Leadership: August 29, 2002

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While U.S. Navy officers like to comment on the differences between the Atlantic and Pacific fleets (the west coast sailors are more laid back, the east coast crowd is more hard assed), all of these officers do share one unique characteristic. They don't get as much professional education as their peers in the Army or Air Force. Because they spend so much time at sea, they have much less opportunity to attend professional schools that air force and army officers consider essential for promotion. In the last 30 years, only one CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) was a war college graduate. This lack of professional education has not had any noticeable impact on the effectiveness of the U.S. Navy, which basically rules the world's oceans. Some naval officers insist that staying away from the professional schools actually helps, as naval officers don't get infected by a lot of the trendy (and eventually useless) crap that the schools like to impart. But this education gap does add to the long standing feeling of apartness felt by naval officers. The other services are forever complaining about the navy's tendency to go it alone. This, however, is an ancient tradition. It's only in the last century that ships got radio. Before that, naval commanders got their orders from their government, and then went off in their ships to carry them out as they saw fit. There was no communication with the folks back home until the ships returned. That mentality still influences navy thinking.

 


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