Academic journal article Military Review

The Criticality of Captains' Education: Now and in the Future

Academic journal article Military Review

The Criticality of Captains' Education: Now and in the Future

Article excerpt

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Education is not a tax--it is an investment in the future leaders of our Army.

--Major General Edward Cardon

TODAY'S OFFICERS ATTENDING the Captains Career Course (CCC) have a wealth of experience and training obtained while serving in an Army at war. However, each captain's learning has been both unique and limited to the jobs he held, specific deployment training, and operational experiences. In contrast, education provides breadth to his learning. Education is the linchpin that allows him to make sense of his experiences and training. It also conditions his mind to learning and should inspire him to become a lifelong learner who has the self-awareness, agility, and adaptability to lead our Army. In today's complex operational environment, an individual's ability to understand, learn, and adapt is the key to being successful.

The Army owes its captains who have made the decision to stay past their Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) an education that provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to serve as company commanders and staff officers, leading troops in complex circumstances. To address this significant educational requirement, the Army has 15 different Captains Career Courses across the country. (1) They all have varying standards and conditions designed to address the unique requirements associated with each branch. This diversity presents challenges for ensuring the Army meets the education needs to develop its future leaders.

A recent study of the Army's CCCs, directed by Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and Combined Arms Center (CAC) commanders, discovered that, in a time of turmoil characterized by a high operational tempo and limited resources, only about a third of these courses are achieving academic excellence. (2) While the study noted several systemic problems, it also emphasized that there are many unsung heroes across TRADOC doing a tremendous job with the resources available. The study's overarching conclusion was that in order to optimize a captain's learning experience, the Army must provide at least two critical things: high-quality small group leaders (SGLs) and a rigorous, relevant curriculum. This conclusion resulted from a review of the role of the Army captain; an examination of the history of the Officer Education System, particularly with respect to captains; an analysis of the current state of the 15 CCCs; and the future of officer education as articulated in TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2, "The United States Army Learning Concept for 2015'." (3)

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Role of the Army Captain

Time spent as a captain represents a period of tremendous and increasingly broad professional growth. (4) While the CCC is not a transition between tactical, operational, and strategic art, it is still a critical period for a company grade officer. At this point in their service, most captains face a key career decision to stay beyond their initial ADSO. Deciding to attend the CCC signals a renewed commitment to the profession of arms. Captains will have their first opportunity to command and to shoulder the responsibility of administering the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Officers will spend the most time at the captain rank, currently an average of 6.3 years. (5) During this period, captains will also serve on staffs ranging from battalion to combatant command.

Past Officer Education Studies

Historically, the Army has been concerned with officer education in general, and in particular captains' education. This emphasis began with the founding of the first U.S. Army school in 1776 under the Corps of Engineers. Just after World War II, the Army established officer advanced courses specifically to train and educate captains for what would become the Cold War. In studying the problem of captains' education, the Army has consistently found that captains need more education than training. …

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