I've been critical on occasion of the Army's Military Review, so I want to point out that the new issue has several provocative articles. The best, I think, is one on critical thinking by Col. Thomas Williams. He argues that Army PME "needs work." He thinks the Army needs to focus "less on knowledge and content and more on the ability to question and argue." He also calls on the Army to develop what he calls heretics -- "leaders capable of challenging convention to create imaginative solutions regardless of the operational environment." Like Roseanne Cash, Colonel Williams knows that the beginning of wisdom is not to walk into a situation thinking you know the answers, but figuring out the right questions.
I eagerly dug into another article, "Meritocracy in the Profession of Arms," and wanted to like it, but put it down disappointed. The author clearly has something on his mind -- basically, re-emphasizing competence. I am all for that. But the article seems to be kind of a rant about the "muddy boots" mindset. He uses the phrase six times in the article, but never defines it, which would be the first step in explaining why he finds it so pernicious. (And to quibble, I don't think the author was well-served by his proofreader: You'd think the Army's premier magazine could spell General Westmoreland's name correctly on page 20. Also, to be even pickier, at the bottom of page 49, the current month is given as "Janaury.")
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.