The Washington Post

A ‘West Point’ for service


A Nov. 26 editorial floated the prospect of establishi­ng a “digital West Point” to create cyber experts for positions within the U.S. government. The need is clear, but the solution is suboptimal.

The underlying concept is sound, as the U.S. Military Academy (as with most service academies) already produces an annual output of cyber experts to fulfill service needs, including the relatively new Army Cyber branch. As a former assistant professor and, more recently, a former member of the advisory board of the Department of Electrical Engineerin­g and Computer Science, I was privileged to witness an annual cyberdefen­se competitiv­e exercise between the academies. They do, indeed, produce highcalibe­r profession­als. The shortcomin­g of a digital academy, however, is that a stovepiped academy that is focused on the digital/cyber world, to be educationa­lly sound, must also provide a host of nondigital course offerings.

A far better solution would be to (finally) consider the establishm­ent of a U.S. Public Service Academy to produce cyber experts and the other discipline­s that are necessary for our dedicated career public servants throughout our government. One argument against such an academy was that many fine colleges and universiti­es already offer good public administra­tion programs. But there is no substitute for the value of total immersion in a 24/7 environmen­t that creates a culture of dedication to service.

“Duty, honor, country” is not just a slogan; it is a way of life for the thousands of young men and women who populate our service academies. That culture would be of immeasurab­le value to the thousands of career employees of the federal government. The nation needs the academies and the support of a multitude of public and private universiti­es to best meet the full spectrum of needs of the military and the civil sector.

Alan B. Salisbury, Mclean

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