Cliff, you are exactly right.
Fact is, it takes about seven to eight years (including college) to mold an American Army officer into an infantry company commander. Fifteen to 17 years for a battalion commander. Twenty to 22 years for a brigade commander. Twenty-five years for a division commander.
And though American military officers are honing their skills over the years in real world situations, they also have many opportunities to attend the best professional military leadership schools in the world, and no one is shooting at them while they are in school or threatening the lives of their families because they are officers.
What we are accomplishing in Iraq in terms of building the new Iraqi Army from scratch is nothing short of amazing.