A growing demand for military officers who are proficient in inter-service
issues and joint battle planning has prompted the launch of new educational
programs at the National Defense University.
Among them is a “Joint Military Education 101” course, designed
for junior officers. Learning the basics of joint operations is important for
young officers, who likely will be taking over leadership positions during the
next five to 10 years, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn, president of
“This sets the foundation” for how Joint Task Forces will operate
in the future, Dunn told National Defense.
Only five months into the job, Dunn said he quickly is becoming aware of the
long-lasting implications that NDU programs have in the development of military
leaders. The university is the Defense Department’s primary venue for
joint professional military education, reporting directly to the chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
While NDU’s main campus—including the Industrial College of the
Armed Forces and the National War College—is located at Fort Lesley J.
McNair, in Washington, D.C., the primary center of joint education so far has
been at NDU’s Joint Forces Staff College, in Norfolk, Va.
JFSC students typically are majors, lieutenant colonels, commanders or lieutenant
commanders. Dunn said those programs are being expanded to accommodate reservists
and non-commissioned officers.
Reservists will be able to complete the program online. The new distance-learning
classes were scheduled to begin in September, Dunn said. “It would duplicate
the instruction at JFSC in Norfolk.”
NDU already conducted a twice-a-year course for nearly 200 reservists. But
the recent surge in deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan has made it nearly impossible
for reservists to attend schoolhouses. Hence the distance learning program,
The “Joint Military Education 101” program, expected to be up and
running next year, is designed for Army, Air Force and Marine Corps captains
or Navy lieutenants who are assigned to a Joint Task Force and lack any previous
experience in joint military operations. The online course would take about
25 hours to complete. The content could be described as an “introduction
to the joint planning system,” said James M. Keagle, vice president for
academic affairs at NDU.
“The services asked us to develop this course and make it available,”
said Dunn. “My guess is that there are some people that are well schooled
in this. Others may need a bit more education.”
NDU also is creating a joint course for senior enlisted service members.
Improvements in joint education, however, should not be limited just to junior
personnel, Dunn stressed.
“We drafted a proposal to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for
a three-star course,” to supplement NDU’s mandatory capstone course
for one-star generals and admirals, he said.
“The idea is that education doesn’t just occur in two or three
major chunks throughout one’s career. ... It’s a continuing education
A growing emphasis on “jointness” at the Defense Department has
been “infused into the force,” he said. “That doesn’t
mean that we should relax our guard and not teach it. But I think it’s
better understood now than ever.”
At the Joint Forces Staff College this year, “we have one of the largest
classes in history,” said Dunn. “I see a higher demand for joint
education. We are fighting a joint war, so people need to learn.”
About 1,000 students go through NDU each year. Most are U.S. military officers,
40-45 years old, with approximately 20 years of service. A small percentage
of students are civilian government officials and foreign military officers
from allied countries. The university also encourages the attendance of “industry
fellows,” from the private sector.
Eight corporate fellows attend NDU each year. “They bring ideas from
industry to the Defense Department,” Dunn said.
NDU’s budget in fiscal year 2002 was $102.5 million—$71.4 million
in appropriated funds and $31.1 million from contract work, such as studies
and war games, for government agencies. The budget is expected to reach $108
million in fiscal year 2003. The university has about 150 full-time employees
and 200 contractors.
An NDU degree costs about $50,000 a year per student, according to Keagle.
That mostly is attributed to the low faculty-to-student ratio.
“We are required by law to have a 3.5 to 1 student to faculty ratio,”
he said. That compares to 12-15 students per faculty member at major universities.
“The expectation is that faculty are available to students and play roles
beyond just an educator in a classroom,” Keagle explained. “They
are available all the time, not with restricted office hours. They engage with
students as professional role models.” NDU does not employ teaching assistants.
The cost also includes substantial travel expenses, so students can visit Joint
Task Force headquarters in places like Afghanistan, Kuwait or South Korea.
It was only 15 years ago that Dunn was a student at the Industrial College
of the Armed Forces. Now back as the school’s 11th president, he says
he is surprised by how many programs NDU has, despite being relatively small.
Dunn’s previous job was as vice director for strategic plans and policy
for the Joint Staff.
NDU’s top officers represent every service. The ICAF commandant is a
Marine, Maj. Gen. Frances Wilson. In charge of the National War College is Navy
Rear Adm. Richard Jascot. At the helm of the Joint Forces Staff College is Army
Maj. Gen. Kenneth J. Quinlan.
In addition to ICAF, the National War College and the Joint Forces Staff College,
NDU also runs the Information Resources Management College. About 3,500 students
a year attend the IRMC, which offers a Chief Information Officer certification
“A huge number of students take courses at IRMC on information assurance,”
NDU officials, meanwhile, are engaged in discussions with the Department of
Homeland Security about the possible creation of an educational institution
focused on homeland security.
“We have the facilities here,” said Dunn, in addition to the basic
infrastructure and logistics support needed to operate a university.
Depending on the course levels, the research projects and the level of expertise
required, he said, a Homeland Security College degree program would cost between
$10 million and $15 million a year.