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School is Cool

In an intelligence or information-driven conflict, the one with the most info doesn't win; the one who can make the most sense out of that info in the shortest time possible does. This is why having a highly educated intelligence workforce is a key element of success. Sadly, in the IC the schoolhouse paradigm still reigns supreme, as does the attitude that advanced or specialized education is only for a very select few (and then often wasted because it is not adequately employed once obtained). Courtesy of our friends at OPFOR, we find out that at the pointy end they get it.

Getting beyond the technical-military domain, what - aside from very modest logistical and nominal cost issues - prevents analysts who support military missions from joining the roster of those who take the various Service war college programs via correspondence (like many military officers do)? Why not leverage the buying power of the government and make Rosetta Stone licenses more readily available to those who can't make it to DLI? Why not convert core NDIC and Kent School content into OpenCourseWare content?

The sooner we stop treating education like a prize and not a necessity, the better off we will be.

3 Comments

Why not leverage the buying power of the government and make Rosetta Stone licenses more readily available to those who can’t make it to DLI? Why not convert core NDIC and Kent School content into OpenCourseWare content?

The sooner we stop treating education like a prize and not a necessity, the better off we will be.

Cannot agree more, Michael. I have long (quietly) pondered a structured educational component (meaning online coursework) to ThreatsWatch and CTA. Where, for instance, is one to go (with any structure beyond an info-wild-goose chase) when one wants to learn about Hamas as an organization, or al-Qaeda, or the role of economics in warfare?

My thinking transcends "analysts who support military missions" and includes the general public, the pool from which good analysts rise.

Learning such efficiently and effectively requires the guidance of structure and process. Google is great for spot items, but is an incredibly haphazard avenue for the inspired and motivated private citizens among us with initiative who are self-motivated, driven and capable but simply requiring a bit of experienced guidance and structure.

When you expand the horizon of the topic from the military analyst to the general public, then the issues dramatically widen. Not only are you dealing with the continuing education of existing analysts, but also the need to address the training of new analysts, as well as the question of the "information sharing environment" (data fusion, data warehouse, data brokerage) that crosses multiple jurisdictions. And then, there is the more global issue of the U.S.'s loss of leadership in S.T.E.M., especially in math and science. A combination of factors is leading to a real decline in U.S. competitiveness.

A strict learning format often becomes a means to an end. My advice would be to send (some) of those in training to interact normaly in the countries of their interest, not as tourists or on 'missions', but to live for a while, day to day, at the deep end. It is only experience and knowledge obtained on the ground that can give rise to any real intuitive understanding and feeling as to what a given situation holds,or who a given people are. Books and distance learning are aimed at making people clever, but are no replacement for direct knowledge. That presuming the intelligence comunity is in need of, and open to, fresh perceptions. There are maybe a billion Muslims and a billion Christians and so far no one has appeared who is able to be accepted to bridge and coordinate the interaction of the two meaningfully on a social or political level, that is not clever.