SAASS Comps Prep Wiki

Post-strike wednesday

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1. Panel members:

Pavelec (chair), Winton, Gardner

2. Types of questions asked:

Most influential book in curriculum--lead to the rest of the questioning-Pavelec

Discuss how Jervis pertians to Taleb's idea of a Black Swan-Gardner

What is Fuller's belief re: simply surivival as a motivator in war? Survival and prosperity matter (same w/ Boyd)-Winton

Overall Japanese goal in the Pacific prior to (and including) WWII, namely in the 30's--est. region of influence, req'd resources from Dutch East Indies--Winton

Explain Wohlsetters take on info? signal/noise; Compare to 9/11 commission; Is the idea of strategic surprise a viable outcome today? Do you consider the 9/11 attack an example of strategic surprise?--Winton

Based on your idea of strategy, describe three consistencies and three inconsistencies/things that change and don't change? Good time to ask for a little clarification of the question--looking for a discussion on the nature and character of war--Pavelec

Using Posen and Rosen, discuss which model is more pertinent to future innovation in space; define maverick (winton's wanted something like a radical thinker with a radical temperment); was Arnold a maverick; why do you think the time was not right for him to push more aggressively for an Indep AF before and during WWII--Winton

Discuss the AF's role and the progress/learning since '01 with regard to COIN--Gardner

What is your strategy for Afghanistan...specifically--Winton

Where should we focus/what should we prioritize with respect to securing interests (failing or failed states or a near-peer competitor); why?-Gardner

Previous question specifically relating to programs and policies that affect our interest--should we fund/cut type question--1) defense of Taiwan 2) defense of S. Korea 3) modernizing nuke capes 4) cyber programs 5) space programs--Winton At your next job what will you take from SAASS to help you and what will the commander expect from you as a graduate?--Pavelec

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? been smarter 4. Any other comments: Get clarification on every question. I thought I understood what was being asked 95% of the time and asked for clarification on the other 5%. Apparently I should've asked for it more as I answered a few questions that weren't really asked. Also, asked if the answer I gave answered the question and probably could've done that more as well.

Scott "Barney" Hoffman

1. Panel members: Mets, Schultz, Kometer

2. Types of questions asked:

Mets: Considering the book "Revolt of the Admirals," did the USAF emerge as the force Billy Mitchell envisioned?

Kometer: Keeping in mind "Centralized Control and Decentralized execution," how have things changed from WWII to Korea through Vietnam, and how has it affected how we execute C2 now? What is control?

Mets: In Sherman's work "Air Warfare," what was the order of his emphasis (Bombing, pursuit, CAS, AI, recon, ...) and how did Kenny apply this in WWII? (deer in headlight on this question... tap-danced a suitable answer)

Schultz: Talk through Allison/Zellikow's models to describe Iran's efforts to develop nukes.

Schultz: You have 30 seconds to describe your thesis to the Sec of Def in a pentagon elevator... go!

Mets: Compare the culture of Naval Officers vs. Army Officers vs Air Force Officers.

Kometer: ACTS and Warden described methods which Air Power can be decisive, in WWII and Desert Storm, did the application of airpower match the given template? (Use Model II and III of Allison Zellikow to defend your arguement as well). Led to a discussion on acquisition and innovation and therefore a question on Rosen's types of tech development.

Schultz: What is the link between Kuhn, Taleb, Jervis, and Wohlstetter?

Mets: Air Force had knowledge of drop tanks back in 1912, yet we did not use them nor did we foresee the need for long range escort bombers until well into WWII; also, the UAVs were used in Vietnam but the Air Force only recently saw the need for them. Defend the Air Force's decision to delay development and use of each of these systems until well after they were initially developed. Or does the Air Force just have its head stuck in the sand?

Schultz: Prove Thucydides is NOT a realist.

Mets: Has strategic bombing ever worked? Why or why not.

Kometer: A question on "design" and where it would be useful in the planning process.

Schultz: What makes a good strategist and what can a good strategist learn from Verdun?

Schultz: Apply principles from Castles, Bullets and Bombs toward Operation Desert Storm.

Kometer: You have read numerous books on complexity, org theory, and perceptions; what was the usefullness of these books? Are they a way of thinking or are they methodologies and apply them to a strategist.

Schultz: Did the 20th century validate or repudiate Mahan?

Mets: RPA's... did the Air Force grab this role as soon as technologically possible or as soon as they became important?

Schultz: Various dates of events (Verdun, Doollittle's Raid, Battle of Britain, Sputnik, Cuban Missile Crises, Berlin Wall coming down, Berlin Airlift)

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?


4. Any other comments: I tried to incorporate various theorists early in my answers (first hour) to try to disarm any potential questions on the specific theorists in the second hour. Weave authors in early and often if you have Schultz/Kometer. Take your time and jot down notes before you answer, it helps organize your thoughts... and takes some of their time.

Mo Azar

1. Panel members Lt Col Davis, Dr Holzimmer, Dr Reese (ACSC)

2. Types of questions asked: Reese: Given the SAASS curriculum, what are some takeaways? Holzimmer: You mentioned need to understand adversary rationale. How does a commander do that? F/O: What attributes or characteristics should an organization which does this have?

Davis: With SAASS covering theory, application, and strategy, what is theory's role in strategy?

Reese: You've mentioned effects several times, but Gen Mattis' memo seemed to squash EBO. What do you make of the memo?

Reese: Can you discuss the theory/ies which led to morale bombing?

Holzimmer: Assess the morality of strategic bombing (Note/Caution/Warning: While the US tried to take high ground, we eventually did some firebombing - leave some space in your response for a little breathing room here). F/O: What about proportionality?

Davis: Can you discuss competing airpower theories in the interwar period (softball to walk the thesis dog for me)?

Holzimmer: Which works influenced your ability to understand the adversary's rationale, and do not mention Allison & Zellikow.

Holzimmer: How does neo-realism explain the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons.

Davis: Does technology drive theory?

Reese: What's your definition of airpower? (Note/Caution/Warning: definition must be complete enough to account for other service's airpower and the gamut of roles including support for COIN).

Holzimmer: What have been the historical drivers of USAF development (e.g. tech, jointness, quest for independence)?

Reese: Given USAF responsibility in air, space, cyberspace, how should the USAF invest in the future?

Davis: Should AF focus on national cyber efforts or focus on cyber's support of current roles and missions?

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? No

4. Any other comments: In my panel, I was complimented for taking a brief pause to collect my thoughts and deliver a coherent narrative. My tack was to answer the question in a BLUF fashion and begin supporting with evidence. I took the initiative to bring in ideas from the curriculum. As a result, I was told, the panel members never felt the need to force a curriculum-based question (What did X say about Y?). I tried to avoid the road well-travelled (I did use some Clausewitz and Thucidydes) but brought in other authors that seemed to fit. In general, I think this worked in my favor. The panel was expecting most of the classics, but my incorporation of Posen to talk about changes in AF doctrine, Betts to talk about tension between intelligence and policy, and Wohlstetter to highlight inability to see the adversary's viewpoint was unexpected. The panel and I were able to engage conversationally - an ideal situation for the way I preferred to interact. I took a hit for being unable to adjust fire when the conditions changed. See comment about morality of startegic bombing and how firebombing may have changed the equation. "While you were consistent, you may not have been morally consistent." Ouch.


1. Panel members: Chiabotti (chair), Pavelec, Grumelli (ACSC)

2. Types of questions asked:

Chiabotti: Asked me to explain my thesis, which led to a 40 minute discussion.

Grumelli: Discuss the promises of the begining of the aerial age, 1920s-30s (characteristics, challenges, optimism for the future). This was during the thesis discussion.

Pavelec: Is there an AF identity crisis or a crisis of the AF mission?

Chiabotti: What do Jomini, Mahan, and Dolman have in common? [Lines (lines of operation, strategic lines, lines of access).]

Chiabotti: What airpower theorist discusses transportation? [Sherman]

Grumelli: Describe coercive airpower. [Pape's four ideas - punishment, risk, denial, decapitation] Give an example of two of them.

Pavelec: What is your favorite book from SAASS? [I said Allison/Zelikow]

Grumelli: Follow up to Pavelec's question. In reference to Verdun, using the Allison book, what brings us to Verdun and what is the reasoning between the operational imperative? He said he was going to ask this question and allow me to choose between Allison, Jervis, and Taleb but since I brought up Allison he wanted me to answer with reference to it.

Chiabotti: Asked about the loss of the Luftwaffe over the skies of Germany in relation to the example of Verdun as a war of attrition.

Pavelec: Should the AF learn better from success in WWII or the failures of Vietnam?

Grumelli: Would it be better for the US to lose in Vietnam or the Cold War?

Grumelli: Take Wohlstetter's book and relate it to either Jervis or Taleb.

Chiabotti: Which front was the most important for Germany in WWII? [the eastern front]

Pavelec: What 3 pieces of advice would you give your next boss based on your SAASS education?

Grumelli: Define strategy and describe how strategists think. [he is looking for manage risk for the second part].

Chiabotti: What is the important take-away from Thucydides? [fear, honor, interest]

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? Read my thesis. I forgot one of the four ideas for my theory of nation-building.

4. Any other comments: Review the questions already asked because about 5 of mine were repeats from earlier in the week. Also, as others have stated, have a wheel house to go back to. Pick a couple of books you feel you understand and call them your "favorites" so you can use them when asked for a favorite.

1. Panel members

2. Types of questions asked:

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?

4. Any other comments:

1. Panel members

2. Types of questions asked:

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?

4. Any other comments:

1. Panel members

2. Types of questions asked:

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?

4. Any other comments:

1. Panel members

2. Types of questions asked:

3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?

4. Any other comments:

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