It was a philanthropist who armed John Abizaid.
When Abizaid graduated from West Point in 1973, there was little or no opportunity for cadets to go abroad and study foreign societies or languages. As he entered the Army, Abizaid spoke no Arabic and knew very little about the Muslim world, but his great grandfather was Lebanese, and he had a feeling the Middle East was going to be a region of consequence during his lifetime. In 1978, the promising young officer got a chance to act on his hunch. Abizaid was offered an Olmsted Scholarship.
This is a fascinating article about private philanthropic support to the academies and ROTC programs. I knew some officers applied for, and received, Rhodes Scholarships, but most of these other programs are news to me.
In general, I’m highly supportive of the emphasis the Army places on the education of its officer corps. I’m less thrilled about the influx of private money into the athletic programs, with the potential for abuses that face every college program. But giving officers the tools to operate in complex cultural environments around the world is a good thing.