Editor's Page

Paul Merzlak, Editor-in-Chief

The April 2009 issue featured our first focus on military education and training. This month we return to that subject with an expanded, more in-depth package of articles. At first glance readers might think they've opened a copy of Parameters when they see all of the Army bylines. But don't be fooled: the subjects these authors are tackling affect all of the services. Retired Army Major General Robert H. Scales, a leading authority on professional military education, cautions that we might be following the path of the British Army in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a force that, the general explains, was "too busy to learn" and paid for it in blood under German guns in 1914. Today, our armed forces, like the British a century ago, value active service over academic achievement. Finding the right balance between operational experience and intellectual pursuits has long been a challenge for the military, one made even more complicated by the demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While all the services wrestle with how much schooling their officers should receive and when in their careers it should occur, the Navy seems to have the most trouble with this issue. Naval War College professor Milan Vego writes openly what many naval officers have told me privately over the years: the Navy discourages those on the fast track to flag rank from attending the war colleges. This is not in any way to denigrate those who are sent to Newport, but Dr. Vego firmly believes that all those on the path to flag officer should be required to attend the Naval War College to, as he says, "enhance mental agility, creativity, and innovative thinking."

 


We welcome back an old friend in this issue. Retired Commander George Capen, a past frequent contributor to Proceedings , straps on his strategy cap with another retired naval officer, Commander Bryan Clark, to read the tea leaves in advance of the upcoming and much-anticipated Quadrennial Defense Review. Capen and Clark lay out a wish list of issues they think the document should address against a tight budgetary backdrop and in light of other global concerns. The picture they paint should make a provocative springboard for discussions slated for the 2-4 February 2010 Naval Institute- and AFCEA-sponsored West conference in San Diego. The theme this year: "Smart Power: Does the QDR Get It Right?"


 

Those who have been with USNI a long time are no doubt aware of the many changes that have taken place at both the Institute and with Proceedings over the past few years. One you may or may not have noticed is that we sometimes feature articles written by members of our Editorial Board. We encourage our Board members to be active advisers and reach out to prospective authors, but also to write for us when they have something important to say, especially if they are eminently qualified to say it. When they do, however, they do so as private citizens, the same as anyone else contributing to the open forum. The views espoused in their articles do not represent those of the magazine or the Naval Institute, and there should be no confusion in that regard. In fact, let me remind one and all that the Naval Institute and Proceedings have no editorial position save to foster debate and discussion on all matters of interest to the Sea Services and the greater national defense community.

 

Paul Merzlak, Editor-in-Chief

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