School of Advanced Warfighting
Marine Corps University Logo
Marine Corps University
Quantico, Virginia

School of Advanced Warfighting


Mission Statement

The School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW) develops lead planners and future commanders with the will and intellect to design and execute joint campaigns and naval expeditionary operations. 

Program Outcomes

  1. Create solutions to complex problems and apply operational art in an uncertain geostrategic security environment.

  2. Apply knowledge of the operational level of war, the art of command, and ethical behavior in warfighting.

  3. Quickly and critically assess a situation, determine the essence of a problem, fashion a suitable response, and concisely communicate the conclusion in oral, written, and visual forms.

  4. Apply the competence, confidences, character, and creativity required to plan, lead, and command at high level service, joint, and combined headquarters.

  5. Create, design, plan, and implement adaptive concepts to meet current and future challenges.


SAW is a “problem-solving and decision-making” course, rather than a “planning” course, although planning is used as a vehicle for study and preparation. The majority of the learning exercises of the School of Advanced Warfighting can be described as follows: The student is presented with a mass of information and given a problem to solve. The problem may be to answer a discussion question, devise a campaign plan, make decisions in a wargame, craft a brief or point paper, conduct a staff study, or carry out additional research for an essay on an assigned topic. The process becomes iterative: break the problem into its elements, solve these, relate the partial solutions to the greater problem, identify the question on which the whole problem turns, and finally, resolve that question or problem. Implied is the potential for an inherently greater tempo and experience in recognizing and then discarding non-critical distracting information. The study of military history develops the analytic mind of the officer, enhances the understanding of military issues, and facilitates the officer’s future decision-making efforts. Historical studies are not used didactically; rather, they are approached without bias so that the conclusions resulting from a thorough analysis of established facts can then be evaluated without prejudice.




Graduates receive a regionally accredited Master of Operational Studies degree.​


  • Intent to Apply NLT 1 August 2022

  • Application materials due by 15 August 2022

  • Interviews begin 1 September 2022



Selection Policy

Admission to SAW is based on allocations granted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Student applications to SAW are processed annually in the following manner: the SAW selection process begins in the summer with the release of a MARADMIN (Marine Corps-wide administrative correspondence) to inform potential applicants about the course, application requirements, and deadlines.

In August and September, the Director of SAW briefs all students attending Marine Corps Command and Staff College, U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and U.S. Naval War College about the SAW program and application requirements.

The application includes: various personal and education information, faculty and reporting senior recommendations, and a topical essay requirement.  The essay question is updated every year.  Most recent Reporting Seniors (RS) recommendation or Military faculty advisors endorse graduate or current resident ILS students’ applications, and adjunct faculty advisors (CDET regional coordinators) and Reporting Seniors endorse non-resident ILS student applications.




Officers meeting the admissions criteria will, in accordance with this message, accomplish the following: (1) submit an email stating intent to apply by 1 August 2022, (2) submit all application materials via Moodle by 15 August 2022, and (3) participate in a SAW selection panel interview. Selected applicants and alternates will be screened for eligibility, notified by MARADMIN, and issued orders to attend SAW. Send the Intent to Apply to the Program Manager at and Admin Support at You will receive further instructions following regarding the application process. 

Eligible and competitive applicants will schedule an individual panel interview between 1 September and 1 November 2022 with SAW Program Manager. All needed information will be sent by email. In-person interviews for out-of-area applicants are not required; applicants outside the Washington, D.C. area who cannot make an in-person interview will be scheduled to conduct a Google Hangout video teleconferencing (VTC) or phone interview. More than half of the interviews are conducted via VTC and applicants are discouraged from flying to the DC area specifically for the interview. 




Selection of USMC, sister service and international students is identical. Once a completed application is received an interview can be scheduled and is conducted by a board appointed by the SAW Director. Interviews are conducted in person, via VTC, or via telephone for distant applicants as required.  
After interviews are completed, a board convenes to select applicants.  Recommended selections are forwarded to each service's headquarters for final authority to enroll. Nominated international officers are invited through the International Military Training office, which in turn coordinates with the officers’ military assignment staff. Once approved, all applicants are notified of the selection results via MARADMIN in mid-December.




General eligibility prerequisites for the School of Advanced Warfighting are those regulations and requirements established by the military services to select active duty, military students to attend an advanced intermediate-level professional military education (PME) institution.  Specific admissions prerequisites for the School of Advanced Warfighting are contained in the MARADMIN.  General requirements are listed below:

Active duty, or international military officer.

Grade: A promoted O-4 (Major/LCDR) and must not have previously failed selection for O-5. An officer must not be a selected or promoted Lieutenant Colonel at the time of application to SAW. If in zone for selection at the time of application to SAW, failure for selection to Lieutenant Colonel terminates SAW eligibility.

Marine Corps officers must meet O-4 PME requirements as identified in the USMC PME Order (MCO P1553.4B). Distance Education Program (DEP) applicants must be graduates of the 8800-series seminar based CSCDEP course. 
Currently enrolled CSCDEP students may apply provided their commanding officer or College of Distance Education and Training (CDET) regional coordinator certifies that the applicant can reasonably complete the 8800 series program no later than the commencement of the upcoming academic year.
Security Clearance: For U.S. officers, a SECRET clearance that will not expire during the academic year. USMC officers must have or be eligible to obtain a Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) clearance for post-graduation assignments.
Approval from service personnel assignment section.
Professional experience that will allow the student to interact in discussions involving the operational level of war and ensure suitability for future assignments involving significant responsibilities.
SAW battlefield staff rides require international travel and applicants are encouraged to possess a current passport prior to commencement of the academic year.
Ability to rapidly comprehend and analyze large amounts of reading and contribute effectively during graduate-level, competitive seminars led by a variety of professors and military faculty.
A regionally or nationally accredited undergraduate degree (United States bachelor’s degree or its equivalent).
Graduate-level capabilities to read, comprehend, speak, and write in English.




The SAW curriculum requires students to be able to travel extensively and participate actively in various educational forums to include battlefield site studies involving moderate to rigorous hikes over rough terrain and in remote sites overseas. Active duty military students must meet the mandatory physical fitness and height/weight requirements for their respective military service.


Congratulations on your selection to attend the School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW). Here you will find required SAW specific documents for new students. Please visit the MCU New Student Check-In page before you complete any of the requirements on this page.  If you have any questions about pre-arrival requirements, please email

AY 23-24 Reporting and Key Dates (Updated: 23 June 2022)
05 July SAW convenes. Welcome Aboard briefs begin at 08:00.
12 July SAW Spouses Day








  • Q: Is the application on the SAW website meant to be a template to guide applicants in submitting a standard naval letter or is it meant to be a form?

    • A: ​It is a form.


  • Q: Are applicants allowed to submit additional enclosures beyond the three enclosures required in the SAW application?

    • A: Yes, the identified enclosures are the minimum. You may submit more enclosures if needed based on your particular situation.


  • Q: Does the application process accept Letters of Recommendations?

    • A: Yes, letters of recommendations are highly encouraged.


  • Q: ​In reference to letters of recommendation is there anything specific SAW is looking for or desires?

    • A: Any documentation that demonstrates your character, competence, and creativity to excel as a future staff officer and commander.​


  • Q: I am seeking letters of recommendation; do you prefer those recommendations are sent to you and/or the Director by email, phone call, or an official letter of recommendation by mail?

    • A: Email letters of recommendation with the resident applications to Melissa Calloway at, (703) 784-6800/DSN 784-6800.


  • Q: What is the approximate timeframe (dates) for the interviews?

    • A: Interview dates for SAW selection board are: TBD. Interview location will be Rm 2122, Warner Hall, 2076 South St, Quantico VA. 22134.


  • Q: What uniform is required for the interview?

    • A: Uniform of the day.


  • Q: How does Marine 0505 follow‐on assignment work to include the whole populations of SAMS, SAASS, MAWS, and SAW graduates?

    • A: 0505 assignments for Marines are the same as assignments for your PMOS. That is, MMOA attempts to meet the needs of the Marine Corps with the desires/career progression of the Marine. MMOA works hand in hand with the SAW Director for initial 0505 assignments. MMOA will travel to your respective school to discuss your specific situation.​


  • Q: Is there a holistic view of Marine Corps 0505 assignments?

    • A: Yes, as stated above: “meet the needs of the Marine Corps with the desires/career progression of the Marine.”


  • Q: How does SAW incorporate the wishes of the other advanced school Marine Students as it relates to their follow‐on assignments?

    • A: Attending another school does not leave you at a disadvantage in terms of 0505 assignments.​


The General Clifton B. Cates Award

YEAR First Second
1990-1991 Maj John E. Valliere, USAF Maj Timothy J. Terrebon, USMC
1991-1992 Maj Bruce E. Bonars, USMC Maj John L. Bacon, USMC
1992-1993 Maj Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr, USMC Maj Robert S. Trout, USMC
1993-1994 Maj Malcolm Rerden, Australia Maj Arthur J. Corbett, USMC
1995-1996 Maj Robert Mood, Norway Maj Mark A. Brilakis, USMC
1996-1997 Maj Timothy Kilvert-Jones, UK Maj Frederick I. Guendel, USAF
1997-1998 Maj Peter K. Singh, Australia Maj Jeremiah D. Canty, USMC
1998-1999 Maj Harry E. Jones II, USA Maj Dakota L. Wood, USMC
1999-2000 Maj George W. Smith, Jr., USMC Maj Michael N. Peznola, USMC
2000-2001 Maj Phillip J. Ridderhof, USMC LtCol Daniel J. O'Donohue, USMC
2001-2002 Maj James A. Vohr, USMC Maj Andrew T. Clements, USA
2002-2003 Maj Brendan B. McBreen, USMC Maj Christopher N. Prigge, USA
2003-2004 Maj Wayne A. Sinclair, USMC Maj Michael A. Mumford, Australia
2004-2005 Maj David L. Odom, USMC Maj William J. Bowers, USMC
2005-2006 LtCol Andrew R. Milburn, USMC Maj Henry W. Lutz III, USMC
2006-2007 Maj William H. Vivian, USMC LtCol Paul R. Burns, Australia
2007-2008 LtCol Jason L. Morris, USMC Maj Farrell J. Sullivan, USMC
2008-2009 Maj George C. Schreffler III, USMC LtCol Arend G. Westra, USMC
2009-2010 Maj Ian Langford, DSC, Australia Maj Mark Elfers, USMC
2010-2011 Maj Ashley Collingburn, Australia Maj Aaron Cunningham, USMC
2011-2012 Maj Mason R. Dula, USAF Maj Michael D. Scott, Australia
2012-2013 Maj Jason A. Borovies, USMC Maj Nicholas P. Rose, Australia
2013-2014 Maj Matthew D. Lungren, USMC Maj Landgrave T. Smith, USA
2014-2015 Maj Anthony Bariletti, USMC Maj Rob Gerbacht, USMC
2015-2016 Maj Nathan A. Fleischaker, USMC Maj Peter J. Halleday, Australia
2016-2017 Maj Brian Donlon, USMC Maj Kathryn Wagner, USMC
2017-2018 Maj Cole Peterson, Canada Maj John Campbell, USMC
2018-2019 Maj Matthew Hawkins, USMC Maj Daniel Richardson, USAF
2019-2020 Maj Travis Onischuk, USMC Maj Robert Spodarek, USMC
2020-2021 LtCol Thomas Driscoll, USMC Maj Jeffrey Davis, USMC
2021-2022 LtCol Tomas Quinn, UK Royal Marines LtCol Caleb Reed, USMC


School of Advanced Warfighting
Warner Hall, 2d Deck, Office 2122
2044 South St, Quantico, VA 22134

Director                                                                                                                                        Academic Dean
Colonel Greg Poland, USMC                                                                                                       Dr. Gordon W. Rudd
Commercial: (703) 784-5121                                                                                                       Commercial: (703) 784-6851
DSN: 278-5121                                                                                                                             DSN: 278-6851                                                                                              

Deputy Director/Dean of Students                                                                                           Operations Officer
LtCol Heath Ruppert, USMC                                                                                                       LtCol Mike Rountree, USMC
Commercial: (703) 784-6890                                                                                                      Commercial: (703) 784-5411
DSN: 278-6890                                                                                                                           DSN: 278-5411                                                                                               

Professor/Director of Wargaming                                                                                            Professor of Military History
Dr. Benjamin Jensen                                                                                                                   Dr. Michael Morris
Commercial: (703) 784-6801                                                                                                      Commercial: (703) 784-6852
DSN: 784-6801                                                                                                                           DSN: 278-6852                                                                                                         

Program Manager                                                                                                                      Admin Support 
Melissa Calloway                                                                                                                         LCpl Sky Green                                                                                       
Commercial: (703) 784-6800                                                                                                       Commercial: (703) 432-5420
DSN: 278-6800                                                                                                                            DSN: 378-5420                                                                                                      




  • Take Interstate 95 to exit 150 (East towards Triangle/Quantico)

  • Upon exiting from ramp, continue straight to the traffic light at Route 1.

  • Cross over Route 1, continuing straight. A small replica of the flag raising at Iwo Jima will be on your right after you pass through the intersection.

  • Travel under the archway to the main gate. The speed limit through the gate is 15 mph.

  • Proceed through the gate and remain on Fuller Road for approximately 2 miles. You will pass through the golf course.

  • At the end of the golf course, continue around the bend to the right and through the stoplight until you pass Little Hall.

  • Just before the fire station, turn left onto Elliot Road.

  • Go through the tunnel and make a right.  Parking is immediately on your right (parking garage).

  • Upon exiting the parking garage, SAW is located behind the Gray Research Center in Warner Hall on the second deck (2122). 

  • Google Maps Location (Warner Hall) 


Marine Corps University