Military Education: Past, Present, and Future

Military Education: Past, Present, and Future

Military Education: Past, Present, and Future

Military Education: Past, Present, and Future


Often the only time a nation evaluates the education of its armed forces is during the aftermath of a great military disaster. This work brings together the ideas of international scholars, all recognized as leaders in their fields, to examine the professional military education experience of various nations during the last 250 years. Case studies of each branch of the military reveal success and failure in the past and present, with a goal of improving military education in the future.


Were it not the exact theme that had been set for the symposium, I might initially have tried to avoid the term “military education.” At the outset, use of the term raises all sorts of questions as to what the subject really is.

First, there are questions about the word “education.” Often, those who take up the term are not talking at all about education and its role in developing the individual intellect, as one would in a university, but, rather, about military training or about professional initiation.

Second, in its traditional sense, the word “military” implies something to do with the army and creates a distinction from something that may be called “naval.” Naval, if not air force, specialists must clearly ask what is meant and to what degree it applies to them. Navies inhabit a world that is clearly associated with the traditional interests of an army, through their use of similar weapons, but a navy is equally heir to a broad maritime, sea-going heritage that is very foreign to an army. Air forces present an interesting blend. In its short history, air forces have adopted for air and space some of the concepts that initially came from thinking about the sea, merging them with some new ideas of their own as well as with ideas that derive from the army experience through which some air forces derived.

Despite this niggling about words and service differences, we are talking in this conference about the way in which society—specifically Western European and North American countries—have prepared the leaders of their armed forces to deal with war. It is a major, if neglected, topic in history and a very important current issue. All the caveats and questions I have raised are issues that make up the conundrum involved in the history of military education.

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