Military Education and an Emerging Transnational Profession of Arms

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
David LAST, Royal Military College of Canada, Canada
David LAST, Royal Military College of Canada, Canada
Have changing patterns of professional military education (PME) helped military forces to evolve from a competitive tool of states towards a transnational asset to pursue common security? The answer is maybe. Noise from the biggest states obscures important developments in the global middle class of states. This paper reports historically widening and deepening PME, and a growth of university-like higher-PME institutions worldwide since the end of the Cold War. The nation-state has been the locus of this development and is the unit of analysis for our data, but many states are committed to collaboration, and their higher institutions for PME are increasingly committed to critical thinking and professional standards. Epistemic communities and networks of learning amongst smaller states are often not dominated by big powers, although regional powers and alliances play an important role in the generation and diffusion of knowledge. The security discourse amongst small states is generally more collaborative than that emanating from major powers. There are global patterns of officer education, particularly at mid-career level. PME curricula fall into two broad categories: subjects for sharing; and national secrets. Peace support operations, civil military cooperation, and disaster assistance are examples of the former, while war-fighting, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism include the latter, even when some materials are shared. Institutional patterns in entry level and mid-career military education suggest that there are internationally accepted standards of professionalism to which NATO has contributed, but that these standards are not dominated or promulgated by any one centre, and have been widely adopted or sought outside NATO. If PME is helping military forces focus on tasks other than war fighting, this has both advantages and disadvantages for states, regional security complexes, and global society.