Author Topic: US Army Staff College gets "D" grade from student--and Canadian Forces College?  (Read 2490 times)

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Just a taste:

Quote
It’s A Big Deal: An Officer Grades The Army Staff College And Its Leadership
...
I have spent the past year being graded, evaluated, and assessed as a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC). After graduating and reflecting over the past year, I will now grade, evaluate, and assess CGSC.

You will find that I am extremely candid and pride myself in speaking my mind. If you are offended by this, then I recommend you stop reading now.

So, how did CGSC do? Let's take a look...

Critical Thinking

Grade: D

Critical thinking instruction was a short but did introduce us to some worthwhile information. However, after writing "What's wrong with FM 3-0? Lots," I was informed that leadership was extremely angry at my writing. They want critical thinkers as long as it's not directed at them.

Ethics

Grade: F

The failing grade is due in large part to ethical failings in multiple areas – primarily the school's policy regarding the dismissal of pregnant servicemembers.

Leadership

Grade: D

Overall, the leadership curriculum provided some value-added information and introduced us to some good models and frameworks. The overall discussion was well-received by most. It was the lack of actual mission command by CGSC that demonstrated to us that they do not practice what they teach.

History

Grade: B
...
Maj. Jamie Schwandt, USAR, is a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is a logistics officer and has served as an operations officer, planner and commander. He is certified as a Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, certified Red Team Member, and holds a doctorate from Kansas State University. This article represents his own personal views, which are not necessarily those of the Command and General Staff College or the Department of the Army [NO, ER, KIDDING--any CAF officer willing/able to write similarly?].
https://taskandpurpose.com/army-staff-college-leadership

And Canadian Forces College by comparison? Recent syllabi here:

Quote
Joint Command and Staff Programme

The aim of the Joint Command and Staff Programme (JCSP) is to prepare selected senior officers of the Defence Team for command and staff appointments in the contemporary operating environment across the continuum of operations in national and international settings.

Further information on the JCSP is available in the following:

    Syllabus - JCSP 44
    Syllabus - JCSPs 42 and 43
https://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/226-eng.html

Happy New Year to all!

Mark
Ottawa
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline tomahawk6

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The Command and General Staff College should prepare a mid level officer for future assignments as at the battalion/brigade level and on a general staff, just as the branch courses prepare an officer for the tactical level and the war college prepares an officer for command and staff jobs at battalion level and above. Not everyone is selected for the C&GSC or war college. The officers that do well go on to battalion  command. Brigade level command as a Colonel requires selection for the War College. Selection for general officer is based on command performance and a senior staff assignment. View these schools as required for promotion to LTC and Colonel. My father went to the C&GSC at a time when only half of a year group is selected.Now I think there is no cut. My dad went from there to ROTC instructor duty,a general staff,assignment to a MAAG where he was promoted to LTC followed by battalion command and then a tour at the Pentagon. After which he was promoted to Colonel without going to a War College. He was happy to eventually retire as a Colonel. He had a bad break when his ADA branch would have assigned him to brigade command but he would have to be released by his boss at the Pentagon,but viewed him as essential and would not release him. Just a what if moment. I think had he been released he might have gotten a star or certainly assignment at the War College. In my case all the boxes were checked including some good jobs without which you go nowhere. I imagine its the same in the CF.

Offline dapaterson

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So, a Maj with a PhD in adult education critiques the institution, and the result is pushback from the institution.

Unfortunately, not a surprise.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamieschwandt
This posting made in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(b):
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/1.html

Offline PPCLI Guy

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Just a taste:

And Canadian Forces College by comparison? Recent syllabi here:

Happy New Year to all!

Mark
Ottawa

What exactly is your point?  You have compared a diatribe from a graduate from one institution,  with the syllbus from another.  What are you inferring?
"The higher the rank, the more necessary it is that boldness should be accompanied by a reflective mind....for with increase in rank it becomes always a matter less of self-sacrifice and more a matter of the preservation of others, and the good of the whole."

Karl von Clausewitz

Offline Humphrey Bogart

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What I'm really wondering is what is a Sigma Six Master Black Belt?


Offline daftandbarmy

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What I'm really wondering is what is a Sigma Six Master Black Belt?

It's a certification in a process improvement methodology through the Lean program: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma



"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Journeyman

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View these schools as required for promotion to LTC and Colonel.

In my case all the boxes were checked ....
I think that, perhaps inadvertently, you have justified Maj Schwandt's critique;  he points out, and explains why, he believes that C&GSC rates a terrible-to-failed grade at critical thinking, ethics, and leadership.  If the institution is viewed merely as a tick in the box towards promotion, I imagine that it would be difficult to amend these shortcomings since apparently what is taught and how is largely irrelevant.

Mind you, I've been impressed with the Canadians who graduated from the follow-on SAMS program; maybe the DS save their efforts for those who would benefit most from the 'heavy lifting.'
There’s nothing more maddening than debating someone who doesn’t know history, doesn’t read books, and frames their myopia as virtue. The level of unapologetic conjecture I’ve encountered lately isn’t just frustrating, it’s retrogressive, unprecedented, and absolutely terrifying.
~Chris Evans

Offline MarkOttawa

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PPCLI Guy: Wasn't implying anything--just wondering if anything to learn from a comparison, perhaps to CAF's advantage.

Mark
Ottawa
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Good2Golf

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...is anyone else seeing the irony of a critic of a staid, unresponsive organization crowing about his own qualifications in a system that had often been critiqued for overbearingly constraining an organization's structure to fit the original intentions of specific manufacturing process refinement to aim to allow only 3.4 diversions from specification per million actions/outputs?

#criticalthoughdoubleedgedsword


:2c:

Regards
G2G

Online Infanteer

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There was some discussion amongst my staff college peers and I about Maj Schwandt's article when it was first published.  Although we agreed with some of his points, most of us found he seemed to be the bitter guy who probably didn't get what he was expecting - this bias crept into his writing style, which greatly detracted from his message.

I am not a graduate of the Canadian Force College, but I did complete JCSP-equivalencey in an allied school, and corresponded often with my peers in Toronto to compare experiences.  From that, I concluded that there wasn't much in qualitative difference between schools - they all had courses on leadership and ethics, courses on how government worked, some operational instruction, and all offered a 1-year masters program.  My experience and the testimonials I gathered is that all ABCA schools have roughly the same dilemma.  Do they try to be a grad school, arming future senior leaders with a Masters Degree in something, or do they try to be a professional school, arming future leaders with further technical expertise of their profession.  Different ABCA staff colleges, from my observations, will all hang around the centre to some degree, with a lean to the "grad school" side or "professional college" side based on a variety of factors.

The three biggest things that affect a staff college's utility are:

1.  Who we send to instruct?  Are the military instructors folks people wish to emulate, or is the school a dumping ground?  This may affect the quality of instruction (the greatest CO may be a poor instructor) but will undoubtedly affect the students perception of the value the institution places on its school.  How about the civilian faculty?  Do they have the appropriate backgrounds?
2.  Who we send to learn?  Is the school an "all will attend" facility, or is there some sort of venturi applied to admissions.  The difference is stark, as with the former you get people who are just filling seats (and must be dragged through the curriculum), while with the latter, you have a room of people who are self-motivating.
3.  How does the school balance the theoretical and the practical?  Is a school providing any value if a graduate gets an MA by writing some half-baked thesis that wouldn't pass muster in a second-rate civilian institution?  Is a school providing value if its teaching technical stuff that would be of no relevance to the next 10 years of an officers career?  So we've taught officers Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (again) and the Law of Armed Conflict (again) - does that really mean we've imparted useful education and training in leadership?  How does a school balance time to read and reflect vs time to discuss in seminar and absorb in lecture?  These are all questions that a school must tackle with its curriculum design.  A school that can't balance theoretical knowledge and practical application will have trouble demonstrating value to the institution.



"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline daftandbarmy

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...is anyone else seeing the irony of a critic of a staid, unresponsive organization crowing about his own qualifications in a system that had often been critiqued for overbearingly constraining an organization's structure to fit the original intentions of specific manufacturing process refinement to aim to allow only 3.4 diversions from specification per million actions/outputs?

#criticalthoughdoubleedgedsword


:2c:

Regards
G2G

To be fair... he DOES have a PhD :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline tomahawk6

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But he isn't a combat arms officer. ;D

Online Infanteer

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...and if anyone is interested, here is a response to the original article that was posted to the blog.

https://taskandpurpose.com/cgsc-defense-army-staff-college

"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Ostrozac

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Mind you, I've been impressed with the Canadians who graduated from the follow-on SAMS program; maybe the DS save their efforts for those who would benefit most from the 'heavy lifting.'

SAMS does indeed seem to be an impressive program, but is intentionally not designed for everyone. Might this be a callback to the more selective staff colleges of the late 19th/early 20th century, when staff training wasn't an 'everyone will attend' thing?

Does joint staff training benefit from two tiers -- a generalist 'this will teach you how to be a cubicle dweller at Star Top or 101' qualification vs a specialist 'this will make you a world class strategist' qualification? Therefore, all the stuff that Maj Schwandt was looking for could be in the second tier, while the bulk of attendees that are looking for a check in the box, a Master's, and the opportunity to network would be content with the first tier.

Offline Good2Golf

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...and if anyone is interested, here is a response to the original article that was posted to the blog.

https://taskandpurpose.com/cgsc-defense-army-staff-college

Good piece. :nod:

Maj. McIlwaine makes a number of good points. MDMP is what it is...it’s not AMP, nor JOPP, nor SD.  SAMS picks these up and definitely prepares those able and suitable to move towards War College and those heights.  I visited CGCS (and SAMS) for a short exchange while in JCSP and I had the sense that CGSC was like a half step between AOC and JCSP and that SAMS was a half-step between JCSP amd NSSP.

McIlwaine nicely (through a bit of good ole Brit self-deprivation) and subtlety brought to the fore the concept of title-seekers (I would posit that the non-operator/combat arms Six-Sigma Black Belt PhD’d adult education expert with top grades Inn CGsC is one of these) versus those who (have) practice(d) the art of applied violence.

Thanks for the link, Infanteer.

Regards
G2G

Offline tomahawk6

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I agree that staff college attendance should be selective. Fact of the matter is that the selection rate for promotion drops from LTC to Col and General officer.Might as well be selective now so we don't string a man along and he might be able to move on to a different career. Not everyone is going to get promoted. In fact I disagree with our up or out policy which effectively eliminates the career Captain and the experience they have from the service.

Online Infanteer

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Maj. McIlwaine makes a number of good points. MDMP is what it is...it’s not AMP, nor JOPP, nor SD.

But these are all, in essence, the same thing.  Comparative, analytical decision making processes.  I've put all of the ABCA decision making processes side by side and despite naming conventions, they all involve (1) Understanding the Problem (2) Determining Options (3) Comparing Options (4) Selecting an Option.

This is a form of decision making that requires time and a certain level of knowledge of what is going on.  They contrast to selective, intuitive decision making processes that are a bane to the Staff College instructor but appear to be employed far more once the operation begins.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Good2Golf

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But these are all, in essence, the same thing.  Comparative, analytical decision making processes.  I've put all of the ABCA decision making processes side by side and despite naming conventions, they all involve (1) Understanding the Problem (2) Determining Options (3) Comparing Options (4) Selecting an Option.

This is a form of decision making that requires time and a certain level of knowledge of what is going on.  They contrast to selective, intuitive decision making processes that are a bane to the Staff College instructor but appear to be employed far more once the operation begins.


I agree...I should have been clearer, and maybe added a preface, to reinforce the MDMP is just a tool:  "Military decision makers use a number of tools to assess, determine and plan appropriate actions in response to orders given by superiors." 

MDMP is but one tool/construct available to military planners to assess a situation and respond accordingly.  AMP, JOPP, SD, the Appreciation/Estimate, Battle Procedure, etc. are also options to military commanders at various levels.

As you note, there is also a real-time, intuitive process (or high-speed deductive process, that through practice and repetition, appears intuitive to many observers) that serves tactical leaders during operations where timelines or (lack of) complexity do not require the more deliberate decision-making process.

Regards
G2G