Monday, April 20, 2009

But what about the big football game?

By J. Thomas Duffy

Oh boy, ace writer/reporter Thomas Ricks is surely taunting the Flying Monkeys, proverbially, poking a stick in their eyes.

It's been enough "hair-on-fire" yelping about how President Obama and SecDef Robert Gates are tearing down our military, making us that much more unsafe, and ripe for some ragtag terrorist, with a AK-47, to waltz in here and take over the country.

Today, Rick suggests we should close down all the military schools, that we would get a better bang-for-the-buck having future officers schlep across public (and private) campuses to get a better, and more balanced, education.

Why We Should Get Rid of West Point

After covering the U.S. military for nearly two decades, I've concluded that graduates of the service academies don't stand out compared to other officers. Yet producing them is more than twice as expensive as taking in graduates of civilian schools ($300,000 per West Point product vs. $130,000 for ROTC student). On top of the economic advantage, I've been told by some commanders that they prefer officers who come out of ROTC programs, because they tend to be better educated and less cynical about the military.


We should also consider closing the services' war colleges, where colonels supposedly learn strategic thinking. These institutions strike me as second-rate. If we want to open the minds of rising officers and prepare them for top command, we should send them to civilian schools where their assumptions will be challenged, and where they will interact with diplomats and executives, not to a service institution where they can reinforce their biases while getting in afternoon golf games. Just ask David Petraeus, a Princeton PhD.


No Jingoistic Kool-Aid ... Wouldn't that be something ...

Hopefully, Mr. Ricks, who has "covered the military for nearly two-decades," has learned a few maneuvers, as it won't be long before the Right-Wing Freak Show starts flinging their feces at him.

Bonus "He Wants To Close What!?" Riffs

Robert Farley: Arguments that are Guaranteed to Irritate People...

Abu Muqawama: Close the War Colleges? (Updated)

Matthew Yglesias: Ricks: Close the Service Academies

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)


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