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Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Chief of the Defence Staff Reading List
On the day when the new Chief
of the Defence Staff (CDS) was announced as being Gen Houghton, Humphrey was
delighted to be sent a link to a newly established website called ‘Chief of the
Defence Staff Recommended Reading’.
Hosted at the Defence Academy
website, the site is a chance for current members of the Armed Forces and MOD
Civil Service to flag up particularly noteworthy books for further scrutiny.
Designed to ensure that current generations of Staff Officers are able to
remain informed of current books is extremely important, and Humphrey genuinely
hopes the website flourishes over time. There is, to the authors mind at least,
a reluctance in the UK military ethos to widely embrace the culture of academic
study. It is sometimes seen as being far too keen, or far too geeky, and the
study of military profession and current events is perhaps not taken as
seriously as it should be in some quarters. The author remember sharing a room
on an operational tour with a relatively junior US Officer who had shelves full
of very heavy academic treatise on military history, theory and developments -
he explained that even though deployed, he was studying for an MA to help him
as part of his professional advancement, and that in the US system, he stood
little realistic chance of promotion if he didn’t study hard.
While there are individual
pockets of people who do take this sort of study seriously, it is perhaps
frustrating that, in the authors experience at least, all too often there is
scepticism attached to anyone who reads ‘serious books’ and people are
reluctant to read and share their thoughts on them openly. Hopefully the
establishment of the new site provides a genuine opportunity for the defence
community to become more aware of recommended titles, and take the chance to
read them as part of their ongoing professional development.