The Best Defense

Ah, memories of the Air War College

Space expert Joan Johnson-Freese, now of the Naval War College (which does a good job on strategy) recalls her five years of labor down at the minimum security Air War College, which despite my best efforts apparently remains open. Note she doesn't hurl the infantile word "silly," as might a lesser mind.

Three instructions in the required "teacher training," for example, explained the AWC pedagogy. First, never use red ink grading student papers: direct criticism of military professionals would be insulting. Second, never cold call a student: not knowing the answer would be demeaning. Third, faculty were classroom "moderators," not teachers. The classroom was for sharing student views, so faculty should speak minimally. This last instruction often resulted in 90-minute sessions where students mostly reinforced each other's views and exchanged dead-wrong information, but this was equated to "education." Though never encouraged to publish at the AWC, I was encouraged to play golf in the afternoon student-faculty team-building tournaments. And while there were dedicated and productive faculty and exceptional students, they excelled mostly through personal initiative rather than institutional support.

(HT to TN)


The Best Defense

Rebecca's War Dog of the Week: Life for a British military dog in Afghanistan

By Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
Rebecca Frankel

As President Obama made his announcement this week about the troop drawdown this week, allied forces in Afghanistan are on the topic table again. European allies responded positively to the president's announcement. U.K. prime minister David Cameron, who announced his own plan for British troop withdrawals in May, was quick to applaud Obama, adding

We will keep UK force levels in Afghanistan under constant review. I have already said there will be no UK troops in combat roles in Afghanistan by 2015 and, where conditions on the ground allow, it is right that we bring troops home sooner."

Britain has approximately 10,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan -- the second highest number after the United States. Working alongside Cornish soldiers on the frontlines out of Camp Bastion -- Britain's largest military base in the country -- are a troop of 70 military dogs. So what's life like for a British military dog in Afghanistan? Actually, not too shabby.

The accomodations for these war dogs (as seen in this BBC video) are extensive. Each dog has his or her own kennel quarters -- a small square building with both an indoor and outdoor component. The indoor quarters are air conditioned and each kennel has its own self-sustaining power source.

While on patrol, each handler is outfitted with a special canine first aid kit. For the detection and patrol dogs in Afghanistan, heat is always the handlers' and veterinary medics' biggest concern. There's also only one pool on base -- and it's just for the dogs.

But the canines aren't the only ones happy with these arrangements:

Private Daniel Gregory, from Bodmin, helps look after the dogs at Camp Bastion [says]: 'It's the love of the dogs, working outside everyday. It's a good job, a really good job.'

In the photo above, British Army soldier Lcpl Marianne Hay from the Royal Army Veterinary Corp, crouches next to her explosives dog Leanna on Aug. 3, 2008 in Maywand District in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.  

Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images