So, you’ve heard the term “ILE,” or
perhaps “CGSC–ILE.” You may be asking yourself:
Just what is “ILE”? and how does it apply to me?
Is it something that I, as an Active component Army officer,
ILE” is the Army’s Intermediate-Level Education
program, and it takes the place of what many of us have known
as the Command and General Staff Officer’s Course (CGSOC).
This is a significant change in Army officer education, because
it opens resident intermediate-level education to all Active
component officers, regardless of branch. So, yes, ILE does
apply to you, and, yes, you will attend it. Here is a brief
description of what ILE is all about.
Dr. Ethan Rafuse (center, facing) explains aspects
of the siege of Petersburg to stu-dents attending
ILE at Fort Lee, Virginia. The weekly field visits,
optional to students, enhance classroom instruction
by allowing stu-dents to visualize troop actions
on the ground.
Classroom instruction challenges students to ap-ply
critical thinking skills to lessons learned from
Command and General Staff College
The Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) is an educational
institution located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It includes
five subordinate schools: the Command and General Staff School,
the School of Advanced Military Studies, the School for Command
Preparation, the Army Management Staff College, and the Directorate
of Non-Resident Studies (which administers the nonresident
In essence, CGSC’s mission is to educate and train
intermediate-level Army, international, and sister-service
officers, and in some
cases interagency leaders, and prepare them to operate
as field-grade com-manders and staff officers in full-spectrum
Army, joint, interagency, and multinational environments.
ILE provides both common core and functional area (FA)
military education to all Army majors.
ILE Corrects a Problem
ILE is a result of the Army Training and Leader Development
Panel (ATLDP) review conducted in 2001. Based on the findings
of that study, the Army concluded that it needed to change
its intermediate-level education for officers.
For many years, the Army used a centralized selection-board
process to choose about 50 percent of its Active component
majors to attend CGSC at Fort Leavenworth or an equivalent
sister-service staff college. The remaining 50 percent
of Active component majors had to complete the CGSOC by
or through an Army Reserve school that taught the CGSOC;
if they did not do so, they became non-competitive for
to lieutenant colonel.
Many officers perceived that they were in the lower half
of their competitive cohort year group if they were not
selected to attend CGSC in residence at Fort Leavenworth.
the results of promotion selection boards and command selection
boards tended to prove that those perceptions were correct.
Completing the nonresident CGSOC did not guarantee an
nonselection for battalion command, but those officers
did have a markedly lower selection rate. While most graduates
of the nonresident CGSOC were promoted to lieutenant colonel,
few of them received centrally selected battalion commands.
As a result of the ATLDP’s findings, the Chief of Staff
of the Army decided that all Active component majors would
attend ILE, that they would attend ILE in residence, and that
CGSC’s permanent-party faculty at Fort Leavenworth
would teach the ILE core curriculum.
This last statement requires a bit of explanation. What
is meant by “ILE core curriculum”? What exactly
constitutes ILE, and where is it taught?
ILE consists of two segments: a core course and an advanced
FA qualification course. All majors, regardless of their
branch or FA, study an identical core curriculum within
an officer graduates from the ILE core course, the Army
awards him Military Education Level 4 and Joint Professional
Education (JPME) Phase I credentials. [JPME is a two-phased
system designed to qualify joint specialty officers. Phase
I is taught as part of the curricula of the intermediate
and senior service colleges in both resident and nonresident
Phase II is taught only in residence through the National
Defense University.] Then, depending on his FA, the officer
additional FA education, which, in effect, provides him
with branch-qualifying educational credentials.
Operations Career Field ILE
All Operations Career Field (OPCF) majors attend ILE in residence
at CGSC. OPCF officers are those who continue to serve in
their basic branch and that branch is part of the Army Competitive
Category (ACC). OPCF also includes officers in three FAs,
regardless of their basic branch: Psychological Operations
(FA 37), Civil Affairs (FA 38), and Multifunctional Logistics
The ACC excludes officers in the Chaplain Corps, Judge Advocate
General’s Corps, and all Army Medical Department branches
(Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Army Nurse Corps, Medical Service
Corps, Medical Specialist Corps, and Veterinary Corps). So,
with a few exceptions, these officers do not attend the CGSC
in residence at Fort Leavenworth. These exceptions generally
are limited to Medical Corps officers who will serve as
division surgeons or Medical Service Corps officers who also
are FA 90 officers (such as those serving in the medical
companies of brigade support battalions).
All “other than OPCF” majors attend ILE core
in-struction at what are known as “ILE course location
sites” rather than at Fort Leavenworth. Course location
sites currently exist at four places in the United States:
Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Gordon,
Georgia; and the Navy Postgraduate School at Monterey, California.
The Army selected these sites because they are located at
or near large concentrations of other-than-OPCF officers
who are serving or attending school.
Who are other-than-OPCF officers? They include
officers in the—
• Medical Department (other than those having FA 90).
• Chaplain Corps.
• Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
• Operations Support Career Field (OSCF), includ-ing Foreign Area Officers
(FA 48) and the Army Acquisition Corps (FA 51).
• Information Operations Career Field (IOCF), including Information Systems
Engineering (FA 24), Information Operations (FA 30), Strategic Intelligence
(FA 34), Space Operations (FA 40), Public Affairs (FA 46), Information Systems
Management (FA 53), and Simulations Operations (FA 57) officers.
Institutional Support Career Field (ISCF), including Human
Resource Management (FA 43); Comptroller (FA 45); Academy
Professor, U.S. Military Academy (FA 47);
Operations Research and Systems Analysis (FA 49); Force Management (FA 50);
Nuclear Research and Operations (FA 52); and Strategic
Plans and Policy (FA 59) officers.
It is apparent that other-than-OPCF officers are less involved in the direct,
operational combat actions of the Army on the battlefield. They are more likely
to be involved in aspects of supporting the Army from within a theater of operations,
from the strategic base in the Continental United States (CONUS), or from power-projection
platforms between the theater and CONUS.
However, it is quite possible to find other-than-OPCF officers working within
divisions, corps, Army component commands, various joint organizations within
a theater of operations (such as a joint task force or joint force land component
command), or on the staffs of any of the various combatant commands, such
as the U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S.
Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, U.S. Special
Operations Command, or U.S. Transportation Command.
ILE Core and FA Curricula
How do the two curricula for OPCF and other-than-OPCF officers differ? What
is taught? The ILE core courses taught at Fort Leavenworth and the course location
sites are identical. All ILE core courses consist of instruction in four major
instructional blocks: Foundations, Strategic Studies, Operational Studies,
and Tactical Studies. Simultaneously, there are three parallel courses throughout
the entire ILE core: History, Leadership, and Force Management.
Throughout the ILE core instruction, the Leadership Lecture Series (LLS) presents
a series of speakers. These speakers come to the course location sites through
a variety of media: some live and in person, some by videotape, and some by
simultaneous streaming video from Fort Leavenworth. The LLS provides students
an opportunity to hear the thoughts and ideas of senior military and civilian
leaders as well as prominent members of the media and other segments of society.
At the end of the core instruction, the appropriately named End of Core Course
Exercise (EOCCE) occurs. The EOCCE is a rapid-paced series of vignette-driven
situations in which the student officers must work. The EOCCE uses all aspects
of the core curriculum that the officers have received. It forces officers
to use critical thinking and critical reasoning skills to analyze and select
the best possible courses of action and then issue orders that provide the
optimal course of action for their organizations to follow. One of the best
features of the EOCCE is its rapid pace. It enables all students to participate
in leadership roles, and the vignettes involve everyone; there are no instances
of student “feast or famine” during this series of exercises.
ILE begins to differ, and rightly so, when students enter the advanced FA qualification
courses that follow the core course. The advanced FA qualification courses
are designed by the individual FA communities. Those organizations determine
what education is needed to qualify their officers as field-grade officers.
The FA courses range in length from 8 to 179 weeks.
Studying at a Course Location Site
Are officers at the course location sites receiving a second-class experience
compared to officers attending ILE at Fort Leavenworth? Absolutely not! In
fact, officers at the course location sites such as Fort Lee occupy completely
remodeled classrooms. Course location sites are using classrooms of a quality
that Fort Leavenworth will not have until the academic year beginning in the
fall of 2007. The Smart-board and Sympodium projection systems, white-boards,
computers, monitors, desks, and chairs at the course location sites are all
brand new. The faculty is, indeed, the same as that teaching at Fort Leavenworth,
because the faculty comes to the course location sites on temporary duty (TDY)
to teach the course.
Student officers at the course location sites also generally are there in a
TDY status. Both students and faculty at the course location sites usually
are separated from their families, which can pose some inconvenience and hardship.
However, this situation does offer some compensatory advantages: It provides
an opportunity for more focused and reflective study; and officers usually
do not have to move their families, so their children remain at home and in
Students attending ILE in a TDY status at Fort Lee participate in the Military
Training Service Support (MTSS) program. MTSS pays for lodging, meals, and
in-and-around mileage in lieu of per diem. Lodging accommodations are free
to the student, either on post or at local commercial hotels in the neighboring
community. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided free to the student at
Fort Lee, either at the Army Logistics Management College cafeteria or the
Lee Club. These meals are filling and well prepared. Students are reimbursed
for in-and-around travel at rates determined by whether they live on or off
The Army’s Intermediate-Level Education program is now a fairer and more
equitable educational experience than previously. It provides the Army and
the joint community with better educated officers who are prepared to deal
with the uncertainties they are sure to encounter as they continue to serve
in the operating environment of today and tomorrow.
Colonel Neal H. Bralley, USA (Ret.), is an Intermediate-Level Education (ILE)
Team Leader with the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas. He has been a member of the CGSC faculty for 5 years and
led the ILE teaching team for the second Fort Lee, Virginia, course iteration
from August to December 2005. A graduate of the Army Command and General Staff
College and the Naval War College, he served in various command and staff positions
in the continental United States, Korea, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.