Educating Foreign Officers

By Gibler, Douglas M.; Ruby, Tomislav Z. | Joint Force Quarterly, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Educating Foreign Officers

Gibler, Douglas M., Ruby, Tomislav Z., Joint Force Quarterly

An editorial published in a British newspaper in 2001 lamented the fact that the School of the Americas at Fort Benning had trained a string of military dictators in recent decades: Roberto Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina, Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, and Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador--as well as the leaders of death squads in Peru and Honduras, among other notorious graduates. (1) And other programs operated by the Armed Forces have been cited for training Indonesians prior to the repression in East Timor as well as future Taliban leaders during Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation.

However, such cases are unrepresentative of the international military education programs conducted by the United States. Far more characteristic is the example of the war college graduate from Central Europe who went on to an assignment at NATO headquarters or another from the Middle East who returned home to educate fellow officers. Professional military education (PME) acts as a stabilizing factor that provides officers from many nations with the opportunity for study and exposure to the democratic values while attending senior- and intermediate-level institutions in America.

Terra Aliena

Half a million foreign officers have attended programs in the United States nine thousand from over a hundred countries in 2000--and of that number, some two hundred annually attend year-long courses with their American counterparts at PME institutions.

Professional military education differs from specialty training, which defines career fields for officers. Each service operates both a senior and an intermediate-level PME institution (or war and staff college). In addition, the National Defense University administers the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the National War College on the senior level as well as the Joint Forces Staff College, which are joint institutions operating under the auspices of the Chairman (see the accompanying insert, "The Schoolhouses").

In general, war college programs primarily focus on national military and national security strategy while staff college programs are devoted to theater-level operational art. The Chairman is required to ensure that curricula are current, standardized, and compliant with Goldwater-Nichols. Many countries send officers to the United States on a reimbursable basis under the Foreign Military Sales program, much as they purchase equipment. Developing nations that cannot afford the cost of education are provided with military assistance by the Department of State under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

Phrases such as supporting security assistance, international involvement, lasting relations, and the like are common in descriptions of these programs. Educating international officers develops channels of communication with other nations and promotes democratic ideals around the world. Resident programs build familiarity with American officers to forge lasting friendships and an affinity for democratic values.

Emerging Democracies

The road to democracy is prone to violence. Embattled elites may attempt to manipulate nationalistic tendencies and create an alternative to mass democracy movements. These elites are easier to coordinate, often have better political access, and are better able to use the weak institutions of emerging democracies to their advantage. Rising nationalism then turns to a fait accompli that sends a state to war. The elites favor war because during wartime democratic rule can be dispensed with in favor of authoritarian measures. As one analysis pointed out, most great powers have been belligerent during democratic transitions because of this elite competition. (2)

Although war may be more likely in transitioning states, the probability of conflict is quite small even when there may be elite competition. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Educating Foreign Officers


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.