Thursday, August 02, 2007

The unbalanced military brain

My buddy over at MilBlogs, John Noonan of OPFOR, decides to kick the same hornet's nest I kicked back in FEB - except Mr. Big Britches got to do it at The Weekly Standard.
West Point and all of the service academies promote math and engineering above all other disciplines. Thayer wanted math savvy artillery officers. The Navy sought officers with a firm grasp of engineering to keep their ships running and navigate the seas under the harshest of combat conditions. And the Air Force desired officers capable of operating the service's cutting-edge technology. It's the perfect academic infrastructure for a young cadet, if we expect him to fight the Cold War.

Unfortunately, we are fighting a new war. Tomorrow's war. This is a war where we fight an enemy who understands that the battlefield lies in the human heart, not in the skies or on the seas. And while the liberal arts curriculum is precisely the school of thought needed to effectively prepare our cadets to fight in the 21st century, not one of the service academies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree.

An Army platoon leader would be better equipped to administer to tribes in Anbar province if he had a degree in International Affairs and a minor in Arabic. A Marine infantry Lieutenant might be more effective unifying warlords in Afghanistan if he spent his four years at Annapolis studying the history of central Asia. U.S. Special Forces have been deployed to over 180 different countries since 9/11, and, to be sure, the military offers them the education needed to meet that goal. But in all that training an academy cadet will only get as much foreign study as he can squeeze into his schedule between orbital mechanics and advanced calculus.
Noonan is right. Lex thinks differently - but in the age where you cannot wait for the 25 yr old trying to talk to his Pakistani counterpart inside a old fort in the FATA to get smart when he is 40 - we need a more well-rounded officer.

Being an engineer does not make you a more useful officer in my experience.

More discussion over at OPFOR.


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