History of the
According to Lieutenant General Leonard T. Gerow, President of the Board which
recommended its formation, "The College is concerned with grand strategy and
the utilization of the national resources necessary to implement that strategy...
Its graduates will exercise a great influence on the formulation of national
and foreign policy in both peace and war..." This theme is underscored with
the inclusion of State Department, DoD, and other interagency representatives
on the faculty and in the student body.
National War College
American experience in 20th Century wars has repeatedly shown that the complexity
of planning and conducting global war plus joint and combined military operations
required officers and civilians in government, inter-agencies, industry, and
non-governmental organizations to be thoroughly familiar with each other's
roles, functions, and missions. They also needed the skills to operate comfortably
at levels in which key national security and strategy decisions would be made
in peace and war. Since its inception, the National War College has proven
invaluable in preparing its students for those responsibilities.
The College is located in Theodore Roosevelt Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair,
the oldest active Army Post in existence today. Established near the confluence
of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, it was originally designed to protect
Washington from river invasions. Later, it was the site of the trial and subsequent
hanging of four co-conspirators associated with President Lincoln's assassination.
On 21 February 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone to
the building which now bears his name. The building has been home to the Army
War College (1907 - 1917, 1919 - 1940), War Plans Division, War Department
General Staff, Selective Service System Headquarters, Headquarters U.S. Army
Ground Forces (all successively during World War II), and the National War
College (1946 - present). The first National War College class met on 1 September
1946. One hundred American and six foreign observers attended the school.
In June 1974, this unique structure was designated a National Historic Landmark.
To date, over 7,500 students have graduated from the College. The number of
U.S. and international graduates who have been promoted to the top of their
services or civilian agencies of the government is an indicator of the importance
of the National War College, but its most profound effect has been on individual
thinking and intellectual growth.