I can’t speak to the Service Academy fracas, but I initially took Tom’s suggestion to close the War Colleges with a grain of salt.

Remember, CNAS scribe Tom Ricks’ relationships with some of the War Colleges has gone from rocky:

A friend passed along a 2005 e-mail note in which Steven Metz, chairman of a department at the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, urged several of his colleagues to blackball me because of my coverage of the Iraq war. “We all need to avoid Tom like the plague,” Professor Metz advised.

To pungent:

Such neglect makes me wonder whether the commandant cares about the college’s accreditation.

To downright ugly:

[Ed--from a contributor to Ricks' blog] During the lunch in which I was approached by the faculty (three in all), I was told that my experience was not surprising. “The AWC [Army War College] is creating a closed idea environment by their policy of not allowing new ideas in here,” I recall one faculty member telling me.

So, perhaps, with that bit of context, we can better understand how the War Colleges (where students can “reinforce their biases while getting in afternoon golf games“) got lumped into an attack on the Academies.

But, given that I’m somewhat attuned to the excellent golfing opportunities the Monterey Peninsula offers Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) students, Tom’s closing golf quip got my dander up.

And when Tom pulled out two Naval Postgraduate School studies (actually a couple of student-written MA theses) to inform his ongoing dialogue (here and here), I had to go inquire about Tom’s opinion of NPS…

And I got a surprising answer from Tom. If the man “had his druthers” he’d keep the Naval Postgraduate School, the National Defense University and, perhaps, make the Naval War College a national strategic college that worked in conjunction with civilian institutions.

So, in an Tom-Ricks inspired educational BRAC, the Navy would do pretty well for itself.

Mid-level Navy officers–though under-represented in the “Capo Crimini” of the CNAS-housed
Small War mafia
–do, as a community, have pretty solid support during their mid-career transition from tactical expert to strategic leader.

I’m not saying the War Colleges are perfect, or that we wouldn’t like to see a few more naval geniuses out there, but the Navy’s strong War Colleges, coupled with a uniformly strong applicant pool is why the Navy, today, is so well represented in the ranks of higher Pentagon leadership.

(Now–just in jest–would somebody let me know the next time CNAS’s Dr. John Nagl heads off to the golf links? Then I’ll pen a quick Washington Post Op-ed about DC-based military thinkers who “reinforce their biases while getting in afternoon golf games.” Heh.)

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  • http://fareastcynic.com Skippy-san

    “reinforce their biases while getting in afternoon golf games.” Heh.)

    You say that like its a bad thing. :-)

  • RickWilmes

    Keeping the Academies or the War Colleges open or closed is not the underlying problem. The underlying philosophy at all the colleges being taught IS the problem and that is what needs to be shut down not the schools themselves.

    What is the underlyging philosophy?

    In terms of ethics, it is altruism, the ethics of self-sacrifice.

    As long as our leaders are taught that self-less, self-sacrifice to a cause greater than oneself is a valid goal, than how can anyone rationally expect these same individuals to engage in independent thought?

  • Byron

    Bang the drum, slowly. Gotta love a one topic person.

  • RickWilmes

    Byron, facts and problems do not go away until properly identified. Altruism is the root of all the