SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. - During the week of August 8-12, Soldiers and civilians from U.S. Army Central attended the Theater Army Staff Course at Shaw Air Force Base in Patton Hall.

The course was led by instructors from the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), and included participants from across the USARCENT staff to include senior government civilian employees, commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers. The Theater Army Staff Course is designed to reduce the learning curve for newly assigned theater army staff members and enhance their knowledge of doctrine to incorporate it with operations and strategies within the theater.

Dr. John Bonin, the Professor of Concepts and Doctrine at the USAWC, first noticed the gap in the education of the theater and immediately brought it to the attention of his superiors. What resulted was the creation of the Theater Army Staff Course.

“This is an idea I had many years ago,” said Bonin. “We always did a good job of educating up to the division level but never at a level this high.”

This week-long course was specifically designed to tie Soldiers and civilians back to the teachings of Army doctrine. The course helps build better educated civilians, staff officers and NCOs that are prepared to efficiently execute their assigned mission as a theater Army. Some of the topics included setting the theater and maintaining the force, discussed in 5 lessons, and setting and supporting the joint operations area, which was discussed in 4 lessons.

U.S. Army Central’s Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Patrick Frank, visited the course and explained to the participants the importance of Army doctrine and what is done in theater.

Frank said, “The Army is based on doctrine. It’s there to guide us and, in times that we may think to deviate from it, it's there to get us back on point. With that, it is our job to set the theater and with our sustainment of it we can provide the framework for General Kurilla (the CENTCOM Commander) so that our brothers and sisters are able to return home.”

Former U.S. Central Command commander, Gen. (Ret.) Joseph Votel, participated in the course as a capstone, where he dialed in virtually to provide context and his experiences as a former combatant commander in the region. He then took the time to field questions from the group.

Former Deputy Commanding General of U.S. Army Central Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Doug Crissman, helped lead the course as a senior mentor. He was key in designing and developing the course.

When asked what he hoped service members and civilians learned from this course, Crissman said, “I hope they gain a better understanding and appreciation of the doctrine. I also hope they learned why the theater army is necessary and why their actions are essential to our ability to fight and win our nation's wars.”