RELEASE NUMBER: 100916-01
DATE POSTED: SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
Special Operations Soldiers begin master degree program
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 16, 2010) – Soldiers have started earning Master of Arts degrees within the walls of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
Through the National Defense University, special-operations Soldiers are studying the roles of power and ideology in the global environment under the guidance of instructors from NDU’s College of International Security Affairs.
The result: after 10 months of study, 20 special-operations Soldiers should complete and earn a fully accredited Master of Arts degree in strategic-security studies. While this degree is available to a wide variety of government employees at NDU's Washington, D.C. campus, this is the first year it is available to full-time students at Fort Bragg.
“These students have all of my support, and none of my sympathy,” said Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau, NDU President, during a convocation ceremony Sept. 10 at SWCS formally recognizing the start of a new semester. “This is an academically aggressive program.”
The program's core curriculum focuses on the overall and long-range strategic implications of on-the-ground special-operations missions. For example, in "Strategic Thought" students will study the relationship between strategy and policy, and in "Power, Ideology and Legitimacy" students will analyze extremist movements and radical schools of thought. Other courses include "Origins of Conflict and War" and "Methods of Analysis and Argumentation."
"We want our Soldiers to be aware of the global implications of their actions during military operations," said David Brand, an instructional specialist within the SWCS Directorate of Regional Studies and Education. "All of these students are special-operations Soldiers, and they could all find themselves speaking as the senior United States representatives in an area. These classes will teach them to strategically consider the second- and third-order effects their words and actions can have on foreign populations."
On top of these core classes, students will also complete an individual thesis and various elective courses.
The 20 students beginning the degree program come from throughout the Army’s special-operations community. During the convocation ceremony, officers and noncommissioned officers wearing Special
Forces, Civil Affairs and Military Information Support insignia stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
Rondeau praised these men and women as “people of action,” who do more than study and learn for the sake of academic initiative.
“You understand what applied knowledge is all about,” she said to the students.
Rondeau, who holds a Master degree and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from Northern
Illinois University, said this Master program will teach students to question everything they’ve learned in their special-operations education.
“Question the Army. Question special operations. Question the very doctrine that has built your training,” she said. “By doing so, you will give it a sharper edge.”
The convocation ceremony, held in the John F. Kennedy Auditorium at Fort Bragg, N.C., welcomed academics and professionals adorned in the an array of colored robes and caps, sitting among Soldiers and students in their Army green Class A uniforms.
Upon graduation next spring, those students who complete the masters program will have earned the right to wear the peacock blue and purple colors of the National Defense University on robes and hoods of their own.
Brig. Gen. Bennet S. Sacolick, SWCS Commanding General, said the convocation marked one of the most important days in the history of SWCS: the official beginning of a relationship between the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the National Defense University.
“We have an expertly trained force, and we have Soldiers at SWCS who have seen more combat than most World War II veterans,” Sacolick said, “but we can’t ignore our Soldiers’ education.”
Sacolick said special-operations Soldiers distinguish themselves from other forces with their problem-solving abilities and regional and language expertise.
“This program is huge for us,” he said. “We’ve been working on this for a few years.”
Col. Michael Bell, senior director of the College of International Security Affairs, told the students to get used to working outside their comfort zones.
“This is a tremendous personal and professional opportunity,” Bell said. “Through this program, you will develop the habits you’ll need to become life-long learners.”
Bell said the five faculty members at Fort Bragg were backed with the support of the entire NDU.
“NDU is honored to contribute to what you bring to the fight every day,” Rondeau said to the students and faculty present for the ceremony.
“This is a force taught and trained to use their adaptability as a tactical tool,” she said. “Now, you’ll be able to use that adaptability as a strategic weapon.”