Warrant Officer Counterinsurgency Online Course

We designed and developed five hours of multimedia training for Special Forces Warrant Officers on the historical significance of several major 20-century insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. The purpose of the course was to help officers better understand the nature of insurgencies in various cultural, political, and geographical settings. Upon course completion, officers would analyze and evaluate current insurgent conflicts in light of the historical examples.


Our key challenges were: 1) designing a comprehensive yet engaging course that would hold the learner’s attention for the entire five hours; 2) developing an original course curriculum; and, 3) ensuring that learning outcomes both met TRADOC training standards and supported the standing doctrine/transformation of the Special Forces Warrant Officer.


Our approach to this course was to design a documentary-style production that would bring to life insurgent/counterinsurgent conflicts in China, Cuba, Algeria, Malaya, and Northern Ireland. We used a mixture of media such as images and newsreel footage to provide historical accuracy, charts and graphs to highlight economic conditions/demographics, and animations to demonstrate military strategies. To create a more seamless and film-like viewing experience, we designed the pages to run as uninterrupted sequences. 

Our primary instructional strategy was the use of case studies. Case studies are effective for directing learners to apply their understanding and for encouraging higher order, critical thinking. Case studies are also engaging, placing learners in the position of problem solvers where they become actively involved in the materials by discovering underlying issues, dilemmas, and conflicts. Because this was a new course, there was no existing material or curriculum. We were responsible for researching each conflict and ensuring that each lesson aligned with critical tasks for the Warrant Officers. We used the Army/Marine field manual, Counterinsurgency (FM 3-24), as our starting point tracing each conflict from inception to conclusion and attaching key events to the insurgency/counterinsurgency rubrics outlined in manual.

Narration is a key component to any training course, but was especially important in this case. A five-hour course can easily lose the learner’s attention particularly if the audio quality is poor or the narration is overly dramatic. We chose a professional narrator with strong documentary credits including work on The History Channel, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel.


John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School


Department of Defense


eLearning/ Multimedia


The final product was a SCORM® 2004-conformant web-based course that was required reading for approximately 200 Special Forces Warrant Officers. We also produced a CD-ROM that was distributed to troops deployed overseas.