FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (July 21, 2011) -- The School of Advanced Leadership and Tactics is getting ready to try out a core curriculum for captains that a team of about seven full-time employees developed from the ground up in less than six months.

Col. William Raymond, director of SALT, which is the Command and General Staff College’s newest school at Fort Leavenworth, said a team of instructors will begin teaching a proof-of-principle course to 32 captains and promotable first lieutenants Aug. 1 at Fort Bliss, Texas. The six-week course will focus on critical thinking and leadership and the topics of mission command, the operations process, training and full-spectrum operations.

“In a very short time, we were able to develop a brand new common core curriculum at the ‘application’ level or higher with the help of everyone in Leader Development and Education and across (Training and Doctrine Command),” Raymond said.

Raymond said SALT is responsible for a mid-grade level learning continuum. SALT will be responsible for introducing professional military education to first lieutenants and captains, readying the junior officers for the Intermediate Level Education course at CGSC upon promotion to major.

“There’s a lot of discussion on what captains should know ... the bottom line is, we’re developing adaptive leaders and critical thinkers who can communicate effectively and serve on battalion and brigade staffs to solve problems,” he said.

The proof-of-principle class is a precursor to next year’s pilot classes. The two groups of 16 students will continue to take their captains career courses for each of their respective branches. However, they will be excused from the common core learning phase.

Keith Beurskens, deputy director of SALT, said the staff groups in the new course will contain a minimum of eight different branches, similar to ILE staff groups at CGSC. In this way, Beurskens said, students don’t have to role-play as other branches.

“This fixes the artificiality of role play at captains career courses with other branches,” he said. “You have a real-life, true combined arms staff group.”

The instructors are coming from all seven centers of excellence and CGSC. Some will participate through videoteleconferencing and other distance learning tools.

Maj. Jerry Moon, instructor in the special operations leader development and education cell within the Department of Joint, Interagency and Multinational Operations at CGSC, is leading one of the instructor teams. After completing his instruction of the proof of principle, Moon plans to use his knowledge of SALT to support Special Operations Command in formulating its first captains career course.

Moon said transitioning to an adult learning model, as outlined in the Army Learning Concept for 2015, could help the Army. The experiential learning model, for example, is one method he uses.

“We often forget that junior officers are adult learners,” Moon said. “However SALT recognizes this and shifts our historical educational approach of training students to a much more effective and innovative method of self-guided, life-long learning which replaces the traditional ‘sage on the stage’ with the ‘guide on the side’ educator who facilitates academic growth and development.”

Moon also said educating captains at a higher level could prepare them better for CGSC and beyond.

“When you look at the students going down there, they’re probably some of the most well-rounded when you look at their combat experience and their military experience back here in garrison,” he said. “They are just leap years ahead of where their peers would have been 10 years ago.”