The United States has not scored victories in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Could the missing element in those fights be the lack of competition which would have motivated an American military force to succeed?

Is it time to create “charter armies”, “charter air forces,” and “charter navies”? Similar to the reasoning for charter schools, wouldn’t competition get better results than a monopoly?

President Trump believes that greater competition among schools will improve education. His pledge is to spend $20 billion in federal funds, creating charter schools and paying for tuition at private schools.

Charter schools are public schools that are freed from many rules affecting regular schools. Parents must choose to send their children to those schools instead of regular public schools. Private schools (both religious and non-religious) operate independently of the government, and again parents choose those institutions for their children.

State and federal funding enables charter schools and private schools to draw students from regular public schools. Research shows that charter and private schools are not generally better than regular public schools, but they are popular with parents who like the choice of school for their children.

If competition is good for education, why shouldn’t it be good for our armed forces? The American military now has a monopoly on defending the country and waging our wars. Public education used to have a monopoly before privatization appeared. A monopolistic military has not always been successful, similar to the record of the public schools. So, why not bring the same improvement to the military as Trump proposes for education?

Let’s take a possible example of how this could work. In Afghanistan, the Pentagon would set aside half of the billions of dollars now designated for the regular armed services. Contracts would be awarded for “charter armies” to compete with the regular American forces fighting in that country.

Companies and organizations would be chosen by the Pentagon. All sorts of American corporations would be interested, and perhaps other countries, such as Russia which had some recent experiences in Afghanistan.

Few regulations would limit the use of public funds for this task, since creativity is needed to bring about more success than resulting from the current monopoly. Charter schools were conceived as laboratories to bring creative approaches to education, which would then change regular public schools. This has rarely occurred, but it might with the military.

The other element that could be taken from the school sector is that the Afghan people should have a say in which corporations are chosen since they will be the most affected by the battles being waged in their areas. Just as parental choice makes charter schools popular, this involvement of the local people will win wide support.

With the Afghan people’s advice, the Pentagon would choose the “charter armies” to fight in competition with the regular armed services. The contracts would be for several years, and then the results of the battles fought by the contracted companies would be evaluated. Were the “charter armies” more successful than the regular armed services in conquering territory with the fewest deaths?

Few charter schools are shut down if they show low student test scores, as was originally promised. But, presumably the Pentagon would want a higher standard. If the “charter armies” are successful, then they should receive more of the regular forces’ funds; and if not, contract with others.

Another element that might be considered for the military is to peg salaries in the charters and in the regular military to the degree of success. An extension of this idea would be to link performance of the charters to the salaries of the Pentagon generals and others choosing the contractors. A similar education reform would tie teachers’ salaries to student test scores.

This new concept for the military based on breaking up the current monopoly should succeed since it brings the virtues of competition to national defense. President Trump’s support for more competition in education would be extended to include the military. As a proponent of the free market, he will undoubtedly jump — or tweet — to endorse this idea once it is brought to him. He might even say that he thought of it first.

Since the Congress is controlled by Republicans who take competition as an article of political faith, there should be little opposition to applying that concept to the military. To speed up the process, one congressional bill should be used to create “charter armies, navies, and air forces,” as well as “charter schools.”

A competition should be announced that the congressional committees promising to move the legislation the fastest would have that honor. President Trump could judge that competition based on his experiences as a judge in various TV programs.

Wouldn’t citizens regain faith in their government since competition would produce both the best schools and the most successful military in the world?

I must admit that the kernel of these ideas was not mine; rather, a third grade math teacher from Ohio gave me the idea. I am sure that the military will want to thank him for his advice, similar to the thanks that educators express for advice from people who have never taught.

This blog written by Jack Jennings first appeared in the Huffington Post on January 17, 2017.