The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2012

28 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 The Army as a Profession The Army consciously works to develop its future leaders through training, experience and a formal- ized, structured program of profes- sional education, a process that takes years. It follows this approach be- cause it cannot hire professionals away from the competition. Nor is it possible to acquire the expert knowledge and experience to lead Americans in combat without actually spending time in the Army. Advanced degrees or senior civilian experi- ence are beneficial, but do not by themselves qualify in- dividuals for leadership responsibilities. State, too, must develop leaders from within who have the right mix of experience and professional edu- cation to successfully handle leadership roles and re- sponsibilities in the organization. As the Army discovered, this requires a continuing program of train- ing and education across an entire career. Disjointed, standalone, one-week courses on leadership at unpre- dictable times in an FSO’s career barely begin to meet that requirement. The Army trains and educates more than half a mil- lion individuals per year in an insti- tutionalized, regular, course-based process. Known as Professional Military Education, this process is an investment in preparing soldiers for success at their next level of re- sponsibility. It also confers an ap- preciation for the responsibilities they will face following subsequent promotions. Schools and courses at the beginning of soldiers’ careers generally focus on training , to prepare them for cer- tainty . As their time in service increases, their courses are weighted more toward education , to prepare them for uncertainty . PME must be delivered at the right time to realize the greatest value. The benefits are not recoverable if courses are attended out of sequence, provided too late in a soldier’s career or skipped. For example, an officer needs to attend the Captains Career Course before com- manding a company, not afterward. Once shaped by the command experience, an officer cannot go back and apply what he should have learned from the earlier ed- ucational experience. The Basic Officer Leader Course starts an officer on F OCUS By comparison, the State Department’s method for developing professional diplomats is episodic and ad hoc. Army Officer Professional Training and Education Timeline Years in Service Rank Army School Course Length Attendees 0 Second Lieutenant Basic Officer 18½ weeks All officers Leader Course 3 Captain Captains Career 24 weeks All officers Course 10-12 Major Intermediate Level 1 academic year All officers Education – Command and General Staff College 11-13 Major School of Advanced 1 academic year Board selection Military Studies 100 officers per year 15 Lieutenant Colonel School for Command 5-7 weeks Officers selected for battalion Preparation and higher command About 480 per year 20 Colonel War College and 1 academic year Board selection Fellowships About 370 per year This example of an Army officer’s professional development timeline during a typical career shows a recurring pattern of institu- tional training/education followed by assignment to the operational force.