Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

No, I don’t hate professional military education — I hate lax, low-quality PME

My copy of Strategic Studies Quarterly arrived recently on the bay steamboat George C. Marshall.  When I opened it on the dock, the nearby seals and I were surprised to find at the end a review of my book The Generals, which came out a couple of years ago. The review was laudatory of the ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

My copy of Strategic Studies Quarterly arrived recently on the bay steamboat George C. Marshall.  When I opened it on the dock, the nearby seals and I were surprised to find at the end a review of my book The Generals, which came out a couple of years ago.

The review was laudatory of the book, which is fine by me. But I mention it here because the writer, in an aside, alludes to my alleged "penchant for PME bashing." So, let me state for the record that I think PME is essential, especially in peacetime. We need more of it, not less, in order to produce the adaptive officers we will need in the future to operate in ambiguous situations on the edge of war, where our adversaries are likely to play. What I am happy to bash is lazy, low-grade, no-major-left-behind PME. That's just a waste of officers' time and taxpayers' money.

If anyone cares, here's what I think needs to happen with PME.

My copy of Strategic Studies Quarterly arrived recently on the bay steamboat George C. Marshall.  When I opened it on the dock, the nearby seals and I were surprised to find at the end a review of my book The Generals, which came out a couple of years ago.

The review was laudatory of the book, which is fine by me. But I mention it here because the writer, in an aside, alludes to my alleged “penchant for PME bashing.” So, let me state for the record that I think PME is essential, especially in peacetime. We need more of it, not less, in order to produce the adaptive officers we will need in the future to operate in ambiguous situations on the edge of war, where our adversaries are likely to play. What I am happy to bash is lazy, low-grade, no-major-left-behind PME. That’s just a waste of officers’ time and taxpayers’ money.

If anyone cares, here’s what I think needs to happen with PME.

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. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.