RANGER AGAINST WAR: Self-learnin' Warfighters <

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Self-learnin' Warfighters

Watch new blood on the 18 inch screen
The corpse is a new personality
Guerrilla war struggle is a new entertainment
Guerrilla war struggle is a new entertainment

lyrics, Gang of Four

Scanning through the Florida State University newsletter today and noticed a study on discovering what makes for subject matter expertise. Since I fall short of the mark, thought it'd help to look at it. To my surprise, the Learning Systems Institute's Center for Expert Performance Research will be conducting the work under a $250,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research.

The Center was "established at FSU in 2004 through congressional funds administered by the Office of Naval Research. The Navy is interested in human-performance research because of its potential to identify the cognitive mechanisms that influence skilled performance among Navy personnel." The Flash banner for the site shows an individual aiming a 9mm, with some sort of measuring device on his head.

Fair enough, but it is the intent of the study which I find interesting:

"This research will focus on the acquisition and maintenance of adaptive skills, which are crucial to modern warfighting," (team leader) Lang said. "Modern military personnel must be able to rapidly acquire and modify skilled performance to meet the demands presented by current and future wars."

"The military faces uncertainty, novelty and change at every level in the modern warfighting arena: new types of enemy, new types of deployment, uncertain roles, new types of engagement, constantly updating technologies, new types of collaboration -- all of which calls for training that enables the warfighter to be an adaptive and self-regulated learner."

I thought that training--whether in the military or elsewhere--was based on codified directives. It is nice to imagine that you will fill your ranks with individuals of superior discrimination who can turn on a dime. But it seems like rapid "acquisition and modification" of performance is an awful lot to ask of a "warfighter" who already had his hands full with the situation in front of his face.

The Wall Street Journal just finished a three-part series on education, in which it opined that the "average" learners, those of I.Q. in the 102 range, simply aren't capable of excellence in the standard public school curricula. (The whole series was so good, in that unctious, elitist sort of way that I'll provide another link here.) Your average warfighter should not be expected to be other than average (while I'm sure many are above or below, as fits the population distribution.) So it seems folly to expect such second-order thinking from someone who's there to follow the rules.

As Jim says they often remarked, "It's hard to remember you're there to drain the swamp, when you're up to your ass in alligators."

by Lisa


Blogger Claymore said...

Do you go by the handle "greenhat" on SOCNET?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 at 12:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

No, I've never been to SOCNET. I do not participate on any of the military-affiliated sites. They wouldn't have me anyway, I suppose, as my views are not Ranger brain-dead.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 at 3:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Claymore said...

Neither are mine.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 at 10:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Nor would we ever have thought such a thing of you, Claymore. Glad to have you here. Jim is away today, but I wanted to respond to you in a timely manner,

Friday, February 9, 2007 at 9:45:00 PM GMT-5  

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