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Army War College Opens A Probe Into Sen. Walsh's Alleged Plagiarism


Yesterday we reported on charges of plagiarism against a U.S. senator. Democrat John Walsh of Montana is accused of using others' words without attribution in a research paper. He wrote it at the U.S. Army War College back in 2007, when he was an Army Colonel. Now a faculty review panel there is investigating. The Army War College has educate some of the military's best known officers, Pershing, Eisenhower and Patton. NPR's Tom Bowman tells us more.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: The Army War College grew out of the mistakes of war. The Spanish American war in 1898. Soldiers arrived in the island of Cuba with rifles but no supplies. The war plans seemed to change every day. So, three years later, a school was created to train officers on managing a war. By the 1990s the college evolved into a school of strategy. A graduate level look at a more complex world. Only one in five offices get selected to attend.

ROBERT SCALES: The Army war College is essentially the Army's school for generals.

BOWMAN: That's retired Major General Robert Scales, he ran the War College for three years beginning in 1997 and said the requirements to graduate include a research paper.

SCALES: Eisenhower's paper was on mobilization, preparing the nation for very large-scale warfare.

BOWMAN: Eisenhower was first in his class in 1928.

SCALES: 15 years later he's doing it.

BOWMAN: Then there was a Green Beret officer who wrote a paper in the years before 9/11, warning about an obscure terror group.

SCALES: And we need to start paying attention to al-Qaeda, even though it seems like just a band of rebels.

BOWMAN: Plagiarized papers are rare. Scales recalls two students getting kicked out for stealing someone else's work. Another offender had already graduated and had his degree revoked. Scales found that officer's name on a metal plaque.

SCALES: I literally chiseled his name off the roster of graduates.

BOWMAN: Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Bowman
Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.