I spent the last three years of my career teaching at CGSC. I loved teaching, but the overall experience was like a bad nightmare. Fully a quarter of the students had no business being officers, much less field grades. Even most of my bright ones couldn’t write or reason their way out of paper bags. Such skills had never been taught or required of them. They were shockingly ill-informed about history, philosophy, science, anything really. Aside from the basics of how to successfully perform whatever jobs they’d had in the Army, their knowledge base seemed to consist of an accumulation of Time Magazine articles or, for the top 20 percent, Fortune or The Atlantic.
There were rare bright spots, really learned, curious, and capable folks who would have been fine in der Kriegsakademie, but most . . . and any attempt to actually do something about this, to even acknowledge that we had a deep, structural officer quality problem was simply met with bureaucratic incredulity and resistance. It was sort of like when I told my boss our strategy in Afghanistan was built on fantasy or when you broach the possibility that the US Army might actually not be the Platonic Ideal of military virtue.
Indeed, the fact that a few of us thought it shocking that one could graduate from a “graduate level” institution without reading one, full, complete book about anything was itself looked at by much of the faculty and the administration as a symptom of intellectual arrogance.
I’d like to be optimistic, but I fear we are going to have to have our asses unambiguously kicked by a peer adversary before the system can be reformed. Of course, we’d have to survive the experience as a nation-state in order to learn from it . . .