SAASS Comps Prep Wiki

Sample Comps Questions

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Write the first paragraph of your article here.

General Comps Questions You Should Be Prepared to AnswerEdit

Based on Comps feedback from past classes, here are some specific questions you should be prepared for during your exam:

- What are three enduring attributes/characteristics of airpower?

- What are your three favorite books from the curriculum?

- What are your three least favorite books from the curriculum?

- What are the three best books from the curriculum?

- What are the three worst books from the curriculum?

- What is one book every officer should read? (Variation: If you could shrink one book, other than Clausewitz, and keep it in your pocket at all times, what book would you choose?)

- Give one example of a coercive air campaign that worked and a coercive air campaign did not work.

- How would you describe the difference between Huntington's and Cohen's approaches to civil-military relations?

- How would you describe the difference between Pape's and Warden's approaches to coercive air campaigns?

- What would be a good comps question?

Some other tips:

- Know Allison and Zelikow's three models COLD. You will be asked about them.

- Make sure you have your own definition of "strategy" handy.

- Be academically pretentious: Name check authors/book titles whenever possible when answering questions.

- For the international students: Know the strategic/geopolitical issues of your home country. Be prepared to compare your home nation's approach to various situations to the United States.

- There are only two books the entire faculty has read (according to Dr. Tucci): Sheehan's A Fiery Peace in a Cold War; Goldstein's Lessons in Disaster. '

Comps Questions Asked/Discussed During SeminarsEdit

Dr. Tucci channeling Forsyth "Using the Powell Doctrine, discuss the highs and lows of American civil-military relations from World War II to the present."

Be ready to talk Allison's Decision Models from The Essence of Decision if you have him in comps.

Dr. Wright asked “How would you use Thucydides to support or dispute Huntington”.

If you have Doc Wright on your comps board, do not use the word "complexity" without being prepared to thoroughly unpack the term's meaning as it relates to your argument. It's a pet peeve of his that I learned about during and after Doc Holzimmer's class yesterday.

Dr Muller:

What do Clausewitz and Huntington have in common?

-They both have the letter "i" in their last name.

Did Clausewitz mean politics or policy in his famous quote?

Dr. Kiras:

What is theory and why is it useful?

- A codified systematic body of propositions regarding a field of knowledge. (Be careful not explain Kuhn's paradigm as they are different). According to Dr. Winton theory defines, categorizes, explains, connects, and anticipates.

From Previous Classes:

Define Victory in war.

Can someone be victorious without accomplishing their objectives?

What was Eisenhower’s nuclear policy and how did the theory of Nukes evolve to include tripwires and thresholds?

Discuss credibility of nuke threats; Schelling’s perspective on Nukes

Describe nuclear deterrence in both theory and practice

Describe Massive Retaliation and Mutually Assured Destruction

What were the tripwires to launching nuclear weapons according to Schelling

The US is constructing air bases in OEF. You are China. Using Allison’s models (first explain what they are), use each model to explain what China thinks the US is doing.

Nuclear coercion, especially with the Schelling twist – know about the elements of coercion. Is it plausible or credible that we would risk nukes to defend Europe? Korea?

Regarding nuclear thresholds, what are they, and are they viable?

What should the US Army look like in the future to contend with the threat?

-The Army is fine the way it is.

How effective is strategic bombing?

What vulnerabilities does the US (or military, or USAF) currently have? How might a potential enemy exploit these? What can we do to mitigate?

Assuming “moderate” Islamic Arabs are the Middle East’s COG, how do we keep them on our side?

Which is harder to fix: strategy or tactics?

Who has the advantage: terrorists with nukes or the US with its nuclear dominance? What message does this have for the moderate Arabs?

According to Clausewitz, which is stronger, offense or defense?

Asked about the Halt Phase, the attack and its culmination, and Clausewitz’s idea of continuity and concentration

What did Clausewitz say the qualities of a good leader are?

Asked a lot about Clausewitz; know the leadership/genius question.

What quality might be required for airmen leadership/genius not discussed by Clausewitz?

Does Clausewitz apply to the war on terrorism?

Some questions on Battle of Britain; e.g., If the Germans had gained air superiority would Britain have been successfully invaded?

Discuss relative strengths and weaknesses of the USSBS vs. the GWAPS.

If people are COG in small wars, how does collateral damage influence targeting?

What was Fuller’s law of war?

Explain what Clausewitz meant by “war has a grammar all its own, but not its own logic.”

Explain why the oil targeting campaign worked in 1944. Would it have worked in 1942? Why didn’t the ball bearing approach work?

Airpower Theory Question: Military and Economic provide leverage. Does this occur in both war and peace?

Are we enamored with precision? How about in small wars?

Three most important reasons for success from Vietnam to Iraq?

Were more sorties flown in North or South Vietnam during Rolling Thunder?

In the interwar period following WWI, what drove the major air theorists to develop similar theories?

What were the assumptions underlying the ACTS theory of bombing?

Do you think Warden’s five-ring theory is new or repackaging of ACTS with newer technology?

As a strategist, what strategy would you devise to fight the war on terrorism?

If war is so economically driven (eased on cost/benefit), why did WWI occur?

Why did Douhet, Mitchell, and ACTS end up with a fairly similar view on airpower (i.e. strat attack)? How were they different?

Allison-based question: you’re Chinese. Explain in terms of Allison’s three models what the US is doing in central Asia, and should you be worried.

Was the cold war a war, and how did ISR play in it as a form of power/force?

According to Clausewitz war is a paradoxical trinity of which a primary component is violence.

Relate the role of air and land forces and their relative merits since WWII.

Why do you believe small wars resemble Corbett’s limited war theory? Give examples.

Discuss air warfare and the dominant indicators (student’s take was that this was in conjunction with Ehrhard not liking this student’s airpower theory).

What would Pape, Warden and Clodfelter say about the value of interdiction?

How would Schelling and Pape approach the idea of influencing the will of the enemy?

Compare and contrast Clausewitz and Jomini.

What was Douhet up to with his theory and why is he still brought up today?

What’s your favorite book? Book that had the most impact on your theory of warfighting? Provide a reading list for someone that comes to you as a recent SAAS grad and asks what’s worth reading and what’s not.

State your theory of airpower in a couple of sentences.

What was the impact of Clausewitz on your airpower theory?

Lots on Clausewitz; also in conjunction with Boyd.

Very particular about Clausewitz view of theory, strategy and war.

Asked about US/USAF fundamental principals of war and whether they are viable or just designed to comfort us (COG, surprise, etc)

What is the utility of doctrine at both the tactical and joint level

Why do we fight like Jomini?

Wanted to know about the tensions between strategy and tactics (vis-à-vis weapon acquisition)

Discuss (presumably similarities/differences) between Joint Command Commander and Roman Pro-Consul

What is the greatest limitation and weakness of your theory?

What should the relationship dynamics be between civilian and military leadership? What should they communicate to each other?

Who were the major thinkers in airpower development from 1945 through the end of the cold war and what did they think? (Student thought Hughes felt the AF outsourced this to RAND)

What do you think a proper political-military conversation should sound like during the policy making process?

How far down into the military chain should the political side directly influence or control during a conflict?

Schelling et al and coercion. Wanted specific empirical cases of where coercion worked. His “school solution” was Kosovo, with the proximate cause of NATO attacks on Milosevic’s cronies who then saw continued support for him was going to cost them too much.

Also Linebacker I and II.

What did we target in Rolling Thunder, Linebacker I and Linebacker II? Student believed Morgan was looking for the mechanism discussion, and didn’t like his answer which entailed multi-causal views.

Is space power flexible? If so, is space flexible in the same manner as air power?

Compare and contrast the mechanisms the US applied in Rolling Thunder, Linebacker I and Line backer II. Were they successful uses of airpower? Why or why not?

You are on the Joint Staff, and an army guys says, “Why don’t you AF guys knock off this interdiction stuff. It didn’t work in Operation Strangle (Italy), nor in Korea, nor in Vietnam. Why don’t you concentrate on CAS instead?”

Gave several examples of AF dudes with innovative ideas who were ousted from the military (Jones, Tunner, Warden); is the AF more apt to require its members to tow the party line than are the other services?

This student’s Airpower Theory did not include space. Mets played “bad cop” and tried to convince him that his reasoning for that position is faulty. Student had to defend his paper’s position on space.

What is an RMA and what are its characteristics?

Why do actors go to war?

Discuss security dilemma in an airpower context

Is precision capability leading us down the wrong path in small wars?

How has airpower limited casualties over time?

Is today’s AF strategy accurate/effective? Why or why not?

If our strategy has to be modified so often, why do we even have it?

What insights would you apply in a future wargame based on this year’s SAAS experience?

Given your ideas about war and the future, how would you restructure the SAAS curriculum to better prepare those that follow you?

Is the use of airpower in OEF an anomaly? Defend your answer.

What is the best way to talk to your boss about a subject that requires analysis?

Explain to a skeptic how effectively airpower has been employed over the last decade, and did it have the right doctrine.

Is there a difference between the theory of airpower and the practice of airpower? Why or why not?

What is the definition and purpose of theory/doctrine/strategy?

How does JFC Fuller’s mental-physical-moral construct relate to the means-methods-ends of airpower employment in your theory?

What is the single most valuable insight as an airpower strategist you gained from Thucydides?

Compare and contrast Corbett and Mahan’s theory and state which has more relevance for you.

Does viewing war through the tactical/operational/strategic paradigm have utility for airmen? If yes, what criteria would you use to decide what level of war a given action fell into?

Having read Thucydides, what are the most important lessons you learned from it as a military strategist?

What do you think of the statement “To anticipate and shape the future, you must master the past”?

Application of airpower at both ends of the conflict spectrum

Direct vs. indirect airpower employment

Various airpower strategies

Various military and airpower theorists

Have some knowledge of historical airpower examples

Mahan, Corbett – compare and contrast

Billy Mitchell – was he a zealot, should he have been court martialed, what was the basis for his theory?

JFC Fuller, Clausewitz, Thucydides: Fuller’s obsession with 3s, and how fear, honor, and interest relate to both Fuller and Clausewitz.

Kitson/Trinquier – they came up as a reference to how to fight insurgents. Key phrase is “legitimacy.”

Lots of reports of questions on their TOAs (Theory of Airpower). Know the problems with your theory, maybe more so than the strengths, and be prepared to defend and parry.

How would you relate doctrine to strategy? Look at the last class of 600.

o Relate airpower to the military theorists. For example, how do you explain the difference between Claus’s belief that defense is the stronger form of war and Douhet’s belief that airpower is and should be inherently offensive?

o What was new about Warden? Did it work? Chef’s answer: nothing – it was all AirLand Battle, and no it did not work as Warden’s way didn’t compel Iraq to leave Kuwait.

o From an airman’s perspective, what are the roles of land forces?

§ They can hold ground

§ In most conflicts their actions can lead to decisive victory

§ They are a great coercive tool UNTIL THEY ARE DEPLOYED. Once deployed, the hand is played. You can’t “ratchet up” the coercion once the land forces have deployed.

§ MOST IMPORTANTLY: they force entrenched enemies to move and concentrate, making them vulnerable to air attack

§ Oh and they hang around a long time after the fighting and provide insurgents with targets

o What’s the role of airpower in IW?

- Other concepts

o Across the mediums – land to sea to air to space to cyber – the common goal is to attain the ability to control, which is an ability that rapidly erodes across the mediums.

What does airpower bring to the joint campaign plan? Strengths, Weaknesses. Persistence is not a strength.

Describe the effects of politics and economy on the future of US airpower.

Which 3 readings most affected my airpower theory (first question)

Analyze Pape’s Statement, “What nearly all suicide terrorist attack actually have in common is a specific secular goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.”

If I were to go teach at India’s SAASS, which two of the three theorists would I choose to teach, Fuller, Mahan, Clausewitz.

How do we fight convince Iran to give up its nuke program without getting mired with a large peacekeeping force like in Iraq? Tell me what will and won’t work. I said crony attack. Follow-on question, will it work? No, without and international coalition and DIME. Is the coalition feasible? No.

Use theorists and examples to explain why attacking leadership is good and bad? Is it practical?

Allison Model 1,2,3 and Morgan’s analogies of Machine, Organism…) and why it was important to strategy. He also asked the pro’s cons of treating the AOC as a weapon system.

Argue for and against why Thucydides is important to strategists.



Is Warden ACTS repackaged or not.

What is most powerful: institutions, ideology, or agency?

What was the "Vietnam Syndrome" and how has it shaped civil-military relations since?

Day 4: There is an underlying tension between material and non-material factors. Which is most important?

Does the US need NATO? What are alternatives?

What are the complications of establishing international norms of preemptive use of force?

Which metaphor best illuminates the process of defense transformation?

The open system is the organism.

How will privatization impact American defense policy in the near future?

Is surprise/catastrophe inevitable? Can uncertainty be erased?

-What theorist do you like most/least with reasons?

-Discuss the differences between the USSBS and the GWAPS in terms of what we learned from them and how they focused on the lessons learned.

-Explain US and USSR nuclear strategy from Massive retalitation to today.

-Using Erhard's framework (target, third party, domestic audiences) to explain the unintended consequences that resulted from the Al Firdo's bunker attack in Gulf War 1.

-Using a decision making framework of my choice (Allison) explain why Iraq didn't blowup key bridges during OIF to impede the US' advance.

-Using that same framework to analyze the US' decision to start the ground campaign before the air campaign in OIF.

-What strategy would you recommend to coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program that doesn't include a messy phase IV like we currently see in Iraq.

-Which came first the chicken or the egg?

-Defend the following two statements: 1) The airpower is 1000 times more effective than any other time in its history due to the current RMA (as a starting point you have to explain what you think constitutes this RMA). (2) Airpower is no more effective than it has been in the past, and in fact, is less so due to the way the enemy is fighting.

Your boss wants you to develop a strategy to deal with the insurgency. What do you recommend?

-Some authors argue that the Berlin Airlift allowed the US to slow time down to its advantage. Do you agree? Why or why not?

-What lessons did the US Army Air Corps learn from its experiences in the North Africa Campaign?

-RAND is working on a study to defend or repudiate the following statement: The US has such an overwhelming advantage in the air, that in the future, no other group or state will challenge the US in the air or on the ground in a conventional force on force fight. The only wars the US will be left to fight are nuclear wars and insurgencies. How do you think RAND anwered the question?

Overall, pretty low threat. Chiabotti pretty much kept it focused on my airpower theory and my thesis, with few exceptions. Chiabotti and Gorman are 600 guys, so the theorists are their cup of tea. Know them cold. Mortensen focused on current things and personal opinion stuff.

There were several branches/sequels from this relating to Clausewitz and Warden, COGs, Clausewitz's thoughts on defense v offense, culminating point definition (both O and D), and JFC Fuller.

We talked about Boyd and the OODA loop and its applicability to the 3 levels of war (They don't think it applies to strategic level). We did the same with EBO (It applies to all three).

We spent quite a bit of time discussing 670 and how the military and its generals relates to the political process. Chiabotti thinks its imperative that the military strategist be concerned with policy (why else would we have SAASS?). This led to a discussion about Cohen and Supreme Command and his thoughts about the subject.

What metaphor would you use to describe your airpower theory? What are some metaphors other theorists have used? (used Morgan’s book and Fuller-human body)

1) Thinking about the OODA loop, is speed always good? (mostly yes, but higher order effects aren’t know right away and enemy might not know they’re defeated)

2) Follow-on to Dolman’s transformation question: How does transformation apply to the current context? What in the environment has changed? (uncertainty after cold war, capability not platform)

3) What is the biggest lesson I learned form the war game?

4) What is biggest thing I took out of SAASS?


Based on my airpower theory:

1) What makes airpower unique? (Kept coming back to this and ultimately he wanted to hear air superiority)

2) I said space was an enhancer – What impact will that have on space?

Other questions:

1) Using Clausewitz On War Book 1, what is his theory of war and why is it different in reality?

(I started with absolute war and why war never reaches absolute)

2) How do you define transformation? What has SAASS taught you about transformation? Is it transformation good or bad? (bad question – worse answer)

1) How does airpower work with insurgents? Can you use EBO? (kinetic/non-kinetic balance, interdependency)

1) What is the tension between politicians and military leaders in war? (Huntington’s normal v. Cohen’s “unequal dialogue”)

2) How would you design an air campaign against Iraq? (all IOPs, deterrence, cohersion)

What is a theory? What is doctrine (difference between the two)

- Is it easier to coerce an enemy or a friend (I said that according to Shelling, the enemy has a higher expectation of threat carried out).

Big on the central proposition of theory.

- Per Doc C., Mahan’s central proposition is that sea lines of communication are the most important. Therefore, the theory that Naval Power = Great nation status. He disagrees with the proposition (by 1850’s the railroad made Mahan’s assertion wrong); nonetheless, the trick is to identify it.

- Corbett: Central proposition: that man occupies land, this doesn’t necessary subordinate sea power to the Army; it does, however, subordinate naval strategy to considerations on the ground.

Clausewitz’s C.P.:  He’s taking on those who see the science of war.  War is in the psyche – that’s why it must support policy, why it requires military genius, and why the enemy responds in a number of ways.

Likes Morgan’s Images of Organizations. Specifically asked what I had read this year that examined organizations; followed up with a question related to my thesis (civil mil relations). How should the AF act on the issue of wpns in space today? Answer in civ-mil context and organizational theory.

Org – we look more like the brain than the machine on this one, because we’re mindful of politics, funding, our independence, control of space, etc.  A machine would be more objective, based upon natl security concerns alone.
Civ Mil:  Clausewitz says the soldier can act like a statesman-OK to engage politically on the issue.  Huntington says don’t, or you’ll lose your military identity and professionalism.  Eliot Cohen says uneven dialogue—I’ll have the final say, but you can make your opinion known to me directly (the politician), not so much publicly.

Kiras asked how coercion / deterrence relate to on-going war in Iraq. Also asked 1 question on my own view of organizations and its implications for strategy development / execution. Had several piggy backs on this from Griffith.

L. Griffith wanted to know how airpower relate to coercion / deterrence. Also wanted to know which theories I would use if I were teaching a class at a foreign air war college and why.

Holzimmer kept his questions centering around my airpower theory and the various concepts that he could pull out of it to expand…

For example, “How would your airpower theory contribute to the counterinsurgency operation in Iraq?”

“Has airpower really changed the nature of war or has it just increasing the speed and precision of destruction?”

Schaub was a little more about asking a specific academic question that centered on some part of the curriculum: for example, “What are the various theories on civil-military relationships and where do you sit with regards to that issue?” and “What are the various theories on coercion and which one does your airpower theory lean towards?”

Forsyth was more about big picture issues and “tensions” between various issues regarding the military. “How do we reconcile our overwhelming military power and the need to show restraint in a counter-insurgency?” How do policy-makers change course when they don’t get the results they expect?” He also asked me what I would tell the CSAF if he asked me what the three key issues facing the AF were?

Bottom line where you can it helps to specifically reference an author and book to bolster your assertions and don’t let them exaggerate your point to an extreme such that you end up arguing the wrong message. (Don’t let them choose your words…)

I mention the balance of readiness and modernization in my theory—he asked to explain, address what risks are associated with both, and how to balance those risks.

I recommend reviewing his questions from the 2002 comp questions guide—he asked, “Why did the early airpower theorists come to the same observations/recommendations (Douhet, ACTS, Mitchell)?” I started with WWI context, influence, interwar stuff, addressed their theories and strategic bombing, etc… He followed on with, “How well did strategic bombing do in WWII?”

Asked me to defend why the development of airpower was the most important change in military affairs in the 20th Century. I went down the path of RMA, not what he was looking for but he let me go for awhile, and he gave me a hint about how the US built up a standing military. I eventually addressed the speed, range, endurance of airpower and how it could impact the US across the oceans (& vice versa), impact on geopolitics and the military, and that finally answered the mail.

In reference to airmen and leaders, asked who was a great role model and why—I picked Kenney. He followed on with, “Why didn’t he do a better job with SAC?” I contrasted Kenney with LeMay which led to some discussion about LeMay.

Several follow-ons to others questions, but all were straight forward. Did try to talk me out of something in my theory, but I stuck to my guns & that worked well.

Discussed Navy’s air superiority efforts in Korean war, led to F-4. USAF air superiority efforts with F-86 and asked me to explain those with my theory’s adaptability. (theory stuff)

Discussed USSBS and WWII (Bradley’s writing/comments on air support) and then said, “You’re next assignment is in the CAOC and Bradley #2 (an Army guy) comes up to tell you what’s wrong with the USAF—what does he say? How would you answer him?”


  • What drives airpower [development]? (Technology? Organization? Requirements?)
    • What drove it in the “early” (interwar) years?
    • In the past 20 years, what has dominated/determined USAF capability…Tech or Org [i.e. Stealth vs. AOC]?
  • Regarding the concept of Full Spectrum Dominance [from my airpower theory]
    • Why does the concept of “dominance” ‘dominate’ military doctrine?
    • What about sufficiency? (Cold War discussion followed)
  • What are the main lessons from Thucydides?
    • Did the war change, or did the war change the Athenians?
  • Summarize the essential ideas of Douhet, Warden, and Pape.
    • Briefly discussed Pape’s 4 types of coercion
    • How would Gulf War (1991) end state be different had we gone for a more thorough denial strategy against Saddam’s fielded forces?
    • Who is your favorite air theorist? Why?
  • Be ready for “Giant vs. Pygmy” discussion [Forsyth peeve]. I.e.—would it have mattered what strategy we employed during OIF?
  • Intel: What would Wohlstetter tell the 9/11 commission? How much will reorganization fix?
  • Freedman: Can terrorists be deterred? How?
  • Barnett: What are the major flaws in his assumptions? Are there historical examples where an “integrated” international community went to war?
  • [Within the context of cultural education/awareness discussion] Regardless of cultural differences, are there universal values that every human understands? I.e., Mao says “diplomacy comes from the barrel of a gun.” Does everyone understand force the same way?
  • Got into a discussion about the biggest threat to US survival and/or security.
    • Was looking for probability estimates in addition to magnitude of threat.
    • What should US prepare for and how much weight of effort should be given to worst-case vs. most-likely?
      • Corresponding budget allocations
    • Discussed tactical aviation shortfalls in Vietnam
      • TAC postured for nuclear war
      • Within the context of the Cold War, was this a bad strategy?
  • Pol-Mil Affairs (with pile-ons from all)
    • (Springing from previous Vietnam discussion), who was responsible for the priority given nuclear vs. tactical capability? Was it LeMay or national leadership? Did capability/strategy drive policy or did policy drive capability/strategy?
    • What are the “normal” theory of civ-mil control (Huntington)
      • Where does it stem from?
      • Explain it. What makes military unique (according to Hungtington)?
    • What are the alternate views according to Cohen and O’Hanlon?
    • How do these theories relate to the current administration, especially OSD? What about preparation for Iraq and Phase IV planning?
  • Outsourcing…effect on military culture and operations
    • Especially PMFs…what are the challenges of control and accountability?

What is the effectiveness of a nuclear counter-value strategy? And Who did it favor in the cold war?

Is Net-Centric Warfare a theory? Why or why not?

Lots of Comparing and contrasting theorists. Jomini and Corbett, Claus and Jomini. And the airpower theorists as well, Douhet, Mitchell, Slessor, Warden.

Got into a discussion about cost of airpower? Is it worth it? And then he asked which theorist addresses this issue (how much money to spend on defense?). I was stumped but he was looking at Fuller’s Economy of Force.

Is airpower persistent? Why or why not?

Can airpower target will in conventional conflict? If so how?

Can airpower target capability during an insurgency?

What does time mean to a strategist? (He’s looking for both conventional and unconventional strategists here.) Talked Boyd’s OODA loop and MAO’s use of time after he gave me a hint it was where he wanted to go.

What would you tell the President to do with regards to Iraq?

Name a good air strategist and defend your answer (Spaatz in WWII using oil campaign to achieve air superiority to enable Normandy) Name a bad one (Goering – didn’t stick to initial strategy in BoB, overspent on V1/V2, etc).

Why is the list of air strategists so short?

Will net centric warfare evolve quickly or rapidly?

Got into a long discussion on centralized control and how it relates to NCW? My take is the standards for NCW need to be implemented and enforce by senior leadership to enable decentralized execution.

What airpower theorist do you like the most? Dislike the most? Why?

Let’s pick apart your definition of airpower

Use of terms throughout my theory…what does that word mean to you

What theories contribute to how you would employ airpower?

Schelling—deter, compel, defend…what do they mean how are they different

I said Airpower is inherently offensive but Clausewitz says defense is the stronger form…why? What does he mean by that?

Looking at my future of airpower, if the AF continues on its current path, what are the implications for budgets and technology?

 I talked about Kenney, the Luftwaffe, and Slessor and integrating with ground forces in showing flexibility

 What about inflexibility? WTF? I’m sorry…the answer we were looking for was…the French Air Force between wars

Col Griffith gave me an extract from a Thomas Freidman article that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. What’s the problem in Iraq? What’s the Solution? How do we measure our success? Is it an insurgency? If not, what is it?

Civil-military relations stuff. LBJ picking targets during Vietnam. Is micromanagement necessarily bad? Why?

Follow on civil-military relations question: Based on the current standing of the AF (in hot water over tanker deal, etc), what does AF leadership have to do to get back into good graces with the civilian?

Discussion of Theory took a little over an hour with piggy back questions leading down random rabbit trails. After a ten minute break I was only left with approx 40 minutes for Part II.

-Pursued Definitions of Deterrence, coercion, and compellence, asked for historical examples where they worked failed.

Schaub: Quoted Napoleon's statement that an Army marched on its stomach and asked me to demonstrate how that was done.

-Mostly piggy backed off of other questions. I got a lot of questions on how something fits into Luttwak's view of paradox of strategy, but that was central to my paper so I invited it.

Dolman: Asked me to detail US nuclear strategy throughout the Cold War. I was ready with Massive Retaliation, Flexible Response, MAD, and SDI, but didn't have their nuances and connection to historical events down to the detail that he was looking for. He completely stumped me by asking what Carter's contribution to Nuclear Strategy was. The correct answer is the Neutron Bomb which kills people but leaves the real estate intact. This was considered a big failure, its increased utility made it destabilizing (Luttwakian paradox again).

-Asked if we are following a good strategy in Iraq. How can we deter terrorism, and other questions to tie theoretical principals to Current Events.

Westermann- questions right out of 627 and 600- Sherry and morality in air warfare. AAF and RAF, jus in bellum.

Civ Mil: Clausewitz, Cohen and LBJ, discuss.

Jpan and problems in Sunburst (I, unfortunately brought up Japan)

Chiabotti- Carl and attk v def and culminating point with historical examples

central proposition of airpower theory

If you were jihadist what would your strategy be to defeat the US?

How do we counter?

Mahan, Corbett (he loves corbett)

Drew- AF should be independent and run by airmen- discuss.

Measure of Merit for GWOT

How to shift muslim support to more moderates

Name a good air strategist- I used Kenney (easy) then name another (not easy) I started with Warden git sucked down that hole and someone (not me) brought up Lemay and the Pacific (Iguess I was sick that day cuz I knew very little).

Westermann – Tension between technology and doctrine…doctrine to technology. Refer to Rocket and the Reich.

Winton – You are working on the air staff and tasked to create a program to teach Air Genius to everybody in the Air Force. What are your major components and how do you define it? What are your theoretical constructs. Provide Historical evidence to defend air genius and its components. Go straight to old dead Carl and use his reasons and methods for teaching genius. I pulled elements from other theorists and applied modern examples to try and make my feeble point.

Mahoney-Norris – Civil-military relationships and all kinds of EBO stuff.

All three ended up in a massive EBO discussion at the end of the period.

Winton: Compare and contract Mahan and Corbett -> transfer value to air and space

Strategy:  best & worst definition of strategy and why

Dolman: Weapons in space (pro/con)

Civil/Military relations

Doctrine discussion: what does doctrine do for us?

- Was Thucydides a realist?

- You have 30 seconds on an elevator with the EUCOM CC, what are you going to tell him? Go.

- What three books from the SAASS curriculum would you recommend Netanyahu read, and why?

- Assume Iran has demonstrated Shahib-3 capability and exploded a nuclear bomb. How would you advise the Israeli PM develop a deterrence regime?

- Assume that the Israeli PM is using heresthetics to get the US to focus on Iran instead of the Palestinian problem. How should the US respond?

- Talk about UAVs with respect to technological determinists and social constructivists.

- Which of the four (Myers, Franks, Shinseki, Petraeus) demonstrates the best grasp of civil/military relations?

- What 5 events between 1900 and 1950 had the greatest impact on National Security (can’t say WW2)?

- Milinger says that air power must be centrally controlled. What historical events led to this conclusion?

- What air campaign in WW2 did the air force learn the most about central control from?

- Name two coercive air campaigns, one successful, one not successful. What air power theories did they follow, why were they successful or not?

- What are Pape’s 4 uses of air power?

- What are the three most deeply flawed books in the SAASS curriculum and why?

- Which SAASS books come to incorrect conclusions?

- If you could shrink any SAASS book to pocket size and carry it with you, which book would it be (can’t say Clausewitz).

G: Are incidents like Abu Ghraib as meaningful as officially sanctioned torture? Do they have the same strategic impact? Are all effects strategic?

S: Apply Olsen’s logic of collective action to strategic communications – how does SC effect a group?

E: Some audiences are easier to reach than others, and sometimes you just have to kill people. How do you develop a plan that accounts for all of this?

G: Who have you read that could help you figure out who your audiences are?

- Mentioned JFC Fuller in particular: Mental, moral and physical – expand

E: What/how would a Galula campaign incorporate SC – what where his phases? (He was looking for the intel side of things)

S: Is there a bias in the Air Force against SC? Follow up – you’ve got 30 seconds with CENTCOM/CC – go!

E: Is the strategic corporal realistic? Can we really reach people at the lowest level and how would you do so?

E: How well does the AF anticipate and plan for stupid mistakes?

S: Five most important events that influence US national security since 1945?

G: Gray – says we must remember that land is the most important – is this a valid point? Why?

S: You’re an advisor to Putin – what three SAASS books do you recommend/why?

- Follow up: Summarize On War

E: Did airpower (allied/axis) live up to its predictions and were those pre-war theories a boon or a hindrance?

G: Which theorist might have over-promised on airpower and why?

E: Slessor – how was he different than other theorists?

S: Melian dialogues – explain. Follow up: Sicilian expedition: how/why is it relevant?

G: As a SAASS grad in 7 AF AOC, which two of these books would you recommend/why? Schelling, Brody and Walz – totally tanked this question

E: Coercion – discuss in regards to OAF, OSW, ONW – how/why did it work/not work?

E: Three most enduring characteristics regarding airpower related to strategy. Go.

S: Israeli endeavor into Southern Lebanon – related to Alison’s models.

E: Diving Victory: What did the Israelis get wrong?

G: As a PA, is there any value in reading Huntington? Why/why not?

E: 644 (irregular warfare) – does the character/nature of war change? Is IW a shift in the nature or character of war?

G: What parts of Clausewitz are no longer relevant?

S: Mao – what are his three phases? Expand.

E: What are the important part’s of Mao’s first two phases? How does international support play into that?

· Any recommendations for handling the poppy problem of Afghanistan?

· What can the US do if the Taliban overplay their hand as several insurgencies have historically done?

· How do you prepare leaders for “War in any of its forms?” Specifically, does a liberal education offer any benefits?

· How did Moltke advance Clausewitz’s theory on war?

o Follow up – Take two concepts from Tech and Innovation Course and apply them to Moltke

· For future nation building exercises, do you think NATO has utility? Why or why not?

· What three SAASS books would you recommend North Korea’s Great Leader read to reduce the current international tensions? Why those three?

· Which course did you least enjoy or find least beneficial in SAASS?

· What would Thucydides say about the US approach to space?

· Apply the Melian (sp?) Dialogue to Cyberspace. What does that mean to a strategist?

· How does cyberspace benefit the current threats to the US? What can the US do to leverage cyberspace?

· Any other theorists that you read in SAASS have application inside your thesis or handling of the Afghanistan problem?

· Any historical insights for airpower in Afghanistan?

· Why and how did the US military adjust to challenges of current conflicts?

o Follow up - Was this a paradigm shift?

o Follow up – Why has the USAF struggled so much?

· Was the Army right for resisting the Air Force’s independence demands?

· The Army re-emphasized Clausewitz in the 1970’s in response to Vietnam. Are there any theorists that will emerge from the current conflicts? If so, who and why?

In the application of technology, how do you see Type III interaction from the scientific community affecting the push for nuclear weapons testing?

Tammy Biddle said that airpower failed during WWII, elaborate on her assertions and support or attach her proposition.

Concerning Civil-Military affairs, differentiate between Huntington and Cohen.

In a contest of civil-military affairs, how would you explain the recent firing of Gen Mosley?

What attributes define airpower? I answered with four: 1) men and innovation, 2) technology, 3) strategy, and 4) an economy to support it.

Choosing one of those (I went with men and innovation) explain your airpower narrative starting with before WWI and going through the present. He stopped me at WWII and we discussed the Combined Bomber Offensive and strategies of attrition.

(Ehlers) What in allied experience in WWII justified a separate air force?

(Wright) What can be learned from Thucydides that applies to the US involvement in Iraq/Afghanistan?

(Bryan) Space seems like just a parking lot for comm. gear. Why do we have space in the curriculum?

(don’t remember) Does irregular warfare indicate a change in the nature of war?

(Wright) President Obama is pursuing nuclear disarmament. What are arguments for/against?

(Bryan) What is your definition of strategy? How does it differ from mine (he gave me his)?

(Ehlers) In creating a short course for Sr. OSD leaders, what 3 books would you incorporate and why?

What 3 theorists that we studied would you recommend to put on President Obama’s National Security Council and Why?

Follow on: What would each of these theorists have to say/recommend concerning US involvement/strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Based on the information presented in “Interservice Rivalry” concerning AF-Army issues and “Revolt of the Admirals” for AF-Navy issues, what lessons from the past are relevant or shed light on the current debate concerning air power.

Analyze and provide a letter grade for the strategy of 3 US foes, either in war or peace, past or present.

You are chosen to advise the government of Estonia on the development/upgrade of their Air Force. What would you recommend concerning air, space, and cyber?

How do you think differently about war in failing/failed states or in areas where sovereignty is not an issue?

Given the portrayal of the AF and Navy in Builder’s Masks of War, who is better suited to lead the effort in Cyberspace, a Naval or Air Force person?

What is the fallacy of using the Vietnam metaphor to the situation in Iraq?

Where should the blame lay concerning the failure of Phase 4/5 ops in Iraq, on Franks or Rumsfeld?

The Air Force born under the organizational model (Model II) has driven what we’ve done in war as an Air Force. Either defend this assertion or use a different model (I or III) to counter that assertion.

What makes the other guy stop fighting?

Concerning Civil-Military affairs, discuss the line between politicians and senior military leaders? (Davis had follow-on question to this listed above)

Tammy Biddle listed two conclusions concerning the use of strategic bombing during WWII (Once we embrace a choice, we tend to dismiss all other alternatives; and we pick alternatives that conform with our reality). Given this, what do we need to be careful of / apply these lessons to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

o If I could swap one service in SWPA, which would it be?

o Did I find problems with how MacArthur used intelligence during campaign?

o Why is AOC system problematic in COIN?

o Mostly asked thesis-type questions first hour and let the other 2 ask most questions the second hour

o Is strategy a discipline? He doesn’t think so.

o Military capacity or will, which is the better target?

o Are airpower results commensurate with cost of resources devoted?

o What is my definition of strategy?

· Is strategy a discipline? (My answer was no and justified my answer in part by providing my definition of strategy)

o Follow-up: What yardstick(s) should be used to gauge the development of a strategist?

· You have just started working for your new boss, a Marine LtCol branch chief in

HQ USCENTCOM. Your boss asks you to explain EBO and the pros/cons of continuing that approach.

o Follow-up: What would be another term we could use to better describe EBO’s concepts?

· Is it appropriate to apply the lessons of Iraq to Afghanistan?

o Are there other analogies that are relevant?

· Why do we focus so much on Clausewitz?

o What theorist would you replace him with in the curriculum?

· If a new Iranian president were elected this Friday and you were one of his advisers, what 3 books would you recommend he read to formulate better policy and prevent Israel from attacking and destroying Iran’s nuclear program?

· CSAF recently created an Irregular Warfare Air Wing--8 years after the start of OEF. Why does the USAF have so much difficulty adapting to this new environment? Is it an institutional problem or a reflection of a limitation of airpower?

· I’m a taxpayer, why should the US spend money on teaching you strategy for a year?

· What is strategy?

· What is a good comps question?

· Is the US a Superpower? Is the US a world leader? Are these congruent?—all asked at the same time

· Which theorists can be useful for cyberspace?

· Should the Navy be the lead for cyberspace and if so, why?

· Theorists for Space?

· Can you explain how the Air Force innovates?

· How are the cultures in the Army, Air Force, and Navy different?

· Do you agree with Builder’s assessments?

· Why is the US so concerned with developing democracies in the Middle East?

· Does a state need to be a democracy for the US to cooperate with them?

· How do Pape and Warden’s air theories differ?

Do you consider us at war now? Is the USAF innovating anything specific for this war or are we simply adapting our current inventory? Why?

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