The United States has five U.S. War Colleges: U.S. Naval War College (NWC), the U.S. Army War College (AWC), the Air University, the Marine Corps War College (MCWAR), and the National Defense University (NDU). While each college has a different mission, they all work towards the same goal of providing a professional education for military leadership. The war colleges are also intended to take lessons learned from wars in the past and future, and apply them to future decisions. The higher education institutions are designated for senior military officers, DoD civilian employees, and foreign military officials.
U.S. Naval War College
NWC is the oldest of the war colleges, established in 1884 on Coasters Harbor Island, Newport, RI. Commodore Stephen B. Luce was the founding president. He designed the college for senior officers to study strategy, tactics, and operations, and he created a year long program in order to develop the naval officer career.
NWC gained notoriety for its war-gaming after it began the program in 1887. War-gaming became widely recognized as a method for developing war planning and military operations. Students at NWC were called on to answer tactical, technical, and operational programs.
U.S. Army War College
The Spanish-American War provided U.S. leaders with new insights on military weaknesses that they wished to rectify. As a result, the AWC was established in 1901.
After World War II, the U.S. AWC moved in 1951 from Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. to Carlisle, PA.
National Defense University (NDU)
The NDU is located at Fort McNair in Washington D.C., and it was established in 1976. NDU is located at Fort McNair and offers a joint educational program. When it comes to teaching and training policy development in the DoD, the NDU plays an integral role. The NDU offers specialized research centers and other specialized colleges on its campus, like the National War College (NWC), the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), or the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) – all added at different times since NDU’s inception in 1976.
Marine Corps War College (MCWAR)
MCWAR is the smallest war college. MCWAR was established in 1990, and it is located in Quantico, VA. MCWAR is aimed at educate leaders in the art of war time decisionmaking.
While Air University started out at Langley, VA in 1928, it moved to Maxwell Field Air Force Base, which is near Montgomery, AL. After World War II, Air University’s move to Maxwell AFB brought together multiple components to complete the Air Force’s education system in one location. Air University aims to provide an education for planners and leaders on all things air and space power for all branches of the armed forces. With the launch of the U.S. Space Force, the education goals of Air University will continue to grow and adapt.