The United States Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) is one of five United States Army schools that make up the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The school consists of two programs: the larger Advanced Military Studies Program (AMSP), and the Advanced Operational Art Studies Fellowship (AOASF), which is attended by more senior officers. The student body is small, but diverse; the U.S. armed forces, U.S. interagency, and allied military forces are represented at the school.
The first class, in 1984, graduated 13 students. Due to increasing requirements for SAMS graduates by the U.S. military, the school was expanded during the 1990s. The 2010 graduating class comprised over 120 students.
The graduate school which issues a Masters Degree in Military Arts and Sciences is both a training ground and a think tank for some of the Army's brightest officers. The Army chief of staff, and sometimes the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asks SAMS graduates to develop contingency plans for future military operations. SAMS planners have supported every major U.S. military campaign since the school's inception in 1984. Graduates are colloquially known as "Jedi Knights".
Selection for this intense academic program includes an application process, interview, and an examination. SAMS attendees must complete the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff School or an equivalent intermediate-level education course offered by another uniformed service. The student body of SAMS comprises mostly U.S. Army field grade officers from combat, combat support, and combat service support branches. However, in the 1987–1988 academic year, the U.S. joint services began participation with three U.S. Air Force graduates; officers from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps followed in the next two years. In later years, other U.S. government agencies also began sending students to SAMS. The course is co-ed, as Major Linda Linden became the first female graduate in 1989. Various foreign militaries are represented in the student body. "The first international officers, from Norway and Canada, graduated in Academic year 1998–1999. Numerous allied militaries are now represented at SAMS, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The first United States Agency for International Development (USAID) graduate was John Riodan, who attended the AMSP in 2007–2008; the first Federal Bureau of Investigation student, Special Agent Danny Day, attended the AOASF beginning in 2009.
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