soldier flying U.S. flag from helicopter

Downing Scholars Program

A competitive, advanced civil-schooling opportunity for hard-charging mid-level Army officers

The General Wayne A. Downing Scholarship program offers select Army Officers, from all commissioning sources in the Maneuver, Fires, and Effects branches, the opportunity to attend a fully funded graduate education program at top-tier universities around the globe.

Given the complex and often ambiguous challenges facing our Nation today, it is imperative that the Army develop strategic leaders to address these challenges. The Downing Scholars program contributes to this end through the provision of horizon-broadening educational programs and immersion experiences centered on issues of terrorism, insurgency, and other threats to our nation’s security. Upon completion of the graduate program, officers return immediately to the operational force and do not serve a utilization tour.

Named after General Wayne A. Downing, U.S. Army (Retired), this program seeks to extend General Downing’s legacy to a new generation of officers who will be front and center in the fight against violent extremism.

This Downing Scholars program is a result of the vision, generosity, and commitment to the nation’s security of Mr. Vincent Viola, a West Point graduate and national business leader.

photo of General Downing

General Wayne Downing

General Downing retired as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, having served 34 years in the U.S. Army. Following his retirement, General Downing directed the 1996 Khobar Towers commission and served as a commissioner on the 2000 National Commission on Terrorism. In 2001, General Downing served the White House as National Director and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism. Finally, in 2003, General Downing was appointed as the first Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point until his sudden and untimely death in 2007.

Current Scholars

Major Kent DeBenedictis

Kent DeBenedictis graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2006. His...

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Captain Miles Hidalgo

CPT Miles Hidalgo received his commission through the United States Military Academy at West Point,...

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Captain Kyle Schriefer

Captain Kyle Schriefer was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute...

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Captain Nicholas Tallant

Captain Nicholas Tallant graduated from Georgetown University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in...

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Captain William R. Wright

Captain Will Wright was born in Karlsruhe, Germany. He graduated with a BA in English...

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Captain Caitlin Conley

Captain Caitlin Conley is originally from New York’s Hudson Valley area. After high school, Caitlin...

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