Sunday, April 19, 2009

Close West Point?

Ricks has at least one good point – we should dramatically expand ROTC. As for improving the government's budget problems, we'd get more bang from shutting down the Department of Education. Come to think of it, we'd be improving education at the same time.

Actually, I'd like to see two years of mandatory ROTC required of all students at any college or university that takes a dime of federal funding. Since Obama has been threatening to force our kids into “voluntary” community service, they at least might benefit from understanding the basics of military life, how to find their way through the woods, handle weapons, do some basic watch duty, as well as learn some manners. Plus, they might actually get in shape. (Granted, this would likely be hugely expensive, likely impractical, but it does have the added plus of offending all the right people.)

The service academies are likely to continue to be a valuable source of the professional officer corps. Sure, there are some spectacular blunders – Wesley Clark, anyone? - but 4 years of concentrated training isn't something you're likely to pick up easily elsewhere. Lack of Ph D's teaching at these facilities isn't that big a problem. These are not research institutions, and the Ph D isn't a guarantee that the holder of that degree can actually teach anything. The service academies are trade schools for the Military, combining a martial education mixed in with engineering, history, etc. It's a different animal.

As for the War Colleges, these are also specialty schools that offer instruction that likely isn't available elsewhere, especially given the lack of military history instruction in the rest of the academic world.

Just because some chump of a management professor has read “ The Prince”, that doesn't make him a military strategist. But I do agree with Ricks that it would be valuable to run the up-and-comers in the officer corps through some masters level or above programs at regular universities.