1. Panel members: Gloves had Hughes, Lt Col Davis, and Gardner (AWC)
2. Types of questions asked: Old theorists vs. new IW; role of technology in strategy; role of AF in COIN; Mao and culture vs. technology; what did you learn at SAASS?
3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? I could have done one more quick scan of the 600 wiki entries
4. Any other comments: Spend more time silently formulating a response - key criticism was that my responses were "undisciplined."
1. Panel members: Push had Chiabotti, Maj Bryan, and Dr. Hemmer (AWC)
2. Types of questions asked: Started w/ the thesis, and linked the concepts from the thesis to the rest of the curriculum; Classical military theorists vs. the airpower theorists (similarities and differences); an appraisal of strategic/tactical airpower in WW2; Concept of "interest" in Thucydides;
3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? No.
4. Any other comments: Receieved one critique for fairly long and roundabout answers -- i.e. doing a "lit review" at the start of my answers.
1. Panel members: Dolman, Frazier, La Saine
2. Types of questions asked:
a. Do we spend too much time talking about and studying WWII history ... in general? (La Saine) ... and in the SAASS curriculum? (Dolman)
b. You spoke out against objective control and professionalization of the military. What should be the role of military officers in Politics? Wouldn't we be better served if military leaders focused on their specific jobs, rather than giving opinions outside their areas of expertise? (Frazier)
c. One of our senior leader visitors predicted that we would be at war with Iran within the next 18 months. What do you think of that? What should be the military's input into that conversaiton? (Dolman)
d. One of the things we've discussed in class is an apparent lack of strategic vision and strategic direction in US policy. In order to help the US develop a strategic vision, what would you say the United States should be focusing on? What should we be trying to achieve? (Frazier)
e. In light of your position on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how would Walzer view the last 10 years of American policy? (La Saine) If a nuclear weapon goes off in the United States and the nuclear material can be traced back to Iran, given Walzer's arguments about proportionality, would he say it would be more acceptable to attack Iran with a massive conventional force or to detonate a similar yield nuclear weapon in Iran? (Frazier)
f. Biddle and Pape both make arguments that many people see to be critical of airpower in general, or at least strategic bombing in particular. Are their arguments complimentary to each other? Do you agree with them? How would you respond to them? (La Saine)
g. Tell us about top two "a-ha" moments you had while at SAASS? (Dolman)
3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?
I think it is a very valuable technique to sit down with a clean sheet of paper and map out the top 5 or so concepts that you personally think are the most important elements out of the entire SAASS curriculum. What resonated with you? How do you make sense of everything we've done this year? Organize your own thoughts and perspectives and formulate your wheelhouse. My conversation primarily went through the doors that I opened. My preparation failed me in that my wheelhouse was created from several big concepts that were very hard to describe and articulate. I should have spoken my wheelhouse concepts out loud several more times than I did.
After you have your main thoughts in order, the most valuable preparation technique for me was to go through the list of questions and look for areas where my general knowledge of the facts was not up to snuff. I did some extra brushing up in areas where I was weak on the basic facts and concepts of particular works, which was beneficial. In the end, though, there are a billion specific facts and figures in the curriculum, and you can't know them all. Having a broad-brush understanding of all the general concepts is important because you don't know where the questions will start out. However, it's more important 1) to be able to tie your answers back into your wheelhouse, and 2) to ensure that your wheelhouse is big enough that it can easily sustain a 2+ hour conversation without being boring or repetitive. My exam only covered an extremely small sliver of the entire SAASS curriculum.
4. Any other comments:
It's a good technique to answer the questions like we were told to write our Blue Darts ... first, answer the question. ... next spend time justifying the answer and discussing other elements and considerations. If I failed anywhere, it was because I didn't answer the questions, or I spent my time thinking out loud hoping to stumble upon an answer I was satisfied with. There's room for equivocating and dancing around things, but it's also important to actually answer some of the quesitons that come your way ... especially when they draw your attention back to the main question two or three times. I wasn't so into that as a technique. I still passed, but I could have done better if I had a point and articulated it up front before I started rambling.
Give me a call if you have any specific questions you think I can help you out with. -Oz
1. Panel members Pavelec, Wright, Drew
2. Types of questions asked: What levels of strategy do you believe exist? How do you define strategy, and does it apply to each of these levels? (Wright)
In the Obama administrations NSS, they declare nuclear weapons are less important when compared to conventional and COIN conflict. If this is the case what is the utility of the nuclear arsenal, and what is your judgment of the situation? (Wright)
In the initial stages of airpower strategy development the British and Americans adopted different approaches to utilizing airpower. What were these approaches? Did that initial assessment affect the prominence of the bomber barons that followed? What caused the strategic bombardment/bomber barons paradigm to last so long? (Drew)
Has airpower been decisive up to this point in history? Given technological advancement do you think it is possible airpower will be decisive in the future? (Pavelec)
What is the purpose of the nation's AF? What is inherent principle of airpower? (He wanted it provides and denies access to sovereign territory) What is the nature of airpower? (He wanted it is an environment composed of air at varying densities which allows us to fly aircraft at great speeds and reach great distances) -- (Wright)
How would you describe the difference between conventional and COIN operations? Is the nature of the operation different? (Drew)
What is the COG in a COIN and why? (Drew)
Is the population in a COIN a symptom, problem, or causal problem? (Wright) (He believes it is a symptom of a poor government. Hence, a CoG for a COIN is also the government which must reach some level of legitimacy.)
In the post-Vietnam era, why were the lessons of COIN quickly forgotten by the Army only to have Gen Petraeus resurrect it OIF? (Drew)
If history is a tool for understanding, then is it more important to learn from our successes in WWII or our failures in Vietnam? (Pavelec)
3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? No
4. Any other comments: Didn't like me giving my opinion based on the material even though I was often asked opinionated questions. Suggested I sight author/material, combine the evidence, and then give opinion at the end.
1. Panel members - Col Schultz, Maj Bryan, Dr. Peifer (AWC Professor) 2. Types of questions asked:
Col Schultz - Talk me through Thucydides' Melian Dialogue
Maj Bryan- With regard to the current Nuclear posture review, the review mentions the Nuclear Bunker Buster to target those nuclear facilities that are unaccessible to conventional weapons. The current policy does NOT recommend the Nuclear Bunker Buster. What is your view and how does having or not having the Nuclear Bunker Buster affect the politics and our relationship between IRAN and the surrounding countries. And a few related follow ups...
Dr. Peifer - The CIA is operating UAVs in the Pakistan Border area. What is their strategy and how do you convince the public that it is working. (wanted me to pick from one of Pape's strategies.)
Schultz - You are advising Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime Minister of Israel. What 3 SAASS books would you recommend he read and why?
Maj Bryan - What should our strategy be in Afghanistan long term?
Schultz - From the book Castles, Battles, and Bombs, related the economic principles to current events.
Dr. Peifer - Why all the fuss about Cyberspace? Is it really a domain? If not a domain, why do we stand up a Cyber Command? What should Cybercommand focus on? Should it take over Civilian Cyber protection as well? Is Space a domain?
Schultz - Here are 3 books... bridge connections between the three - Wolstetter, Jervis (Perceptions and Misperceptions), and Khun..
Dr Peifer - China is building up naval and air force forces near the South China Sea. We are putting money towards building up our forces there as well. Why? Is it a good strategy? If I was a member of congress, how would you defend the funding of this military build up?
Maj Bryan - Should we change our vague policy on Tiawan and overtly say we will protect them? What are the implications if we do or don't?
3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?
No. I focused mainly on MY notes and used the Wiki to fill in blanks where needed. I made note cards highlighting each book's main points.
4. Any other comments: Col Schultz' questions were direct and straight forward. The other two asked broader questions that were sometimes harder to follow. If in need of clarificaiton, ask. Feedback: I need to be more coherent and organized with my answers. I rambled a bit. CRAB
1. Panel members: Ehlers, Frazier, Grumelli
2. Types of questions asked: Mostly very general questions. We touched on pretty much every SAASS class (except maybe campaign planning), but I had very few direct questions about authors. Grumelli asked me to relate Wohlstetter to Talbeb and Jervis. Frazier asked me "if you had to chose between a United States with no nuclear arsenal or no conventional capability, which would you choose and why". Ehlers asked me my only airpower question..."what airpower theorist resonates most with you and why". Grumelli asked..."talk to me about the theory and strategy that lead up to Verdun"
3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? Not stress as much. At this point you know what you know and can only review.
'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.
'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: Pavelec, Kiras, Conversino'
2. Types of questions asked: Has the Air Force espoused a faulty paradigm? If so, how do you break it? (Pavelec) Is airpower driven more by the influence of theorists or bureaucratic inertia today? (Conversino) What good is a theory of airpower? (Conversino) In the context of theory, what use are terms like "strategic" and "tactical"? (Conversino) Is the Air Force today in a crisis of identity or merely a lack of a mission? (Pavelec) Are the ongoing airstrikes by RPA's over Pakistan morally just? (Kiras) Do we have more to learn from success or from failure? (Kiras) Is Airpower the pre-eminent form of postmodern military force? (Conversino)'
'3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? No. '
'4. Any other comments: Look at Oz's post-strike report from yesterday. Build your "wheelhouse" and then drive the conversation there. Think about how your answer is going to set up the next question.'
'1. Panel members:'
Dr Chambell (ACSC), Dr Winton, Dr Wright (chair)
2. Types of questions asked:Air power linked to politics; '
-Is there a disconnect between claims from Air power adcovates (strat bomb) and what the politicians want?
-Discuss/compare/contrast COMPLEXITY and CHAOS. Link it to Natur and Character of war?
-What can the AirF due with COMPLEXITY?
-Huntington/Cohen discussion and it the relatonship between the mil-pol levels hould be Equal or Unequal?
-Air Power lesseons learned, than forgotten from Vietnam and WWII -Regarding Taliban and AQ, what can the AF due to hinder/hamper their ability to sustain/grow?
'3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation?No'
'4. Any other comments: -The panel liket that I started broad, framing the q, than dived more into the depth of it
-Could have been even broader in my approach to some q
-Articulate better what was "exsamples of good or bad strategies" while I was discusing FDR and his abilities as a strategist.
'1. Panel members - Col Ehlers, Dr Muller, Dr Dean (ACSC)'
2. Types of questions asked: Relationship between Naval theory and airpower theory. Why have AF and Navy relationships been so adversarial throughout AF History? Did the airpower experience during WWII justify an independent Air Force? Has an independent AF outlived its usefulness? What was the role of the heavy bombers during WWII and did they live up to the rhetoric of the inter-war period? What theorist influenced or changed your thinking about airpower this year and how would that theorist relate to the future of the AF? Define realism and discuss its validity as a lens for the future. Discuss Huntington's two forms of power. What is a strategist? What is the importance of intelligence to a strategist? Fix the AF. What areas are broken and how would you fix them. How was General Deptula and his opinions of airpower affected by his Air Force career? What is the role of an AF strategic thinking? What are the limits of an AF strategic thinker? What are the risks involved in being an AF strategic thinker? Is Clausewitz dead? How is he still applicable in today's unconventional war? Is it a valid proposal that the US could get away with 311 nuclear weapons? What role do nuclear weapons play today? Do nuclear weapons enforce good behavior? What are 3 enduring realities of airpower?
'3. Anything you might have done differently in preparation? '
'4. Any other comments: The biggest nugget of feedback I got from Col Ehlers was to answer the question first and then build an argument that supports it. Don't just quote a bunch of the authors and use their words as your answer to the question. Use your own words and then discuss how the books in the curriculum support YOUR thoughts.'