Military Education Must Be Overhauled

Article excerpt

Robert H. Atwell, president of the American Council on Education, has called on the U.S. military to overhaul its education system. Doing so, he maintains, will ensure that it can continue to attract qualified service members in a competitive recruiting environment and guarantee that they are able to make a successful transition back to civilian life,

The growing emphasis on postsecondary training as a prerequisite for economic success and the expanding array of Federal programs designed to increase access to higher education and job skills are changing the recruiting picture for the military, Atwell notes, "In the future, unless it adapts to the new conditions it confronts, the military will find itself with a much smaller cohort of potential recruits from which to draw."

Young men and women must see military service as an experience that will give them an advantage in the job market, or 'the likelihood is that far too many will regard military service as a time of lost opportunity, a time when their peers move ahead and they are left behind." A greater focus on education will help the military compete successfully for qualified recruits in this more competitive arena and prepare service members for changes taking place in the military and in the civilian economy.

Atwell proposes that the military adhere to four principles in responding to its educational challenges:

* Embrace the importance of education, not just training, for all of its members.

* Focus on the development of "generic employability skills" of the kind learned through education programs, in addition to job-specific ones.

* Enhance the role of civilian colleges and universities in providing this education,

* Transform the various services into learning organizations, in the same way that many corporations and other groups are striving to do. …

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