Elihu Root, the father of the US Army War College (USAWC) stated that its purpose is:
Not to promote war but to preserve peace by intelligent and adequate preparation to repel aggression
Both of the Vindmans were detailed to the NSC and will return to jobs in the Defense Department, with Alexander Vindman then planning to report to the Army War College in July.
A number of you asked me in comments last night what I thought was going to happen. I laid out several possibilities. One of them being that he was sent to either USAWC or one of the other Services’ senior leader colleges outside of the DC area (either Naval War College in Rhode Island or Air War College in Alabama). This would place him back in school for his O5/O6 (lieutenant colonel/colonel) level professional military education (PME), and get him out of the capitol region. LTC Vindman will be matriculating at the end of July/beginning of August into the resident class at USAWC for academic year (AY) 2021. When he graduates he will have earned both a Masters in National Security and Strategy and his Joint Professional Military Education Phase II certification. Without these he would not be eligible for an O6 (colonel) level command or equivalent assignment. He’s just at the right stage of his career, 22 years in, to be sent to one of the senior leader colleges. Given how the selection process for the Senior Leader Colleges is done, I suspect that this was also always his intended follow on assignment to serving on the National Security Staff of the National Security Council as his assignment was supposed to originally end in May of this year. While it does not always work out that way because life is not neat, the expectation is that the officers who attend the Senior Leader Colleges will serve well past their graduations retiring as full colonels or captains near or at the 30 year mandated retirement or be promoted to general officer/flag officer and serve past the 30 year mark.
Here’s what I think is likely to happen to LTC Vindman and his career based on informed speculation. He will attend USAWC as a student next academic year, graduate, and I would expect that he will be then moved onto the faculty as the Director of Eurasian Studies where he’ll oversee the Eurasian Regional Studies Elective (every student in the resident class is required to take a regional studies elective, but they get to choose which one, which is why it is called an elective even though it is mandatory – don’t ask me, I just worked there…). If this happens, then at some point he’ll be promoted to full colonel and will serve out the remainder of his career at USAWC. He and his family will have eight years of stability in a lovely small town that is close to a medium sized city (Harrisburg) and within a ninety minute to two hour drive of three large cities – Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC – depending on traffic and whether you’re driving like you stole it. During the short summer breaks between resident class graduation and course prep for the next academic year, he, like many of the Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) assigned to the faculty will be available for temporary duty assignments in his functional speciality as a Foreign Area Officer. While the pinnacle of a career for a FAO is usually being a Defense Attache (DAT) or Senior Defense Official (SDO) at a US embassy within their region of expertise, given LTC Vindman’s prominence, I’m not sure that will be possible. I cannot imagine it would be safe to send him back to US Embassy Moscow to be the DAT, especially given how Russian intelligence and security treats US personnel assigned there. I expect that he and his family will have the stability that this type of assignment at USAWC brings: not having to relocate every two or three years, being able to keep your kids in the same schools until they graduate, and allowing one’s spouse to finally begin to put down some career roots.
Adam L Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the 48th, 49th, and 50th Commandants of the US Army War College from 1 July 2010 through 15 June 2014 as an appointed supervisory civil servant on civilian mobilization orders. In that assignment he also served as Professor of National Security & Strategy with a focus on culture for strategy and policy in the Department of National Security & Strategy, as well as the course director for the US Army War College culture and theater strategic pre-deployment certification course. He is the first and only person to be assigned to USAWC as the Cultural Advisor.