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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Clay Mountcastle
HSTAA 212
Seattle Campus

The Military History of the United States From Colonial Times to the Present

Development of American military policies, organizational patterns, tactics, and weaponry, from beginnings as a seventeenth-century frontier defense force to the global conflicts and military commitments of the twentieth century. Interaction and tension between need for an effective military force and concept of civilian control of that force.

Class description

The story of America's wars. This course examines the American military experience from the Colonial Period through the Twentieth Century. It seeks to address the why and how behind the wars that the United States has fought and to study the impact that these conflicts have had on American military thought, technological developments, and American society as a whole. A key component of the course is to examine military decision-making at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war and to address various ethical and moral complexities that have played a role in America’s conflicts. Rather than focusing on social and/or diplomatic developments, this course truly centers on the military aspect - how America has fought its wars and adjusted to changes in warfare.

Student learning goals

Differentiate between the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war.

Be able to identify the key reasons for victory or defeat in America's wars.

Understand how the outcome of each of America's wars has shaped military and political thinking about the next conflict.

Better understand the motivations that have driven participants in America's wars.

Understand the link between technology and warfare and how developments in one have shaped the other.

Become familiar with the personal experiences and thinking of Americans that have fought in the nation's wars.

General method of instruction

Instruction will be a mixture of lecture based on the core text, in-class videos, and current events and group sessions.

Recommended preparation

A basic understanding of US History from colonial period through the 20th Century

Class assignments and grading

In addition to daily reading assignments, students will have a mid-term exam, a memoir book review and analysis and a comprehensive final exam.

Grades will be based on a points system. Students final grades will be determined by how many points they earn from all assignments out of the total possible.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Clay Mountcastle
Date: 01/28/2013