By F. Lee ReynoldsSeptember 20, 2019
The U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH) held a two-day Staff Ride workshop on September 13 and 17 to familiarize history and museum professionals with the methodology and tools available to conduct effective staff rides. The idea is to make history more actionable as a way to more effectively educate and inspire the force.
"This training will greatly enhance the Army History Program by building a bench of trained, qualified personnel who have the skills and knowledge required to effectively lead and facilitate active student learning in staff ride experiences." Said Dr. Peter Knight, Chief of Field and International History Programs for CMH.
The training took place in a classroom at Fort Belvoir, VA on September 13th and at the Antietam National Battlefield on September 17th. More than 30 Army historians and museum professionals took part in the workshop.
The classroom training included a review of the planning and execution methods of conducting staff rides with an additional focus on using technology to enhance the students' experience. The concept of using virtual and augmented reality as part of staff rides is available now and can be used on personal smart phones.
Other new teaching ideas and methods were reviewed including the use of operational decision gaming techniques. This allows students to assume the role of a commander and use provided battlefield information to make decisions about the battle that could alter the outcome. According to Knight, ideas like these are "crafting staff rides that are fast becoming the hallmark of experiential learning."
At the Antietam battlefield on September 17th, the workshop gave all participants an opportunity to conduct training using the techniques reviewed on day one. Using battlefields from the Civil War or even the American Revolution still have relevance today in examining the use of terrain by assessing its effects on a battle or campaign and analyzing the decision making process. Knight said that "staff rides explore core concepts important to all Soldiers and Civilians such as critical thought, analysis, evaluation and creativity, the challenge of leadership, understanding culture and human nature, and character development."
Dr. Knight emphasized the need to "cross-pollinate ideas from across the Department of Defense and academia" to continually improve the way the Army conducts staff rides. The integration of technology and gaming techniques will not only improve the learning experience but should also develop greater interest in a new generation of tech savvy Soldiers.
The goal of CMH is to create actionable history by using staff rides to improve a Soldiers ability to think critically and make more creative and informed decisions. Knight commented that "The end result will be a brighter, more knowledgeable Army from both personal and institutional perspectives, and an Army that is increasingly ready to fight and win the nation's wars."
For more information about Army staff rides visit the Center of Military History website at www.history.army.mil