Eisenhower Student FAQ
A message to the Eisenhower School Class of 2014 from Harry Dorsey -- Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs
What to expect from the academic program at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy (Eisenhower School):
Individuals selected by their service or agency to be students in the Eisenhower School class of 2014 receive an information package with welcoming letters from the President of NDU, the Eisenhower School Commandant, and the Eisenhower School Dean of Students among others. Like them, I congratulate you on your selection to attend The Eisenhower School. If you have not received your information package, please contact Dean Frank Pagano, firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the suggestion of students from previous classes, I am posting this letter to address some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about what to expect from the academic requirements of your
year at The Eisenhower School.
1. What are the objectives of the Eisenhower School academic program?
The Eisenhower School mission states that the role of the school is "to prepare selected military and civilians for strategic leadership and success in developing our national security strategy and in evaluating, marshalling, and managing resources in the execution of that strategy." The Eisenhower School is part of the Senior Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) system (also known as the "War College" system) designed to prepare those senior military officers identified as having the potential for advancement to flag/general officer, and senior U.S. government (USG) civilians from many Federal agencies having the potential for advancement to the Ambassadorial or Senior Executive Service (SES) levels for positions at the strategic policy level. Students generally have approximately 20 years of experience in the military or civilian agencies, and have proven themselves as very high-level performers at the operational level. In addition, The Eisenhower School has a number of International Fellows and it is the only Senior JPME school with Industry Fellows.
The war college system is designed to provide an educational experience that will develop your abilities to think and operate at the strategic policy level. Similar to all the war colleges, The Eisenhower School emphasizes education on strategic national security affairs, overall strategy, and policymaking (more on how we do this below). In addition, we have a specific mission to focus on the resource dimension of national security strategy. This means not only helping students to understand how to craft a national security strategy, but also to understand resource constraints, trade-offs, and usability issues that significantly affect the government's ability to advance its national interests and achieve its strategic goals. A marvelous national security strategy isn't worth the paper upon which it is printed if the country is unable to adequately resource its execution. Mismatches between strategic goals and having the resources necessary to achieve those goals usually result in partial attainment of objectives, if not policy failures.
2. How will the Eisenhower School academic program prepare me for senior strategic leadership positions?
During the fall semester students take a series of core courses that critically examine many of the policy areas crucial for national security. Areas of study include the nature of strategy, the domestic policy process and the interagency system, international affairs and foreign policy, and resourcing and integrating the military instrument of power into national processes for strategy development (and the challenges of implementing a strategy at both the international and theater level).
Increasingly in the 21st Century, an understanding of economics is essential to a full understanding of the dynamics of domestic and international politics. The Eisenhower School is especially proud of the fact that it is the only war college with a Department of Economics and a full course on National and International Economic Policy covering macroeconomic and microeconomic topics such as monetary and fiscal policies, growth and technology (including the emergence of regional economic competitors), trade and finance, and the business strategy of industry.
The Eisenhower School also firmly believes that leadership at the strategic level is significantly different than leadership at the tactical or operational levels. The skill set required to be effective at senior levels is different when working with other services, agencies, countries, industry, and international actors. This includes understanding the complexities and interrelationships of the strategic (domestic & international) environment, as well as the essential requirement of being able to assess and address complex, multi-dimensional environments from multi-dimensional (i.e., interagency, inter-service, international, multi-cultural) perspectives. Strategic leadership further requires the ability to plan and lead organizational change in complex systems of systems in an ever-changing strategic environment.
Following the fall's focus on issues, challenges, and trends that influence the development of a national security strategy, the spring semester of the year turns to delving deeply into analyzing and assessing resources which constrain or enable instruments of policy, and the current and long-term viability of the resource base underlying any U.S. national security strategy. Areas of study include an analysis of a range of U.S. and international industry sectors (Industry Studies); business strategy models, including those applicable to USG practices (Industry Analytics), an in-depth look at resourcing the national security strategy (National Security Strategy Resourcing); as well as examining international business-government relationships, and their effect on a countries defense industrial base (International Comparative Business Environments). Students also study the defense acquisition process and its relationship to the industrial base, the nationís economic well-being, and the nationís security strategy. The Eisenhower School is the only war college that emphasizes study of the resource aspects of national security in addition to traditional national security strategy. .
3. How demanding is the academic work load (class time, readings, papers, etc.) at the Eisenhower School?
All qualified students who successfully complete a war college program graduate with a Master's degree. Completing a Master's degree in only ten months means that there is a lot of work to do during the academic year - you will be busy. Moreover, because The Eisenhower School combines both the study of national security affairs and national security strategy with an extensive look at resource issues related to national security, our program requires slightly more coursework than most of the other schools (on the order of perhaps one or two class sessions a week). The strategic challenges of the 21st Century are many and complex with increasing resource constraints - there is a lot to learn. You can expect to be in class every weekday morning. With a few exceptions, classes start at 0815 Monday through Friday. Electives are held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, and many last until 1730 hrs. Monday, Thursday and Friday afternoons you either will have class or time allocated for research, paper writing, and classroom preparation. "Research and Study" periods may be used according to your own needs. Generally, you have about 500 pages per week of assigned reading, and most courses require at least one written paper. Data from previous classes indicate that most students spend about 16-25 hours each week in study time outside of classroom sessions.
4. Is it true that I will have a lot of free time with my family during weekdays?
As should be evident from #3 above, you will be pretty busy keeping up with your assignments, reading a wide range of analytical and policy material, attending class, and writing papers. Nevertheless, when you are not required to be present at the Eisenhower School (e.g., Research and Study periods), you may study, do research, and write papers at home. Each individual studies and learns differently. The Eisenhower School program is demanding and most students find that they need to spend some time every day including weekends preparing for class or writing. Typically, you will not be working long hours and you will not be on call for weekends and odd hours except for short periods associated with field studies trips in some programs. However, many students find that they must manage their time carefully to succeed in the academic program as well as to have quality time with family. Be sure to read The Eisenhower School Student Handbook carefully regarding student requirements. Students are expected to be at The Eisenhower School (as their assigned duty station) for scheduled academic activities. You canít cut classes like you may have done in undergraduate school.
5. How do civilians fit in the academic program at the Eisenhower School?
Nearly two-thirds of the students at The Eisenhower School are military officers (including about 24 officers, called International Fellows, from foreign countries). Civilians come from a range of DOD offices and other executive branch agencies (such as State Department, USAID, CIA, NSA, DIA, Homeland Security, Energy, Commerce, GAO, etc.). The Eisenhower School also has Industry Fellows from corporations who are fully incorporated into the program and provide insights from the private sector on resource issues. Although The Eisenhower School is a Senior JPME school, it has an inter-service, inter-agency program of study. DOD's war college system has built upon its original mission to prepare military officers for senior positions and includes a broader program that emphasizes learning about the roles and missions of other departments and agencies of the executive branch and the interagency policy process. Civilian students will find their military and civilian classmates keenly interested in learning about the organization, mission, processes, and policies of their department or agency (or company) and what equities it has in the development and execution of national security policy.
The Eisenhower School also conducts a three-day orientation program for incoming non-DOD civilian students just prior to the start of the academic year. This program is designed to provide background about the School, the different military services, the Joint Staff, and other basic information about DOD. Contact the Dean of Students office for more details.
6. I haven't been in college in 15 years and I haven't previously studied any of the subjects taught at The Eisenhower School - will it be difficult to successfully complete the program?
Bottom line, if you are serious about taking advantage of the learning opportunity at The Eisenhower School, put forth a good faith effort to do the work, act professionally and are mindful of the rules (i.e., be on time for class and academic functions, avoid plagiarism problems in your writing, etc.) you will graduate. Beyond that, you are entering into a very interesting, very complex realm of strategic national security affairs. The Eisenhower School's job is to support your development as a strategic leader, and our primary emphasis is to teach you how to think at the strategic level, not what to think. As you will see, there are no easy or "correct" answers at the strategic levelóthere are only judgments. We evaluate you on the development of your strategic thinking capabilities and our courses have graded assignments. Our job is to help you develop the ability to craft sound, high quality, critically based judgments and achieve the ability to think in truly strategic terms. The onus is on you to push yourself to maximize the development of your abilities. The faculty understands that we are dealing with a very diverse student population with varying degrees of expertise in the subject areas of the college. We know from your predecessors that if you put significant effort into your reading, writing, and classroom discussions, you will develop your strategic knowledge and critical thinking abilities. If you put little effort into these areas, you will achieve a commensurate level of development. Failure to complete the requirements of the program can lead to dis- enrollment and being returned to your service or agency before the end of the academic year.
7. How is the Eisenhower School handling furloughs?
IAW DoD furlough guidance, ES and NDU will schedule furlough days to minimize the impact on the academic program, effectively eliminating class on the designated furlough days. Students and faculty from other agencies will follow their agencies guidance with respect to the number of furlough days, but are expected to take those furlough days on the same days as the ES/NDU scheduled furlough days.
Your 10 months at The Eisenhower School will be very intellectually rewarding. It will be a welcome change for many of you from 14-16 hour operational days. You will have the opportunity to explore strategic problems and concepts, and reflect upon and discuss the strategic challenges faced by the United States and the world at large with smart, experienced professionals as classmates, and a terrific faculty, with real-world experience interested in helping you have a terrific year. You have been assigned to The Eisenhower School by your service or agency for the express purpose of changing the way you think and developing intellectual capital that will provide the foundation upon which you can build your career as a strategic leader at the most senior levels of the government. You will never look at the world the same way again after graduation in June 2014. We guarantee it!
(And, GO TIGERS!)
Incoming students often ask, "What should we read before coming to The Eisenhower School?"
The following recommended readings will give you an introduction to the issues you will consider during the upcoming academic year. Note: These are suggested readings intended to introduce you to some important strategic concepts if you have some spare reading time; they are NOT required prior to arriving.
The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights:
- United States. 2010. National Security Strategy. Washington: White House.
- Panetta, Leon E., and Barack Obama. 2012. Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense. Washington, D.C.: Dept. of Defense.
- Mullen, Michael G. 2011. The National Military Strategy of the United States of America, 2011: Redefining America's Military Leadership. Washington, D.C.: Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Dempsey, Martin E. 2012, Chairman's Strategic Direction for the Joint Force. Washington, D.C.: Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Alan J. Auerbach and William G. Gale, Fiscal Fatigue: Tracking the Budget Outlook as Political Leaders Lurch from One Artificial Crisis to Another, February 28, 2013 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institute, 2013).
- Vikram Nehru, The Rebalance to Asia: Why South Asia Matters, March 13, 2013, (Washington, D.C.: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2013).