FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - On Jan. 9, the temperature was barely above zero and the wind chill was well below that at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Despite that, approximately 40 students of the Military History Instructor Course learned what it was like to shoot weapons dating back to the 1500s.
The U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command requires MHIC for Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadre and other agencies that teach military history to cadets, officer candidates and student officers. The course is two-weeks long and includes classroom discussions, tours of two military history museums, a staff ride of a Civil War battlefield and a day firing historic weapons.
"I believe it [the MHIC] to be an absolute essential for ROTC cadre," said Capt. John Terminato, an assistant professor of military science with Louisiana State University. "It's also an opportunity for people to define the link between our profession and our history."
MHIC brings together a diverse group of people. In addition to currently serving Army officers, civilian academic leaders attend MHIC for a variety of reasons. Dr. Christopher Simer is a lecturer in history and political science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Simer has never served in the military but is designing the course on military history for UW-RF. His attendance at MHIC gave him a unique look at military history and will help in developing future classes at his university.
"It has been really very useful, informative and enjoyable. It's been stimulating to work with military professionals," said Simer.
Simer will be able to apply what he learned at Fort Leavenworth to his own classroom in Wisconsin, and it will inform his effort to design future military history courses.
"This experience lends a real tangibleness to historical discussions. Now I can describe more effectively these things that are hard to visualize," he added.
MHIC is offered at Fort Leavenworth twice a year. It is taught by civilian and active-duty military historians, who are also qualified to serve as unit historians, serve as members of a Military History Detachment and advise commanders on military history considerations in the mission planning process. Many of the instructors are faculty members of the Department of Military History at the Army's Command and General Staff College.
"The key to the success of MHIC is the superb working relationship between the Department of Military History and the Army Press. With the variety of instructors teaching, the course is engaging and conducive to intellectual sharing," said Gary Linhart, the Military History Instruction Support team chief.
The staff and cadre of the Army Press lead MHIC; one of the three directorates of the newly-formed Army University. The Army University is working to dramatically improve the educational experience and opportunities for every soldier and civilian who works for the Department of the Army. This course, and other programs like it, ensures that military education is to the highest standard and recognized by civilian academic institutions. One of the primary objectives of the Army University is to develop world-class faculty members at all education centers throughout the Army. MHIC is part of that effort. Students who complete MHIC receive a transcript from the Command and General Staff College with three graduate-level credit hours, which are accredited with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The historic weapon range was a highlight for most of the MHIC students. Students had the opportunity to live-fire weapons that are replicas of weapons used from the 1500s through the World War I.
"The historic weapons range was a terrific hands-on approach to physically seeing the evolution in technology through the years," said Terminato.
Students fired replica weapons ranging from a matchlock musket to an M1903 Springfield bolt-action rifle. The weapons are part of the collections from the Frontier Army Museum at Fort Leavenworth. The significance of the experience was not lost on historically-minded MHIC students.
"It's like holding history in your hands," said Simer after the shoot.
For more information, visit the MHIC website at: http://usacac.army.mil/organizations/cace/csi/mhic