:2001 Stakeholders Report. (Norfolk VA, 2001). In 2001, JCSOS provided instruction to 04s and 05s, while JCWS provided senior instruction for post command 05s and 06s.
xxxix JCWS merged in 2002 to create a JCWS-Intermediate and JCWS-Senior Program. JCWS-Senior would eventually become the foundation for JAWS.
xl Armed Forces Staff College. Part 1 the First 25 Years. (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA).36.
xli Prior to 2016, several Senior NCO’s participated in JCWS to test the feasibility and in some instances in an “Audit” status. In total, 62 Senior NCO’s have participated.
xlii Armed Forces Staff College, 50h Anniversary History (Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA). 60. Joint Planning and Orientation Course and Flag and General Officer Seminars were established in 1976 and disestablished on 13 August 2007, removing a significant engagement opportunity for JFSC Faculty.
xliii Ibid., 70. JC2IOS was initially established in 1979
xliv Ibid., 59.
xlv Ike Skelton, “JPME: Are We there Yet?,” Military Review, May 1992, xlvi Andrew Marshall, “Creation of a Joint Advanced Military School” (official memorandum, Washington DC: Department of Defense) April 11, 2002.
xlvii Donald Rumsfeld, “Joint Advanced Military School,” (official memorandum, Washington DC: Department of Defense) April 25, 2022.
xlviii Donald Rumsfeld, “Joint Advanced Military School,” (official memorandum, Washington DC: Department of Defense) April 25, 2022.
xlix Andrew Marshall, “Creation of a Joint Advanced Military School,” (official memorandum, Washington DC: Department of Defense) April 11, 2002.
l U.S. Congress Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives. Panel on Military Education. 100th Cong, 1st sess. (Washington: Government Printing Office: 1989).
li Read today as inclusive of the Marine Corps and Space Force. When originally stated, the Air Force was the new Service. Today, JFSC embraces the new Service and domains to develop the mutual trust.
lii “Joint Forces Staff College Mission Statement,” Joint Forces Staff College. Accessed November 7, 2021. %20Staff,joint%2C%20multinational%2C%20and%20interagency%20teamwork%2C%20attitudes%2C%20and%2 0perspectives.%22
liii Davis, Charles, and Kienle, Frederick R. “Toward a More Lethal, Flexible, and Resilient Joint Force.” Joint Force Quarterly 92 (2019):23-29. Davis and Kienle examine the importance of acculturation and the proliferation of JPME programs less interested in the original need for joint education.