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Category: Education

June 20, 2017

Professional Military Education and Broadening Assignments: A Model for the Future

In today’s Army culture, professional military education (PME) is a critical factor for promotions and advancement.1 For future Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) General J. Lawton Collins, attending the Army Industrial College and Army War College, and subsequently instructing at the latter, broadened his horizons and prepared him for future assignments and responsibilities.2 The Army is at a point in its history where it is inconceivable for an officer to attain high rank without attending formal PME, as was the exceptional case with former CSA General William Westmoreland.3 By design, the Army selects its top performers to attend resident intermediate and senior PME. Currently, selection rates are 52 percent for intermediate and 40 percent for senior-level education.

Oct. 1, 2016

I Liked Ike . . . Whence Comes Another? Why PME Needs a Congressional Advocate

With all the discussion of troubles in the world of professional military education (PME), the obvious finally dawned on me in a discussion of the issue with a colleague. Ever since former Representative Ike Skelton (D-MO) left Congress in 2010 (dying only 3 years later), PME has needed an advocate in Congress. Historians and pundits, however, including the author of this article, have perhaps missed this essential need in their prescriptions for enhancing, or reforming, higher level military education as it exists in the United States today.1 We cite Ike’s name as the basis for reform but forget his profound role in enabling PME reform in the first place. To better understand that role, we must take a trip, as we historians are wont to do, down memory lane.

March 30, 2016

The Future of Senior Service College Education: Heed the Clarion Call

In 2014, Joint Force Quarterly (JFQ) helped stimulate professional dialogue on joint professional military education (JPME) by establishing a new section titled “JPME Today.” This article continues the discourse on JPME policy issues. Although initially directed by the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, jointness has grown to become an integral part of our military culture. Applying the U.S. Army leader development framework, the three pillars of joint training, joint work experiences, and JPME all served to reinforce competencies and helped acculturate jointness within a heretofore Service-centric military.

Oct. 1, 2015

Extending the Shelf Life of Teachers in Professional Military Education

Over the past several years, a number of authors addressing professional military education (PME) have expressed frustration about and occasionally disdain for retired military officers who serve on the faculties of Department of Defense (DOD) senior-level colleges (SLCs).

Oct. 1, 2015

Writing, Integrity, and National Security

Advanced professional military education (PME) affords senior officers the opportunity to acquire solid intellectual footing and enter the strategic dialogue following over 20 years of progressively more responsible leadership.

July 1, 2015

Quo Vadis? The Education of Senior Military Officers

This article considers approaches to teaching senior military officers at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC). It reviews the results of several studies and surveys from the employers of our graduates and from recent graduates themselves on how best to them prepare for future assignments in the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous strategic environment.

April 1, 2015

Writing Faculty Papers for Joint Professional Military Education

In joint professional military education (JPME), there is no tool more powerful than the written word. Whether in the form of books, journal articles, opinion pieces, or course papers, students and faculty members demand high levels of intellectual rigor and reflection in both the products they read and the ones they produce.

April 1, 2015

Joint Professional Military Education: A Retrospective of the Skelton Panel

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Dec. 30, 2014

Should Military Officers Study Policy Analysis?

Recently, during a symposium with security studies faculty members from civilian institutions, the question arose as to how those of us who teach in the country’s professional military institutions approach the study and use of policy analysis in our classrooms. There was a certain degree of incredulity that places such as the Naval War College (and its sister institutions) would encourage their students—people bound by oath to faithfully execute the orders of the commander in chief—to probe and analyze decisions taken by the current and past Presidents as part of their academic experience. Indeed, many question whether military officers need to engage in the dissection and discussion of national security decisionmaking since, echoing Alfred Tennyson’s famous exhortation in his classic poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do and die.” Others take the view that, for military officers, ignorance may be bliss, following the advice popularly ascribed to the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck: “The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep in the night.”

Dec. 30, 2014

Next Steps for Transforming Education at National Defense University

National Defense University (NDU) is implementing major reforms in the graduate-level programs it provides senior military officers and other national security professionals. If all goes as planned, the result will be a transformation in the way the university educates senior national security leaders.1 This article does not review the status of current change initiatives. Instead, it looks beyond the changes under way for the 2014–2015 academic year and identifies future steps senior leaders might consider in order to maintain momentum for the transformation of joint professional military education.