Eisenhower Program & Benavidez Program

What is the Eisenhower Leader Development Program?  

The US Military Academy Brigade Tactical Department, in conjunction with the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, is currently seeking branch qualified (or soon-to-be branch qualified) captains for assignments as Company Tactical Officers, regardless of commissioning source. Annual selection boards convene each December and make selections for the academic year beginning 1.5 years ahead. (In other words, the December 2010 selection board will choose officers for a class start date of May 2012, and so forth.) Selection as a "TAC" begins with your enrollment in the full-time, 12-month Masters of Arts Program where you complete an M.A. in Social-Organizational Psychology (Leader Development) from Teachers College, Columbia University.  

Additionally, officers seeking graduate school training through the Enhanced Graduate Program (EGSP) are encouraged to contact their respective branch to explore this opportunity. EGSP officers generally return to the larger Army for a follow on assignment upon completion of their degree and do not serve as TACs. 
 
All officers are assigned to West Point, New York with academic instruction divided between West Point and the Teacher's College in New York City. Officers are afforded priority housing placement (future TACs only), individual study areas, government transportation to Teacher's College, full duty exemption and abide by the Advanced Civil School SOP. An Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) of 3 years is incurred upon completion of the M.A.
  
You are strongly encouraged to begin an on-line application and populate it as much as you can even if it is not possible to complete it by December. While incomplete packets will go before the board, it is in your interest to best represent your skills. Click here for the online application
  
In the "Type of Position Desired" field, be sure to select "Tactical Officer" and add the "Brigade Tactical Department" for your department of assignment interest. Fields marked with * are required before submissions are accepted. Upon completion of this initial step, you'll receive an e-mail reply with a unique user name and password. (Do not lose or delete it, as it will be known only to you.) You'll then be set to access, manage and complete your file. 
  
To view "What is in a Complete Packet", Applicant WEST Instructions .
  
A Tactical Officer (TAC) is the legal Company Commander of a Cadet Company and the primary developer of cadets at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York. He or she assists each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of the physical, military, academic, and moral-ethical programs. A "TAC" trains and coaches the cadet chain of command to establish and sustain high unit standards and behavior essential to a cohesive company environment. TACs have a senior NCO (SFC or MSG) assigned as their NCO partner (1SG equivalent) - together they form and model a professional command team for the cadets. TACs inspire cadets to develop effective leadership styles through role-modeling, counseling, teaching, and training. A Tactical Officer also presents formal and informal instruction to the company, implements special development programs for individual cadets as needed, and is responsible for all company administration. 
  
BS&L and USCC (Tactical Officers) requires and wants diversity among the officer role models we place before cadets, and we are aggressively committed to a diverse faculty. It is very important that cadets are coached, taught, mentored, and led by both genders, and all ethnic groups. Women and minority officers are strongly encouraged to apply to work our programs.   


ELDP Educational Goals  

 

The Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) portion of the Eisenhower Program takes 12-months to complete. Officers are stationed at West Point during this period and are assigned to the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. (They are inter-post transferred to the Brigade Tactical Department after graduation for the remainder of their tour as a TAC.) Classes are coordinated between USMA and Columbia University, with some held on post but all others held on the Teachers College campus in New York City. A sample of the classes in the program include:   

  • Human Resource Management
  • Leadership
  • Leadership Development
  • Systems Leadership
  • Organizational Dynamics
  • Organizational Culture and Socialization
  • Organizational Change
  • Preparation for Individual Counseling
  • Preparation for Coaching
  • Career Counseling and Development
  • Instructional Design
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Psychological Aspect of Organizations
  • Military History/Profession

The academic program is rigorous but highly rewarding. It requires completion of 45 credit-hours of graduate study. Past participants confirm that it was challenging, both in terms of its workload and intellectual rigor. But historically, most have done very well. With this in mind, it is possible to not complete the degree due to any of numerous factors. Applicants should honestly self-assess their academic skills and personal situations before committing to this program.  
 

Tactical Officer Timeline
  
First Year at USMA (ELDP)   

  • May - PCS to USMA, assigned to the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership
  • June - begin ELDP / Masters of Arts Degree work 
  • Graduate from ELDP with M.A. from Columbia after 12 months (late May) 

Second Year at USMA (first year as a TAC)   

  • Inter-post transfer / assigned to the Brigade Tactical Department, United States Corps of Cadets 
  • Serve as Associate TAC for cadet summer training (late May – mid August) 
  • Primary TAC of a cadet company for academic year (mid-August – May) 

Third Year at USMA (second year as a TAC)  

  • Serve as Primary TAC for cadet summer training (mentoring recent ELDP graduates)
  • Primary TAC of cadet company for entire academic year

Fourth Year at USMA (third year as a TAC)   

  • Primary TAC of cadet company for entire academic year  
  • Possibility of serving as an XO to a Regimental Tactical Officer or as the XO to the Brigade Tactical Department 

 
 For more information please contact CPT John Borland, ELDP XO, 845-938-5589 or Mr. Billy Austin , USCC S1, 845-938-2213
 

 

 CPT Barry Ammons

CPT Barry Ammons

Please tell us a little about yourself

I graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2006 with a major in International/Strategic History. Following graduation, I served as an Infantry Officer in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY and the 4-2 Stryker Brigade at JBLM, WA – including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of the Eisenhower Leader Development Program, I received my MA in Organizational Psychology from Teachers College (Columbia University) prior to becoming a Company Tactical Officer for G-2. I’m married to my amazing wife Abby, and we have two daughters, Emily Claire and Catherine. 

Can you please describe your duties as a Tactical Officer (TAC)?

In short, Tactical Officers are leader-developers. It is ultimately our responsibility to integrate the academic, physical, military, and character programs into a single effort aimed at preparing our Cadets to be future leaders. To fulfill this obligation, TACs act as the legal company commanders for their companies; coach, teach, mentor, and counsel Cadets of all classes within their companies; collaborate with external agencies and personnel within USMA to facilitate Cadet development; closely assist the Cadet chain of command at the Company, Battalion, and Regimental Level with their respective duties; and serve as professional examples for the Cadets.

What made you decide to serve as a TAC? 

Quite frankly, I wanted an assignment after company command where I would both get developed/broadened and have an opportunity to “give back” a little to the Army in the realm of leader development – two things my former BDE Commander really helped me prioritize when considering post-command assignments. Becoming a West Point Tactical Officer met those desires exactly. 

What has been the most rewarding part of serving as a TAC? 

As a TAC, you not only serve alongside top-caliber officers and NCOs, you supervise and develop the next crop of superstar officers to graduate from USMA. Every time a Cadet walks into my office with a question, wants to discuss our profession, or a former Cadet reaches out for advice now that they are in the force, I know that this job matters. That is the most rewarding part of serving as a TAC.  
 

 CPT Jen Wilson 

CPT Jen Wilson

Please tell us a little about yourself

I am from San Diego, California.  I received a commission into the Medical Service Corps in 2007 from the University of California at Davis with a Major in Modern US History.  I was a division 1 lacrosse player for 4 years and played in a garage band in my off time.

I’ve been married to the wonderful CPT Ryan Wilson for over nine years.  Together we have one 5 year old dog, Zeva.I was a company commander in 2BCT, 82nd ABN and love jumping out of airplanes.  Before that I was stationed at FT Carson, CO, and deployed with 3BCT, 4ID to Iraq.  Before that I was stationed at Camp Casey, Korea, where I started my career.

Can you please describe your duties as a Tactical Officer (TAC)?

A TAC is an integrator of all of the programs at West Point: Physical, Military, Academic and Character. I am a career counselor, resident advisor, cadet chain of command mentor, formal and informal mentor (in and outside of the chain of command), disciplinarian and standards bearer. Like command I’ve found I spend 90% of my time on 10% of my company.  

What made you decide to serve as a TAC? 

Since I commissioned, I’ve always had a desire to serve as a TAC.  I had a great experience in my ROTC program at Davis.  I was always surrounded by great cadre that really cared.   I think there is a great opportunity to make an impact on young people before they go out and serve in the operational Army.   What has been the most rewarding part of serving as a TAC? Cadets are thirsty for knowledge, which I think can be easily forgotten about in the day to day.  Here is a great opportunity to affect future officers from graduating classes 2016 – 2021 (by the time I leave).  I don’t think I’d have this opportunity anywhere else in the Army.  Most days it’s fairly rewarding. For me it’s definitely the mentoring opportunities.  I formally mentor 4 cadets either in SLDP, SLDP – H or for PL300. I have great conversations with these cadets and really get to experience their growth.  It’s fun to push them to think hard about who they are and about leadership. 

How has serving as a TAC prepared you for future assignments back in the operational Army? 

This job certainly has prepared me to be the “unemotional” field grade.  The cadets and Academy have really forced me to separate myself from the emotional attachment I have felt in the past as a company commander. Additionally the current BTO has really taken a vested interest in the TACs and leading through us.  He talks to us a lot about serving as field grades and does his best to keep us abreast of what is going on out in the operational Army. What was your graduate school experience like at Teachers College – Columbia University? TC was great.  All of the faculty are wonderful and fully vested in our success.   The first summer may have been the most “rough.”  That is, it was a transition back to being a student, re-learning how to learn and how to study was difficult.  It was also the most condensed course load and work load of the year.  But the material always felt very accessible and relatable to our future jobs. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of new friends outside of ELDP.  I really loved being able to take an elective without the rest of the cohort.  It made me feel a bit like a regular college student.   The commute wasn’t bad either.  I lived at West Point and either carpooled or road the train.  It was a great opportunity to get some reading in or just chat with friends on the way down.  City food is great too.  Definitely ate well while in school. A bunch of us started to use the Columbia gym as well, which is a perk of being a student as well.

How has this assignment been in terms of family time and work-life balance?

It puts the onus on the TAC for sure to strike the balance.  As a TAC you can spend as much or as little time with the cadets as you want.  There isn’t anyone keeping you here, but there are more than enough activities to be present at and go to in support of the company cadets.  They all either participate in a competitive club, division 1 sport or company athletics, which is a great opportunity to go out and see your cadets at work.  In the same breath, if I need to go home in the middle of the day to take care of something, I just have to make sure my cadets know how to get a hold of me.  We are encouraged to take leave and just make sure the cadets have someone to contact in they need something.  In an average week, I do PT with the company 1 day in the morning (0530), have 2-3 things before they have breakfast formation at 0700, then will have various counselings/mentor meetings through the day, do administrative work, go to the gym, then be ready to go home around 1730 (sometimes drill goes to 1820).  Like any job, there are late days (summers), but for the most part it’s all up to you. 


 
What advice would you give to officers who are considering applying to become a TAC? 

The opportunity to get a master’s degree from Columbia in one year in itself is amazing.  While every day is not amazing and there are a lot of regulations specific to West Point, the overall experience as a TAC is fairly rewarding.  You can be involved in as much or little as you want.  I work with the women’s lacrosse team as an officer rep, some TACs teach MS/MX courses and others participate in club activities as OICs/other things.  Or you can stick to TAC life (which can fill you day as well).  At the end of it all, like I mentioned before, there isn’t anywhere else in the Army where you can affect some many future officers.  And you get to see what your future subordinates go through in their leader development – you get to have a stake in how your future subordinates turn out by being a TAC. Anything else you’d like to share? It’s not your typical “take a knee assignment,” but it is definitely a great opportunity to surround yourself with great officers and NCOs and work together to continue shaping our Army’s future. 

CPT Westley LaFitte 

CPT Westley LaFitte

Please tell us a little about yourself

I am a field artillery officer and 2007 graduate of USMA from Shreveport, Louisiana. My wife is an AG officer that works at USMA in ODIA. We have one daughter and a dog. Aside from the Masters from Columbia, I hold another Masters from Webster University.

Can you please describe your duties as a Tactical Officer (TAC)?

I am the legal commander and synchronizer of all elements of development for a 125 cadet organization. TAC’s wear many hats and therefore an exact job description is difficult to codify. The best way to put it is we are involved in every aspect of a cadet’s life to a detail that no other position at the academy can offer. We are with the cadets through their entire journey, not just a semester. This job provides the most opportunity to make a difference in a cadet’s life. Additionally, TACs are required to be able to influence through a cadet chain of command a company without the reliance of a robust and experience NCO chain of command. We have one NCO and between the two of us we manage a company’s administration and training. It requires creativity and an ability influence through multiple layers of an organization unique to the academy. 

What made you decide to serve as a TAC? 

I never thought I would return to the academy after I graduated. I recall looking in the rearview mirror as I left as a cadet thinking, “Well that’s over. I’m never coming back!” I wanted to make sure others did not have that kind of feeling about their academy experience. I enjoy mentorship and helping others develop. I wanted to help others grow as leaders and felt like coming to USMA was a great way to influence the next generation of officer to be better than our generation. 

What has been the most rewarding part of serving as a TAC at USMA? 

Seeing the product of my influence on cadets in my company, in the classroom, and in various cadet organizations I support. It is amazing to see the growth that these young men and women experience during their time at the academy. 

How has serving as a TAC prepared you for future assignments back in the operational Army? 

The ELDP experience has taught me to be more patient and to gain perspective on situations before making a decision. The TAC position is very much like being an S-3 or XO. You have to lead through the cadets and allow them to exercise their own mission command. As the TAC, I allow my cadets to command. I act on the environment and resource the organization in order to allow them to be a successful unit. The job teaches you to rely more upon leading through others. It teaches you to have a more executive approach to leadership as opposed to solely relying upon direct leadership. 

I would also say that this job has enhanced my ability to build meaningful relationships with peers and seniors. Many important activities TACs engage in depend upon TACs having good working relationships with people within and outside the organization both military and civilian alike. Having the ability to influence up and outside the chain of command is a valuable skill for field grade officers. 
 
Finally, the job has taught me to be comfortable with significant responsibility when I have limited control. As a TAC you are responsible for everything even if you have no control over the situation, more so than as a line company commander. Having the ability to manage an organization with many moving and seemingly disparate parts without full control of every piece is an activity I am glad I am allowed to practice prior to taking over as an S-3 or XO. 

What was your graduate school experience like at Teachers College – Columbia University? 

Different and enlightening. This is my second Masters experience. I did not learn how to be a leader by going to Columbia. I did learn how to contextualize my experience and more appropriately articulate my personal methods of leadership. The college will expose you to many different perspectives that you might not see in the military. Although I did not learn how to be a leader at TC, I did learn how to be a better military leader and I learned how to translate military leadership into civilian leadership. I was very involved in student life and student leadership. I served as a senator for the college’s Student Senate. I learned how to adapt my leadership style to fit that environment. 

How has this assignment been in terms of family time and work-life balance? 

The job is as busy as you make it, but it is inherently busy. I have a dual military family, so the balance has to be deliberate. It is not the traditional “take a knee” job. It does provide time for reflection and a challenge that will make one grow as a professional. I think it is the very definition of a broadening assignment. 
 
I see the cadets as an extension of my family. I have 126 little brothers and sisters. They know my family and my family knows them. My family is also a tool for their development as it serves as a reminder that TACs are people too. We have lives, families, and challenges like other people. It is important that we model that for cadets. I use my wife to teach and develop cadets. I use my own situation to discuss dual military life. I say all this to show that managing the time spent with the family has to be creative and can serve a second purpose of developing the cadets. 
 
My wife and I love the stability of knowing we won’t deploy. We have started having children because we know for at least 3 years we will get to see our kids grow up without having to leave. This is a great place to start and raise a family. The community is unparalleled. We live off-post and make the short commute from Cornwall. Whether you live on or off-post (both have their drawbacks), schools are great and the sense of community is wonderful. 
 
Even though the hours can be long and odd sometimes, the cadets make it all worth it. The work-life balance is just like anywhere else except with different challenges. What advice would you give to officers who are considering applying to become a TAC? If you are looking to relax for 3 years, look elsewhere. The job is intense because that’s the level of commitment cadets deserve. If you are looking to grow as a leader and to have a major impact on the Army, this might be the job for you. Reach out to people who have been here in the job, there is a lot of misinformation in the force on how going to West Point kills careers. That is absolutely not true. This assignment will enhance you as a person and teach you some valuable skills for life and organizational leadership.