21 April 2012
Preparing Them For Slaughter
Legions of law school graduates (including Nando) have complained that their schooling didn't prepare them for the realities of practicing law. Graduates of other professional programs--including engineering, teaching and accounting-- have made similar complaints.
To be fair, no school can anticipate every situation a graduate will face in his or her profession. But there are some practical skills every practitioner of any given profession needs, and situations every one of them will encounter. Any school or program that claims to prepare its graduates for that profession should include them as part of the curriculum, whether in clinics or by making work experience one of the "laboratories" for learning.
At least, when lawyers and accountants make mistakes because of their lack of practical knowledge and experience, they rarely if ever cause life-and-death situations. The same, however, cannot be said for military officers in combat.
According to one widely-repeated statistic, two weeks was the average life expectancy of a second lieutenant who'd just graduated from a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program into the Vietnam War. Some claimed the lifespan was more likely to be days, or even minutes, rather than weeks. Those who wanted to give the new officers and their ROTC programs the benefit of the doubt gave those young commanders as much as six months. Whatever the number, a lot of second lieutenants didn't make it home from the jungles and rice paddies.
Typically, an ROTC student takes a "leadership" class every week and goes on training exercises for one weekend each semester. He or she also spends a month in a version of basic training between the junior and senior year. This is nowhere near the amount of combat training an enlistee or a cadet in one of the armed services academies (West Point, Annapolis, Air Force) receives. Plus, even if an ROTC student foregoes the partying and other social aspects of college life, he or she won't experience much on campus that will serve him or her in the battlefield.