Last Updated: Feb 16, 2018     Views: 3887

Cited in Army War College documents extant as far back as 1987, the Army War College Library has endeavored to determine the exact date of incorporation of the acronym "VUCA" into the USAWC curriculum and learning environment. The Army War College Library presents below a spectrum of resources which document VUCA's existence in the curriculum.

Amongst these, documentary evidence in curriculum development materials in Fall 1987 shows the term, VUCA, placed in the curriculum in AY1988. The driving force appears to be the Commandant, MG Thompson, who ordered review of the curriculum. These changes may be tied to the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986.

In "Developing Strategic Leadership: The US Army War College Experience," Herbert F. Barber described the 1991 Conference as defining strategic leadership within a "volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous global environment..." (p. 8). Additionally, Prof. Barber stated that War College derived these ideas from the writings of Bennis and Namus, and cited the book: Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge.

However, an Army War College Study Project published in 1992 attributes the use of the terminology to General Thurman who characterized "the strategic leadership environment in terms of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity."

  • Mackey, Richard H. Sr. Translating Vision into Reality: the Role of the Strategic Leader. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: US Army War College, 1992), 10. Footnote: 15. 

  • See Footnote 15: Maxwell P. Thurman, "Strategic Leadership," presentation to the Strategic Leadership Conference, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 11 February 1991.

The following are a selection of U.S. Army War College documents and other resources that discuss VUCA:

  • Arnold III, Archibald V.  Strategic Visioning: What it is and How it's Done. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1991), 15, End notes.

  • Barber, Herbert F. "Developing Strategic Leadership: The US Army War College Experience." Journal of Management Development 11, no. 6 (1992): 4-12.

  • Beach, Johnston. Enhancing Teachers' Skills for Executive Level Seminars. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1992), 20, 72.

  • Gerras, Stephen J., ed., Strategic Leadership Primer, 3rd ed. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2004)

  • Kennedy, Claudia J. Strategic Vision: A Leader and a Process. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1991), 38-40.

  • Lawrence, James A. and Earl N. Steck, Overview of Management Theory (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1991), ii & 34.

  • Mackey, Richard H. Sr. Translating Vision into Reality: the Role of the Strategic Leader. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: US Army War College, 1992).

  • Nogami, Glenda Y., Julle Colestock and Terry A. Phoenix. U.S. Army War College Alumni Survey. Graduates from 1983-1989 (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 1989), 61, 87.

  • Stiehm, Judith Hicks. U.S. Army War College: Military Education in a Democracy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002. See pp.6,  56, 128,  149, 164, 186

  • Yarger, Harry R. Strategic Theory for the 21st Century: The Little Book On Big Strategy (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2006), 17. 

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