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Press Release | Aug. 2, 2013

Joint Forces Staff College Changes Hands

Contact: Kathleen Jabs
Public Affairs Officer
JFSC/Joint Staff South

NDU President Acknowledges Change and Budget Stresses; Outgoing Commandant Emphasizes Relevance and Resilience

Rear Admiral John W. Smith Jr. assumed command of Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) and became its 31st commandant after relieving Air Force Major General Joseph Ward in a change of command ceremony in Norfolk on August 1. Army Major General Gregg Martin, President of National Defense University (NDU), presided.

RDML Smith comes to JFSC from Guantanamo Bay, where he served as Commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Maj Gen Ward leaves Norfolk for Dallas to assume a new position as Deputy Director of Army Air Force Exchange.

MG Martin emphasized the need to develop leaders “who will imagine, create, and secure a more lasting peace” in a continually changing world. “We have to be receptive to change,” he said. “We have to be the leaders of change.” He acknowledged that JFSC itself has undergone change through the effects of budget cuts. “As strategic complexity goes up and [resources] go down, we have to develop new and innovative ways to educate, develop, and inspire our students.”

After two years at the JFSC helm, Maj Gen Ward reflected on the relevance of JFSC and the continuing need to train for a joint environment in spite of 10 years of war. “Jointness does not come naturally and must be constantly cared for. It’s perishable and has a fixed shelf life.”

The military services were directed by Congress to work together through the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986. That act led to new institutions and new requirements for all military officers to receive “joint” education where students from all Services are immersed in a communal setting with their interagency partners to share perspectives and learn to approach complex global contingencies with a whole-of-government approach. JFSC graduates more students in the advanced level of joint professional education than any other educational institution: at least 1,400 officers in-residence and some 300 reservists who take a combined online/in-residence per year plus a total of 50,000 senior enlisted members who have taken courses online. JFSC has also taken a leading role in educating first responders who attend a one-week planning course on homeland security.
Maj Gen Ward answered critics who question the relevance or value of JFSC. “The importance of jointness cannot be measured in terms of value because it is priceless. It is an investment that yields an unparalleled rate of return…our national security.”

JFSC is not only relevant but also resilient, he said. Like many military institutions, JFSC has undergone belt-tightening in recent years, including a 30 percent reduction to its civilian work force. In spite of “an unprecedented level” of fiscal uncertainty, JFSC passed the fiscal test “brilliantly,” he said. “You exemplify doing more with less in an era of declining resources.”

As he took the helm, RDML Smith pledged to continue the JFSC mission to “till, nourish, and harvest jointness,” even in the face of economic uncertainty. “With challenges, we seek opportunities—even in times when dollars are tight and resources are dwindling.”

RDML Smith is expected to lead JFSC for two years. Before his position at Guantanamo Bay, RDML Smith was Deputy Director of the Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Chief of Staff for Navy Cyber Forces in Norfolk, and Commander of Joint Crew Composite Squadron One in Bagdad.

Joint Forces Staff College, founded as the Armed Forces Staff College in 1946 and renamed in 2000, is a component of the NDU at Fort McNair in Washington D.C., and comprises NDU’s “Norfolk campus.” JFSC educates national security professionals to plan and execute joint, multinational, and interagency operations. Its graduates populate major military commands and interagency organizations worldwide. JFSC graduates more than 1,700 students annually. More than 60,000 mid-grade officers from all U.S. Services, joined by their international partners, have passed through JFSC since its creation. For more information about JFSC, contact Kathleen Jabs, Joint Staff South, at 757-203-5450 or; or visit

NDU is the premier national security institution focused on advanced joint warfighter education, leader development, and scholarship. The University provides rigorous Joint Professional Military Education to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and select others in order to develop leaders who have the ability to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world. For more information about the National Defense University, please contact: Daniel Magalotti, Acting Public Affairs Officer, at 202-685-3140 or; or visit