WASHINGTON -- A two-year study has concluded that despite the diminished threats to U.S. forces since the Cold War ended, the military must upgrade education and training, from college ROTC programs to the national war colleges where senior officers hone their skills.
"Our military education system needs to be reformed and enriched, not reduced or abolished," said former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, who led a 26-member panel convened by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a public policy institute.
Besides serving as training grounds for leaders, the military's schools and programs are "laboratories" for applying shifts in technology and strategy, according to the report by a panel of retired officers, government officials, business leaders and academics.
The panel was created in response to rapid changes in world affairs that included the end of the Cold War, military downsizing and a series of scandals such as those at the Naval Academy.
The 64-page report recommended that all military education programs follow the lead of the service academies and provide intensified ethics training.
Also, the report suggested, the Pentagon should offer more instruction in peacekeeping operations, because current warriors are not fully equipped for them.
The panel likened today's relatively peaceful period to that of the 1920s and 1930s.
But back then, the panel said, the military invested heavily in education, helping to produce Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, George C. Marshall and others who led the Allies in World War II.
The opposite trend seems evident today.
The Defense Department spent $15.6 billion on training and related costs in 1991, a figure that fell to $13.7 billion this year, said Susan Hansen, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The Naval Academy, which had a student body of 4,500 in the past decade, is under a mandate to limit the brigade to 4,000 midshipmen.
Adam Yarmolinsky, a University of Maryland public policy professor and a former government official who served on the panel, said that while he favored cutting the defense budget overall, he supports increased spending for military education.
With a smaller and more flexible force, Yarmolinsky explained, officers are expected to make quick and nimble decisions in the field.
A military education that teaches critical decision-making skills, he said, has become more important than ever.
The report recommended that the in-depth ethics training that exists at the service academies be expanded to other education programs -- from college ROTC programs to national war colleges.
The report suggested that all schools and programs make more effort to build bridges linking all services, given that they are increasingly fighting as one force.
The report also recommended that each midshipman and cadet spend a semester at another service academy.
The Naval Academy now sends only eight midshipmen to the other two service academies, said Glenn Gottchalk, who heads the academy's Office of Institutional Research and served on the panel.
The Army and Air Force academies also have small-scale exchange programs.
Sending all midshipmen on such tours would be a "logistics problem," Gottchalk said. "We need to take a hard look as to how that is or is not feasible."
At the same time, the report's call for more officer training in conflict resolution and languages to deal with new world missions troubled at least one former military officer on the panel.
William P. Snyder, a West Point graduate who served as a battalion commander in Vietnam, said he was "uneasy" about how such training would cut into military operations instruction, which he termed "the core of each service's competence."
Pub Date: 7/08/97