The British Approach

By Smith, David A. | The American Enterprise, July 1999 | Go to article overview

The British Approach

Smith, David A., The American Enterprise

As a Naval Academy graduate, I have a great fondness for the institution and my four-year academy experience. But during the 40-plus years since I attended, many changes have occurred at the academies, many new programs for obtaining officers have emerged, and civilian colleges have changed significantly. In addition, an altered climate of opinion and reductions in defense spending increasingly threaten the present academy system. It may, therefore, be time for us to consider an alternative to the programs now offered at West Point, Annapolis, and Colorado Springs.

Before World War II, the academies were America's principal source of new officers. A fledging Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program also existed, and land-grant colleges were required to offer military training. Often the number of graduates from these sources greatly exceeded the military's needs, and excess graduates were either discharged or given a reserve commission.

Then, during World War II, the need for officers greatly exceeded what the academies and other sources were providing. Some academy classes were graduated early, and a multitude of new officer education and commissioning programs were established. Programs at civilian colleges were vastly expanded. Some emergency officer programs turned out "90-day wonders."

By the end of World War II, ROTC programs had become rooted at many colleges, and rapid training via officer candidate schools (OCS) was also well established within the military services. At the same time, the numbers of American youth attending college increased dramatically.

Today the academies are no longer the main source for military officers. They currently provide less than 17 percent of each year's newly commissioned officers. ROTC units now exist at 470 host colleges, and thousands of new officers come from the OCS and enlisted commissioning programs. As time goes on, more and more non-academy graduates rise to the general and flag officer ranks, even becoming the heads of their services and possibly Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On average it costs more than $250,000 to educate each graduate from the three military academies--three times or more the cost of an ROTC graduate, and many more multiples of the bill for an OCS graduate. This disparity is occurring in a time of reduced military budgets and an increased need for funds to modernize our fighting forces and weaponry.

In recent years, the British military has experienced similar trends. So it's worth looking at how the British have adjusted their officer commissioning programs to meet changed conditions.

Historically, the British and the United States have used almost identical means to educate new officers for their armed forces. Officers for the British Army were educated at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, those for the British Navy at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and the Royal Engineering College at Manadon. Officers for the Air Force were educated at the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell. But with a decrease in military spending, the British Ministry of Defence has established new commissioning programs that depart from tradition. Now the principal source of new officer candidates is youth who have already been graduated from civilian colleges, either through their own efforts or on a military scholarship. Selected candidates then enter one of the military colleges listed above for a training program lasting at most one year, after which they are commissioned. These military colleges no longer offer regular four-year academic programs as in the past.

The one-year military training complements the academic education candidates have already received at a civilian college, and gives them the necessary skills and indoctrination to serve as active duty officers. This is not unlike America's current OCS programs--in which college graduates are admitted for a 6- to 13-week training period--except that Britain's one-year program provides much more military training (more perhaps than even graduates of our present military academies receive). …

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

The British Approach


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.