Basic Strategic Arts Program

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The Basic Strategic Art Program (BSAP) is a specialized academic program taught at the U.S. Army War College. In the late 1990s when the Army created Functional Area 59, the United States Army War College was chosen as the institution to host the program. The first BSAP class was in 2003. FA 59 Officers were used in combat for the first time beginning in 2001 with the onset of the Global War on Terror. Graduates of this program have served in key positions in Iraq, Afghanistan, at all combatant commands, Army Service Component Commands, and at the Pentagon. The program is the qualification course for Officers selected for FA59 (Strategist, formerly Strategic Plans & Policy). It provides an introduction to strategy, art and practice, and establishes a base of the unique skills, knowledge, and attributes required for an Officer's development as a strategist. The course is taught to rigorous academic standards, failure to achieve and maintain these standards is cause for disenrollment from the program and loss of the Functional Area identifier.


The course is directed by an FA59 Lieutenant Colonel and employs two full-time instructors serve as educators and mentors with a civilian technician providing administrative support. The Director of BSAP is responsible for the execution of the program, and is the primary liaison to the Proponent Office at Headquarters, Department of the Army in Washington, DC. The two civilian instructors develop and implement the curriculum, along with the program Director, and an educational technician provides administrative and program support. BSAP draws upon the entire faculty of the War College to support instruction. In addition, the BSAP curriculum makes full use of additional academic and professional opportunities available during the resident and non-resident courses at the U.S. Army War College. BSAP students will sit in seminar with many of the same renowned subject matter experts who lecture for the Advanced Strategic Art Program, the U.S. Army War College resident program and the other Senior Service Colleges.


The BSAP curriculum is based on six modules of study that provide the officers with the unique skills, knowledge, and attributes needed as a foundation for their progressive development as Army strategists.

Strategic theory[edit]

This module provides a foundation in strategic and operational theory. This course of study provides the officer with the theoretical tools to enable him or her to evaluate doctrine and strategy. It begins with a survey of classical strategic theory from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz. Next the course examines modern strategic theory, including modern theories that underpin current service and joint doctrine. The module also looks at the notion of strategic culture and ends with a discussion of current operational theory and the role of theory and doctrine in practice.

Strategic art[edit]

In this module students study the practice of the strategic art from the Peloponnesian Wars to the Global War on Terrorism. Students will discuss critical themes, which help explain victory or defeat. Among these themes are: strategy and policy match, theories of victory, mirror imaging, civil-military relations, pre-war plans and wartime realities, and coalition warfare.

Army systems[edit]

This module will familiarize students with how the nation raises and maintains the Army. Specifically, students will develop an appreciation for Army resource and force management, readiness, and transformation.

National security and decision-making[edit]

This module will acquaint students with the nature of decision-making on national security matters in the executive branch of the U.S. Government. This module includes an examination of the national security organization and policy development. It covers the theory and reality of the interagency process and an analysis of the main agencies engaged in national security. The students will look at real world case studies which will illustrate both the formal and informal processes at work. This module will also include a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the State Department, the NSC, JCS, CIA, and the Army G-3.

Contemporary strategic challenges[edit]

This module uses assigned readings, guest lecturers and a program of study to familiarize students with the strategic environment for Northeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Western Hemisphere, and Europe. The course examines U.S. regional interest, objectives, trends, and factors which impact on them. The module concludes with an examination of the homeland security.


This module familiarizes students with the strategic value of landpower and the strategic role of the U.S. Army. Key to this module is the study of campaign planning. Students learn about the structure and employment of Army forces in theater. At the conclusion of this module, students should be able to articulate appropriate Army roles and Army Forces (ARFOR), Joint Forces Land Component (JFLC), and Army theater planning for a given strategy.

Staff rides and staff visits[edit]

BSAP students participate in two staff rides and one staff visit. The interagency staff ride that concludes the National Security Decision-Making module includes visits to the State Department, NSC, OSD, JCS, the Army staff, and other relevant entities in Washington, DC. BSAP concludes with a staff ride of Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign. This staff ride serves as review for the entire course and as a vehicle for additional insights as the students look at the operational, theater strategic, and strategic insights from the Battle of the Wilderness to Appomattox Court House.


Reading List[edit]

2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy, Stephen Biddle and Jeffrey Friedman

34 Days: Israel, Hezbollah and the War in Lebanon, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff

Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, David Kilcullen

American Civil - Military Relations, Edited by Suzanne C. Nielsen and Don M. Snider

American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings, Allan C. Cigler

American Way of War, Russell F. Weigley

An Unknown Future and A Doubtful Present, Writing the Victory Plan of 1941, Charles E. Kirkpatrick

And Keep Moving On, Mark Grimsley

Art of War, trans. by Samuel Griffith

Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, M Neil Browne and Stuart Keeley

Austro-Prussian War, Geoffrey Wawro

Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War, Robert A. Pape

Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It, James Q. Wilson

Carrying the War to the Enemy: American Operational Art to 1945, Michael R. Matheny

Cobra II, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor

Congress: The Electoral Connection, David Mayhew

Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities, Perspectives on Warfighting, Dr. Joe Strange

Confederate War, The Gary W. Gallagher

Conflict After the Cold War, Richard K. Betts

Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare, Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian

Dereliction of Duty, H.R. McMaster

Elements of Style, William Strunk and E.B. White

Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, Graham T. Allison and Philip Zelikow

Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace, and Strategy, Colin S. Gray

Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870–1871, Geoffery Wawro

Grand Strategies in War and Peace edited by Paul Kennedy

Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, Edward N. Luttwak

Great Civil War: A Military and Political History 1861–1865, A Russell F. Weigley

Landmark Thucydides R.B. Stassler

Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas L. Friedman

Making of Peace: Rulers, States, and the Aftermath of War, Williamson Murray

Making of Strategy: Rulers, States, and War, Williamson Murray, MacGregor Knox, Alvin Bernstein

Modern Strategy, Colin S. Gray

Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward

On Point: US Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Gregory Fontenot, E.J. Degen, David Tohn

On point II : the United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom, May 2003 – Jan 2005 : transition to the new campaign, Donald P. Wright

On War, Clausewitz

Paths of Heaven, Evolution of Airpower Theory, Phillip S. Meilinger

Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century, Larry H. Addington

Peace to End all Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, David Fromkin

Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward

Selected Military Writings of Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Tse-tung

Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War, David Gates

Strategy and Power in Russia 1600–1914, William C. Fuller, Jr.

Strategy in the Contemporary World, John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, Colin Gray

Supreme Command, Eliot A. Cohen

Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decisionmakers, Neustadt and May

This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War, James McPherson

The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggles for Iraq, from George Bush to Barack Obama, Gordon and Trainor The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John Mearsheimer

Transformation of War, Martin Van Creveld

Transforming an Army at War: Designing the Modular Force, 1993–2005, William M. Donnelly

War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History, Colin Gray

War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, Bob Woodward

Why the Allies Won, Richard J. Overy