The ALFI Corporate Staff Ride at the Battle of Little Big Horn

A Proven Military Training Tool for your Boardroom

The concept of staff rides was first developed by Count Helmuth von Moltke, the 19th century Prussian general and military theorist who once wrote that “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  The Count believed that only the opening stages of a campaign could be effectively planned: all other decisions happened according to the needs of the moment.  Von Moltke, together with a hand-picked group of young staff officers, would visit sites where he felt conflict was likely to happen with future European enemies.  He and his students could thus envision the exigencies of the battle on what military historian William Roberston calls the “three dimension chess board of terrain.”   

The staff ride is no longer for military personnel alone.  Over the past eight years ALFI has adapted the practice for executive management and leadership development training. The corporate staff ride draws on the popularity of experiential learning while exploiting the intensity of combat to dramatize decision-making under the most extreme circumstances.  

Little Big Horn is the geographic embodiment of the American military tradition. This battle was the last culminating event in the struggle for the American West. 

This battlefield is alive today in that it teaches lessons to us all.  Here you will understand the immutable lessons of war.  Technology, demographics and politics may influence how wars are fought to some degree.  But all wars share the same characteristics that soldiers and civilians alike must understand if they are to make informed judgments about the nature and character of today’s conflicts.  The battlefield also teaches you timeless lessons about the human dimensions of conflict.  War is the most complex of all human endeavors and the fear of violent death and the burden that comes with leading men to their death heightens and illuminates how leaders and led relate to each other in time of crises.

This is a staff ride not a battlefield tour.  The battlefield is simply a metaphorical experience, an intellectual vessel that you must use to understand how human beings act in time of crises. You must filter what you see here through the lens of your own experiences.  We will help you look inwardly and reflect on how what was done here influences your own life and times.  If you leave this place with a renewed awareness of the human condition then you will understand why soldiers study and revere this very sacred ground.

Members of our team will meet and collaborate with you and your organization to customize and tailor the offerings to meet your organization goals and objectives to guarantee the maximum return on your investment. Examples could be to 1) focus on a particularly important aspect of the company, 2) invest in leadership development at a specific management level, or 3) explore leadership issues relevant to the entire corporation.

The process begins several weeks before the event when each member of your team receives a read ahead packet that includes a battlefield booklet with map boards to begin their own study of the battle.

Our ride will examine leadership from both the Native American and US Military perspective during the months and weeks leading up the battle.  You will learn from a mix of local Native Americans who are decedents of Custer’s Crow scouts and ALFI personnel who are all combat veterans with extensive knowledge of history, tactics and battlefield leadership.  

Some of the reflections from the ride will be:

  • Hubris based on past success
  • Inspiring others to action
  • Vision and direction for the future
  • Individual and team success
  • Managing Risk
  • Capitalizing on momentum
  • Leading by example
  • Creating conditions for success
  • Management and leadership during chaos
  • Decision making under pressure
  • Effective Communication
  • Importance of intelligence
  • Relationships and trust
  • Data and Knowledge Management
  • Unlikely Leaders
  • Small Units Make a Difference
  • Innovation from below 

The first day’s arrival in the afternoon at Billings International Airport is followed by a reception, dinner, briefing and a strategic overview of the battle.  After breakfast the second day, the group boards a private charter bus for a 1 hour ride to the battlefield.  The study continues with the bus ride as we parallel the route of MG Terry’s march.  We spend the full day (8 hours) on the battlefield with a portion spent on horseback with decedents of Custer’s Crow Scouts crossing the Little Big Horn river and tracing his route along Cedar and Medicine Tail Coulees. We will break mid-day for lunch with offerings of authentic Indian Cuisine. The day ends with a dinner in Billings with an after action review facilitated by Dr. Scales specifically focused on the connections between the volatile circumstances of the battlefield and present day leadership of your corporation.

Costs associated with this ride include:

  • Transportation to/from Billings Airport
  • 2 nights accommodation at Billings Crown Plaza
  • All meals and beverages throughout
  • Read ahead packet including tailored Battlefield Booklet and selected map boards delivered  prior to ride
  • A reception cocktail hour, dinner and briefing the night before staff ride
  • Transportation from lodging facility to and from the Battlefield - briefing enroute
  • World class staff ride facilitated by renowned historian MG (ret) Robert Scales
  • Lunch with partial After Action Review (AAR) on the battlefield
  • A generous portions of staff ride conducted horse back
  • A reception, dinner and After Action Review (AAR) following the ride
  • Memento gift of ride
  • Beverages & snacks throughout the day
  • All fees associated with National Battlefield and Crow Indian Reservation

Watch our site or register with ALFI for announcements of upcoming Staff Rides for individuals, or if you are interested in booking a customized Staff Ride for your small group (at any one of our three current sites or one of your choosing), please contact Greg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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