The National Defense University and the National War College

„The Harvard of military education“

Wolfgang Pusztai


The National Defense University (NDU) is the highest further training establishment for officers in the US armed forces. This “accredited graduate-level university” is highly regarded also in the American civilian educational scene. The head office of the NDU is in Fort McNair in Washington D.C. Every single day up to thousand students study in al its different facilities. About hundred of them are foreigners. Every year more than 600 master’s degrees are conferred. Several hundred professors from different fields of study belong to the permanent staff. Studies at the National War College (NWC) are like the other courses at the NDU completely acknowledged by the university scene of the USA. This is also emphasized by close professional contacts with elite universities such as Harvard and Yale. The mission of the NWC is: „The National War College mission is to educate future leaders of the Armed Forces, State Department, and other civilian agencies for high-level policy, command, and staff responsibilities by conducting a senior-level course of study in national security strategy.” The NDU is supposed to develop into a “National Security University” in future. Because of the tediousness of the necessary process of a law amendment, this is to be realized with the consent of other departments and agencies concerned, before the legal bases have been created. For this purpose interagency contacts are to be improved by fetching in even more interagency students and faculties. At the moment the ration of civilian and military students at the NDU is 56% U.S. military to 44% non-U.S. military. This ratio is supposed to shift to 50%-50%, meaning that not less military people but more US civilians are to be accepted. In addition, cooperations with the NDUs of other countries are being intensified, such as Great Britain with the “Royal College of Defence Studies” on the one hand, or Indonesia and Afghanistan on the other hand, where “rebuilding assistance” and information exchange are more likely to be in the foreground of discussions. The circle of international students (“IF”) is also permanently matched with the current requirements. In the “IF Class of 2009” there was a student from Serbia for the first time. Among the new research and activity fields of the NDU are the “Wounded Warrior Initiative” and the “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Initiative” which are rated as especially relevant because of the currently high mission speed and the casualties cropping up. The “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Initiative” may even be included in all curricula.