Best Defense

My simple plan for reviving PME

Recently, in a note to a reader, I summarized my views of how to reform professional military education. It occurred to me that I might share them here: Make admission competitive. Make the education as academically rigorous as it was during the interwar period. (And don’t train them. Educate them to think critically.) Make everybody ...

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Recently, in a note to a reader, I summarized my views of how to reform professional military education. It occurred to me that I might share them here:

  • Make admission competitive.
  • Make the education as academically rigorous as it was during the interwar period. (And don’t train them. Educate them to think critically.)
  • Make everybody write a lot and get graded on their work. As Orwell said, if you aren’t writing clearly, you probably aren’t thinking clearly.
  • Post class rankings weekly.
  • Fail at least 5 percent of the class, and dismiss from the service anyone caught plagiarizing or otherwise cheating.
  • Upon graduation, publicly list graduates in order, and give the top 10 or 25 percent preference in subsequent posts.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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