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Thread: ROTC Cadets paid to learn languages

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default ROTC Cadets paid to learn languages

    I wish this would have been an option 10 years ago...I needed any excuse for more beer money.

    ROTC Recruits Paid To Command New Languages

    By Aamer Madhani, USA Today

    Desperate for officers who speak Arabic, Mandarin and other foreign languages, the U.S. Army is doling out monthly stipends to entice ROTC cadets in college to learn languages spoken in hot spots around the globe.

    ROTC is offering $100 to $250 per month to recruits in the officer-training program who are willing to learn the languages spoken in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions vital to national security.

    The Army launched the program because too few troops speak the local language overseas, an issue that has surfaced during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "They will be better off as young platoon leaders if they have some language proficiency and understanding of the culture," said Maj. Windle Causey of the U.S. Army Cadet Command.

    The bonus program began in the fall semester with 89 cadets willing to learn any of 10 critical languages and is sparking more interest. The incentive comes on top of partial scholarships to full tuition given to ROTC cadets.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/militar...anguages_N.htm
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    This is an idea that is long overdue.

    What do you folks think about offering incentives for certain majors/minors? Or perhaps going so far as to restrict ROTC cadets to certain majors? I'm thinking that a degree in anthropology, sociology, criminology, or marketing might prove more useful than degrees in transgender studies, british literature, or art appreciation.

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Offer incentives

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    This is an idea that is long overdue.

    What do you folks think about offering incentives for certain majors/minors? Or perhaps going so far as to restrict ROTC cadets to certain majors? I'm thinking that a degree in anthropology, sociology, criminology, or marketing might prove more useful than degrees in transgender studies, british literature, or art appreciation.
    Like anything, incentives are the key. I do think some degrees are more applicable to military officership than others...however, I know some great officers with degrees that one could consider B.S.

    I was the quintessential young college student that changed majors three times and settled on Journalism. Not because I wanted to be a journalist, but because it had the fewest credit hours to graduate. I didn't mind all the writing and I loathed test taking. So it worked out. But had the Army offered me an incentive ($$$, branch of choice, post of choice) or even suggested a major, I would have probably reconsidered.

    What I would like to see is Cadet Command using their brain and branching some individuals according to their majors and branch selection. Why should a Cadet with a Civil Engineering degree that wants to be an Engineer Officer be denied? Granted, it's a competetive branch, but the Civil Engineering major might do more good for the Army than say, an Art History major that gets branched Engineer. Would require the accessions process to be more labor intensive, though.

    I've been impressed with the some of the progress ROTC has made in many areas the past few years. The language incentive is great. Like Schmed, I would have like to seen it happen long ago.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Default Agree that incentive "pay" for foeign language

    for ROTC cadets is an idea whose time is past due. That said, I generally have a problem with the assumption that an undergraduate major is - or should be - a training program for anything (other than critical thinking). One example of short sigthedness is Schmed's comment about British literature. Some of the most insightful writing on cross cultural and transcultural interactions is found in English lit: for example, Kipling's poetry and prose (Kim, for instance), or E. M. Forester's A Passage to India, or Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, among others. For those who think a Classics major is not relevant, I suggest reading Nataniel Fick's One Bullet Away and note his subsequent position at the Center for a New American Security.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    In addition to money, folks who take foreign languages, especially when not as a foreign language major, need to be bumped up on the OML.

    Nothing like a 4 credit class that sucks up 2/3ds of your study time to disincentivize learning a language, when you see the guys atop the OML with their "basketweaving" degree and 4.0 GPA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    This is an idea that is long overdue.

    What do you folks think about offering incentives for certain majors/minors? Or perhaps going so far as to restrict ROTC cadets to certain majors? I'm thinking that a degree in anthropology, sociology, criminology, or marketing might prove more useful than degrees in transgender studies, british literature, or art appreciation.
    The Air Force has been using its scholarship system for some time to more or less prioritize specific majors. It's a system that tends to undervalue some areas, and can be slow to shift in times of need. That said, it has been very successful at recruiting engineers.

    The foreign language incentive idea is good, but it's only going to apply to those schools big enough to fund programs in some of the exotic languages that come onto the list. I've seen the one for the AF, and the majority of them are not really available outside of a narrow group of schools...some of which may not be receptive to any ROTC program.

    It's very difficult to stereotype majors as useful or not useful because there really are no standards of instruction for them. A history major from one school will most likely stand head and shoulders above a history major from another school based on the quality of faculty involved. And at times the smaller schools actually have better faculty, so school size (or name) isn't always an indicator. One of the joys of academia.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    For those who think a Classics major is not relevant, I suggest reading Nataniel Fick's One Bullet Away and note his subsequent position at the Center for a New American Security.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    In no way do I believe that there isn't merit to any fine arts degree. I think, like most academic programs, you get out of it what you put in. Some of the most brilliant folks I know chose to pursue unusual, unpopular or unorthodox fine arts degrees. The ability to learn and think critically has less to do with field of study and more to do with the individual's willingness and desire.

    My primary concern would be the failure of the Army to assign appropriate branch choices to those who have valuable technological and scientific degrees that could benefit the army.

    Like Schmed pointed out, the Army has to start looking at what degree programs would be most useful for an officer in an Army that has become more focused on COIN. Criminology? Anthropology? History? I don't have the answers. I would offer that as an 18 year old Freshman/MSI cadet, I had no idea what I wanted to major in and spent 2 years switching majors and knocking out GEN ED requirements. Had my ROTC leadership provided me some guidance or a recommended a major, I probably would have heeded the advice. Maybe I would be a better officer for it. Maybe not. It would have saved me a lot of trouble and an extra semester of summer school, though.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    The Air Force has been using its scholarship system for some time to more or less prioritize specific majors. It's a system that tends to undervalue some areas, and can be slow to shift in times of need. That said, it has been very successful at recruiting engineers.
    That's very true. My wife is an example. She was accepted to a prestigious engineering school and in exchange for a full-ride from the Air Force, the service picked her degree and career field. It worked out really well for her.

    However, I don't think it's appropriate to run the entire system this way - you need generalists and you need people from a variety of educational backgrounds.

    Language incentives for ROTC are a good thing, IMO, though these will only be effective if there continue to be incentives once in the service - IOW, more pay and promotion opportunities if the language ability is maintained and increased. And one other thing to consider - recruit more dedicated linguists and allow them to spend more of their careers outside of the intelligence community.

    Which brings up the problem of retention....

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    Default In the "For what it's worth" department

    the School of International & Area Studies (SIAS) of the University of Oklahoma (where I teach) has language programs in both Arabic and Chinese as well as quite a bit of scholarship money and ROTC programs from all services. It also has a large number of very good study abroad programs and opportunities - China and Japan, among others, come to mind.

    If you happen to know any good prospective students from wherever, tell them to look us up as we are, IMO, one of the best kept secrets of American academia. (so much for the blatant commercial message)

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Hey - I was an English Writing/Editing major, and I had to fight the ROTC dept for giving bumps on the OML to guys in engineering and hard sciences. Just because I didn't go for a hard science degree didn't mean I couldn't have. I got into MIT as a chemistry major, but didn't want to do it.
    If English was that easy, then why were all my peers getting mid-grade C's on all their papers? It was because they didn't care enough about their writing to pay attention to it.

    Now let me ask you this? How do guys in the Army get promoted, counseled, rewarded, etc? Oh yeah, in writing... What you write about someone, and how you say it, matters.

    So if you want to bang on the non-technical degrees, go right ahead. But how often are your doing civil engineering calculations in your head (especially as an infantryman)? And how often are you putting pen to paper to get some result of your actions?

    I think language credit for cadets is a great idea. I think restricting the list of majors for ROTC cadets on scholarship even has some merit. But if some guy wants to pay his own way through school and get a psych degree, and take ROTC classes while doing so? Hands off, people.
    Brant
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    Default Military writing

    Having gotten back on track to get my degree after many years of no formaling schooling has been a challenge. My biggest obstacle is in writing papers after years of military writing. All the writing classes in the world prior to joining the military would not have done me a bit of good. The military has it's own writing format and style, check out:

    http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r25_50.pdf

    and

    http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_67.pdf

    That doesn't even begin to cover NCOER, OER, and counseling. Which counseling should be bullets only anyways, if writing paragraphs when counseling then maybe someone needs some counseling sessions on counseling. My personal favorite counseling manual:

    http://www.sflistteamhouse.com/humor...2/FM22-102.htm

    I am guilty of getting a bit irrate when it comes to counseling, too many leaders do not know how to do it properly nor do they care to learn.
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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
    So if you want to bang on the non-technical degrees, go right ahead. But how often are your doing civil engineering calculations in your head (especially as an infantryman)? And how often are you putting pen to paper to get some result of your actions?
    I certainly wasn't. I have a J-school degree myself.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    I generally have a problem with the assumption that an undergraduate major is - or should be - a training program for anything (other than critical thinking).
    Agreed. I majored in biology. That qualifies me to explain glucolysis on a sheet of paper to anyone who cares to listen (probably nobody). I think the undergraduate education should be, first, a liberal education that lays the foundation for the professional officer. But since undergrads generally choose to major in something - and many of us put very little thought into it - we might want to identify certain majors/minors that we value more than others.

    One example of short sigthedness is Schmed's comment about British literature. Some of the most insightful writing on cross cultural and transcultural interactions is found in English lit...
    Yeah, I knew someone was going to sharpshoot me for the British literature thing. I was hesitant to suggest that any major is of no use, so I didn't. ...might prove more useful...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Language incentives for ROTC are a good thing, IMO, though these will only be effective if there continue to be incentives once in the service - IOW, more pay and promotion opportunities if the language ability is maintained and increased. And one other thing to consider - recruit more dedicated linguists and allow them to spend more of their careers outside of the intelligence community.

    Which brings up the problem of retention....
    On both counts, dead on the money as always.
    Only DIA truly pushed her officers and NCOs with language retention benefits, but upon leaving the intel system we were inevitably faced with the real Army and our abilities similarly overcome by events.

    Hmmm, retention you say
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    Default Point taken, Schmedlap

    But I still think that English Lit (although not the way the Harvard English Dept faculty is proposing to change their major uh concentration - there is an article on this in the Harvard Crimson). We are in general agreement. I also agree with the notion of offering some financial incentive for majors currently deemed useful, just not forcing cadets and midshipmen into cookie cutter majors. On the other hand, perhaps "Underwater Basketweaving" is not really useful to anybody.... - or maybe the SEALS can use it...

    Merry Christmas to all

    JohnT

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    One of the finest intel officers I knew had a divinity degree from Harvard. He was not only very bright, but unencumbered by bias instilled by the international relations and political science establishment which most in my career field seem to come from. A diverse background seemingly unrelated to one's work is something I think is both good and necessary even though the benefits are not always apparent. Any subject or major can teach an inclined individual to analyze and think - and in most cases, learning to think through problems is much more valuable than some set of acquired knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    One of the finest intel officers I knew had a divinity degree from Harvard. He was not only very bright, but unencumbered by bias instilled by the international relations and political science establishment which most in my career field seem to come from. A diverse background seemingly unrelated to one's work is something I think is both good and necessary even though the benefits are not always apparent.
    When I spent a sabbatical working at Political and Security Policy Planning at the (Canadian) Department of Foreign Affairs, my boss--himself a fellow political science PhD too--used to say that the problem with political science students was that you had to spend two years having them unlearn what they had been taught.

    Its an exaggeration, of course—I think a lot of what we teach is rather useful—but there is nonetheless a continuing failure of academic political science to address the practical art of political and policy processes. Equally, while a good number of my students have gone on to be (intel) analysts, their poli sci GPAs are only loosely correlated with how well they function in their current positions (in large part because neither empathy nor common sense are things that we grade for!).
    Last edited by Rex Brynen; 12-24-2008 at 11:49 PM.

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    Rex,

    All good points and I should have pointed out that much of my educational background is political science and international relations!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Rex,

    All good points and I should have pointed out that much of my educational background is political science and international relations!
    I guessed as much!

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    Default As an undergrad IR (interdisciplinary)

    major and an apprentice (ABD) card carrying political scientist (with a large dose of cutural anthropology) I was assigned to the Pentagon as a current intel analyst (1LT). My education and training were very useful in my first real job. Since that time, however, political science has decided that its version of science must emulate physics and has gone overly quantitative and into something called "formal modeling" of things that have less than much utility in the real world. Research methods courses focus on statistics - particularly linear regression - but they tend not to teach the student anything about collecting data. The idea that drinking beer out of a single glass filled from a liter bottle and passing the glass after chugging it is a critical data collection skill in the Peruvian highlands is totally foreign (read drinking tea in Arab/Muslim cultures). Needless to say that back in the 1960s when I was a grad student, most political scientists did not think along those lines regarding the conduct of research but they did think in analogous terms of in depth interviews, surveys, etc. There was a recognition that sociel science had an element of art and that there was more than one way to skin a cat. Indeed, political science at Indiana U from 1964 - 1971 was an extraordinarily eclectic discipline with a definite applied (policy - making and executing - bent). All of that was excellent preparation for a career in intelligence, the military, or the foreign service as well as academia. Sadly, the narrow focus of many PHD programs has devolved on many undergrad majors. That said, (and I concur with those who have made this comment in different ways) the best undergraduate preparation for a military or naval officer is a solid Liberal Arts bachelor's degree that demands critical thought and a major that the student is deeply interested in. One of my most interesting Dartmouth classmates was a pre-med who was majoring in International Relations (interdisciplinary degree) - he became a highly successful MD.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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