Strategic Leadership and the Fourth Army War College
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Scholars have long maintained that the military is a bona fide profession, standing shoulder to shoulder with other fields such as medicine, law, and education. The task of keeping current in the profession of arms, however, is unique. Doctors, attorneys, and teachers practice their skills daily, whereas soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen apply their talent--warfighting--only sporadically, often with years or even decades between conflicts. This represents no small problem in the preparation of senior leaders. How competent would we expect a heart surgeon to be who performed coronary balloon angioplasty only once or twice in his career What level of jurisprudence could we expect from a trial lawyer who tried his first case 28 years after law school Both Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley were graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1915 yet did not experience combat or wartime command for another quarter century. Military leaders who are exposed to two or three wars in a career are considered unusually experienced. While the frequency of military operations has increased since the Vietnam War, their duration has decreased, so that traditional limits on cumulative experience still apply. The Armed Forces--and indeed the militaries of all peace-bent Western democracies--thus face a paradox to the extent they deter war they deny themselves the combat experience to continue to deter war. It has thus been the task of U.S. military education and training to impart to individuals and units the actual skills demanded by their wartime roles within a realistic combat-simulated environment. More specifically, it has been the dream of educators and trainers to replicate the psychological and physical experience of war, short of actually shedding blood, in arranged encounters with a hostile sparring partner. We have fallen far short of this over the years, though at times training is realistic, particularly at the individual and tactical levels.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics