THE SELECTION of Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster to be the next Superintendent of West Point is a remarkably astute move. The job and the man fit each other well. West Point needs to be both a good educational institution and a basic training camp for Army officers. It needs at its head someone who understands the importance of producing young officers with a broad understanding of the world as well as of military matters. Gen. Goodpaster is one of that tiny handful of senior officers who have demonstrated that understanding and have successfully combined military and academic excellence.

As the report of a special commission made clear last winter, West Point is in serious trouble. The cheating scandal, in which 152 cadets were implicated, was only the most visible symptom of its prob lems. The source of many of them, according to the commission, was a conflict over how much academic traning and how much practical military training cadets should get. As the amount of military training increased, as it had for a decade or so, the workload increased to such a point that may cadets began to look for shortcuts in meeting their academic requirements and to regard their non-military education as the less important part of their work.

To help West Point solve this problem and resolve its conflicting missions, the commission urge - among other things - that the next superintendent be picked for his educational, as well as his military, leadership and that he serve a longer term than have previous superintendents. Gen. Goodpaster meets those criteria precisely. His military record is distinguished, capped by five years as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He was recognized as an unusual scholar in the late 1940s while he was earning a doctorate at Princeton and, since his retirement in 1974, has been in academic work, first at the Woodrow Wilson Centre here and currently as a professor at the Citadel. Given his age (62) and his past career, he will not be using West Point as a stepping stone to some other military assignment.

The Army - most particularly Chief of Staff Bernard W. Rogers, who is reported to have pressed for the appointment - deserves congratulations both for being willing to carry out the commission's recommendations and in thinking of Gen. Goodpaster as the man for the job. Gen. Goodpaster deserves a vote of thanks for being willing to come out of a comfortable retirement and remove one star from his rank to take on an usually difficult assignment.