When I arrived at Ft. Benjamin Harrison to enter DINFOS–the Defense Information School–I didn’t know what to expect. Just a few weeks past Army basic training, I was just happy to be in a place where there were no screaming drill instructors, no marching, running, or weapons training. Realizing that it was a genuine academic institution was icing on the cake.
The difference between DINFOS and an ordinary college curriculum was that students worked as much as 12 hours a day, six days a week, and occasionally on Sundays. The six-month course therefore included more lecture and writing assignments than four-year journalism students received at the state’s most renowned university.
My fellow students included members of the four major services as well as the US Coast Guard and a few Defense Department civilians. Along with standard journalism, the course provided an insider’s understanding of the military, as well as discussions on US strategies in international affairs. Many of us, including me, had worked on newspapers or radio stations before entering the military. Yet we all learned a great deal and sharpened our skills, as we experienced the military’s “immersion journalism training.”
We graduated with confidence that we were capable military journalists who needed no hand-holding. And we worked within the DINFOS slogan, “Maximum Disclosure, Minimum Delay.” Although my DINFOS days were many years ago, I still count some of the lessons learned there as the best skills training I ever received…far more valuable than regular college courses or grad school that I later attended.