LAWRENCE — The commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth visited the University of Kansas last week and met with senior leaders and faculty to discuss future educational partnerships between both institutions.
Lt. Gen. Robert Brown and his deputy, Brig. Gen. Chris Hughes, met with Provost Jeff Vitter and deans of the schools and college Thursday for a roundtable discussion, followed by a review of work being done by KU researchers. The main focus of the discussions centered on the Army’s recent efforts to consolidate its 86 separate training schools nationwide into an “Army University.”
Fort Leavenworth, already identified as the “intellectual center of the Army,” will further increase its strategic importance, which could strengthen ties between KU and Leavenworth. KU already offers specialized onsite programs for Army officers in areas of interagency cooperation, supply chain management and foreign languages, as well as a leadership development program for senior-level officers on campus.
“During the last fourteen years of persistent conflict, the operational requirements of the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan were paramount at the expense of education,” said Mike Denning, director of KU’s Graduate Military Programs. “Army University is an initiative to rebalance education with training and operational experience.”
In the roundtable, participants specifically discussed ways that KU can help the Army train and educate its personnel as it winds down its operations in Afghanistan and possibly downsizes to a much smaller force. Flexible programs with a distance learning component that make it easier for Army officers to more easily obtain graduate degrees and find jobs after they leave the Army were emphasized. The Army is particularly interested in leveraging KU’s expertise in language and culture training as the Army becomes more regionally aligned.
“We want officers who are broadened in the way they think,” Brown said.
Brown added that as the Army’s training transitions to an Army University concept, there will be great potential for partnerships with universities that can adjust to the unique training needs of its personnel.
“We’re at a time of real change in the Army,” Brown said. “Education is increasing for us, and we’re trying to align with universities who can do that.”