The Best Defense

A few moments with the Articles of Confederation: The officering of the Army

I was looking up something the other day and noticed that the book in hand contained the Articles of Confederation, the notorious failure that preceded the U.S. Constitution.

I'd never read it, and the Red Sox game was heading south fast, so I sat down and looked at it. First, yes, it has a reputation of being dull, and it is well-earned. It is rather plodding and procedural.

But a couple of things made me stop and think. One thing that struck me about it is that it makes a clear distinction between control of the Army and of the Navy. The federal government is assigned to appoint all naval officers but only some of those of the land force. That is, the states get to pick "regimental officers." That's a pretty big exception, if regiments are the basic unit of your combat land force. This seems to me to give the states a lot of power, a vestige of which we see in the continuing power of the states to appoint the leaders of their National Guard forces.  

Famously, Article 11 of the AoC also expressly invites Canada to join the United States. Still hasn't accepted the offer.

Civil War buffs also should note that the Articles state twice that "the Union should be perpetual." The second time is the last sentence in the document. Too bad that sentence wasn't retained when the drafters of the Constitution set out to create a more perfect Union.

The Best Defense

No, I don’t hate professional military education -- I hate lax, low-quality PME

My copy of Strategic Studies Quarterly arrived recently on the bay steamboat George C. Marshall.  When I opened it on the dock, the nearby seals and I were surprised to find at the end a review of my book The Generals, which came out a couple of years ago.

The review was laudatory of the book, which is fine by me. But I mention it here because the writer, in an aside, alludes to my alleged "penchant for PME bashing." So, let me state for the record that I think PME is essential, especially in peacetime. We need more of it, not less, in order to produce the adaptive officers we will need in the future to operate in ambiguous situations on the edge of war, where our adversaries are likely to play. What I am happy to bash is lazy, low-grade, no-major-left-behind PME. That's just a waste of officers' time and taxpayers' money.

If anyone cares, here's what I think needs to happen with PME.

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