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Archive for August, 2007

New Focus

[ 0 ] August 1, 2007 |

John Noonan of Op-For, a graduate of VMI, has an interesting article in the Weekly Standard proposing that the math and science heavy curriculum at the service academies should shift to one more friendly to the social sciences:

An Army platoon leader would be better equipped to administer to tribes in Anbar province if he had a degree in International Affairs and a minor in Arabic. A Marine infantry Lieutenant might be more effective unifying warlords in Afghanistan if he spent his four years at Annapolis studying the history of central Asia. U.S. Special Forces have been deployed to over 180 different countries since 9/11, and, to be sure, the military offers them the education needed to meet that goal. But in all that training an academy cadet will only get as much foreign study as he can squeeze into his schedule between orbital mechanics and advanced calculus.

FM 3-24 (the counter-insurgency manual) is a remarkably sophisticated social science document, and I think that John is quite right to suggest that, however well the science and engineering curriculum may have worked in the past, emphasizing the social science option now makes sense. Of course, the service academies do offer majors in the social sciences and even arts and letters, but the curricula still very heavily favor math and science. Given, however, that we can expect future wars to resemble tightly knotted social science problems more than engineering problems, however, it seems reasonable to review the balance.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

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