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Air Force major named top tactician

  • Published
  • By Jan Dumay
  • Fort Leavenworth Lamp staff writer

For the first time in 23 years, an Air Force officer has won the General S. Patton Jr. Distinguished Master Tactician Award as a student in the Command and General Staff Officer Course, or CGSOC, Dec. 13.

Maj. Jason Earley said he was humbled and honored to win the distinction, particularly because of the high caliber of his classmates vying for it. 

"I was incredibly impressed with the other competitors," Earley said. "They are extremely capable officers from both the Army and the international community. It was a pleasure to be in the process with them."          

Earley is a command pilot with more than 2,400 aircraft hours. His assignments have included serving as an air liaison officer in Fort Hood, Texas, from 2004 through 2007, and deploying with the Army's 4th Infantry Division to Iraq, where he was awarded the Bronze Star.           

"That really whet my appetite to get back to another Army assignment, so this year has been outstanding," he said "It's been an honor to be here and a really good experience."            

Earley will remain here to attend the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies, or SAMS.

"What I've learned throughout the course of the year will not only help me next year at SAMS but will directly apply to the rest of my career in the Air Force," he said. "It is a very methodical process for looking at a problem, determining what the problem is, and then looking for viable solutions to solve it."      

Supervised by the Department of Army Tactics at the Command and General Staff College, the competition involves three phases to identify the student most capable of demonstrating the art and science of tactics.      

The first phase consists of a 250-question general knowledge test that must be completed in two hours. The second phase presents students with three tactical decision-making problems that touch on their understanding of how to apply Army doctrine and includes sketches that depict their scheme of maneuver. 

The third phase involves a week of preparation to provide an operations order briefing followed by several vignettes that test knowledge of the tactical situation.               

Earley's instructor, retired Lt. Col. Dave Seigel, said he was impressed with Earley's quick comprehension of Army doctrine and his overall competence, ability and intelligence. More than 35 officers vied for the tactician award. 

"He was chosen because he earned it," Seigel said, calling Earley a "sound officer."         

Early and his wife, Louise, live on post with their four children. He said the family was excited to live another year at Fort Leavenworth while he attends SAMS.   

"We love the area," he said. "There are wonderful people here."            

Earley also won the Gen. George C. Marshall and Arter-Doniphan awards.

The General George S. Patton Jr. Master Tactician Award recognizes that the intricacies of modern warfare have reinforced the Army’s need for exceptional tacticians at all levels. To provide a challenging academic forum for students demonstrating a special aptitude for tactics, the college inaugurated the Master Tactician Program with the 1982/83 class. This demanding extracurricular activity requires nominees to prepare a detailed tactical concept of operation predicated upon a corps-level scenario, and submit to a rigorous oral defense of their plan before a panel of experts

The General George C. Marshall Award was created in 1960 in honor of Marshall to be presented to the distinguished graduate in each regular CGSOC class. The award recognizes scholarship, pays homage to one of America’s most honored soldiers and serves as a lasting incentive to officers attending the college.

The Arter-Doniphan Award honors an American soldier and statesman whose life exemplifies the highest qualities of a member of the profession of arms. Col. Alexander W. Doniphan’s long and distinguished service in the Missouri militia included his heroic leadership in the Mexican-American War where he successfully campaigned his regiment more than 5,000 miles against forces far superior in numbers. The Arter-Doniphan award is presented to the member of the class who has earned the highest overall grade point average for the year and is sponsored by the Alexander Doniphan Committee.

(Information for this story provided by the Fort Levenworth Lamp)