Academic focus

Posted by lex, on February 2, 2007

Here’s an interesting notion in today’s Baltimore Sun:*

A former Army officer and Middle East analyst has called on the nation’s service academies to trade in their focus on engineering for a more modern curriculum on international relations.

Andrew Exum, who led combat units in two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq, said the engineering coursework required at the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., is a holdover from the 19th century, when that was the direction of future warfare.

Now, with constant challenges from unstable societies and radicalism, cultural understanding should be the new norm, he wrote in a new policy paper for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank where he is a fellow.

“The service academies have to get serious about international relations,” Exum said in a phone interview yesterday. “We need officers to be more culturally aware, more worldly and to have skills in the strategic languages like Arabic, Mandarin and Pashtu, but to do that, they will have to make some real changes to the curriculum.”

This is all a quarter century too late for your correspondent, a man whose questioning of the utility of an undergraduate degree in Political Science – with a minor in French and a specialization in the Soviet Union – has led him down the often thorny path of pursuing a graduate degree in engineering.

But hey, it did equip him to smoke Galloises in Parisian cafes and debate the utility of the Hegelian Dialectic as it applied to Marxist materialism. Which was a good gig while it lasted.

** 09-26-20 – Original link to Baltimore Sun gone; only reference I could find to quote was Cdr. Salamander’s same reference  – Ed.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Military

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