GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- A staff ride around the Civil War battlefield here Oct. 18 was anything but a walk in the park.

Dr. Paul Jussel, professor of military studies at the Army War College in nearby Carlisle, led 29 participants and nine alumni of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Cohort on an in-depth, strategic thinker's study of the battle that raged July 1-3, 1863.

Beginning with the arrival of General Lee's Confederate forces via the Chambersburg Pike, through battles at the Peach Orchard and Wheat Field, around Little Round Top and ending at the Confederate high-water mark at the end of Pickett's Charge, Jussel had students hanging on his every word.

"There are three rules for students at Carlisle (the Army War College)," Jussel stressed. "One -- theater planning requires logistics. Two -- personalities matter. And three -- words have meaning."

He used examples from Gettysburg to illustrate. Beginning on the one-hour bus ride, Jussel talked about the run up to the battle and the politics occurring at the helm of leadership. Gen. George Meade had been in command of the Army of the Potomac for only a few days. Gen. Robert E. Lee, given his past successes, most recently in the battle of Chancellorsville, was thought to be invincible.

"Some called it 'the imperial hubris' of General Lee," Jussel said.

He passed around pieces of ammunition to demonstrate the technology employed 148 years ago, and talked about the types of injuries each could inflict.

"The canister rounds, while heavier, couldn't really stop a regiment," Jussel said. "But they did raise the leadership question of, 'How do you lead men where they wouldn't normally go?'

"To many of them, honor was more important than life," he added.

At every stop, Jussel provided insight beyond a typical battlefield tour, leading the APG Cohort through the battlefield and framing it in strategic leadership, decision making and planning.

"He really brought the battlefield to life," said Todd Rosenberger, Army Research Laboratory.

"This is the first time the APG Cohort has worked with the Army War College, the center of excellence for strategic leadership and the framework for Army leaders to act and think strategically," said Paul deBenedictis, Cohort program coordinator. "Our intent is to get subject-matter experts for each of the subjects in the Cohort curriculum."

Army War College educators provided keen insight for two Cohort sessions (Oct. 18 and 19). The first was the Gettysburg tour. The second was when War College faculty came to APG to teach strategic leadership.

U.S. Army Col. Stephen C. Sobotta, director, Public Administration Studies, Department of Command, Leadership and Management, and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Traci Keegan, also from the Department of Command, Leadership and Management, took the Cohort on an examination of themselves and placed them in a strategic thinking framework.

Beginning with self awareness that includes egocentric tendencies, assumptions and biases, the Army War College educators delivered an eight-week course of instruction in one day. They facilitated an awareness of cultural influences, a consideration of ethics and values, and an openness to both discourse and reflection.

According to Cynthia Dewey, program manager, Western Management Development Center, Office of Personnel Management, the APG Cohort program is developing into a viable leadership training model.

"Three years ago there was an outreach from APG to say we needed to develop some sort of leadership program that would help break down some of the silos and build a sense of community within Aberdeen, especially with the BRAC issues that were looming at that point in time. [APG] was taking in a lot of folks and is so large that you have organizations doing different things and not necessarily always collaborating with each other.

"I took the program over in the second year, but from what I understand, Mr. Joe Weinand, technical director for Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, approached the Office of Personnel Management, and from that they started having discussions about creating a program [for] leadership at a higher level.

"It's based on the Action Science - Action Learning concept that people will do, step back, reflect, think, and do. What you hear all the time is leaders don't have time to step back and really think about things. The reality is that they have to take the time to do that," Dewey said.

She said the need for strategic thinking is critical.

"Folks have gotten to where they are today based on the things that they've done tactically and operationally. What we needed to do is move their thinking up more to strategic level, to have vision and be able to communicate that, and to grow this group of future leaders to where they need to be for the Army.

"Aberdeen is unique," Dewey continued. "There are a lot of Army organizations and a lot of other federal organizations that have leadership training, but not necessarily of the scope which Aberdeen has taken this.

"The concept that was built here at Aberdeen, based off the leadership input, is unique to what we're doing across government. We have agencies just down the road saying, 'What's going on at Aberdeen? Tell me more about that.' They're liking the concept," she said.

"This is a great foundational piece," Dewey continued. "When it was designed they wanted to focus it on 'How do I look at myself and have self awareness as a leader?' Honestly, at the strategic level, you have to be able to look at yourself in order to look out.

"So we started with that concept, then we moved them to the teaming and to the organization, and then big picture thinking. This is the phase these people are going through at this point," she said, nodding at the third-year APG Cohort.

APG Cohort participants (Organizations ):
Nickee Abbott (JPEO Integration), Dave Amaral (ARL), Andrea Britton (ATEC), Ernest Chin (ARL), Deborah Craten Dawson (CMA), Carl Eisser (AMSAA), Gary Goldsmith (JPEO-CBD), Frank Hoffman (CMA), Christopher Hoppel (ARL), Georgiann Mangione (DTC), Nick Mastromanolis (ATEC), Mike McCarthy (AMSAA), Todd Morris (RDECOM), Mark Mossa (AMSAA), Susan Nappi (CECOM), Brian O'Donnell (CMA), Jennifer Reed (CECOM), Marc Rosen (CECOM), Todd Rosenberger (ARL), Thomas Rosso (ECBC), John Runyeon (ARL), Pamela Savage-Knepshield (ARL), Wayne Schoonveld (CERDEC), Garrett Shoemaker (CECOM), Steve Slane (CERDEC), Douglas Solivan (CECOM), Debra Thedford (ECBC), Eugene Vickers, Sr. (ECBC), and Christopher Wilcox (AEC).

Participating Alumni:
(Gettysburg tour) -- Robert Durgin, Bill Klein, Coleen Dzik, Mitchell Mayer, Joel Selzer, Cathy Pritts, Randy Laye, Don Matts and Michael Zoltoski. (Classroom) -- Don Matts, Patrick Thompson, Jeff Harris, Cathy Pritts, Lawrence Burton and Ricky Grote.