Rupert H. Johnson Grand Strategy Program

Grand Strategy cadets In Narva, Estonia, on the Russian border, during the summer XH397 course

The Rupert H. Johnson Grand Strategy Program at West Point offers cadets an opportunity to examine big questions about the future of the American role in the world. The study of grand strategy seeks to understand the best ways for a country to allocate all available resources to pursue its goals. To prepare cadets to be good grand strategists, the Grand Strategy Program teaches an academically rigorous approach to problem-solving that emphasizes critical, holistic, and creative thinking. Cadets study the theory and practice of grand strategy over a wide range of countries and time periods, ranging from the Peloponnesian Wars in ancient Greece to the United States and China today. Cadets in the Grand Strategy Program gain a deep understanding of how countries can get what they want. More generally, they graduate ready to be effective strategic thinkers who can make informed decisions about complex, uncertain situations—a skill that will serve them well in the army and beyond. 

Cadets and instructors at Fort Eben Emael, Belgium, during the 2019 XH397 summer course


Most cadets interact with the Grand Strategy Program through the Grand Strategy minor. A key part of the minor is the capstone experience we offer through XH397, the for-credit summer field study AIAD. This AIAD takes cadets abroad to study grand strategy in places of historical and contemporary grand strategic importance. In the past, XH397 has traveled to East Asia, Greece, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Estonia. While any cadet can apply, grand strategy minors have priority. In addition to the AIAD, the Grand Strategy program offers discussion-based seminar courses, exciting and policy-based trip sections and workshops, and expert guest speakers. 

Studying the Peloponnesian War on the Athenian Acropolis during XH397

While the academic study of grand strategy focuses on how countries design and implement successful foreign policy, Grand Strategy at West Point adopts a dynamic and interdisciplinary philosophy. We encourage cadets from different backgrounds and every major to participate in Grand Strategy program; more than half of all Grand Strategy minors major in a subject taught outside the Social Sciences Department. This diversity of interests and expertise fosters vibrant discussion that enhances learning in grand strategy classrooms.  In addition, the skills cadets learn through the study of grand strategy are broadly applicable to any problem-solving or project management endeavor. 

Click here to view the Grand Strategy Minor brochure

If you would like more information on this program, please contact Dr. Max Margulies