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Okay, you asked for it...
I'm typing notes as I watch:
Different dress uniforms, of course, but the patch is the same. I assume that there won't be a "Carlisle Barracks Honor Guard" at graduation this June, and the wives and children won't be quite as well-dressed. We currently have somewhere around 375 in the class (with around 70 of them international students) vice 200 all-US in 1957. Probably a lot less from West Point now. Still an emphasis on career management and well-rounded officers, which is where I have fallen out, as "all tactical jobs" is not considered well-rounded. Still a lot of transfers to new jobs (I'm getting ready to do my 14th this summer). Like the captains here on 7 DEC 41, I was a captain on 9/11. Still the top half of the officers still go to CGSC, and still about ten percent selection for war college. Still starts in August. Still go through the same front roads (with a different gate house). The Hessian Guardhouse is still there, and it looks like the same sign out front, but there are different displays inside, and the kids can't pick up weapons. Thorpe Hall and the post cemetery are still there and look the same, as does LeTort Creek with stone sides laid in. The large stone building that they call Root Hall is now Upton Hall, which is the home of the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, and the war college has moved across the street to a new Root Hall (named for Elihu Root). We started the year with a reception and the class is indeed full of joint service and interagency students. We don't attend class in Class B uniforms but occasionally with the usual uniform being civilian coat and tie or camouflage on Fridays. They say that the areas of focus are National Strategy and Doctrine and Readiness. We currently have a course of instruction that includes: Intro to Strategic Studies, Theory of War and Strategy, Strategic Leadership, National Strategy and Policy, Theater Strategy and Campaigning, Defense Management, a Regional Study, and electives. Unlike how they depict mostly lecture-hall stuff with some work in the "committees" almost all of our class work is discussion-based at the "seminar" level, consisting of 16 students with four faculty, and supplemented by lectures. (A seminar includes 1 USAF, 1 USN/USMC, 1 SOF, 2-3 International, and 1 Interagency with the balance being army.) Our students don't sound nearly as wooden when they talk.... The multinational discussion, as well as discussion based on the elements of national power (Diplomacy, Information, Military and Economics) sounds familiar, as does cracking on the Marine Corps. I haven't seen anybody smoking a pipe in class, yet. There is still a requirement to produce a strategic research paper (minimum 5000 words) that is guided by a faculty adviser. There are still long hours of work, after class, and it is still hard on the families as they mention. The school year still ends with a National Security Seminar that brings in a variety of civilian national security professionals, politicians, media, industry, etc. The swimming pool is probably the same one, but I've only made it there twice, once was mandatory. Yes, you still think about class work, even when you are out of class and sit at the stupid desk in your office, reading stuff for class until after midnight and the wife brings something to eat or drink sometimes. Most students don't have to brief their strategic research papers to the class, but I will have to because of my topic. At graduation, I won't just get a certificate of completion, but also we get a master's degree in strategic studies. It is indeed a year of reflection and study and a pretty good year of education. Not depicted in this movie was the sense of apathy and disgruntlement that settles in amongst the students around JAN-FEB and continues until graduation.
Bottom line: This film was made sixty years ago, but I totally recognize the basic war college experience; I even drive a convertible. The biggest differences are that my daughters are not here, and I won't go on to be a general! Neat film.


My father was class of 57 at West Point. He met my mother when his father attended the Army War College in Carlisle where my mother's family lived. Luckily, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI which was an altogether better place to live than Carlisle.

SFC Dunlap 173RVN

I watched "The Big Picture" fairly religiously when it was on every Saturdy morning. Good series.


"The Big Picture"--definitely "Must See TV".

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