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School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS)
School of Advanced Military Studies (crest).png
The School of Advanced Military Studies Crest
Active 1981–Present
Country USA
Allegiance Federal
Garrison/HQ Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Motto(s) The mind is the key to victory[1]
Colonel Thomas C. Graves
Colonel Wass de Czege

The School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) is one of four United States Army schools that make up the United States Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This "enormously rigorous"[2] graduate school comprises two programs: the larger Advanced Military Studies Program (AMSP), and the Advanced Operational Art Studies Fellowship (AOASF), which more senior officers attend. The student body is small but diverse and comprises members of each of the U.S. armed forces, various U.S. Government agencies, and allied military forces. Graduates are colloquially known as "Jedi Knights".[3][a]

The school educates the future leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces, its Allies, and the Interagency at the graduate level to be agile and adaptive leaders who think critically at the strategic and operational levels to solve complex ambiguous problems.[4]

SAMS graduates are innovative leaders, willing to accept risk and to experiment. They are adaptive leaders who excel at the art of command and anticipate the future operational environment by applying critical & creative thinking skills in order to solve complex problems. All graduates demonstrate mastery of Operational Art and Doctrine and are able to synthesize the elements of US national power in Joint, Interagency,Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) operations.[4]

The school issues a masters degree in Military Art and Science,[5] and provides its graduates with the skills to deal with the disparate challenges encountered in contemporary military and government operations. The modern course produces "leaders with the flexibility of mind to solve complex operational and strategic problems in peace, conflict, and war".[6] Various senior military leaders have recognized the contributions of SAMS graduates in supporting global contingency operations.

The first class began at the school in mid-1983 and 13 students graduated the following year.[7] Due to increasing requirements for SAMS graduates in the U.S. military, the army expanded the school in the 1990s, and in 2010 over 120 students graduated.[8] Since the school's inception, SAMS planners have supported every major U.S. military campaign, providing the army "with many of its top campaign planners for the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries".[9]


The SAMS course was designed to fill a gap in U.S. military education between the CGSC's focus on tactics and the War College's focus on grand strategy and national security policy.[10] In 1981, Colonel Huba Wass de Czege convinced Fort Leavenworth's Lieutenant General William R. Richardson, who served as Commander of the Combined Arms Center and Commandant of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth from 1979 to 1981, that a second year of military education was needed for select officers.[11] After receiving final approval, Wass de Czege helped plan and develop the school, which would open in mid-1983.[12][b] Although there was some disagreement about the purpose of the course, army leaders and the course designers settled on a plan to provide officers with a "broad, deep military education in the science and art of war."[13]

In June 1983, the first class of 13 U.S. Army students began in the basement of Bell Hall at Fort Leavenworth.[14] Initially, there were some internal problems with facilities and scheduling,[15] and in the school's early years there was uncertainty whether its graduates would be accepted and how they would perform in the force. When the first class graduated in 1984, SAMS had already become "the symbol for intellectual renaissance in the officer corps".[16] When the first director, Wass de Czege, was succeeded by Colonel Richard Sennreich in 1985, the school was already beginning to produce results and the U.S. Army and the College regarded SAMS as a "useful experiment".[17] By 1987, enrollment of high-quality officers had risen and sister services were becoming interested in sending students to SAMS.[18] The program's growing popularity and reputation also began attracting students from allied countries.

Colonel Wass de Czege, the school's first director.

SAMS graduates first saw active service in December 1989 during Operation Just Cause in Panama.[19] A core planning cell of seven SAMS graduates "crafted a well rehearsed and well executed plan that simultaneously struck some roughly 50 objectives in a single coordinated blow".[20] According to Colonel Kevin Benson, the tenth director of the school, "The Army and SAMS faced a test of battle and the new group of highly-educated planners appeared to have passed the test with flying colors."[21] After its mission in Panama, the army's leaders began to draw on SAMS to assist in additional ways. In the early 1990s, U.S. Army leaders called upon the school to help develop army doctrine. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas E. Mitchell, Colonel James McDonough (the fifth SAMS director), and other members of the SAMS team helped revise the U.S. Army Doctrinal Manual 100-5 Operations in 1990–1993.[22]

Bell Hall. The first home of SAMS.

Lieutenant General Guy C. Swan noted that SAMS graduates were indispensable in Europe after the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.[23] They were expected to "re-engineer the decades of planning that had gone into the GDP [General Defense Plan] almost overnight".[23] Swan stated that this was "the first true test of SAMS on a large scale".[23] SAMS graduates served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and were "remembered most famously in the early days for producing the 'Jedi Knights' employed by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in developing the famous 'left hook'  ".[24] SAMS graduates also served in roles beyond the initial planning, with 82 graduates participating in diverse theater tasks by February 1991.[25] As a result, U.S. Army leadership regarded SAMS as a source of "superb planners".[26]

"The number one reason for the success of Desert Storm was General (H. Norman) Schwarzkopf. ... The number two reason was the air war, and the number three reason was the SAMS graduates who put together General Schwarzkopf's plan."

Williamson Murray, Professor of Military History at Ohio State University, 1991.[27]

After Desert Storm, the army struggled with military operations other than war, such as peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations.[28] The school and its graduates examined the situations in Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia. Graduates also participated in Defense Support of Civil authorities missions.[28] The course continued to change in the 1990s. Under Colonel Gregory Fontenot, the school moved from Fort Leavenworth's Flint Hall to Eisenhower Hall in October 1994. In later years, the school's leadership expanded the number of seminars and the civilian faculty.[29] The military continues to draw heavily on SAMS in the twenty-first century. SAMS planners have played a significant role in the Global War on Terror. Beginning in 2002, the United States Central Command requested planners from SAMS and its sister schools,[30] the United States Air Force's School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), which was designed to be similar to SAMS,[31][c] and the United States Marine Corps's School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW).[30] SAMS students from the 2002 and 2003 classes participated as planners in the preparations for the invasion of Iraq and the plan for the post-combat occupation.[32]

Eisenhower Hall, the home of SAMS from 1994 to 2011.

The school continued to change and develop, and an additional faculty expansion occurred in 2005–2006. Also, the Fellows' curriculum shifted further away from that of the AMSP program.[33] To keep pace with increasing demand for SAMS planners, the commander of the army's Training and Doctrine Command directed an expansion that was approved by the Chief of Staff of the Army, and the school's 11th director, Colonel Steve Banach, began a winter-start course in 2007.[34] During this period, SAMS provided planners to help forward-deployed headquarters plan operations and contingencies.[35] The school moved to new premises in the newly renovated Muir Hall at Fort Leavenworth on 30 August 2011.[36]


"I realized that the SAMS guy in the Division HQ was the go-to person for everyone."

SAMS graduates have supported every major U.S. military campaign between 1984 and 2009.[38] SAMS graduates are known for their "critical thinking skill sets",[39] and are consistently called for by combatant commanders around the world.[40] In 2010, Brigadier General Sean MacFarland said, "In a crisis, the president always asks, 'where are the aircraft carriers?' In the Army, leaders ask, 'Where are the SAMS graduates?' Just as the aircraft carrier was a game changer in naval warfare, SAMS graduates and practitioners of operational art have been game changers in land warfare."[8]

The school has been praised by senior U.S. military leaders. According to Major General David Hogg, "SAMS has a reputation for producing skilled planners that can take complex ideas and develop cohesive plans."[41] In 2010, army Vice Chief of Staff Peter W. Chiarelli said that SAMS was "at the forefront of the effort to remake strategic military planning for the 21st century".[8]

Facilities and Student Body

Muir Hall.

As of 2014, the SAMS teaching facilities are mainly housed in Muir Hall (once a stable) and Flint Hall. The AMSP courses are taught mostly in Muir Hall—the current SAMS headquarters—while Flint Hall houses additional AMSP seminars and the AOASF seminars. Both buildings were renovated in 2011 and their classrooms accommodate seminars of about 16–18 students and an instructor. The renovations for Muir Hall cost $12.2 million, including $3 million in information systems that allow students to collaborate digitally, replicating a common practice seen in militaries today.[36]

SAMS classroom activities, November 2010.

The application process includes an examination, an interview, and a supervisor assessment. Applicants must also complete the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff School or an equivalent intermediate-level education course offered by another uniformed service. The student body of SAMS comprises mostly U.S. Army field grade officers from combat, combat support, and combat service support branches.[42] However, in 1987 the U.S. Air Force graduated three officers and officers from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps graduated the following years. U.S. government agencies began sending students to SAMS in 2007. The Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have provided students to the school.[43][44] Also, Warrant officers were first admitted to SAMS in the 2010.[45]

Allied foreign militaries also provide students. In 1999, the school graduated its first international officers—Norwegian and Canadian.[42] Argentina, Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Jordan, Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Romania, South Korea, Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom have also sent students through the course.[8]


Advanced Military Studies Program

Most students participate in the Advanced Military Studies Program (AMSP). In 2009, the school held eight AMSP seminars.[46] AMSP is intended to educate students in "military arts and science",[8] and focuses on operational art and covers a variety of subjects, including military problem solving; military theory and history, military doctrine, operational planning; battle dynamics, operational theory and practice, contemporary military operations, and the application of national elements of power.[47] Besides classroom studies and operational exercises, students must complete a research monograph[d] and an oral examination.[48] After graduating, officers serve on a division, corps, or Army Service Component Command staff, or in a functional area assignment.[49]

"AMSP graduates are eagerly sought out by senior commanders for addition to their staffs as high-level planners and in other capacities demanding a more sophisticated appreciation of the operational level of war, joint operations, and the evolving contemporary operating environment."

United States Army Command and General Staff College.[50]

Advanced Operational Art Studies Fellowship

Flint Hall, circa 1980s. Flint Hall was the home of SAMS from 1985 to 1994. In January 2012, portions of SAMS instruction began again at the newly renovated Flint Hall.[47]

The AOASF is the school's senior program,[42] and focuses on planning and executing full-spectrum operations with government and nongovernmental agencies.[8] Its students comprise senior lieutenant colonels, colonels, and their civilian equivalents. Military AOASF fellows have typically commanded a battalion-sized unit in the armed services.[51] The course is equivalent to the U.S. Army War College,[52] and instructs 16 students annually.[49]

The program began in 1984 as the Advanced Operational Studies Fellowship (AOSF) by diverting lieutenant colonel War College selectees to Fort Leavenworth for an equivalent education program; these officers remained for a second year to help instruct AMSP students.[53] Because highly-qualified officers could not remain at the faculty permanently, this program was designed to mitigate the effects of periodic faculty reassignments due to operational requirements. The AOSF program allowed students to complete the AMSP and then serve as the principal instructor of the AMSP during their second year. In 1995, the name of the program was changed to its current version, and in the early 21st century its curriculum was closer aligned with the strategic level of war.[54]

During the first year, the AOASF curriculum includes classroom investigation of the multinational, joint and interagency environment, and extensive travel to the U.S. Defense Department's regional commands and headquarters.[51] In the second year, students become instructors of an AMSP seminar or take up other positions in the school.[42] This course focuses on the operational and strategic realms of war and prepares students for assignments as leaders and to serve in critical staff positions within combatant and service component commands.[55] The course involves extensive travel, and the study of applied strategy, military theory, military history, strategic studies,campaign planning, regional studies, and practical work in joint planning.[47] Fellows completing AOASF receive credit as a United States Army War College graduate,[42] and typically serve in a follow-on command assignment or work for a three- or four-star general officer as a member of his or her staff.[51]

Reading List

Roots of Strategy: Book 1 (Bk. 1) by Brig.Gen. Thomas R. Phillips The Art of War (Smithsonian History of Warfare): War and Military Thought by Martin L. Van Creveld The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century A.D. to the Third (Johns Hopkins Paperbacks) by Edward N. Luttwak The Wizards of Armageddon (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) by Fred M. Kaplan Roots of Strategy: Book 2 by Curtis Brown Roots of Strategy Book: 4 Military Classics : The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, Command of the Air, Winged Defense by Col. David Jablonsky Strategy: Second Revised Edition (Meridian) by Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart The Prince (Bantam Classics) by Niccolo Machiavelli On War, Indexed Edition by Carl von Clausewitz The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides The Art of War by Sun Tzu Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Howard History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare (Cambridge Illustrated Histories) by Geoffrey Parker Understanding Terror Networks by Marc Sageman On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy by Robert Audi Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Vol 7&8 in One Book by Paul Edwards How We Think by John Dewey The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John J. Mearsheimer Understanding International Conflicts: An Introduction to Theory and History (Longman Classics in Political Science) by Joseph S. Nye The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization by Thomas L. Friedman The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War by Robert D. Kaplan Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lecture on American Civilization) by John Lewis Gaddis American National Security by Amos A. Jordan The Making of Strategy: Rulers, States, and War by Williamson Murray Bounding the Global War on Terrorism by Jeffrey Record Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives by Mary Jo Hatch Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning by Henry Mintzberg Causality and Explanation by Wesley C. Salmon Causality and Modern Science: Third Revised Edition by Mario Bunge Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference by Judea Pearl The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions by Edward R. Tufte Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941 by David C. Evans Harnessing Complexity by Robert Axelrod Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics by Todd Landman Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Notable graduates


a.^ According to Kevin Benson, the 10th director of the school, "The first 'official' reference to the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) graduates as Jedi Knights was on 12 May 1992 during a meeting of the Committee on Armed Services Military Education Panel in Washington D.C."[57] Congressman Ike Skelton stated, "we all know that the real stamp of approval came when General Schwarzkopf requested SAMS graduates, sometimes referred to as 'Jedi Knights," be sent to his headquarters in Riyadh to assist in developing the campaign plan."[58]
b.^ The other two officers assigned to assist Wass de Czege in preparing the curricula for the school were Lieutenant Colonels Hal Winton and Douglas Johnson.[59] Another key member of the SAMS staff was Mrs. Candace Hamm whose service to the school in 1988–2012 earned her the title of "godmother of SAMS".[60]
c.^ SAASS's first director, Colonel William Fortner, stated in 1991 that the new school (originally called the School of Advanced Airpower Studies) "will be similar to the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth", with additional focuses on air power topics.[31]
d.^ Initially, the requirement was to complete a master's thesis. School director Don Holder (1987–1989) changed this requirement to two monographs, the first with a tactical focus, and the second on an operational level topic. This continued until the school's eighth director, Robin P. Swan (1998–2001) changed the monograph requirement back to one "in the face of multiple and competing requirements".[61]


  1. Benson 2009. p. Foreword.
  2. Scales 2009. p. 24.
  3. Huntoon 2009. p. 4; United States Army Command and General Staff College Public Affairs 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 United States Army Command and General Staff College: School of Advanced Military Studies
  5. Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library 2011.
  6. CGSC Circular 350-1. p. 21.
  7. Benson 2009. p. 2; United States Army Command and General Staff College (SAMS Tri-Fold) 2012. p. 2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Liewer 2010.
  9. Huntoon 2009. p. 2; Stewart 2010. p. 394.
  10. Naylor 1991. pp. 10, 16.
  11. Wass de Czege 2009. p. 103.
  12. Benson 2009. p. 2; Swain 1996. p. 160. According to Swain, this information was "described in" U.S. Army Combined Arms Center 1982–83–84, (1989) Annual Historical Review, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Combined Arms Center History Office.
  13. Benson 2009. p. 3.
  14. Benson 2009. p. 2, 15; United States Army Command and General Staff College (SAMS Tri-Fold) 2012. p. 2.
  15. Benson 2009. p. 14–15; US Army Military History Institute, Senior Officer Oral History Program, LTC Harold R. Winton, USA, Retired. Conducted by LTC Richard Mustion, 5 April 2001 at Carlisle Barracks, PA, 17, quoted in Benson 2009. p. 14.
  16. Stewart 2010. p. 291.
  17. Benson 2009. p. 21.
  18. Benson 2009. pp. 25, 27.
  19. Benson 2009. p. 35.
  20. Benson 2009. p. 36.
  21. Benson 2009. p. 38.
  22. Romjue 1996. pp. 27–28, 31–33, 39–40, 44, 46, 51, 109.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Bower 2010.
  24. 24.0 24.1 United States Army Command and General Staff College Public Affairs 2010.
  25. U.S. News and World Report 1992. p. 288.
  26. Benson 2009. p. 42.
  27. Naylor 1991. p. 10.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Benson 2009. p. 44.
  29. Benson 2009. pp. 46–47, 50–51, 53.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Benson 2009. pp. 48–49.
  31. 31.0 31.1 West 1991. p. 10.
  32. Benson 2009. pp. 49.
  33. Benson 2009. pp. 50–51.
  34. Benson 2009. pp. 53.
  35. Benson 2009. pp. 52.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Erickson 2011.
  37. Benson 2009. p. 39.
  38. Huntoon 2009. p. 2.
  39. Bower 2010. p. 1.
  40. Huntoon 2009. p. 4.
  41. Bower 2011.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 42.4 United States Army Command and General Staff College (SAMS Tri-Fold) 2012. p. 2.
  43. Benson 2009. p. 51.
  44. School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS Tri-Fold). p. 1.
  45. Bower 2011. p. A1.
  46. United States Army Command and General Staff College (SAMS Tri-Fold) 2012. p. 1.
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 United States Army Combined Arms Center and School. p. 68.
  48. United States Army Command and General Staff College 2005. p. 31.
  49. 49.0 49.1 United States Army Combined Arms Center and School. p. 67.
  50. United States Army Command and General Staff College 2005. p. 30. 
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 United States Army Command and General Staff College 2005. p. 30.
  52. United States Army Command and General Staff College 2005. p. 28.
  53. Naylor 1991. p. 16.
  54. Benson 2009. pp. 17–18, 50–51.
  55. School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS Tri-Fold). p. 2.
  56. United States Army Command and General Staff College 2009. This reference identifies Campbell, Dubik, Holder, and Huntoon as SAMS graduates.
  57. Benson 2009. p. 1.
  58. House Committee on Armed Services, Advanced Military Studies Programs at the Command and Staff Colleges, Hearings on H.A.S.C. No. 102-80, 102d Congress, 2d session, 1993, p. 5, quoted in Benson 2009. p. 1.
  59. Benson 2009. pp. 6, 8–10.
  60. Schifferle 2010. p. ix.
  61. Benson 2009. pp. 29–30, 46, 55.


External links

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