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Valor to Victory



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The Department of Military & Strategic Studies was activated 1 August 2005. The department's historical lineage derives from two active duty groups, now deactivated, the 34th Bombardment Group and the 34th Education Group, as the Air Force continues to adapt its organizations to perform our missions. The 34th Education Group (34 EDG) was activated on 7 November 1994, a unit of the new 34th Training Wing at the Air Force Academy. With this change of wing structure, the people assigned to the group inherited the distinguished legacy of a proven combat unit--the 34th Bombardment Group.

34th Bombardment Group (1941-1945)


The 34th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 15 January 1941, almost a year before American entry into World War II. The group was the first B-17 equipped unit in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was created to prepare the nation for possible combat in Europe. Although the oldest unit to serve with the 8th Air Force, the 34th Bombardment Group spent its initial three years training other bomber groups. As the men "behind the men behind the sticks, bombsights and guns," the 34th prepared the aircrews that later projected American airpower into the heart of Germany.

In late 1943, Major Joseph "Jumping Joe" Eaton Jr., the Group Operations Officer, took advantage of an opportunity to convince General "Hap" Arnold, the Commander of the Army Air Forces, to change the status of the 34th Bombardment Group from a training to a combat unit.

Under the motto, VALOR TO VICTORY, the 34th Bombardment Group moved to Mendlesham, England, and entered combat in May 1944. Originally flying the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" against coastal targets to prepare for the D-Day invasion, the group converted back to Boeing B-17, "Flying Fortresses" in October 1944 focusing its attacks against strategic installations in Germany itself, including targets in Rheine, Nurnberg, Ansbach, Bremen, Ludwigshave, Berlin, and Leipzig. The 34th flew their last combat operations in April 1945, but continued with the humanitarian aid missions. The group flew a total of 164 bombardment missions over enemy territory and held the distinction of being the only bomber group in the 8th Air Force not to lose a single airplane to Luftwaffe fighters over enemy territory. This success alone was ample proof that the men of the 34th Bombardment Group were exemplary airmen-scholars, teaching others the art of air combat while superbly applying their own lessons when called to battle themselves.

The 34th Bombardment Group was deactivated at Sioux Falls Army Airfield in August 1945.

"What you have chosen to do for your country by devoting your life to the service of your country is the greatest contribution that any man can make"

John F. Kennedy






34th Education Group (1994-2005)


By Dr. John T. Farquhar

Formally established on 7 November 1994, the 34th Education Group inherited the historical lineage of the 34th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and the mission of the Air Force Academy 's Deputy Commandant for Military Instruction (CWI). The unit's motto, “Valor to Victory,” matched the Deputy Commandant for Military Instruction's mission that included cadet professional development, summer programs, Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion (SERE), Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM), leadership education and development, and navigation (later aviation) training.

Four themes dominate the 34th Education Group's tenure: academic rigor, course innovation, operational relevance, and military professionalism. By Academic Year 1980-1981, Military Studies became Professional Military Studies with a common focus on the profession of arms. In 1992-1993, the Military Art and Science (MAS) discipline was introduced, with Military Art referring to “the creation and exploitation of advantages in war that enable military power to achieve political objectives” and Military Science representing “a discipline concerned with the nature of war and methods of conducting war.”

The 34th Educational Group aggressively pursued educational innovation. Upon its activation in November 1994, the group consisted of the 34th Education Squadron (formerly CWIS—Military Art and Science), the 34th Training Squadron (CWIT—Military Training), the 50th Training Squadron (50th Airmanship Training Squadron—Airmanship), and CCI, the Instructional Technology and Assessment Division (CWII—Instructional Technology). CCI explored and refined the use of technology in the classroom to include interactive wargaming, computer-based exams and surveys, and upgrades to the T-43 navigation simulator. Additionally, the Education Group implemented cooperative learning techniques, small group exercises, the case method of teaching, and self-paced cadet professional development. The group founded the Warrior Update (a biweekly, military-themed cadet newspaper), the Airman-Scholar (originally Soldier-Scholar—a contemporary military journal), and several speakers programs. Innovations in course offerings included MAS 383 “Military Operations Other Than War,” MAS 385 “Information Warfare,” and MAS 495D “Joint Airborne Operations” where cadets augmented classroom study with five parachute jumps with Fort Carson's 10th Special Forces Group.

Balancing academic rigor and innovation, the 34th Education Group emphasized operational relevance. From its inception, the 34th studied Airpower Theory and Doctrine (in various forms from MAS 330 to MSS 310), Joint and Multinational Operations (MAS 440 to MSS 400), and Information Warfare (MAS 385 to MSS 385). Over recent years, the Education Group expanded its coverage of Space Operations, reflected by increased manning from the space and missiles career field and the Space Operations Laboratory initiative. The Planetarium played a significant role in cadet and community space education with as many as 100,000 attendees visiting in a year.

The group adapted to changes in Air Force doctrine, and began to transform aviation skills training to effects-based operations training and education. In 2002, the 34th Education Squadron's mission focus changed to developing “battlespace awareness” with three subfields: strategic studies, military power, and forces integration. Likewise, the 50th Education Squadron focused on “exploitation of the battlespace” through security applications, air warfare, and space warfare. The Air Warfare Lab and the Wargaming Center continued to improve with mission simulator and software upgrades to provide operational applications to cadets. The Education Group made constant adjustments to keep pace with contemporary strategic and war-fighting issues to provide officers ready to meet Air Force needs.

Although attuned to operational relevance and change, the military studies curriculum never lost focus upon military professionalism. Professional officer development lessons link the department with its CWI legacy. In fact, the current MSS 200 “Air, Space, and Cyberspace Power” course shares many concepts with the professional development lessons of 1955. Military ethics, responsibility to society and the Constitution, and leadership remain constant themes. Despite the loss of the 34th Training Squadron and the formal military training role during a 1996 organizational shuffle, the group continued to emphasize military professionalism.

The successful quest for an academic major demonstrated the 34th Education Group's core themes. In Academic Year 1995-1996, Lt Col Jerome “Jerry” Martin sought approval for a MAS academic minor. In the same year, the 34th explored creating a major. The Academy Board approved the multidisciplinary major of Military Doctrine, Operations, and Strategy (MDOS) the following year. The MDOS major examined “warfighting and the modern military profession from the perspective of its evolving doctrine, interdisciplinary environment, and rapidly changing technology.” In 1999, the MAS curriculum was refocused as a systematic field of study. After a major curriculum review, the field of study and disciplinary major of Military Strategic Studies were approved.

On 1 August 2005, the Air Force inactivated the 34th Educational Group and the MSS curriculum transferred from the 34th Training Wing to the Dean of the Faculty. Conscious of its past, the Department of Military and Strategic Studies remains committed to academic rigor, course innovation, operational relevance, and military professionalism.

As the operational environment changes, the men and women of the Department stay engaged and adapt courses and programs to the challenges our Air Force confronts. Recent additions to the curriculum include Threats to the Homeland, Special Operations, Irregular Warfare and Counterinsurgency. Laboratories in warfare simulations, air warfare, and space operations integrate “lessons learned” from ongoing operations and innovate new ideas into futuristic scenarios. The Department has officers regularly deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. This includes developing courses and mentoring faculty with our West Point colleagues at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan. The Department continues its tradition of developing Airmen who can out-think and out-execute the competition.


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