Training for Law Enforcement Managers: What Does Professional Military Education Offer?

By Trott, Roger | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, May 2006 | Go to article overview

Training for Law Enforcement Managers: What Does Professional Military Education Offer?


Trott, Roger, The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


The demands on law enforcement managers have increased as their agencies' missions have grown more diverse and complex since September 11, 2001. New investigative priorities and programs and current laws, along with corresponding changes in policies and procedures, all place elevated demands on managers' knowledge, skills, and abilities. Several aspects of a professional military education (PME) approach, combining the academic rigor of graduate-level education with a professionally focused curriculum, can help local, state, and federal senior law enforcement managers become better prepared to carry out their responsibilities. (1)

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While "warfighting" and "crimefighting" clearly are different professions, both military officers and law enforcement managers often operate in a similar environment frequently filled with uncertainty, crisis, and danger, as well as complicated by a considerable responsibility for the well-being of others. Success for both professions in these circumstances often depends heavily upon the thought processes, which must be timely, rational, and even innovative, and the capabilities of the person in charge. All elements of America's strength, as represented by the military services, law enforcement agencies, and other civilian organizations, are needed to effectively protect the country from terrorists and support the global war on terrorism.

The Professional Military Education System

The PME system is designed to educate and prepare officers to operate in a joint (multiservice) environment and equip them with the ability to generate quality tactical, operational, and strategic thought. It aims to produce critical thinkers who view military affairs in the broadest context and can identify and evaluate probable changes. Finally, the PME system aspires to produce senior officers who can develop and execute national military strategies that effectively employ the armed services to fulfill the goals of national security and strategy policy. (2) To achieve these results, the services and joint chiefs relied upon a structured and long-term academic educational approach, rather than a more narrow training system. "[T]hroughout military education in the last fifty years of the twentieth century there has been an increasing tendency to draw professional military education closer to the academic standards of universities, in terms of both quality and of breadth." (3) Further, "warfighting is the greatest challenge to a student's capacity for dealing with the unknown, and those trained as opposed to educated, have seldom managed to muster the wherewithal to cope with that environment." (4)

Currently, all military branches operate multiple educational facilities for officers of all services to attend at different stages of their careers. There are four levels of military education: primary (lieutenants and captains or equivalent); intermediate (field-grade officers and majors or equivalent); senior (lieutenant colonels and colonels or equivalent); and generals/flag officers. Each level of military education focuses at the appropriate categories of war (tactical, operational, and strategic), building upon the knowledge and values gained in previous ones. (5)

The U.S. Marine Corps University (MCU), through its various schools, is the primary provider of resident PME for its almost 19,000 officers. (6) It simultaneously renders PME to officers from other U.S. military branches, international officers from allied military services, and representatives of certain U.S. civilian agencies. The MCU is part of and similar to the other service institutions that comprise the PME system in the United States.

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The MCU's largest and oldest PME school is the Command and Staff College (CSC), which has the primary purpose of preparing military officers "for command and staff duties with Marine Air-Ground Task Forces and for assignment with joint, multinational, and high-level service organizations.

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Training for Law Enforcement Managers: What Does Professional Military Education Offer?
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