Today's leaders are confronted with challenges and opportunities that have never been more dynamic or complex. The School for Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) under the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, helps leaders effectively understand, manage, and solve complex problems.
Cutting-edge research and course development at SAMS creates effective Army planners with the critical thinking skills that can identify problems, propose solutions and communicate effectively to help inform senior leaders regarding the operational environment.
For Medical Service Corps officers with areas of concentration 67J, 70H and 70K, SAMS can change a career.
SAMS is a unique school that offers students the ability to navigate global challenges that are certain to promote scholarly work and application. It will focus planners to connect the dots between theory, doctrine, and practice.
Almost without exception, Army senior leaders regard SAMS as an important educational opportunity to play a significant role in both the individual’s and the Army’s future.
Retired Brig. Gen. Robin Swan, current Director, U.S. Army Office of Business Transformation, and former Director of SAMS for 3 years, said, “Given the ever-growing complexity and importance of medical operations in today’s and tomorrow’s challenging operating environments, joint force commanders need medical officers educated and skilled in operational art to drive critical medical-related actions into campaign planning and execution.”
Retired Lt. Gen. James Peake, former Army Surgeon General, thinks highly of SAMS graduates and encourages AMEDD personnel to consider SAMS. He pointed out that “It was good for the AMEDD to have people with the same experience and capability [as other Army branches] because fundamentally we are supporting the warfighter at the foxhole.”
Acceptance into SAMS is a significant achievement for any Soldier, and graduates are in high demand for key operational and planning positions. With a student body comprised mostly of Army field grade officers from the combat arms branches, student slots are highly sought after by international militaries and other government agencies. Students benefit from the perspectives of joint, interagency, and multinational peers attending this year-long course that only strengthens leadership capacity.
Looking for inspiration? Maj. Brian Thorson, a 70H and recent SAMS graduate, said, “SAMS is primarily a school that teaches leadership, thinking skills and problem solving.”
While being a SAMS graduate has no guarantee to serve as a future general officer, there have been at least three Army Medicine general officers who are SAMS alumni including Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Army Surgeon General and Commanding General U.S. Army Medical Command; Maj. Gen. Michael J. Talley, Deputy Commanding General (Operations), U.S. Army Medical Command; and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, Deputy Commanding General (Support), U.S. Army Medical Command.
Now more than ever, senior leaders are emphasizing the importance of attending SAMS not just for the opportunities afforded to the officer, but for the value it brings the Army and Army Medicine. SAMS builds officers that champion change, lead in crisis, and create a culture of high performance.
Currently, for active duty Medical Service Corps, the number who have graduated from SAMS stands at 17.
Peake also pointed out that SAMS graduates are of value to the organization to which you are assigned, and graduates come with skillsets to make significant contributions. “It’s an investment so the mission is better accomplished,” said Peake. The experiences that follow after SAMS outside of the AMEDD are of great value when they are brought back into the AMEDD, he said.
Retired Lt. Gen. Guy Swan, a vice president at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) who attended SAMS during the 1980s described SAMS as “an academic Ranger school, packing three years of education into one year.”
This experience will soon be realized by the first Reserve Army Medicine Officer, Maj. Marie Okoro, a 70H, who is excited about starting the course in summer 2021.
Who should attend? Before a prospective applicant is eligible to apply for SAMS, certain criteria must be met. Each year, these criteria are published in a MILPER Message, the most recent of which (MILPER Message 21-240) was published on 9 July announcing the selection process for the resident SAMS Advanced Military Studies Program that begins on 28 June 2022.
Most students apply while completing their Intermediate Level Education (ILE) requirement or equivalent. Alternatively, officers who have completed ILE or an equivalent along with their field grade key developmental assignments are eligible to apply from the field.
The application process assesses an applicant’s performance record, physical and mental abilities, written and verbal communication skills, intellectual curiosity, and motivation for attending. There is also an interview with a senior faculty member at SAMS to help demonstrate the intangible qualities that may not be on the record. More information on the CGSC at Fort Leavenworth is located at
Opportunities to attend schools like SAMS are essential to developing critical thinking leaders to work at the operational and strategic level to solve complex problems and establish strategic plans that impact Army Medicine from the foxhole to the fixed facility. SAMS gives this skillset.