Academics and Professional Military Education

By Klinger, Janeen | Academic Exchange Quarterly, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Academics and Professional Military Education


Klinger, Janeen, Academic Exchange Quarterly


Abstract

This article discusses the renewed urgency for broader liberal arts education at professional military schools (PME) for mid-level officers and recommends broadening the academic backgrounds of civilian faculty. The article compares the teaching environment for faculty with more traditional college teaching to illustrate some of the disadvantages to teaching in PME that may be obstacles to recruitment of civilian faculty.

Introduction

The collapse of the USSR which brought such profound changes to the international security environment also altered the responsibilities for the U.S. military by increasing their role in "peacetime engagement;" a role that closely resembles diplomacy. Moreover, the ongoing war against terrorism and war in Iraq require the military to engage in "nation building" that is quite different from more traditional combat missions. Given both conditions, the U.S. officer corps increasingly requires a sophisticated understanding of international and regional politics in order to function effectively. Fortunately, the military has a longstanding tradition of professional military education (PME) and each service has its own intermediate and top-level schools. For example the U.S. Army has its two schools at different locations with the intermediate Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and its top level Army War College at Carlisle Pennsylvania. The Navy runs both its Naval Command and Staff College and War College from Newport, Rhode Island. The Navy also runs the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California which grants graduate degrees in engineering, science and national security affairs. The Air Force has both its Air Command and Staff and Air War College co-located at Maxwell Air Force base in Alabama. The Marines have both their Command and Staff College and War college at Quantico, Virginia. The service schools are supplemented by the joint schools of the National Defense University (NDU) located in Washington, D. C. and composed of two top level schools: The National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. NDU's intermediate level school is the Joint Armed Forces Staff College located in Norfolk, Virginia. The difference between intermediate and top level schools lies with the rank of officers enrolled: the former enrolls majors while the latter educates lieutenant colonels or colonels.

Completion of an intermediate and top-level program has long been important for career advancement of officers. As such professional military education bears some resemblance to other post-graduate professional programs. However, the shift from military training to graduate level rigor is relatively new to PME institutions. PME schools began or expanded efforts to gain accreditation and with it authority to grant masters degrees as a result of Congressional hearings held from 9 December 1987 to 22 September 1988. [1] This article argues on behalf of broadening the background of civilian academics recruited to PME to ensure a balance among disciplines as well as a balance between those with prior military service and those without. This article will then discuss pedagogical considerations for PME that are different from traditional college teaching and that may present obstacles to recruitment of such a faculty.

Broadening Civilian Faculty

Given the growing importance of integrating more liberal arts education into PME, careful thought should be given to the nature of the academics recruited as faculty. Two important criteria for faculty qualifications must be considered: academic disciplines most appropriate for enhancing the liberal arts component of PME and the value of prior military service. Currently the disciplinary bias of PME faculties lies with military history. An emphasis on military history seems natural for PME because the practical concerns of military education require that students know and understand aspects of the art of warfare. …

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