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Estonia, meanwhile, has just introduced a doctoral programme at its defence college. “While there’s not sufficient evidence to my mind that top military leaders with PhDs make better decisions, it’s clear that additional education adds another layer of knowledge about the environment in which today’s armed forces have to fight,” explained General Riho Terras, commander of the Estonian Defence Forces.

For officers to be seconded to higher studies at outstanding academic institutions is a pioneering initiative by the Americans. So is the willingness of top institutions to host the officers. Many academics view the armed forces with a mix of arrogance and disdain. During the Vietnam War the US armed forces’ Reserve Officer Training Corps, which trains university students, was harassed and sometimes hounded off college campuses. Indeed, on many campuses the military remains unloved. But now some of the military’s best officers are on campus, not just as undergrads but as full-fledged doctoral students.

People around the world admire the efforts of McMaster and Mattis to prevent their civilian boss from shooting from the hip. Donald Trump won’t be the last civilian leader to nurture wild ideas about how a recalcitrant country should be treated. While European leaders usually take more moderate stands than Trump, as Jukneviciene suggests they too would be well-served by officers intimately familiar with not just, say, the operational requirements of multi-theatre warfare in Syria, but also the geopolitical history of the Levant. Clausewitz would, to be sure, have provided wise input on the matter. Soon, so may several US Marine Corps and US Army officers.
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