United States Military Academy at West Point

Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations

Overview and mission

The first of its type housed at a military academy and targeting junior officers, the Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations  embeds civil-military and interagency cooperation into traditional military education. Cross-disciplinary programming that emphasizes the collaboration between the military and other areas of the government, NGOs and civilian populations is a key component of the Center’s instructional philosophy.

“CSCMO has taken a subject matter that was previously seen as the purview of higher ranks by the traditional community of Professional Military Education and introduced it at the earliest level of officer education.” - John Melkon, Center Director

With today’s military officers increasingly called upon to accomplish complex missions that require collaboration with civilian partners, the Center fills a critical need in preparing cadets for the multi-faceted challenges they will face when deployed.

GPD Support
In 2012 GPD committed five million dollars over twelve years to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to launch and grow the Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations. The Center’s programming focuses on four key areas: interdisciplinary academic training, service learning, scholarship and public programs. To accomplish its mission the Center works with a range of public, private and nonprofit sector partners that offer meaningful cadet internship opportunities and lend issue area experts to cross-sector dialogues on timely issues.

In 2015 students from traditional universities, including Denver University’s Korbel School of International Studies, another GPD grantee, attended the Center’s annual student workshop, bringing a broader range of perspective and experience to the discussions.

“Having served in Iraq in 2003-2004 as a Civil Affairs Officer, I recognized how unprepared we were to manage the post-conflict transition.  This inspired me to establish a Center with the specific mission of developing young leaders capable of managing conflict outside of kinetic action.” 

John DeBlasio - Founder of GPD Charitable Trust

Impact to date
To date, over 1,000 cadets and faculty have participated in the Center’s various programs and this number is set to increase in years to come. In 2014 the Center organized 43 internships for cadets in the U.S. and around the world with partners that included NATO, the Marshall Center, the American University in Kosovo, the U.S. Institute of Peace and Partners for Democratic Change, also a GPD grant recipient.

Since its launch, the Center has held three student workshops on civil-military cooperation in the context of humanitarian assistance and disaster response engaging experts from Stanford Medical School, the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, USAID and Linking the World and awarded nine cadet-faculty research grants to collaborate on CMO-related projects.

“We have worked hard over three years to develop a pragmatic and balanced program which enhances the curriculum at West Point by tying it to a community of practice in a global environment. Our four pillars of Syllabus Integration, Speakers and Scholars, Symposia and Sharing and Service Learning are infinitely scalable to match the demand of increased opportunities for education…” John Melkon, Center Director

What’s next
Cadets have already acknowledged the Center’s critical role in increasing their cultural competency and preparing them to collaborate with non-military entities. Over the next few years, the Center will aim to have impact beyond West Point and become an informational hub and educational model for the other service academies, the Army and the nation.