Lieutenant Alexander Smith's December 2012 Nobody Asked Me, But column “Don’t Say Goodbye to Intellectual Diversity,” detailing the impact of the tiered academic system on incoming naval officers, appropriately generated a fair amount of debate. Most of the opinions came down on one side or the other, insisting that the Navy show a preference for either humanities majors or those majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). But this is a false choice.
Ultimately, most arguments about officers’ college majors focus on two opposite points in their careers: on one hand, success as strategic thinkers and policy makers upon becoming flag officers; on the other, success during the training pipeline and initial tours as brand-new junior officers. Based on historical and personal observation, the choice of college major hasn’t made much of a difference at either point for naval officers.