Command of units larger than a platoon and company requires field grade rank, which is major, lt-col. col, and requires starting with major completing master degree and higher programs at one or more of Army War College, National Defense University, Army Command and Staff College, or the equivalent in Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force. This is true of all junior officers (lt, capt) regardless of whether they graduated Rotc, a government service academy, OCS. In Rotc and at a service academy, you must have a civilian major also. West Point btw is a liberal arts college; OCS requires a college degree on applying.
It's also common for a field grade officer to obtain a master degree from a regular civilian college or university in a field such as national security and strategic studies, international relations, national and global security studies, and the like.
If a colonel wants to be on a possible eligibility track to general officer promotion s/he for sure needs a degree from one or more of the institutions in the paragraph above, or from one of the other services such as Naval War College even though you are in the Army. The Rotc grad Col. James Mattis to name but one earned a master degree in international security and strategy studies from the NDU Institute of International Security Studies -- without such a degree Mattis would not have been eligible for general officer rank/grade.
It's also the case that in each branch of service a potential general officer can be identified for watching or developing early on. This can begin at the officer's rank of captain (O-3). By the time you're colonel and have responded successfully to all the right duty assignments, academic programs, field or functional commands, you know (as do others). In Rotc, a given cadet will know by the middle of his second year that he or another cadet will be it come the beginning of Year IV, i.e., battalion commander of all cadets. In high school jrotc it was going to be me or one of two other cadets. One became my btn executive officer, cadet ltc, the other became S-3 Ops and Training Officer on staff. Indeed, because S-3 ops&trng encompasses everything, it made him senior cadet major on the four member btn staff. However, he didn't like that at all, feeling he should have been number one instead of myself, much less number three which is what S-3 staff officer is ex officio: btn cmdr, btn xo, S-3.
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- The military's career development models are quite similar to those in the corporate world, differing, it seems from discussions with my NROTC son, in that the military is somewhat more rigid about the "boxes" one must tick, particularly early in one's career, to pursue a given path.
[*]There's a "roadmap;" follow it and one is quite likely to end up at the "C-level." Don't, and one, more likely than not, won't. A nice feature of pursuing the military, rather than civilian path, is that the paths are slightly more clearly defined at the junior to middle levels. Of course, at the top (EVP and higher; generals/admirals), there are no "instructions," just broad guidelines and knowing what one wants to do and doesn't want to do.
[*]At the end of the day, success comes down to being a high performer who consistently meets and exceeds expectations.
[*]Though there is only one "number one," only one "number two," and so on, so long as one is performing at and consistently obtaining top levels, be it #1 or #6 or even #50 or #100, one's going to do just fine because one's being compared overall against literally tens of thousands of others.
[*]Military officers (the high performing ones) aren't, IMO, paid nearly enough, given the nature and extent of professional responsibilities and expectations they obtain at, compared to the corporate world, very early stages in their careers. To wit, in my field, management consulting, we start them at ~$80K, but no recent undergrad is going to be given management/leadership responsibilities for at least five years, and six or seven is typical. In contrast a second lieutenant (2nd LT)will earn ~$60K, lead a platoon, which may consist of ~15- ~50 people. The benefits are roughly comparable -- no (or very low) food, utility, housing and health insurance costs; excellent paid continuing education opportunities, etc. -- yet high performing (top 8% of one's peer group) 2nd LTs (my former firm hires only high performing undergrads) will nonetheless be ~$20K behind in terms of personal wealth development, and that gap does nothing but expand as the years go by.
What role does deception play in military science?