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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding History of Army's Command and General Staff School, April 6, 2011
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This review is from: America's School for War: Fort Leavenworth, Officer Education, and Victory in World War II (Modern War Studies (Hardcover)) (Hardcover)
LtCol (ret) Pete Shifferle, Ph.D., has produced an outstanding history of the Army's Command and General Staff School. His work focuses on the post-WWI through WWII period of the staff school (later the US Army Command and General Staff College). I like the author's methodology. He follows the development of the educational process for our WWII leadership and the problems encountered by the Army in its attempt to design the "just right" answer to educating under a variety of changing situations. While many who are familiar with the history of the staff school know about the two-year course implemented between the wars, Schifferle explains the reasons for the return to the one-year course due to the arrival of the WWI "hump" --- the mass of officers commissioned in 1917-1918. The Army's leaders and the school faculty faced some of the same problems as WWII broke that we face today. The massive problem of how to adequately staff an expanding Army with educated officers caused the Army to go from a two year course to a 90 day course with significant educational trade-offs. Schifferle does a superlative job of analyzing what this meant to units in the field by translating the numbers of Leavenworth graduates to unit positions in the field. What Schifferle finds is that Leavenworth could not keep pace with the demands of a hugely expanding Army without an attendant loss of graduates' quality and the requisite numbers to fill all key staff and command positions. These problems are being experienced by the Army today that finds all majors attending the course, many only taking the four months of core instruction at campuses located at Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee, Fort Gordon, and Redstone Arsenal. The war-time footing and requirement to fill numerous positions with Leavenworth educated officers has also resulted in the dissolution of selection for attendance. Until three years ago, selection for Leavenworth attendance was seen as a quality-cut, much as it was prior to WWII. However, exigencies of constant rotations of units to active theaters is causing problems such as the Army experienced in WWII. What is different however, is that the faculty, unlike that of WWII, is relatively stable since 70% is now largely composed of retired officers. Unlike the turmoil of 1944 where instructional staff was only assigned for an average of 13 months, many retired instructors remain for several years. Quality of instruction is enhanced since instructors have time to become subject-matter-experts. Since the staff college is instructing problem solving for larger units and not small unit techniques and procedures, field currency is not as important although it is desirable. The 30% active duty faculty fills this gap. Shifferle has added to the body of knowledge of military art and science with his commendable effort. I highly recommend his book for professional officers of all ranks.
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