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Friday, May 21. 2010
The guy makes the case that they have become centers of mediocrity, but I think the better question is whether they serve any purpose any more, or produce any better officers than the 80% that come via ROTC.
Vaguely related: How to Make Brownies, Pentagon-Style
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:37 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
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Barrister, my friend ... I would think twice, and then more than twice, before I recommended the shutting down of our military academies. As far as I can deduce, they remain among the few centers of real and practical learning in our educational system. They teach more accurate history courses, both world history and American history, which most chic civilian centers of "higher learning" can't begin to do objectively any more. Their "hard science" courses appear to be excellent, and most importantly they teach such attitudes as courage under fire, absolute loyalty to one's country, and honor, both personal and public. What other college or university does this today? College faculties have become the privileged refuge of many bright, undisciplined folks who could never make it in the world of real struggle and competition. You already know that, dear Barrister. Many of the more senior of them are the product of the zoned out sixties, still flogging the worn-out disproven words of Marx and Alinsky, clinging to their spacey liberal ideals of "tune in, turn on and drop out."
The military academies teach realism -- personal honor, that actions have consequences, that when you screw up you have to pay the price, that fidelity to one's comrades is a virtue, that self-discipline leads to success.
What civilian university teaches that?
Just raised the subject, that's all. I made no recommendation, but just noting that the military detects no differnece between the ROTC kids and the academy kids.
"just noting that the military detects no difference between the ROTC kids and the academy kids."
Perhaps someone could find substantiation for this comment and post it.
The British used to say their officer Corps were developed on the playing fields of Eton, or was it Sandhurst?
The British academy at Sandhurst is a one-year immersion experience as opposed to a four-year immersion as we use for our military academies. It is not primarily an undergrad education center as ours are. This may be a better route, may not -- I decline to opine on that. I do know that ROTC and OCS officers in American services believe firmly in an Academy mafia or Academy elite -- that the ring is a bonus toward promotions
The military does have recipes for brownies but the 26-page document is not the recipe, it's the military specification for MRE brownies. In a litigious age, the milspec has to be exact to protect the procurement people and the contractor.
Old military gag: an elephant is a mouse built to milspec. Or the pyramids are milspec outhouses.
A problem evinced here is the trouble discerning the difference between officers of the Service Stripe and the Political Stripe.
The Pentagon is rife with the latter while the former are in Sandland breaking things and telling the locals that their hearts and minds better get right with Sam.
We had the same crap in the Nam with the Brass Hats coming into the field to "get the flavor" of the war, pick up a souvenir for the "I love Me" wall and generally cause problems for the prosecution of the given plans and then screwed with my troops.
Most of them had to get time in the field to get their ticket punched, hear a round snap by so they could put in for the CIB and then haul ass.
My personal experience is 30+ years old so nor really applicable. Or is it?
My experience as an enlisted man was that the ROTC officers required a good year, maybe more, to learn the basic elements of leadership. They just did not know how to lead men - they only knew how to give orders. The few USMA officers I had exposure to were far more comfortable being leaders rather than order givers.
Why would that be any different today? Perhaps ROTC training has improved. Perhaps ROTC has improved radically in 30 years. Back in my military day they probably had to take most anyone who crossed the threshold. Perhaps the military academy has gone downhill. I can't think of a reason this would be the case other than surrender to modern nonsense.
I would want hard and fast evidence that ROTC is producing equal quality leaders before tossing the military academies out the window. Given the cost of college these days it probably wouldn't be all that difficult to increase the attendance at the military academies by a third or even half and compare slightly more "equal" samples. I'd try growing them before I tried closing them.
Any line officer worth his bars turns day to day company routines over to his NCO's; he lets them handle the discipline for minor infractions and draws on their collective wisdom. In the end however, everything falls on the officer's shoulders.
It isn't about giving orders. It's about getting others to want to follow those orders.
I did my time in the Navy, both as a blackshoe and in naval aviation. I really can't speak for the other services but the best single officer I knew was a Mustang. Having been prior enlisted, he knew when the chiefs were trying to bs him, he listened to the first termers and he helped get rid of a lifer that was intent on destroying the careers of people he didn't like. On the other hand, the worst single officer I knew was also a mustang. He started off Navy, (ASW, Helos), went to the academy and chose the Marines. He spent more time lying to his people and sucking up to the other ringknockers that he was useless. I felt that, depending on the program, a mustang was better. Hard engineering degree plus prior service made a pretty good officer, one you could trust. Most of the Surface Warfare Officers, with a few exceptions, were good at leadership and good in their field. Since my last command was a training squadron, I saw both Marine and Navy aviators. With a few exceptions, they knew nothing of leadership. They were more interested in flying than leading. They didn't know or didn't care that, if you take care of your people, they will take care of your airplanes. As a result, we had more airplanes down for parts and maintenance and less flying time than any other.
I graduated from USNA before women were allowed to attend. Even then, people tried to make the case that the academies weren't worth it. I know of no hard figures, but remember hearing that Academy graduates were better for "a few years" after commissioning, but that after that period, there was no discernible difference in performance.
There was an "old boys' network" of "ringknockers," but I wasn't in long enough to gain any advantage from it. There were also those who had it in for Academy graduates. To some extent, it all balanced out.
When I went back for my 20th reunion, one of my old buddies was a Battalion officer, and he told me all sorts of stories about how the place had changed, and just how much of it was due to political correctness. I'd argue that the academies were never unblemished shining beacons of the right way to develop officers, but they used to at least differentiate themselves from civilian universities more.