now, most Army officers know that the term “Intermediate-Level
Education” (ILE) refers to the third tier of the Officer
Education System and is linked directly to Army Transformation.
Under ILE, officers will attend schooling and subsequently receive
assignments based on the needs of their respective career field,
branch, and functional area. ILE will increase the quality of
educational opportunities available to majors and better prepare
them for their next 10 years of Army service, enhance the Army’s
capability to conduct full-spectrum operations, “re-green” all
officers on Army warfighting doctrine, and provide lifelong learning
opportunities aimed at developing self-aware and adaptive officers.
ILE includes completion of the common-core curriculum and the
required career field, branch, and functional area training and
education. According to its mission
statement, ILE will prepare “field grade officers with a warrior ethos
and warfighting focus for leadership in Army, joint, multinational, and interagency
organizations executing full spectrum operations.”
That’s quite a mouthful, but what does it mean to commanders and field-grade
officers? What is ILE really about, and how does it differ from the old, or legacy,
Command and General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC) conducted by the Army Command
and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas?
Pilots for ILE began in fiscal year 2002, and full implementation is projected
for fiscal year 2005. Three linked areas inexorably distinguish ILE, or the new
CGSOC, from the legacy course: student population, curriculum, and instructional
The primary difference between ILE and the legacy CGSOC is that the Army is committed
to providing the best possible intermediate-level education to all majors.
For the legacy course, the Army used a central selection process to select the
top 50 percent of the majors in each year group. These majors then attended the
10-month resident course at Fort Leavenworth. The rest completed a nonresident
education program to receive their field-grade education and thereby become competitive
for promotion to lieutenant colonel.
Under this system, half the Army’s majors did not get an opportunity to
attend a resident program to develop their technical, tactical, and leadership
competencies and skills. Majors in the Information Operations, Institutional
Support, and Operational Support career fields, along with special branch majors
who only needed the common-core portion of the course for Military Education
Level IV and joint professional military education I, chose CGSOC professional
development electives for the remainder of the 10 months.
In the ILE program, all majors in the Operations career field will attend the
10-month resident course at CGSC—a 3-month common-core course followed
by a 7-month Advanced Operations and Warfighting Course (AOWC). The goal of the
education is to improve the officers’ abilities to conduct full-spectrum
operations in joint, interagency, and multinational environments and develop
the competencies required to serve successfully as staff officers at division
level and above.
Majors in the Information Operations, Institutional Support, and Operational
Support career fields and special branch majors also will receive a resident
ILE common-core course at various locations. Teaching teams from Fort Leavenworth
will take the instruction to locations near large populations of officers in
career fields other than Operations. In fact, the Army has already piloted three
iterations of the ILE common-core course using the course location concept and
Fort Leavenworth instructors. These pilots provided the ILE core curriculum to
over 165 officers at the Army Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and the
Army Logistics Management College at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Most Reserve component majors will receive the ILE common-core course through
The Army School System or an advanced distributed learning program that will
replace the correspondence course. As the number of students attending the resident
ILE common core course and the AOWC at Fort Leavenworth increases, so will the
number of Reserve component majors attending those courses. This approach will
give the students, their commanders, and the Army maximum flexibility while providing
the best possible ILE to all majors.
A totally revamped curriculum is the second area that distinguishes ILE from
the legacy CGSOC. The 3-month common-core ILE replaces Term I of the legacy CGSOC.
It will prepare field-grade officers to serve on division, corps, echelons-above-corps,
land component command, and joint staffs. Graduates will understand full-spectrum
operations in today’s environment, know how to think, understand complex
problem-solving, be able to balance their focus between current and future operations,
understand staff principles and concepts, know how to synchronize effects on
the battlefield, and understand performance-oriented training and education.
The school’s competency map, linked directly to the Officer Evaluation
Report (OER), codifies the skill set students must demonstrate to graduate from
the ILE program. While this is a new concept at CGSC, the Army has used this
OER for nearly 6 years, so field-grade officers attending the ILE course probably
have been exposed to this skill set many times before they arrive at CGSC.
The focus of this skill set is on educating students in how (versus what) to
think, to solve problems, and to make decisions. Classroom time is devoted to
the application level of learning. Students soon realize there are no “school
solutions” to the problems they are presented. Instructors help them work
through the problems and critique the link between identification of the problem
and the students’ solutions. As long as evolving doctrine is not violated
and the basic principles of planning are demonstrated, the answers are accepted.
This concept is a tremendous step forward in developing field-grade officers
who are capable of thinking rather than just memorizing answers. The 2001 Army
Training and Leader Development Panel Officer Study identified the need for Army
officers who are adaptable and capable of thinking in a fast-paced, constantly
changing environment. This is the foundation of the ILE curriculum.
Four blocks of instruction comprise the ILE common-core course: Foundations of
Critical Reasoning and Leader Assessment and Development, Strategic Fundamentals,
Operational Fundamentals, and Tactical Fundamentals. Three parallel courses are
integrated into the instruction: Leadership, History, and Force Management.
The 7-month AOWC replaces Terms II and III of the legacy CGSOC. Its curriculum
is designed to develop Operations career field officers with a warfighting focus
for battalion and brigade command and division through echelons-above-corps staff
officer positions. Students will leave the AOWC with a deeper understanding of
full-spectrum operations in the contemporary operating environment, including
battlespace appreciation, component roles and responsibilities, decisive and
enabling operations at the tactical level, asymmetric operations, and urban operations.
A series of exercises are used to evaluate the students’ mastery of the
concepts taught during both the common-core course and the AOWC. These exercises
are conducted at the section level, so the students in each section do all of
the planning and execution, as well as man the opposing forces and white cell
for each exercise. The exercises place the students in a joint, combined, highly
complex environment with numerous opportunities to identify problems and solve
them. The advantage of this process is that, instead of waiting for one end-of-year
exercise, students plan and execute multiple operations and receive feedback
that helps them improve during the entire 10 months.
AOWC studies are divided into three blocks of instruction. Each block includes
an application exercise, during which students must demonstrate mastery at the
land component command, division, and brigade levels through competition between
student groups. This competition gives the students an opportunity to study and
perform in multiple command and staff roles and in threat force roles. The driving
theme is enabling and executing division and brigade fights.
AOWC retains an elective program from the legacy course so the students can pursue
additional focused studies.
Team teaching is the third domain shift that distinguishes ILE from the legacy
CGSOC. It is through team teaching that CGSC will achieve its goal—graduates
with a warrior ethos who are grounded in warfighting doctrine and who have the
technical, tactical, and leadership competencies and skills to be successful
in their career field, branch, or functional area.
Each teaching team is made up of experts in joint and combined operations, tactics,
leadership, history, and logistics. The team is responsible for providing all
instruction to its section throughout the academic year and for exercising oversight
during the major exercises at the end of the common-core portion of the ILE course
and during each block of AOWC.
The team-teaching method is a major change from the small-group instruction method
used in the legacy CGSOC. Members of the teaching teams coach seven or eight
students each. They observe and mentor the students, provide them feedback, counsel
them, and assist them with their professional and personal development. Students
get to know the instructors, and, more importantly, the instructors get to know
the students. Therefore, the instructors are better prepared to provide meaningful
developmental counseling to the students.
There are approximately 1,152 students in the Fort Leavenworth ILE program this
year. They are divided into 16 sections that are further broken down into student
groups of 16 to 18 students. The size of student groups is tied directly to civilian
studies that show that adult learning is best achieved in small groups of 12
to 16 students. Limiting the size of the student groups permits the best possible
student learning and allows the instructor teams the opportunity to know and
develop the students better.
ILE instructors believe the program is a significant step toward preparing majors
to understand and solve problems in the highly complex operational environment
they now face. Those asked believe that ILE-trained field-grade officers will
be capable of thinking through the most difficult situations, adapting to changes
in their operational environment, and ensuring the continued success and freedom
of our Nation.
The staff of Army Logistician thanks Colonels, USA (Ret.), Neal Bralley, Jim
Danley, Dan French, Chuck Soby, and Paul Tiberi, who are contract instructors
supporting the Intermediate-Level Education program at the Army Command and General
Staff College, for their contributions to this article.