Profession of Arms

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An Army White Paper:
The Army Profession of Arms, Its Culture, and Ethic

The overall objective of the Army Profession of Arms campaign is for Soldiers and leaders to refine their understanding of what it means to be professionals--expert members of the Profession of Arms--after nine years of war and to recommit to a culture of service and the responsibilities and behaviors of our profession as articulated in the Army Ethic. GEN Martin E. Dempsey, CG, TRADOC

The preeminent military task, and what separates [the military profession] from all other occupations, is that soldiers are routinely prepared to kill…in addition to killing and preparing to kill, the soldier has two other principal duties…some soldiers die and, when they are not dying, they must be preparing to die.

James H. Toner, True Faith and Allegiance: The Burden of Military Ethics

Section 1 – The Army’s Dual Organizational Character

The start point for our dialogue must be the purpose of the U.S. Army as established in Federal Statute, Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 3062 (a):

“It is the intent of Congress to provide an Army that is capable, in conjunction with the other armed services, of: 1.Preserving the peace and security, and providing for the defense, of the United States, the Territories, Commonwealths, and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States; 2.Supporting the national policies;

3.Implementing the national objectives; and
4.Overcoming any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.”

The Army has thus been an established institution of our federal and state governments for some 235 years now. But the legal establishment of, indeed purpose for, the U.S. Army does not answer the question we seek to pursue in this dialogue. The purpose of this dialogue is to discover what changes and adaptations Army leaders should pursue after nine years of war to enhance future professional capabilities.

In fact, the Army is a producing organization—producing “the human expertise, embodied in leaders and their units, of effective land combat.” As a producing institution, the Army and each of its subordinate units and organizations could be organized, as are armies in other societies, under one or a hybrid of three ideal models—business, occupational bureaucracy, or profession.

In the first model, businesses generally operate within the interactions of competing markets with economic profit and productive efficiency serving as the motivating forces. However, the Army is most certainly not a business. The Army was established by the founding fathers to accomplish its operational missions as now stated in Title 10. The Army can therefore structure and motivate itself as either (or a hybrid of) a governmental occupation or a vocational profession. For a large portion of the Army’s history, the Army was a government occupation structured as a hierarchical bureaucracy. Even before it was created in 1803, the colonial militias of “well-armed citizenry” were under the close hierarchical supervision of the colonial legislatures. Subsequently, and without shedding its nature as a hierarchical bureaucracy, it is generally accepted that the Army Officer Corps was professionalized during the late nineteenth century under the influences of Sherman, Upton, and Mahan as the educational system was deepened with staff schools at Forts Benning and Leavenworth and, just after the turn of the century, the creation of an Army War College. At that time, education was the primary means of professionalization for any aspiring vocation, education to create leaders capable of developing the expert knowledge and effective practice needed for professional status.

Describing this organizational shift and with focus only on officers, Huntington observed that: “…officership is a public bureaucratized profession. The legal right to practice the profession is limited to members of a...
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