Who are We?
The National War College is a component of the National Defense University, under the Joint Staff, U.S. Department of Defense. Four aspects of NWC's mission are crucial to the shape and focus of the program.
First is the charge to help prepare future leaders by conducting a senior-level course of study in "national security strategy." While the service colleges concentrate on national military strategy and the Industrial College concentrates on the resource component of national power, NWC is singularly tasked with focusing on national security strategy – the orchestration of all the instruments of national power to pursue national interests. Every aspect of the National War College program is shaped by the goal of providing senior government officials a graduate-level education in evaluation, development, formulation, and implementation of national security strategy.
Second is the task to "educate." NWC aims not at enhancing its students' capacities to perform specific functions and tasks, but rather at fostering their breadth of view, diverse perspectives, critical analysis, abstract reasoning, comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty, and innovative thinking, particularly with respect to complex problems. The primary disciplines that comprise the NWC core curriculum include political science, international relations, history, economics, ethics, sociology, and leadership. Nonetheless, at the National War College, we maintain focus on the fact that we are a professional school, and we emphasize education as the way to achieve program objectives rather than education as an end in itself.
Third is the charge to prepare "future" leaders for high-level policy, command, and staff responsibilities. In designing and executing its curriculum, NWC looks beyond its graduates follow-on assignments and also considers the highest, most important responsibilities they will hold during the remainder of their careers. NWC concentrates on developing the habits of mind, conceptual foundations, and critical faculties graduates will need as strategic leaders or as the key strategists, planners, and executive assistants in the Department of Defense, Joint Staff, Services, Department of State, and other government agencies.
Finally, there is the charge to prepare officers not only from the Armed Forces but also from a wide variety of other civilian agencies. All aspects of the National War College are thoroughly joint and interagency: its origins, its programs, its faculty, and its students. The nature of the NWC environment ensures all NWC graduates are able to transcend their particular service, operational, or intellectual frame of reference and can operate from a truly "joint" perspective.