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Staff Ride Offerings

The Staff Ride Team develops and conducts live and virtual staff rides as an educational tool for the US Army. By focusing on the timeless and universal aspects of warfighting, staff rides provide important insights into military operations, concepts of leadership, and the face of battle, through vignettes and topics for discussion. The Staff Ride Team also provides information and guidance to US Army organizations on how to conduct staff rides for the purpose of educating leaders.

Please click on either of the two images below for more information.

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Staff Rides

A staff ride is a historical study of a campaign or battle that envisions a systematic preliminary study, an extensive visit to campaign sites, and an opportunity to integrate lessons derived from each. A significant component of this detailed study is the analysis of the terrain over which the action took place and the effect of that terrain upon the battle or campaign. It is this three-dimensional visualization of the battlefield that separates a staff ride from a battle analysis.

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Virtual Staff Rides

A virtual staff ride (VSR) follows the same methodology as a "live" or "field" staff ride, but because travel restrictions preclude a trip to battlefield sites, the historical terrain is replicated in a virtual environment. The Army University Press model of a virtual staff ride envisions a detailed replication of terrain based upon satellite imagery, digital terrain, and the construction of three-dimensional models. This virtual simulation is then projected in front of an audience to immerse the participants in the virtual terrain, thus providing the most realistic vision of the battlefield possible.

Staff Ride Handbooks, Atlases, and Resources

 

The Army University Press publishes staff ride handbooks and atlases to enable organizations to conduct their own staff rides. Our complete library of handbooks and atlases can be found here.

Occasionally, units develop their own staff rides and generously share their products with us to assist other organizations around the Army. We collect those products and post them here for general use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

1. Our program of staff rides and virtual staff rides consist of multiple offerings. Please refer to our staff ride and virtual staff ride pages for all the currently available studies. If you are looking to explore a certain doctrinal theme or concept, we can provide you with recommendations on which of our staff rides or virtual staff rides best support your training objectives.

2. The staff ride team supports US Army organizations through all three phases of the staff ride: preliminary study, field study, and integration. For preliminary study, the lead historian for the staff ride will provide reading materials, suggestions for study materials, and maps. Upon request and historian availability, the team may be able to provide classroom instruction. The team can also provide suggestions on how to structure preliminary study based on the time available. For the field study portion of a traditional staff ride, historians will meet with the unit at a designated link-up point, navigate the group to the stands, and facilitate the discussions. Depending on the desires of the command, the historians will also lead the integration session.

3. The requesting organization is required to fund our temporary duty (TDY) travel with a DTS cross organization line of accounting. Our TDY travel consists of the standard costs: airfare, lodging, mileage, per diem, rental car, rental car fuel, etc. Traditional staff rides require a minimum of two historians. Depending on the size of the audience the team may send more than two instructors. Staff rides rely heavily on individual participation, so small group instruction is an effective means to enable discussion. The VSR requires a minimum of one instructor and one computer operator. Depending on the length of the virtual staff ride, the team sometimes sends more than one instructor.

Because of COVID travel restrictions, we developed a means to conduct our virtual staff rides over MS Teams. Though not as effective as having everyone together in the same room, we have had considerable success with this alternate means. Please refer to our virtual staff ride page for more detailed information on remote MS Teams VSRs.

4. The length of a staff ride varies based on the chosen staff ride or VSR. A traditional staff ride can last from a single day to up three days. A VSR typically lasts between 2-5 hours, though some can go longer. Both traditional staff rides and virtual staff rides can be tailored to meet unit time restrictions. The Staff Ride Team Chief schedules all staff rides and the schedule typically fills up six to nine months in advance. For an in-person VSR there is the option to switch to a remote VSR if conditions do not permit travel.

5. We conduct staff rides for almost any rank. Generally, our audiences are between the rank of Sergeant First Class to Colonel. The size of the audience is generally around 25-30 personnel, though the team can accommodate larger audiences by adding additional historians.

6. The supported organization is responsible for arranging its own lodging, transportation, and meals. Staff Ride Team historians can assist with recommendations on areas to stay and how to handle meals during the staff ride. Depending on the staff ride, the team will make recommendations on the best means of transport because some staff rides are not suitable for buses. Often, organizations send an advance party or an admin/log team to accompany Staff Ride Team personnel on the recon just prior to the staff ride to iron out the support details and to receive the unit.

7. The vast majority of our VSRs are built in Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3), which is the Army's gaming software. We will come to your location at a site that you arrange. We have some specific requirements for the set-up; please refer to our virtual staff ride web page for more information.

8. The Army University Press Staff Ride mission is to conduct staff rides for the US Army and cannot support requests outside of the US Department of Defense. Though we will accommodate requests from sister services, our priority of support is to the US Army.