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1. "Rein, Christopher Michael" <firstname.lastname@example.org> 2. "Kuehn, John T Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <email@example.com> 3. Wayne Thornton <firstname.lastname@example.org> 4. William D. O'Neil <email@example.com> 5. Larry A. Grant <firstname.lastname@example.org> 6. email@example.com -----Message from: "Rein, Christopher Michael" <firstname.lastname@example.org>----- > I recently read three autobiographies of naval aviators who > served as field, staff, and flag grade officers in the 50's, > 60's and 70's: RAdm Paul Gillcrist's FEET WET, Adm James > Holloway's AIRCRAFT CARRIERS AT WAR, and VAdm Donald Engen's > WINGS AND WARRIORS. I found it a bit striking that none of > these officers went to the "junior" C&S level course at the > Naval War College, the Armed Forces Staff College, or the > Army or Air Forces equivalent command and staff level > courses. Holloway and Engen, both attended senior War > College courses (at the National War College and the Navy War > College, respectively ;) and Gillcrist appears to have risen > to RAdm without ever having gone to a staff course or war > college at all. Is attendance at these schools less > important to the careers of Naval officers than it is for > Army, Air Force and Marine officers? > > Stu Kohn I served for nine years as an officer in the U.S. Navy and another nine in the Air Force. One of the many cultural adjustments I had to make was the level of emphasis the two services placed on IDE (intermediate Developmental Education--Air Command and Staff College, etc.) In the Navy, it was viewed as a convenient place to stash someone if they needed a year or so before they rolled into their department head tour, but "in-residence" attendance had little bearing on career success (all officers were required to complete the "correspondence" course under the provisions of Goldwater-Nichols). In the Air Force, the top percentage of officers are selected for "in-residence" IDE attendance at the same time they are selected for major (O-4), and, in-residence attendance almost guarantees selection to Lt Col (O-5). The same is true for SDE (Senior Developmental Education) as Lt Cols (O-5's) who attend the Air War College "in residence" are almost guaranteed promotion to Col (O-6). Someone else can probably update the current status, as this is an evolving system, but that has been my experience over the past decade. Chris Rein Graduate Student University of Kansas "Rein, Christopher Michael" <email@example.com> -----Message from: "Kuehn, John T Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <firstname.lastname@example.org>----- These gentlemen went through the "old system" wherein the Navy only gave career officers normally one shot at a junior or senior war college tour, not both. That is, before the Goldwaters Nichols 1986 Defense Reorganization Act mandated joint specialty officer career paths via the Officer Professional Military Education Program (OPMEP). My own view is that this was the most lasting and significant portion of the legislation. It was principally authored by one of the great unsung politicians still serving in Congress today, Ike Skelton of Missouri, current chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). r, John John T. Kuehn CDR USN (ret) Associate Professor of Military History CGSC Ft Leavenworth "Kuehn, John T Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <email@example.com> -----Message from: Wayne Thornton <firstname.lastname@example.org>----- ALL--- I can speak for Navy submariners, and perhaps the rest of the Navy... (I have less knowledge of the career progression of Marine officers.... ) Also, these are my opinions based only on 25 years in the Navy. For only 2-1/2 of those years was I directly involved in Navy manpower/personnel planning and policy. (1) Until the 1990s, the most important factor that made attendance at the War College less important for career progression in the Navy than in the Army or Air Force was simply that there was no time for it. You may recall that in the 1980s, we were aiming toward a "600-ship Navy" and there never seemed to be enough officers to man the ships. I don't think the other services had a similar problem. (In fact, I recall that in 1989-1990, the Air Force had a Congressionally-mandated officer cut of something like 6% and the Army about 3%- while the Navy's cut was only about 1%). -- Naval officers tended to spend much more time in operational tours (assigned to operating ships or aircraft squadrons) than did their counterparts in the Army or Air Force. For example, of my first 20 years in the Navy, I was assigned to sea duty on submarines for almost 12 years-with an average tour length of 3 years. I'm not sure exactly how long Army and Air Force officers spent in operational tours, but I believe it was much less. -- The Navy has long had an "operational culture." Naval officers perceive themselves as "operators," not "in training." The Navy and Marine Corps have a 230-year tradition of being "expeditionary," which means being operationally deployed overseas in a wartime readiness condition, even if there is no ongoing conflict. Until Army and Air Force units began making recurring overseas deployments (starting with the Gulf War, then Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.), they had no such tradition. In fact, developing a "deployment" mindset over the last decade or so has been a wrenching cultural change for these organizations. So, before the 1990s, the Army and Air Force had more of a "garrison" tradition and mindset (even if they were stationed on a Cold War "front", like in Germany), which allowed the luxury of more time for schooling. -- So even when naval officers were assigned to shore duty, critical jobs that supported operational units had to be filled first. These involved fleet training commands (flight training, nuclear power training, etc.) When I and my colleagues were finally able to get to shore duty, we were mostly assigned to operational squadron staffs or training commands. There was little opportunity for "luxury tours" like graduate school or the War College. In fact, I wanted to go to the War College, but my only opportunity to complete the curriculum was by attending a program of evening seminars over a 3-year period, conducted in my home port... (2) The Navy has long had a culture that focused on tactical/operational matters, and less on strategy or grand strategy. There is much emphasis on technical and tactical competence-- with Air Force aviators being the closest analog. But unlike the Air Force, the Navy tends to think in terms of battle groups-- which have about a 400-500 mile horizon, whereas Air Force officers tend to think at the operational and strategic level. (3) Naval operations have historically required naval officers to operate with greater initiative and autonomy than their counterparts in armies. This is simply because of the greater difficulty of command/control and in communicating with superiors. Also , warships are more capable of independent action than all but the largest ground combat units. So the inherent nature of naval operations and combat historically placed greater emphasis on the prerogatives of command than is true in the other services. Naval officers aspire to command, not service on staffs. (A curious historical remnant of this thinking is that the head of the Navy is titled "Chief of Naval Operations." while the heads of the Army and Navy are titled "Chief of Staff"). For these reasons, there was less emphasis in the Navy on joint education, service on joint staffs, or developing skills needed for service on a general staff. (4) Two things happened in the 1990s to change this: -- The size of the fleet started to contract. So there was less pressure on manpower, and thus more opportunities for individual officers to go to shore duty. -- Simultaneously, the Goldwater-Nichols Act mandated joint professional education (JPME) for promotion to flag rank. This provided greater incentive for naval officers to attend programs like the War College, which provide JPME credit. The combination of a requirement for such training plus more opportunities to actually do it, led to a change in the Navy's attitude toward attendance at the War College... Wayne A. Thornton CAPT, USN (ret) PhD Candidate Harvard University Wayne Thornton <email@example.com> -----Message from: William D. O'Neil <firstname.lastname@example.org>----- Stuart Kohn asks whether junior or senior level staff courses were important to the career progression of U.S. navy officers in the 50's through the 70's. I was a junior officer at that time but had some contact with senior officers and got to know some of them pretty well. Few of them had attended staff courses at any level, and I heard no enthusiasm about staff PME (postgraduate military education) from any of them. My own contemporaries reached high rank in the 80's and 90's. While I had long since left active duty I worked closely with a number of them and sat as an advisor in some of their councils. Again, few navy flag officers of that period had attended staff courses. There was some concern about this, which to me seemed mostly to emanate from complaints from high level civilian officials combined with pressures from the Naval War College. It was clear that attendance at the War College had been path to nowhere for most officers in the 1980s and that indeed a substantial fraction of graduates had retired either immediately on graduating or shortly thereafter. Various efforts were made in the 1990s to make the Naval War College more relevant and better for one's career prospects, but I do not have present visibility into the results. I don't have synoptic data and could be mistaken, but my impression is that these trends were most marked in the aviation community, and most especially in its carrier-based element. For the most part the community's leadership quite candidly believed that the demands of the discipline were so stringent that any time spent away from active aviation billets was injurious. There was a fairly well-marked path that, if successfully trod, led to flag rank, and it included no slack for detours to staff education. The introduction of the Goldwater-Nichols joint-duty requirements for promotion led to a lot of hand-wringing in the aviation community, in my experience. Technically oriented PME, by contrast, could be career-enhancing for more junior officers, and there was rarely any shortage of applicants for the Naval Postgraduate School. Some of the service's most successful flag officers in fact had earned Ph.D.s in technical subjects earlier in their careers, although again this was rarer among aviators. In the period between the world wars it had also been common for ambitious officers to pursue technical PME rather than lower staff courses early on, but practically all of the navy's World War II flag officers had graduated from the senior course at the Naval War College, and some had graduated from the Army War College (instead of or in addition to the NWC). I provide added information and source references in my report, Transformation and the Officer Corps: Analysis in the Historical Context of the U.S. and Japan Between the World Wars," D0012589.A1 (Alexandria, Virginia: Center for Naval Analyses, 2005), available from http://www.analysis.williamdoneil.com/mil-xformation-pacwar.html . In talking about these trends it is very important to recognize that the set of "naval officers" includes the subsets of "navy officers" and "marine officers." I did not see much difference between senior officers in the Army and Marines in PME backgrounds, although I was not as close to these communities as to the navy. I heard many speculative explanations of the reasons for the disparities in staff PME among the services. I suspect that there have been some serious studies but do not know of them. William D. O'Neil Falls Church, VA William D. O'Neil Analysis for Decision email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.analysis.williamdoneil.com/ William D. O'Neil <email@example.com> -----Message from: Larry A. Grant <firstname.lastname@example.org>----- Stuart Kohn asked: "Is attendance at these schools (war colleges) less important to the careers of Naval officers than it is for Army, Air Force and Marine officers?" I hesitate to offer a blanket assessment, but I think the answer was "yes" until Goldwater-Nichols fired the joint warning shot over the bow in 1986 and not much changed for years afterwards since senior officers were able to get waivers pretty easily to meet joint training requirements. I believe the Navy's position is captured pretty well in the response given when this question came up during routine officer detailer visits. Individuals concerned about how to schedule these courses while following their necessary professional advancement pathways were invariably given the same answer: "Don't worry about it. If you're going to be promoted to a grade that requires the course, we will ensure you get it." For some, tours of duty at these institutions are often seen as little more than an opportunity for a pleasant shore tour where you can recharge, learn a skill transferrable to a civilian job, and get to know your family again before getting back to the real business of your profession. Obviously, this is not true in every case--there must be a few dedicated and focused junior officers out there who intelligently pursue the path to Admiral of the Fleet from day one. I wish I had met one of them. The point is that the Navy's position has been (and I believe still is) that the single most important criterion for promotion is and always will be "sustained superior performance at sea." My experience suggests that this statement is accurate to this extent: if you fail at sea, your performance in the war college course won't save you, even for a joint job. Larry A. Grant Naval historian, j.g. CDR USN (ret.) Larry A. Grant <email@example.com> -----Message from: firstname.lastname@example.org----- > In a message dated 1/18/2010 9:00:40 AM Central Standard > Time, david.silbey@ALVERNIA.EDU writes: > > From: Stuart Kohn <email@example.com> Date: Monday, January > 18, 2010 9:44:13 AM Subject: Navy Command and Staff level > education > > I recently read three autobiographies of naval aviators who > served as field, staff, and flag grade officers in the 50's, > 60's and 70's: RAdm Paul Gillcrist's FEET WET, Adm James > Holloway's AIRCRAFT CARRIERS AT WAR, and VAdm Donald Engen's > WINGS AND WARRIORS. I found it a bit striking that none of > these officers went to the "junior" C&S level course at the > Naval War College, the Armed Forces Staff College, or the > Army or Air Forces equivalent command and staff level > courses. Holloway and Engen, both attended senior War > College courses (at the National War College and the Navy > War College, respectively ;) and Gillcrist appears to have > risen to RAdm without ever having gone to a staff course or > war college at all. Is attendance at these schools less > important to the careers of Naval officers than it is for > Army, Air Force and Marine officers? > > Stu Kohn I'm going off of my memory here, but I think that only around 10% of flag level officers have attended a war college. (I don't have the time right now to check this statistic. If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me ;-). Further, in recent years this may have changed). In my experience as a naval officer, a war college degree was on the order of "nice to have" for promotion, but by no means required. Rather, the USN has historically taken the stance that time "with the fleet" was more important for promotion purposes. Regards, Steven Lohr firstname.lastname@example.org ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----