Poli 378 - American National Security

Fall 2013

Assignment 1. Due Thursday, September 12 at the beginning of class.


This assignment is designed to acquaint you with the backgrounds of the top leadership of the uniformed services, building on some of the topics discussed in lecture. You will look at the current members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands.

For this assignment you will identify the combat specialization of the highest ranking officers in the US military. Specifically, you should identify the combat specialization of the following individuals:

Combat Specializations of the Armed Services

The major combat specializations for each service are:

Identifying Combat Specializations

There are 3 main "clues" about the combat specialization of an officer: Often all 3 of these clues will lead to the same conclusion.

A Level Playing Field. I realize that while some of you may have a lot of knowledge about the military, others do not. For example, if an Army officer is in a cavalry unit, she is not riding horses. She is either riding in armored vehicles (tanks, mechanized infantry combat vehicles), or helicopters. I don't expect everyone in the class to know things like this. If you have a question, ask me for help!

Tasks for the Assignment

Go to the Department of Defense website. You can reach this through the link on the front page of the class website. Find the bios for the members of the JCS, and for the commanders in chief of each unified combatant command. Use the information in the bios to fill out a table that has the following columns:

Name, Rank, and Command
Special Training
Combat Specialization of First Duty Assignment
Combat Specialization of First Command
Combat Specialization of the Individual

Note that the special training is training for a combat specialization. You will discover that virtually all of the officers have gone to various military schools or programs (for example, some may have attended the Naval War College). You will also find a number have advanced academic degrees. These kinds of assignments are not what you are seeking. It is also possible that an officer has not had any specialized training in his combat specialization; in that case, the correct answer for that person is "none."

For the most part, finding the information for these people will not be that difficult. For service chiefs, start with the JCS webpage. Information on the unified combatant commands can be found through its webpage. If you cannot find a biography this way, then try to find the name and the service affiliation of the officer. Then go to the website of her/his service and search there for the official bio. You could also try a search engine, but if an official bio is available, you must use it. To be clear: Wikipedia or personal websites are not acceptable sources. However, you might use one of these websites to get to an official website.

FYI, I was able to find information on all the people. But it is possible that you may encounter difficulties.

Once you have the information, you will have to determine the combat specialization. For some people, this will be very easy to do. Others may be ambiguous and you will have to use some judgment in drawing your conclusions.

Your grade will be determined on two things:

Under appropriate circumstances, more than one answer may be scored as correct for combat specialization.

Include specifics about the training, first duty assignment, and first command. For example, if the officer's first command is a fighter squadron, include the designation of that squadron. This information can help earn you partial credit.

You should also include the references you used for the assignment in column 6 of the table. In most cases this will be a link to the biography of the officer. If you use additional sources, they should be included as well. Although this may seem to be a small matter, failure to include proper references is an honor code violation, and neither you nor I want to have that happen.

You cannot assume anything that is not explicitly in the biography. If someone is a fighter pilot you know she went to flight school. But unless this is in the bio you may have to write "none" for special training.

A Hint for Printing. If you put the information into Excel you will probably find that when you print it out, it takes a lot of pages and is difficult to follow. You will probably find that printing is easier if you select the entire spreadsheet and past it into Word (with the print orientation of landscape), and print the resulting Word file.

Honor Code.This assignment is pledged. You may not consult with anyone outside your group about it. If you have any questions about the assignment, please contact Dr. Stoll.