Small Wars Journal

How to Think, Not What to Think at Leavenworth

Inside the Pentagon's Fawzia Sheikh reports (subscription required) that Ft. Leavenworth's new commanding general, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, wants to revamp how Army officers are educated.

Caldwell has decided to focus on developing leaders, increasing the interagency representation of certain officer courses offered by the Command and General Staff School and crafting strategic communications.

How to think, not what to think...

"I watched our leaders in Iraq," he told Inside the Pentagon in an interview this week. "What I saw was, those who were the most successful . . . were those who were very adaptive and creative. Those became the two critical elements that I continually saw."

Consequently, he believes the Army's professors, instructors and doctrinal writers must not "tell or teach our young officers here about what to think. What I want you to do is teach them how to think."

Part of this strategy is to broaden officers' experiences, he added. He said one way is to allow officers to spend a year working at a government agency or a think tank. The Army could also encourage more of them to work for a year on Capitol Hill for a congressional member or a committee to better understand the political process, he said...

All elements of national power...

On the interagency front, Ft. Leavenworth's chief said he aims to boost the interagency representation in the command and general staff officers courses offered by the Command and General Staff School. This is part of the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth's Combined Arms Center.

Only four of 799 students in one current class have experience working in other government agencies -- two from the State Department, one from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and one from the Defense Intelligence Agency, he told ITP. His hope is to host students from the FBI, CIA, Commerce Department and Treasury Department, to name a few.

Strategic communications...

The third priority is to mold Army officers into strategic communicators, he said. This means teaching them the U.S. Army has a great story to tell that they must relate, Caldwell continued. He said he left Iraq with his "four B's" -- be honest, be open, be relevant and be ready.

Effectively communicating with the media in Iraq was a hard lesson for Caldwell, whose media training consisted of "a three-hour block sitting down with somebody from Ketchum [Public Relations]," he said...


Discuss at Small Wars Council


Ken White

Sat, 04/05/2008 - 10:27pm

To avoid ambiguous ambiguity, how to think entails reading four articles on a topic from four competing sources, deciding which facets of each article are corroborated by at least two other articles and <b>then making up your own mind as to the probable correct position</b> (can't generally get much more accurate that that)to take on that topic.

What to think entails reading two articles on the topic from sources amenable to your general view of things and agreeing with them.

Simplistic but essentially the point is in the bold text above.


Sat, 04/05/2008 - 6:51pm

I am ambivalent to the idea of teaching people how to think as much as what to think. What is the difference between what and how? Seems like "how" also implies the knowable as much as "what." Who can explain the difference to me? Ambiguous.