15 April 2009

Quick Post

I don't have much time to post this, as I'm already running late, but we've talked many times before about officers receiving degrees from advanced civil school (including once or twice in Small Wars Journal), as well as the benefits the civilian community might receive from interacting with the military on a regular basis.

I got some negative comments on this subject. Fortunately, a man with a PhD from Princeton weighed in on the subject in an article from The American Interest:

The most powerful tool any soldier carries is not his weapon but his mind. These days, and for the days ahead as far as we can see, what soldiers at all ranks know is liable to be at least as important to their success as what they can physically do. Some key questions before the U.S. military in changing times therefore must be: How do we define the best military education for the U.S. armed forces, and what are the best ways to impart that education? What should be the ideal relationship between soldiering and the schoolhouse?

This is a vast and complex subject, involving many different skill sets in various settings. I want to focus here on just one aspect of that subject: Do military officers benefit from attending a civilian graduate school after having learned their trade as warfighters and during a period in their careers that permits them to spend a year or two “away from troops?” The short answer is yes (while noting that we must, again, first focus on being competent in our warfighting skills). The benefits of civilian education are substantial, and I have been and remain a strong proponent of such opportunities for officers.

Who wrote this? None other than Princeton graduate General David H. Petraeus.

Later tonight (Iraq time): A rebuttal of Ralph Peters' counter-point towards General Petraeus.

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