U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David “Woody” Woodworth of Fishkill, N.Y., left, provides mentorship to Maj. Dan Roche, an Ohio National Guard force support officer and Air Command and Staff College student Oct. 26, 2012. (U.S Air Force photo by Capt. Peter Shinn)
Guardsman only legal scholar on SAASS faculty

by Capt. Peter Shinn
Instructor at the Officer Training School

1/18/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --  -- The only legal scholar on the faculty of the Air Force's graduate school for air and space power strategists is also the school's only Air National Guardsman.

Lt. Col. David "Woody" Woodworth, a member of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard originally from Fishkill, N.Y., believes having a guardsman as a professor at the Air University's School for Advanced Air and Space Studies is extremely worthwhile.

"I'd say it's very important because as the Guard takes on additional roles and operational missions, you need an Air National Guard member to be able to represent and be an advocate for the value that the Guard brings to our Total Air Force," he said.

However, Col. Tim Schultz of Portsmouth, R.I., former SAASS commandant and current professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College, emphasized the importance of having the right Air National Guardsman on the SAASS faculty.

"Woody offered a superb mix of operational experience and academic acumen, and SAASS deemed him as critically valuable to fostering the essential relationship between the Air National Guard and active-duty Air Force," said Schultz.

Each SAASS professor holds a doctorate or equivalent in his or her field of academic expertise, and Woodworth, the SAASS professor of strategic studies, is no exception. His academic credentials include undergraduate degrees in Russian and history from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University in Russia area studies and a Juris Doctorate specializing in national security law from the George Washington University.

Woodworth also is a command pilot and former flying squadron commander with more than 5,500 hours in the C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Those qualifications, Schultz added, make Woodworth "a force multiplier" who provides a superior strategic education experience to both Guard and active-duty officers alike.

In 1988, the Air Force established SAASS to educate its future strategic thinkers. It is part of the Department of Defense Advanced Study Group Program, which takes field grade officers who have completed intermediate developmental education and puts them through a yearlong intensive study of strategy. The Air Force places SAASS graduates in key strategy and policy positions. Some SAASS graduates are selected to continue their studies toward a doctorate at Air University.

Col. Edward Vaughan, Air National Guard advisor to the commander and president of Air University, said the Guard is getting better at leveraging the value SAASS graduates bring to the fight.

"Recently, the new vice chief of the National Guard Bureau assembled a team of Air National Guard SAASS graduates to help him address a pressing strategic challenge," he said. Such high-profile employment of the Guard's own SAASS grads demonstrates the asymmetric intellectual value SAASS provides to the Guard.

The Air National Guard has been sending officers to SAASS since 2007. Two officers graduated SAASS last year, with another on the way this year. Woodworth is the first Air National Guardsman to serve on the SAASS faculty under Title-10, U.S.C. statutory active duty tour orders from the National Guard Bureau. Schultz said these developments reflected the Guard's maturity as an operational force.

"The last 10 years of war illustrate the powerful and essential role of the Air National Guard," Schultz said. "It is in the best interests of the entire Airpower Institution for the Guard to cultivate future senior leaders who possess a formal education in the art and science of modern strategy."

Vaughan points out that guard members, both as students and faculty, add important perspectives to the overall Air University experience.

"Guard participation in residence-based enlisted and officer education not only benefits the members themselves, it also offers an eye-opening perspective for active component, joint, international, and inter-agency colleagues studying at this campus," he said. "Among all the offerings, SAASS presents one of the best elements in the Guard's professional development portfolio."

For his part, Woodworth is hoping to bring his strategic expertise back to D.C. for a follow-on tour with the National Guard Bureau. As the Guard's first graduate of Air War College's Grand Strategy Program back in 2010, and a seasoned SAASS professor, Woodworth offers strategic and intellectual capital unique in his organization.

"When you have discussions about our traditional [domestic operations] missions that are done inside the nation, the Guard students tend to be more aware of what the capabilities are and the lead role of the National Guard," Woodworth said. "But in terms of quality and intellectual ability, you can't tell an Active Component Air Force SAASS student from an Air National Guard student."