The recent suggestion by Kansas University professor Felix Moos that a handful of universities create ROTC-like programs to train students for possible careers as national security and intelligence officers makes a great deal of sense.
Moos has close ties to those in the U.S. intelligence community, and he has been a frequent lecturer at various war colleges for our armed forces. He is highly regarded by many in Washington and by senior military officials. Retired Adm. Stansfield Turner, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, thinks highly of Moos and is supportive of his plan.
Moos says, "I think Sept. 11 was a failure in our intelligence. We don't have enough people who follow all the leads we receive. We have a superb record of acquiring information, but somebody has to make sense of it all."
The KU anthropology professor proposes a program that would recruit students interested in foreign service and intelligence work and give them special training through ROTC programs. Those in the program would be required to study at least two foreign languages and cultures in addition to courses that deal with bioterrorism and other threats.
Moos is quick to say he is not thinking of setting up a training school for future James Bonds, but rather that he is convinced this country needs far more bright men and women who have a knowledge and interest in world affairs far more than there are today.
"We have assumed for far too long," Moos says, "that the rest of the world is like us, and we are finding out that is not true. If we can have 18- and 19-year-olds taking college courses and becoming conversant in the world, we can only be better off for it."
Ideally, Moos would like to have such a program tested with about 100 students, trained at approximately 50 ROTC programs across the country with KU as one of the test schools. KU, by the way, is one of a relatively few universities where three branches of the U.S. military are represented in ROTC programs.
There are sure to be some who will find fault with Moos' plan because they don't want to see any facet of the military on a university campus. Some may try to suggest this would be setting up a school for spies and that they don't want their college known as "Spook University."
There may be other arguments, but most people would agree this country needs more bright men and women serving in our intelligence, foreign service and security programs. If a program like Moos envisions were to become a reality, it is likely there would be far more applicants than openings.
Moos noted his plan would be far less militaristic than current ROTC programs, but even so, there are sure to be those who will oppose his idea.
Moos is in Washington at this time and will be visiting with various senators and other officials about his proposal. It is hoped he will receive strong and enthusiastic support. Before his trip to Washington, Moos sent outlines of the project to Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback and to Arizona Sen. John McCain. He also told former Oklahoma Sen. David Boren, now president of the University of Oklahoma, about the plan. Boren was instrumental in intelligence areas when he was in Washington, serving as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. This committee established the National Security Education Program and the Boren scholarships.
It would be good in many ways if KU could be one of the universities that tests Moos' program.
Last fall, when student enrollment totals were announced for Kansas Board of Regents universities, this writer expressed concern about KU not matching the percentage growth figures of Kansas State University and the other state-aided universities. KSU officials had been quick to tout their enrollment gains.
Several years ago, the regents instituted a qualified admissions policy for Kansas high school graduates. The policy includes an exception category that allows a school to waive the admissions requirement for up to 10 percent of the incoming freshman class.
It is interesting to learn that KSU used the exemption to waive the admissions standards for 316 students in the fall 2001 semester while KU used the waiver for 28 students.
There are all kinds of ways to increase enrollment totals.