Thursday, July 7, 2011

Professional Military Education - Not a Contradiction in Terms

Professional Military Education (PME) has come under a lot of criticism of late. Some of it is on point. Full disclosure: MIL INT's day job is as a Professor at just such an institution and it is a subject about which MIL INT is quite passionate. Consequently, after this is published MIL INT might have a lot more time to devote to the blog!

Perhaps the most balanced and well crafted contribution has been made by Dr George E Reed who published an essay on the topic at DefensePolicy.org. (MIL INT has not met Dr Reed). Reed refers to a range of works in the current PME debate. I will add them here for ease of reference:

Here is the BLUF from the Reed piece that bears very close scrutiny.
"Great faculty members can overcome a mediocre curriculum but a mediocre faculty will surely fail to implement even a great curriculum. If the services spent as much time on recruiting and retaining the best and brightest faculty members as they do tinkering with the curriculum we would have a much better system of professional military education."
"The war colleges may be the only institutions of higher learning that have such paltry control over who attends them... Yes, there are a number of students attending the war colleges who should not be there, and who really do not want to be there. They can skate through, meeting minimal requirements.. There is very little in place to prevent such freeloading. I will also say, however, that everything necessary for a truly mind expanding experience is there for the taking.  What the students get out of the program is directly commensurate with what they put in."

"Successful completion of brigade, ship, or squadron command does not inherently qualify a person to be a deputy commandant, chief of staff, provost, dean, or department chair. Such key positions of influence require an understanding of the kind of tensions that Hughes and Johnson-Freese identify and demonstrated ability in academic settings. They should be deeply attuned and dedicated to the primary purpose of the institutions they lead."

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