Officer Education at CGSC: The Origin, Revival and Value of the Staff Ride

By Kennedy, Edwin L., Jr. | Army, February 2009 | Go to article overview

Officer Education at CGSC: The Origin, Revival and Value of the Staff Ride


Kennedy, Edwin L., Jr., Army


In the early 1900s, a group of Army officers attending what would become the modern U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., boarded trains to travel to the South. They had prepared for the study of the Civil campaigns of 1864 by reading extensive reports from both sides of the conflict. For the next couple of weeks, in what became known as a "staff ride," they rode the routes on horseback and visited the numerous battlefields of the Civil War.

The staff ride began as an analytical exercise used by the Army School of the Line (predecessor of the U.S. Army CGSC) Tactics Department to encourage students to conduct original research and delve into a level of study now known as operational art. It was part of the second-year course for selected students, intended to bridge the gap between tactical studies at the School of the Line at Fort Leavenworth and strategic studies conducted at the Army War College, originally located in Washington, D.C.

While the staff rides used historical venues, their primary purpose was the study and application of operations and tactics. History was only the vehicle for the study, not the primary purpose of the ride. The staff rides were conducted by tactics instructors with history backgrounds. The rides provided the context for intellectual discussions and analyses. Staff ride topics covered a wide variety of military subjects, including leadership, tactics, logistics, political considerations, strategic planning and the employment of large units over extended distances - operational art. The focus was the application of lessons learned to modern tactical circumstances.

One of the foremost tactics instructors at the School of the Line (subsequently known as the School of Application for Infantry and Cavalry) prior to World War I was Maj. Arthur L. Conger, a firm believer that military history served its best purpose not in rote memorization and lecture by pedantic instructors but in "doing." He advocated that students perform detailed analyses of campaigns. Maj, Conger considered the process of deduction the most important learning aspect. The staff ride format fit Maj. Conger's teaching model perfectly. Students conducted extensive preparations for the staff rides, studying battle reports, reading accounts and studying maps before actually going to campaign and battle locations.

Until the staff college closed during World War I, officers continued to conduct staff rides as part of the educational reforms instituted by Gen. J. Franklin Bell. Significantly, a number of the officers who led the Army in World War I participated in the first staff ride to Atlanta, which had a considerable impact on their understanding of the complexity of large-scale operations and logistical planning.

After a hiatus of more than 60 years, staff rides were revived in the early 1980s through the newly formed Combat Studies Institute (CSI). When CSI opened in 1979, it was staffed by a core of professional military historians - civilians with detailed military history knowledge but little or no practical military experience - and U.S. Army officers who were certified military historians with field expertise that enhanced the academic aspect of study with practical application. Staff rides were normally conducted with a mix of active duty officers - with their military experience - and civilian faculty - with their particular historical expertise.

Today U.S. Marine Corps students entering CGSC are introduced to tactics and operational art concepts in their annual Westport, Mo., staff ride. Westport saw one of the largest western battles during the Civil War, only 30 miles from Fort Leavenworth. Fought between federal forces and a cavalry corps under Confederate general Sterling Price, the battle of Westport offers a number of opportunities to discuss a campaign using modern doctrine. Because the culmination of the campaign was essentially at the town of Westport (now downtown Kansas City), it allows the study of the movement of large units on both sides over extended distances during relatively long periods of time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Officer Education at CGSC: The Origin, Revival and Value of the Staff Ride
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.