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Reading is fundamental

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- A good friend of mine once advised me to "never turn down a free education." We are very blessed that in the Air Force, we have bountiful opportunities to follow that advice. 

Between all of the training, professional military education and tuition assistance, you can spend an entire career just opening up doors and exploring new avenues. However, you may not have the time or inclination to follow a structured environment. In this article I will provide another course to consider by recommending some free resources available to stretch your thinking and broaden your horizons beyond the fences of Whiteman.

So, now you may ask, "Why should I take the time to read on, and what good is this information to me?" All I can offer is the countless times when a broader perspective on a variety of issues has helped me make wiser decisions on the job and in my life. You may be surprised how a fresh perspective and additional insight opens up your consideration of additional aspects of an issue. I know that no one has time to consistently review all of the below offerings, they are intended as a buffet to choose from. The choice is yours; I hope you find them beneficial.

If you want to learn more about current events in our military profession, I encourage you to visit Air University's DoD and Military Electronic Journals website at www.au.af.mil/au/aul/periodicals/dodelecj

From that site you can access Air Force Magazine, Air & Space Power Journal, Airman, National Guard and Strategic Studies Quarterly to gain depth on USAF issues. Visit Armed Forces Journal, Joint Forces Quarterly, Parameters, Proceedings or Marine Corps Gazette to expand your aperture on joint and sister service issues.

If I could only read one source on global current events, it would be the British weekly The Economist at www.economist.com. For an American perspective on international affairs, our national government and business; consult the leading national papers at www.washingtonpost.com, www.nytimes.com, www.washingtontimes.com and online.wsj.com/home-page

More in-depth analysis is offered by professional journals from our nation's leading think tanks. Two top-notch choices are the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs at www.foreignaffairs.com and the Center for Strategic and International Studies' The Washington Quarterly at www.twq.com. There are numerous other high quality journals covering specific areas of interest in a more concentrated manner. One example I like is the Middle East Review of International Affairs at www.meriajournal.com.

If the above formulates an interest in country study and foreign languages, the base library can help you with checking out Rosetta Stone offerings or getting an online account to study at your leisure. Either option can be extremely beneficial for an overseas move or deployment.

One final selection you should not pass up is a review of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare at ocw.mit.edu. MIT has put a broad cross section of more than 1900 courses taught at its campus online for self-study. This is a great way to find what interests you and refine your selection for advanced education.

This short compilation of available offerings is just the beginning of the free education available to anyone with a desire to pursue a particular agenda. I hope you find it useful as a "jumping off point" in pursuit of whatever interests you. Best of luck in your educational endeavors!