DFMI Mission

The Department

DFMI Mission
Dept History

The Field of Study

Military and Strategic Studies
Why MSS
M&SS Courses
MSS Core
MSS Major
MSS Major Requirements

The Divisions

Strategy and Operations Division
Comparative MSS Division
Research and Development Division
Learning Labs Division
Air Warfare Lab
Cadet Battle Lab

The People

Award Winners
Join the DFMI Team
Airman Scholar Journal

 

The MSS Major Requirements

Required Courses for the Military and Strategic Studies Major

 

 

Detailed Brochure

 

 

36 credit hours beyond Academy core requirements

 

Professional Context (15 sem hrs)
Philosophy 311 War, Morality & the Military Profession

MSS 365 Developing the Air Force Strategist
MSS 366 Operational Art & ISR Analysis

MSS 402 Logistics, the Strategic Cornerstone
MSS 498 Capstone Project in Military & Strategic Studies

 

Military Theory and Operational Application (select six courses total; may concentrate in Domains or Regions)

Strategy (select at least 2 courses)
MSS 362 Military Innovation and Transformation
MSS 363 Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups
MSS 367 Weapons, Warfare and Mass Disruption
MSS 371 Joint Targeting and Strategy
MSS 372 Wargaming Airpower
MSS 385 Special Operations

 

Domains (select at least 1 course)
MSS 470 Information and Cyberspace Operations
MSS 477 Airpower for Combined Effects
MSS 480 Operational Art in Surface Warfare
MSS 485 Space as an Element of National Power


Regions (select 0 - 3 courses)
MSS 490 Strategies and Airpower of Asia and the Pacific
MSS 491 Strategies and Airpower of the Western Hemisphere
MSS 493 Strategies and Airpower of Europe and Russia
MSS 494 Strategies and Airpower of Africa and the Greater Middle East


Applied Airpower (select 0 - 3 courses)
MSS 201 UAS Instructor Upgrade
MSS 302 Airpower Command and Control
MSS 381 Air Warfare Operations and Planning


Options (select any 3 courses from Strategy, Domains, Regions or Applied Airpower)

 

Advanced Elective, (3 sem hrs)
Any Dean of the Faculty course at the 300 or 400 level

 

Humanities Division Requirements:

Foreign Language (6 sem hrs)
All majors in the Humanities Division require a total of 12 semester hours of a foreign language (four courses, 6 sem hrs in the major and 6 sem hrs are included in core)

 

All majors in the Humanities Division substitute Geo 310 Geospatial Information Analysis for the Engineering Systems Option

 

The MSS Major is a disciplinary major in the Humanities Division, all of which comprise: 96 hrs Dean of the Faculty core; 5 hrs Athletic Division core; and 3 hrs Academy Option; totaling 140 semester hours (the same total hours for all majors).

 

Additional information on Dean of the Faculty Departments and course offerings can be found on the Dean of the Faculty Homepage.

 

Detailed Descriptions of the courses listed above:

 

Geospatial Science 310. Geospatial Information Analysis

 

This course prepares cadets with the basic tools necessary to make decisions with geographic (geospatial) information. The course introduces data sources and collection techniques (e.g. use of remote sensing and GPS). Cadets will learn methods to transform data into geospatial intelligence appropriate for decision making. Military and civilian applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology are examined in case studies, and cadets will complete projects to demonstrate the ability to solve an ill-defined spatial problem and make recommendations to a decision maker. Final exam or final project. Prereq: Physics 215. Sem hrs: 3 fall or spring.

Philosophy 311. War, Morality, and the Military Profession

 

An in-depth examination of the moral issues raised by the profession of arms. Presumes an understanding of moral theory, as a minimum: relativism, egoism, utilitarianism and deontology. May be taken as a sequel to Philos 310, or substitutes for Philos 310 (with department approval) if the student has independently
studied ethical theory. Final exam or final project. Prereq: Philos 310. Sem hrs: 3 fall or spring.

 

MSS 201. UAS Instructor Upgrade

 

Course develops knowledge, skills and responsibilities of piloting of Air Force small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) as an application of airpower. Operations emphasize situational awareness, weapon and sensor systems and capabilities, mission execution, and operational risk and crew resource management. Cadets experience a variety of scenarios requiring the application of sound tactics, rules of engagement, and ethical airmanship. Approximately 25 sUAS sorties comprise 20 flight hours and 10 simulator hours focused on realistic Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance missions. Graduation requires the successful completion of the sUAS Operator and sUAS Instructor formal evaluations IAW AFI 11-502. Flying operations are distributed over 40 lessons interspersed with ISR analysis, combined effects campaign planning, and joint warfighting concepts. Final project. Prereq: UAS 200 and sUAS OIC approval. Sem hrs: 3.0 fall.


MSS 302. Airpower Command and Control

 

Cadets evaluate doctrine and processes involved in developing combined effects strategies that integrate Intelligence-Surveillance- Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and employ airpower in diverse scenarios. Cadets develop and execute missions to meet specific objectives at the operational and tactical levels, and practice commanding and controlling operations in a realistic environment shared with MSS 201. The course combines operations, leadership, and strategy through experiential learning. Final project. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3.0 fall.

 

MSS 362. Military Innovation and Transformation

 

Military strategy, operations, and theory reflect efforts to shape institutions, ideas, and organizations. Armed forces are involved in various processes of invention, innovation, and potentially transformation to meet emerging threats. Cadets develop and apply critical inquiry to comprehend complexities of innovation and transformation during peacetime and wartime. Case studies of American and foreign military change are examined to evaluate processes of successful—and failed—military innovations and their relationship to service transformation. Final paper. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 fall.

 

MSS 363. Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups

 

Examines the challenges armed groups employing irregular warfare strategies pose to the US and its allies. Cadets will explore and evaluate alternative approaches for meeting these diverse threats and consider frameworks for analyzing the complex strategic challenges associated with armed groups and irregular warfare. Final paper or final exam. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 fall.

MSS 365. Developing the Air Force Strategist

 

Develops foundational knowledge and thinking skills for contemporary challenges facing Air Force strategists. Cadets explore propositions of air, space, and cyberspace power, doctrine and theory, examine alternative approaches to the conceptualization and employment of military strategic power, and consider current and emerging Air Force capabilities and requirements. Integrates research methods with which to analyze military and strategic issues. Final paper. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 366. Operational Art and ISR Analysis

 

This course integrates operational strategies and types of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) analysis in contemporary and notional threat contexts. Strategies comprise kinetic and non-kinetic, direct and indirect methods. Analytic approaches consider individuals and aggregates, cultures and technologies. Threats include regular and irregular armed groups and networks in uncertain conditions. Cadets will learn academic and doctrinal concepts relevant to mission and campaign-level operations, and adaptively apply them in crisis scenarios. Our learning focus is to practice intellectual initiative, flexible planning, and strategic thinking. Final exam or final paper. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 fall.

 

MSS 367. Weapons, Warfare and Mass Disruption

 

The seminar examines how the military element of national power integrates all domains to counter and/or deploy weapons of mass effect through deterrent, offensive, and defensive operations to achieve desired objectives. This seminar studies the strategies and weapons of WME, as well as the combined effects of other weapons including cyber. Final project or exam. Prereq: MSS 200. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 371. Joint Targeting and Strategy

 

This course provides a foundation in methodologies, theories, and operational challenges of military targeting to fulfill national security objectives. Strategies address kinetic and non-kinetic methods including direct and indirect targeting using airpower. Analytic approaches link national-level strategy to decisions about weaponeering, desired effects, and assessments. Cadets evaluate academic and doctrinal concepts relevant to mission and campaign-level operations, and adaptively apply them in scenarios. Our learning focus is to practice intellectual initiative, flexible planning, and strategic thinking. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

 

MSS 372. Wargaming Airpower

 

This course integrates academic concepts and doctrine related to game theory, modeling and simulation, course-of-action development, and formal wargaming to provide a foundation for evaluating strategy and technology. The thought processes developed during this course are generalizable to the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. Cadets will learn to evaluate strategy and technology in exercises designed to develop basic wargaming skills. Our learning focus is to practice intellectual initiative, flexible planning, and strategic thinking. Sem hrs: 3 fall.

 

MSS 381. Air Warfare Operations and Planning

 

Develops foundational knowledge, critical thinking, and decision making skills for contemporary operations and planning. Cadets explore the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of air warfare through mission planning and flying sorties in the Air Warfare Lab (flight simulator), the reasoning behind planning and executing an air campaign, and strategic consequences of employing military capabilities. MSS 381 will also emphasize Air Force contributions to joint operations and the integration of warfighting domains. Final Project. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

 

MSS 385. Special Operations


This course is designed to educate future airmen regarding the capabilities, limitations, and potential for employing special operations forces (SOF) at the operational and strategic levels. In addition, the course will develop critical thinking skills by requiring analysis, problem-solving, and the application of theoretical concepts to real-world situations. It traces the evolution of SOF capabilities and evaluates the reasons behind successes and failures. A number of case studies are incorporated for comparison with contemporary operations and introduction of a common framework. Final paper. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 402. Logistics, the Strategic Cornerstone


This course focuses cadets on military logistics strategies at the strategic and operational levels which enable expeditionary warfare and global operations. The course will assess contemporary logistics strategies and future concepts for adaptive approaches to evolving national security threats and challenges. Cadets will develop an understanding of the joint logistics system with an emphasis on Air Force planning considerations from an operational commander’s perspective. Sem hrs: 3 fall.

 

MSS 415. Joint Operations Strategy in Regional Contexts

 

This seminar course focuses on strategic military assumptions, processes, and interactions across and within U.S. military operational domains. Within the context of contemporary and emerging strategic technologies and service attitudes toward technology and its operational effects, cadets evaluate current and emerging operational environments, developing requisite knowledge, analytical, and decisionmaking skills. Cadets apply the capabilities of U.S. military services across domains, illustrating strategy, doctrine, technology, and service culture within diverse threat contexts. The course integrates special operations and coalition forces and includes joint/coalition/interagency operational simulations. Emphasis is on teamwork. Final exam and/or final paper. Prereq: MSS 200. Sem hrs: 3 fall or spring.

In addition, this course/program is a primary contributor to the development and assessment of the following USAFA outcomes:

Skills:

Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, Decision Making, Teamwork

Knowledge:

National Security & Full Spectrum of Joint & Coalition Warfare; Civic, Cultural, and International Environments

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MSS 415S. Joint Operations Strategy in Global Contexts - Scholars' Version

 

This course is the Scholar’s version of the MSS 415/416 course. Cadets scrutinize global challenges and regional dynamics faced by the U.S. military, critically evaluate contemporary debates through the application of strategic concepts, and examine means of recalibrating the joint force in complex operating environments. Final exam or final paper. Prereq: MSS 200 and Scholar status. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

In addition, this course/program is a primary contributor to the development and assessment of the following USAFA outcomes:

Skills:

Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, Decision Making, Teamwork

Knowledge:

National Security & Full Spectrum of Joint & Coalition Warfare; Civic, Cultural, and International Environments

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MSS 416. Joint Operations Strategy and Technology

 

This seminar course focuses on strategic military assumptions, processes, and interactions across and within regions of interest to the United States military. Cadets evaluate current and emerging operational environments in Combatant Command Areas of Responsibility, developing requisite knowledge, analytical, and decision-making skills. Cadets apply the capabilities of all U.S. military services across domains, illustrating strategy, doctrine, technology, and service culture within diverse threat contexts. The course integrates special operations and coalition forces and includes joint/coalition/interagency operational simulations. Emphasis is on teamwork. Final exam and/or final paper. Prereq: MSS 200. Sem hrs: 3 fall or spring.

In addition, this course/program is a primary contributor to the development and assessment of the following USAFA outcomes:

Skills:

Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, Decision Making, Teamwork

Knowledge:

National Security & Full Spectrum of Joint & Coalition Warfare; Civic, Cultural, and International Environments

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MSS 470. Information and Cyberspace Operations

 

This course examines Information Operations and Cyberspace capabilities and strategies by means of a thorough study of Influence Operations, Network Warfare Operations, and Electronic Warfare Operations. An analysis will be made of the current and emerging influence of Information Operations on force structure, strategy, and operational capabilities together with an assessment of the crucial role of information dominance across the spectrum of war. Final paper or final project. Prereq: MSS major or departmental approval. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 477. Airpower for Combined Effects

 

Cadets relate air campaign planning and airpower strategy and operational concepts in robust scenarios. Content includes weapons platforms, sensors and munitions, as well as roles, missions, and types of manned and unmanned aerial warfare in contemporary operating environments. Cadets adaptively plan and adjust air operations to combine effects in multiple simulations. Final paper. Prereq: MSS 200 and department approval. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 480. Operational Art in Surface Warfare

 

This course examines theory, war as art and science, major paradigms, and laboratory applications in contemporary contexts. Cadets study strategy and operational concepts in land and maritime warfare, the role of professional staffs, and power projection. Emphasis is on current challenges exercised via laboratory simulations requiring original solutions. Cadets develop mental agility to adapt to complex operating environments. Final project or exam. Prereq: MSS 200. Sem hrs: 3 fall.

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MSS 485. Space as an Element of National Power

 

Seminar discusses conceptual frameworks to understand the context, theory, and application of space as an element of national power. Cadets contextually understand the intellectual foundations of space strategy and theory for American and foreign space powers. Contemporary and notional future space capabilities are also addressed. Cadets explore selected concepts and capabilities in the Space Operations Education Lab. Final project or final paper. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 490. Strategies and Airpower of Asia and the Pacific

 

Seminar focused on strategic military assumptions, processes, and interactions in the region. Comprehend current and emerging military operational environments in the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR), develop regional knowledge and analytical skills, and practice decision-making in realistic scenarios. This AOR primarily comprises India, Australia, East Asia, and the Pacific. Regional context will include selected threats, concepts, and issues related to contemporary military strategy. Final paper or final exam. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 spring of even-numbered years.

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MSS 491. Strategies and Airpower of the Western Hemisphere

 

Seminar examines the strategic and operational environments of North, Central, and South America. Cadets will comprehend current and potential strategic challenges, develop regional knowledge and analytical skills, evaluate the emergence of future threats and strategies for addressing them, and practice decision-making in realistic scenarios. Regional context will include consideration of strategic vulnerabilities and selected threats, concepts, and issues related to contemporary military strategy. Final project or exam. Prereq: MSS 200. Sem hrs: 3 spring of odd-numbered years.

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MSS 493. Strategies and Airpower of Europe and Russia

 

Seminar focused on strategic military assumptions, processes, and interactions in the region. Comprehend current and emerging operational environments in the United States European (USEUCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR), develop regional knowledge and analytical skills, and practice decision-making in realistic scenarios. This AOR primarily comprises Europe, Russia, Turkey, and Israel. Regional context will include selected threats, concepts, and issues related to contemporary military strategy. Final paper or final exam. Prereq: None. Sem hrs: 3 fall of even-numbered years.

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MSS 494. Strategies and Airpower of Africa and the Greater Middle East

 

Seminar examining the strategic and operational military environments of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. Comprehend current and potential strategic challenges, develop regional knowledge, and analytical skills, evaluate the emergence of future threats and counter-strategies, and practice decision-making in realistic and notional scenarios. Regional context will include consideration of strategic vulnerabilities and selected threats, concepts and issues related to contemporary military strategy. Final project or final exam. Prereq: MSS 200. Sem hrs: 3 fall of odd numbered years.

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MSS 495. Special Topics

 

Selected topics related to military doctrine, operations and strategy. Prereq: department approval. Sem hrs: 1-3 fall or spring

MSS 498. Capstone Thesis in Military Strategic Studies

 

This course culminates the Military & Strategic Studies curriculum, integrating previous coursework to contribute
knowledge to the context, theory, and application of military & strategic power. Based upon the cadet research topic selected in the prerequisite MSS 379, students work with a selected faculty advisor. Cadets either produce a major paper for publication or create a Cadet Battlelab simulation or exercise designed to research a thesis, evaluate the findings, and present a paper on the results. Approval for the battlelab simulation is based upon the Cadet’s research topic. Final Paper. Prereq: MSS 379. Sem hrs: 3 spring.

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MSS 499. Independent Study.

 

3(0). Individual study and/or research under the direction of a DFMI instructor. No final. Prereq: Department approval. Sem hrs: 3 fall or spring.

  • MSS 499A. Independent Study. 2(0). Sem hrs: 2 fall or spring.
  • MSS 499B. Independent Study. 1.5(0). Sem hrs: 1.5 fall or spring.
  • MSS 499C. Independent Study. 1(0). Sem hrs: 1 fall or spring.

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U.S. Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO 80840, (719) 333-1110 DSN: 333-1110, 28 Nov 14
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