This originally aired on Wednesday, August 8, 2007 on MSNBC Live.
Jack Jacobs is an MSNBC military analyst. He is a retired U.S. Army colonel. He earned the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism on the battlefields of Vietnam and also has three Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars.
“Transcript of the MSNBC Interview”
The U.S. Army is now investigating whether thousands of soldiers cheated on exams that are designed to help them get promotions. Multiple websites reportedly provide the answers to test questions and those sites are still up and running despite the investigation.
Retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs is an MSNBC military analyst.
Alright Colonel, the kicker here is the Army reportedly knew about this problem six years ago. So, why is it still happening?
Well, I think they probably suspected that they were going to have trouble. Anytime you enter into the computer world and you start accessing information you have objective examinations whose information can be moved from computer to computer. You’re going to have that kind of problem. And the U.S. Army is not the only institution with that difficulty. Universities around the globe have the same problem, both with regular course work and with entrance examinations. Anytime you have any standardized test and you’re using any kind of electronic means to take the exam and score it you’re going to have the problem that the Army is having and it doesn’t matter that it’s taken six years to figure out that they’ve got a difficulty. They got to fix it right now.
Yeah, and you know, here’s the thing, the first thing I thought of when I heard about this. How would I feel if my brother or my nephew was at war and I thought that he was being led by somebody who got to that position not because they’re smart and they’re well trained, but because they are at the heart of them, a cheater.
Well, that’s precisely the problem. There are u’; there are about three different components to the decision to promote somebody. One is past performance, the evaluation by your supervisor. One is a field test, to demonstrate your capability to do the next higher level job, in your military occupational specialty. And one is this kind of test. But you’re absolutely right, we have to have thee best people we possibly can to lead our young troops, because most of them are going to be in combat. We don’t want to mess around with stuff like this.
So, how deep could this go? And, I mean, how much could it hurt the force?
But, I think, if it’s true that we have people who are not qualified to lead who are currently leading. Then we’ve got the problem right now. But, I think the Army knows it has a problem we’ll fair it out the difficulty. The hard part now is fixing it. How are you going to make sure the tests that your troops are taking are going to be bona fide, evaluations objectively of what their capabilities are? This is not hard work, you can do it. But, you got to set your mind to doing it.
Yeah, and I guess the other thing is that, in, no one feels that our troops make enough money.
I mean you put yourself in harms way whether you’re, you know a firefighter or you’re fighting in Iraq.
You can’t pay people enough money to do this kind of stuff.
But the thought that you’re paying somebody who’s getting that money in a way that’s crooked is a little bit upsetting. Especially for people who are doing it the straight and narrow.
I think the military is going to sort it out, because they have to sort it out. The military itself does not want anything but the best leading the best of their, their troops. They will find a way to do; there is a way to do it. You just have to set your mind to making sure that the way of taking the test, the information that’s going on the test and coming out is answers is inviolate. It just takes some effort to do so.
OK, thanks Colonel.
For more on the Army cheating investigation you can check out Colonel Jacobs latest column on our website. That is MSNBC.com