Small Wars Journal

“Black Market” Professional Military Education

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“Black Market” Professional Military Education

Franklin C. Annis – The Cove

Recently I attended an operations course in which every instructor provided a warning that our education in planning and fighting against a near-peer advisory was lacking. As the final exercise approached, I was excited to be challenged with a training scenario of epic scale. Were we going to be challenged with planning a major invasion such as Operation Overlord or repelling a massive attack in the Fulda Gap? The answer was no. The final training exercise was a natural disaster relief mission. I found myself pondering what was more tragic, the death of 10,000 displaced individuals if the military responded poorly to a disaster relief mission or the death of millions that would be likely occur if the military failed to prepare for another “major” war. After asking the instructor about why we didn’t focus more on a large-scale combat mission, I got a vague answer about delays caused by the approval process to modify the course and building a new training scenario.

It is in moments like this, that I truly appreciate the rise of independent producers of Professional Military Education (PME). Sources like From the Green Notebook, the Army Leader (UK), The Company Leader, Medical Service Corps Leader Development, the Small Wars Journal, and literally dozens of other individual PME producers are leveraging social media to overcome the problem associated with education and credentialing in our formal schoolhouses. As our schoolhouses have shifted to mimic modern academia, there has been an increasing focus on credentialing (proving the validity and quality of the course). While this in itself isn’t a bad thing, it requires time and lots of it. As we are being sent to military schools, it isn’t that our organisations want us to spend some time in an educational environment, they want use to bring back a piece of paper (certificate/diploma) to “prove” we learned something. The focus on credentialing in our military educational institutions might be destroying the flexibility and adaptability within these organisations. With credentialing processes often taking months, if not years, it is hardly a process that speaks of “instant” innovation to keep up with the demands of the modern battlefield. The good news is that the rise of the independent producers of PME might be the solution to “fill the gap” between the credentialed “official” military training and the educational opportunities that soldiers really need…

Read more at The Cove.

About the Author(s)

Franklin C. Annis holds a Doctorate in Education (EdD) from Northcentral University. He created the “Evolving Warfighter” YouTube channel to share his research on Military Self-Development. Dr. Annis is a veteran of Operational Iraqi Freedom. He is currently works as the Ready Medical Force Management Officer at the National Guard Bureau.



Sat, 01/19/2019 - 4:26am

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When I went through Intel school in 1971, we had to pass "The Barn" which had 1:50,000 scale UTM maps of the Fulda Gap covering the large room. It was more or less a graduation exercise of everything we learned.

Ironically, most of my class went to Vietnam afterwards and we were all thankful that the USMC captain instructor and GySgt class advisor taught us some of the things that came in useful in Vietnam, too. I was especially grateful because I was assigned to I Corps when the NVA decided to conventionally invade the South during the Easter Offensive of 1972. I relied on both types of instruction, conventional and insurgency operations throughout my time there.

I wholeheartedly agree with our author above.  

When I look back at the amazing number and quality of articles I have had the privilege of seeing here on Small Wars Journal over the last 8 or so years -- and re: these articles -- the amazing number and quality of the contributions from all kinds of diverse, qualified and experienced commenters (especially in earlier years), I believe that I -- absolutely -- could not have, via any other format, been able to achieve the quality of education that I have received here.