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Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    actually i think Israel uses something like that model. Every citizen is conscripted into the mil. Those that do well go on to be NCO’s and then officers if they pass courses and have good marks from their soldiers and commanders. They do not have military colleges like west point, anapolis, etc. It certainly seems like it can work although there are major cultural issues and history to contend with.

    While Ricks is often great on military matters i can’t take this seriously, regardless of whether it is an idea with merit. Our military can barely cut an unneeded super expensive weapons program, how could they ever even conceive of an idea like getting rid of the academies. Also many academy trained officers are knowledgeable and thoughtful, which is a benefit to us all.Report

  2. Avatar Will says:

    Interesting. I wonder why more countries haven’t emulated that approach.Report

  3. This has already been suggested, by Andrew Bacevich in The New American Militarism. In addition to the points Ricks argues, Bacevich is of the opinion that the separation of career military from the lives and experiences of civilians is very bad for the Republic.Report

  4. Avatar Will says:

    Doctor Science –

    Nice catch. Later in the article, Ricks suggests eliminating war colleges and integrating military students into the general academic population for similar reasons.Report

  5. Avatar Bayesian says:

    The DPRK (North Korea) does the same (everybody starts as the equivalent of privates; some are promoted to NCO and then officer). Considering what a complete cockup the country is, their military appeared to be (or did when I had reason to know in the early-mid 90s) frighteningly efficient, no snark.Report

  6. Avatar PD says:

    We do have an OCS program for each of the service branches. OCS provides about 10% of all new officers in the Army, and a certain number of ROTC and USMA graduates are prior service as well, so the number of new officers with some enlisted experience is probably closer to 20-25%. The other services have an even higher percentage.Report

  7. Avatar steve says:

    Tradition is the primary reason. We have also thought that officers benefit from a broader and deeper education, acquired before they begin leading. The best discussion I have seen on this is at Abu Muqawama, which should be a daily rad for some here.


  8. Avatar Will says:

    steve –

    Yes, I saw the entry at Abu Muqawama. His criticism of Ricks seems pretty spot-on, and I think it’s notable that Ricks’ original article doesn’t offer anything beyond anecdotal observations, many of which have been rebutted by military officers.

    Having said that, I still wonder why emulating the Israelis (or the DPRK!) hasn’t been tried in the United States. Requiring promising officer candidates to serve as NCOs first isn’t mutually exclusive with providing officers with a comprehensive education.Report

  9. I still wonder why emulating the Israelis (or the DPRK!) hasn’t been tried in the United States

    Class. Both N. Korea and (at least historically) Israel try to be classless, we’re-all-in-this-together societies. The NCO/CO dichotomy in the US military was inherited from Europe, where it was a conscious, acknowledged division along feudal class lines.Report

  10. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Nice, Will.
    True subversive guerrilla thought.
    There is hope yet.Report