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The ALFI experience at Antietam is intended to emphasize the importance of strategic leadership in very intense conflict as well as the cost of unprepared leadership. The contest between Robert E Lee and George McClellan shows that even a superior force armed with near perfect intelligence will lose to an opponent led by a dynamic and confident commander. The Antietam experience is particularly effective in larger groups in that accommodations are available and the battlefield is usually uncrowded. Its proximity to Washington makes it the perfect venue for government and defense entities.
The Battle of Antietam also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, fought on Wednesday, September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 dead, wounded and missing on both sides combined.
After pursuing Confederate General Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Union Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan launched attacks against Lee's army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.
Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan's attacks failed to achieve force concentration, allowing Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving interior lines to meet each challenge. Despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army. Nevertheless, Lee's invasion of Maryland was ended, and he was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, it had significance as enough of a victory to give President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from potential plans for recognition of the Confederacy.

The concept of staff rides was first developed by Count Helmuth von Moltke, the 19th century Prussian general and military theorist who once wrote “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 Robertson calls the “three dimension chess board of terrain.”

The staff ride is no longer for military personnel alone.  ALFI has adapted the practice for executive leadership development training, for history and military enthusiasts and for anyone with an interest in learning the lessons of historic battles and their impact on our present and future. The Battlefield Staff Ride draws on the popularity of experiential learning while exploiting the intensity of combat to dramatize decision-making under the most extreme circumstances.

The battlefields are alive today in that it teaches lessons to us all. 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 and tomorrow’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.

ALFI’s Staff Rides are more than just a battlefield tour.  The battlefield is a metaphor for the world of today and tomorrow, whether the context is military, corporate, cultural or personal.

ALFI currently offers three Staff Rides:  Antietam, Gettysburg, and Little Big Horn.  Watch our site or register with ALFI for announcements of upcoming Staff Rides, or if you are interested in booking a customized Staff Ride for your small group (either at one of these three 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. .

Select from our staff rides above for more details

ALFI is committed to the goal of developing housing communities for service-disabled and other veterans that meet the highest “green” construction and energy-conservation standards and that are designed to meet the unique needs of veterans.

ALFI’s vision is to create a model veterans’ community that can be replicated across the country that includes single-family homes (including handicap-accessible homes); transitional housing; community and recreational facilities/areas; and medical/rehab/therapy facilities. Our goal is to develop a pilot community – currently called The Hondo Project – in the Texas Hill Country in the Medina County/Bandera County area west of San Antonio. The Hill Country area that we have targeted provides an ideal environment, with its unsurpassed natural beauty, nearby recreational areas, and proximity to the city of San Antonio and its world-class veterans’ medical community.

To that end, ALFI has embarked on the initial planning stages of The Hondo Project. We have identified possible properties; we have begun to identify and recruit a team of developers, builders, and other groups and individuals to help us launch and implement the project; we have begun discussions with municipal and county authorities to elicit their support for this undertaking; and we are actively seeking funding.

A long-term goal of this project is to package the resulting development plans and all of ALFI’s lessons learned as prototypes that other non-profit organizations can use, elsewhere in Texas and around the nation, to provide service-disabled veterans with housing communities that are designed to meet their unique needs.

If you are interested in supporting The Hondo Project, you can contact ALFI or make a donation. Watch for project updates here and sign up for the ALFI newsletter.

America at war has been placing sustained demands, pressures and challenges on its all-volunteer force, their families and communities. Multiple deployments, combat injuries, and the challenges of reintegration are having far-reaching effects on not only the troops and their families but also upon America’s communities.

Veterans have answered their call to duty. Yet today, more than 13 percent of our nation’s homeless sheltered population consists of Veterans. One out of every six men and women in our nation’s shelters has worn our country’s uniform. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Veterans, many homeless, suffering the physical and emotional difficulties associated with multiple deployments, many of whom have PTSD and are at risk for suicide, are not receiving the help and treatment that they need. Nearly a half-million Veterans pay more than half of their incomes for rent, and more than half of them have incomes below the federal poverty level.

ALFI intends to assist Veterans to obtain the assistance they need to successfully transition to productive lives as civilians. ALFI’s board, staff, members and sponsors are committed to ensuring that Veterans and their families do not have to suffer from unemployment, health and mental health issues, serious shelter and housing finance problems, etc. ALFI is committed to effectively reaching out to all Veterans who need help.

ALFI will ensure that the benefits and services provided by numerous federal and state initiatives to support employment of Veterans, house service-disabled and other Veterans, provide healthcare, education and skill training, and other support reach Veterans in manner that strengthens our military families. We call this strategy, its goals and programs VetsWIN.

ALFI’s strategy is to obtain public and private resources and also to create or build on existing local, regional and create networks of businesses, educational institutions, public and non-profit organizations that share common goals and are willing to collaborate in order to accelerate provision of outreach housing, jobs and training, education, health and mental health, and other assistance and services to Veterans and their families.

ALFI’s VetsWIN  will seek to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Enhance the well-being and psychological health of Veterans and their families, including locating and, as needed, increasing and coordinating community-based mental and behavioral health care services.
  • Eliminate homelessness and promote home security among Veterans and military families, including the development of affordable quality housing in exceptional community environments.
  • Ensure that every veteran and their family members have access to the kinds and quality of educational and skill training experiences that will prepare them for beneficial employment opportunities and career advancement.
  • Reduce barriers to housing, education, training and employment opportunities and proper healthcare resulting from service-related disabilities.
  • Housing and Community Development

ALFI is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Texas and exempt under section 501(c)3 of the IRS Code. 

ALFI is launching operations in 2012, and financial data will be available for review beginning in mid-2013.

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ALFI Board

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Our Mission

ALFI’s mission and purpose is to act as the nation’s advocate for America’s land forces; make American military power as dominant on land as it is in the air, sea and space; prepare our nation’s military men and women to survive as well as succeed in all of the challenges that they face; and help them transition successfully to civilian life.

America’s ground forces have carried the greatest burden and suffered disproportionately high loss of life and limb in wars fought since the end of World War II. ALFI will support those who seek to provide our ground forces with the support they require to allow them to win on the ground at the lowest cost in human life.

ALFI will carry out its mission by:

  • Shaping the national debate and acting as an agent for changing our national security priorities from sea and air to land forces.
  • Educating key defense and military stakeholders and the general public on the primacy of the ground component in today’s wars.
  • Supporting and advocating for defense research and development agencies to create and provide tools and resources that allow our Soldiers and Marines to dominate on tomorrow’s battlefields.
  • Influencing national policymakers to develop policy that favors our ground forces.
  • Advocating for and collaborating with agencies that provide education, training, counseling, health services and other assistance to land forces Veterans and their families.

ALFI is non-partisan and independent of any federal or state agency, political party, or private concern. Our goal is to get to the ‘ground truth’ with objectivity and clarity. Our motto is Service with Heart.  ALFI is dedicated to bringing both passion and proven experience to every issue we address.

Who We Serve

ALFI is one of the nation’s leading advocates for active duty and reserve Army, Marine, Special Operating and National Guard forces; Veterans who are working to transition successfully to civilian life; and American law enforcement personnel defending America’s communities and borders against terrorists and international criminal organizations.

The nexus uniting all of these active land forces, Veterans and law enforcement officers is that they are essential to protecting national security; they risk death and disproportionately die at the hands of the nation’s enemies while serving in uniform; and they need sustained advocacy, support and highly specialized training to survive and succeed in the challenging continuum from training to combat missions to reintegration into civilian society.

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