Prior to 1984, all exercises and games conducted at the colleges of the National Defense University were written and conducted by stand-alone units within the colleges who had the ancillary responsibility of researching, writing, and delivering these exercises. Therefore, in 1984, the War Gaming and Simulation Center (WGSC) was founded at the National Defense University. WGSC was responsible for the design and delivery of all experiential events associated with the colleges across the NDU, Ft. McNair campus. At this time, the WGSC exercises focused primarily on politico-military exercises via use of tabletop exercises and traditional “blue vs. red” scenarios.
Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Vice Admiral Gaffney, NDU President, was determined to ensure that the WGSC become a true national asset for strategic level exercises. So, in 2002, given this directive, the War Gaming and Simulation Center was transformed into the National Strategic Gaming Center (NSGC) where it became responsible for not only providing national strategic-level exercises in support of the JPME mission of NDU, but also providing exercise design and delivery assistance to the warfighter via exercises for the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the White House, and Congress.
In 2007, after NSGC moved into its new spaces in the newly completed Abraham Lincoln Hall, CASL again was asked to transform itself in order to ensure the NDU student experience not only complied with all OPMEP requirements for exercises, but also took advantage of the active/experiential learning techniques associated with adult learners. As the mission was refined, the NSGC took the opportunity to look at what it was really executing in support of the colleges and renamed itself – Center for Applied Strategic Learning (CASL) which better captures the essence of what the students are asked to do during their time at NDU; specifically apply the lessons they have learned at NDU to strategic level experiential learning activities.
In 2013, CASL and the Joint Forces Staff College Wargaming Center were merged in order to further integrate national strategic and high operational exercises and across the entire National Defense University enterprise. As such, CASL is comprised of two divisions, one at the JFSC Campus in Norfolk, and one at historic Ft. McNair.