Leadership: Let Us Train Together

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July 26, 2008: Construction has begin on a new joint (used by all the services) medical training complex at Fort Sam Houston, in Texas. Here, all the services will have their medical specialists (except nurses and doctors) trained. There will be 4,000 faculty and 9,000 students using it. The facility will open in three years.

The U.S. Department of Defense established a joint medical school (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences), for training doctors and nurses, in the 1970s, and the first class graduated in 1980. Since then, about a quarter of military physicians have come from the Department of Defense medical school. This medical school was created because the end of conscription, in the early 1970s, meant the military could no longer draft young doctors. The Department of Defense medical school offered free tuition, and the pay of a second lieutenant, for the four year course. In return, the graduates are obliged to serve as a military doctor for seven years. Many, of course, make a career of military medicine.

The success of the Uniformed Services University led to the agreement to unite all other medical training. This is part of a larger trend, where the military is combining training for the many jobs they have in common. In fact, most of the jobs in the four services (army, navy, air force and marines) are very similar, or identical. That's because some 85 percent of jobs in the military are non-combat support tasks (maintenance, administrative, transportation and so on), and often identical (or nearly so) to civilian occupations. So for the last two decades, there has been a big push to combine the training for many of these common jobs. This even includes things like basic flight training for pilots.

In some cases, this "joint" training was accepted decades ago because it was too expensive for a service to set up a separate specialist school. Thus Navy SEALs and U.S. Marine Corps scouts go to the U.S. Army Jump School for parachute training. The marines also send some of their specialists to army artillery and tank schools, simply to get necessary training at an affordable cost. This trend has reached the point where there is very little resistance to proposals to establish joint schools for many skills used by all the services.

 


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