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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part V


Chapter 14


Army Education

Operations in Iraq since April 2003 indicate that Army education, as opposed to individual task-specific training, should place more emphasis on the humanities, especially on those disciplines that relate to the understanding of other cultures. The term “cultural awareness” has now emerged as a key imperative for the Army as a result of the relative lack of cultural understanding of American Soldiers in the Middle East and Iraq. The Army, and in particular the officer corps, must be better educated about the non-Western world. Precommissioning academic requirements should include required courses in history, international relations, macro-economics, culture, religion, and geography. Every Army officer should be required to speak a second language, with incentives to direct them toward languages from regions of the world deemed most important or most dangerous to US national interests. Beyond the obvious benefit of being able to converse with others, the mental agility and discipline gained from learning another language pays secondary and tertiary benefits. Language proficiency should be considered a prerequisite for commissioning of all new officers, and required over time for serving officers before being promoted to the next grade.

The Army must foster a greater contrarian spirit within the officer corps to avoid group think and naive susceptibility to the latest fads in military affairs. The creation of the so-called Red Team University at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to provide the Army with a core of officers trained to think like an uncooperative enemy, and to challenge plans before they are issued, is a good first step. The use of 360-degree performance evaluations will also help in creating an officer corps more aware of its leadership strengths and weaknesses. Army promotion and selection process must advance those NCOs and officers who demonstrate proficiency at full spectrum operations. The Army should push the rest of the Government to increase the professional schooling and assignment opportunities for Soldiers and civilians to serve in nonmilitary governmental agencies to foster better planning and operational effectiveness.

Chapter 14. Implications

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