The Field of Study
The Mission of the Research and Development Division is:
…to develop cadet ability to conduct research and analysis while promoting faculty professional development, in order to prepare future USAF leaders for the challenges of contemporary and future warfare.
The Department of Military & Strategic Studies focuses on research and scholarly participation to improve both the content and delivery of cadet instruction. Course materials are upgraded by faculty as well as providing additions to textbooks, work with collaborative learning techniques, increased use of computer-interactive instruction and testing, and development of the MSS extensive learning laboratories. Faculty members pursue individual research interests in fields of study related to the Department's core purposes and to their own professional specialties. Past research has covered space-related issues, military service culture, environmental security, and educational modeling, contributing to faculty advancement, curriculum improvement, and to the field of Military & Strategic Studies.
Our efforts to develop faculty to achieve the utmost in subject matter expertise, relevance, and educational delivery are central to our discipline’s contribution to the Academy mission. The Department of Military & Strategic Studies commits itself to excellence in instruction and development of instructional materials, as well as an ever-deepening understanding of the context, theory, and application of military and strategic power. Throughout the semester we host a series of ‘brown bag’ faculty development seminars that cover a broad range of topics. Topics from this year include information on how to publish, and a discussion on the current strategic issues involved with the Syrian crisis. In order to maintain currency and academic acumen, faculty members assigned to DFMI are expected to publish twice over a five year period. Over the last five years, current faculty members submitted over 35 articles or reviews for publication.
Providing new faculty with a firm foundation to enter the classroom for the first time begins with a three-week New Faculty Orientation, conducted each summer. This introduces newcomers to the U.S. Air Force Academy, its organizational structure, facilities, opportunities, and commitment to the mission. Topics introduced include learning focused education, cognitive mapping, teaching vs. training, technology in the classroom, new instructor survival guide, acquaintance with the current curriculum in the Department, core curriculum, learning laboratories, grading subjective material, lesson preparation, the first day of class, and hints from a panel of experienced faculty about expectations, pitfalls, and tips for success.
The complexities and ambiguities of the contemporary strategic environment place a premium on Air Force officers who can come to grips with difficult strategic problems and express their ideas with clarity and concision. To promote these capabilities among cadets, a research paper or other substantial research project is required in every course offered by the Department of Military & Strategic Studies. Regardless of the form they may take, each of these research activities requires cadets to think analytically, synthetically, and critically as they practice the skills associated with scholarly research and writing.
Underscoring the department’s commitment to equipping cadets with the tools necessary for a lifetime of independent learning, every cadet who chooses to major in Military & Strategic Studies must complete a unique two-course research sequence in which they produce an undergraduate thesis or undertake some other research project of significant scope. In either case, MSS majors identify topics with significant strategic implications, develop comprehensive annotated bibliographies and literature reviews, design investigative methodologies, and devise and defend scholarly arguments in support of their research findings and conclusions.
The titles of the capstone papers recently produced by MSS majors underscore both the breadth of our field of study and the diversity of cadet research interests:
“Shooting for a Star: The Case for an Air Liaison General Officer”
“Spike 41, Nail 11, Abort Delta, Abort Delta: A Critical Analysis of JTACS in Army-Air Force Operations
“Hatovim Letayis—Men Over Machines: Lessons from the Israeli Air Force”
“The X-37B: An Enabler of National Power”
“Shattering the Skies with the Next-Generation War Birds”
“The US and Cluster Munitions: A Matter of Choice”
“Spacing Out: The Reluctance of Global Society to Formulate Space Law”
“Going Tactical: A New Strike Aircraft for the Afghan Air Force”
“Of Warthogs, Super T’s, and SAABs: A Comparative Analysis of Manned Aircraft Platforms for COIN Warfare”
“The Few, the Skilled, the Civilians: Private Military Contractors, Robotics, and Cyber Warfare”
“Back to the Future: A New Light Airlifter for the Irregular Warfare Environment”
“A Counterproductive Approach to Counterinsurgency? The Unintended Impact of Armed Drones on Population-Centric COIN”
“Lessons from the Khobar Towers: A Case Study of American Casualty Avoidance”
“Call Out the Cops: A Constabulary as a Necessary Addition to NATO’s Response Force”
“In Search of a Different Breed: Recruiting for an Independent Space Force”
“A New Approach to an Old Problem: Has the US Offered the Most Effective Military Assistance to Colombia in Its Fight against Guerrilla Organizations?”
“From Slack to Strac: Remilitarizing the Air Force Enlisted Corps”
“Killer Drones: A Reassessment of US Policy and Its Application
“Social Networking Websites: The Untapped Resource for US Psychological Operations”
“Hogs of War: The A-10 Thunderbolt Redivivus”
“Cleared Hot: The Optimal CAS Doctrine for the COIN Environment”