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U.S. Army White Paper: The Profession of Arms (2010)
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An Army White Paper...The Profession of Arms

click here to see the JFW blog entry on this topic

I am an expert and I am a professional
9th Stanza,  Soldiers’ Creed


Commanding General, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Approved 2 December 2010



This White Paper has been approved for distribution on 2 December 2010 by the Commanding General, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), under his authority granted by the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army in the Terms of Reference dated 27 October 2010 for TRADOC to execute the "Review of the Army Profession in an Era of Persistent Conflict."


This White Paper serves to facilitate an Army-wide dialog about our Profession of Arms. It is neither definitive nor authoritative, but a starting point with which to begin discussion. It will be refined throughout calendar year 2010 based on feedback from across our professional community. All members of the profession and those who support the profession are encouraged to engage in this dialog.


Distribution is unlimited. Yet, the material in this draft is under development. It is NOT approved for reference or citation.

Feedback and Participation:

Comments on this White Paper should be sent to the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE), Combined Arms Center, TRADOC.
To get engaged in this review of the Profession of Arms, visit the CAPE website at and click on the Campaign link. The website will also provide links to professional forums and blogs on the Battle Command Knowledge System to partricipate in this discussion.

Authorized for distribution 2 December 2010:

Martin E. Dempsey
General, U.S. Army
Commanding General

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why we Need a Campaign to Understand the Profession of
Arms and the Professional Soldier

Section 1 – The Army as a Profession of Arms
What does it mean to be a Profession?                
Refining our Understanding of the Army as a Profession of Arms    
Maintaining the Army as a Profession of Arms            
The Key Attributes of our Profession of Arms            
A Broader Framework for the Profession of Arms            
The Practice of the Army Professional                
The Balancing Role of the Profession’s Leaders            

Section 2 – The Army’s Professional Culture
Army Culture and Its Influences on the Profession            
Levels of Army Culture                        
The Functional Utility of Army Culture                

Section 3 – At the Core of Culture, the Army Ethic
The Heart of the Army: The Ethic                    
Why We Fight – Foundational Values                
How We Fight – With Values and by Ethical Principles        
Developing Character to Enable Use of Ethical Principles        
Organizational Level Influences on Ethics and Virtue        

Section 4 – The Army Ethic and External Relations
A Moral Conception of Subordination                    
Norms for Civil-Military Relations                    

Section 5 – Conclusion
Adapting the Army as Profession of Arms after a Decade of War    

The Profession of Arms
“I am an expert and a professional.” - The Soldier‘s Creed

Why do we need a campaign to understand the Profession of Arms and the Professional Soldier?

Ten years ago, references to the Second Battle of Fallujah, Sadr City, Wanat, Abu Ghraib, IEDs, the so-called “revolt of the generals,” the “lost art of garrison command,” modular brigades, combat outposts, mission command, and ARFORGEN would have been virtually meaningless to most, if not all, American Soldiers. Today, these references are instantly recognizable to us all and comprise just a few of many profoundly important influences on the U.S. Army over the past decade. In the face of so many challenges, we have demonstrated great strengths such as the determination and adaptability of our junior leaders and their dedication to service shown through numerous deployments. Yet we have also struggled in some areas to maintain the highest standards of the Profession of Arms. As we have at other times in our history, we assess that it is time to refresh and renew our understanding of our profession.

With this in mind, the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff have directed that CG TRADOC lead a review of the Army Profession. They have issued “terms of reference” in which they state that, as a profession, it‘s now “essential that we take a hard look at ourselves to ensure we understand what we have been through over the past nine years, how we have changed, and how we must adapt to succeed in an era of persistent conflict.” To do so we must answer three critical questions:

1. What does it mean for the Army to be a Profession of Arms?
2. What does it mean to be a professional Soldier?
3. After nine years of war, how are we as individual professionals and as a profession meeting these aspirations?

We don‘t know the answers to these questions yet. In 2011, we will conduct an assessment and encourage a discussion about our Profession. By the end of the year, we hope to have learned enough to clearly articulate what we believe is foundational to our Army as a profession. Undoubtedly, the Army is considered a profession today. But, we must remember that the Army is not a profession just because we say so. The military services are well respected and are highly rated in every poll of public trust -- we can be justifiably proud of how well the Army and our Soldiers are shouldering the heavy burdens they have borne over the past nine years. However, we can‘t take our approval for granted. Our client, the American people, gets to make the judgment of the extent to which we are a profession and they will do so based on the bond of trust we create with them based on the ethical, exemplary manner in which we employ our capabilities.

In adapting to the demands of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to the new strategic realities of the 21st Century, we have been so busy that we have not consistently thought through how these challenges have affected the Army as a Profession of Arms. We now need to consider how well we are self-policing ourselves both on the battlefield and in garrison, the extent of our ability to care for Soldiers and their families, and the broad development of Army professionals. We need to assess our personnel management systems to ensure they are focusing on and capitalizing on the exceptional talents of our junior professionals and broadening them for future service. We must assess our civil-military relations as we interact with and support the Nation and its elected and appointed officials. These and many other factors need to be assessed and then addressed to enable the Army to succeed in this era of persistent conflict.

The questions the Secretary and Chief asked are serious and deserve serious answers. To help frame the discussion, this paper is intended to introduce terms, concepts, and some proposed definitions. This is the beginning, not the end, of what should be a year of rigorous analysis and vigorous debate.

Section 1 – The Army as a Profession of Arms

What does it mean to be a Profession?
Professions produce uniquely expert work, not routine or repetitive work. Medicine, theology, law, and the military are “social trustee” forms of professions.1 Effectiveness, rather than pure efficiency, is the key to the work of professionals—the sick want a cure, the sinner wants absolution, the accused want exoneration, and the defenseless seek security.

Professionals require years of study and practice before they are capable of expert work. Society is utterly dependent on professionals for their health, justice, and security. Thus, a deep moral obligation rests on the profession, and its professionals, to continuously develop expertise and use that expertise only in the best interests of society—professionals are actually servants. The military profession, in particular, must provide the security which society cannot provide for itself, without which the society cannot survive, and to use its expertise according to the values held by the Nation.2

Professions earn the trust of their clients through their Ethic – which is their means of motivation and self-control. The servant ethic of professions is characterized as cedat emptor, “let the taker believe in us.”3 The U.S. Army‘s professional Ethic is built on trust with the American people, as well as with civilian leaders and junior professionals within the ranks.4 That trust must be re-earned every day through living our Ethic, which incidentally, can‘t be found now in any single document – a doctrinal omission this campaign will help change. Because of this trust, the American people grant significant autonomy to us to create our own expert knowledge and to police the application of that knowledge by individual professionals. Non-professional occupations do not enjoy similar autonomy. A self-policing Ethic is an absolute necessity, especially for the Profession of Arms, given the lethality inherent in what we do.

Lastly, other organizations motivate their workers through extrinsic factors such as salary, benefits, and promotions. Professions use inspirational, intrinsic factors like the life-long pursuit of expert knowledge, the privilege and honor of service, camaraderie, and the status of membership in an ancient, honorable, and revered occupation. This is what motivates true professionals; it‘s why a profession like ours is considered a calling—not a job.

Refining our Understanding of the Army as a Profession of Arms

“The preeminent military task, and what separates [the military profession] from all other occupations, is that soldiers are routinely prepared to 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. Toner5

Among all professions, our calling, the Profession of Arms, is unique because of the lethality of our weapons and our operations. Soldiers are tasked to do many things besides combat operations, but ultimately, as noted in the quotation above, the core purpose and reason the Army exists is to apply lethal force.6 Soldiers must be prepared to kill and die when needed in service to the Republic. The moral implications of being a professional Soldier could not be greater and compel us to be diligent in our examination of what it means to be a profession, and a professional Soldier. This is an ambitious undertaking, but a good start point for understanding our profession is the legal foundation 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 now been an established institution of our federal and state governments for some 237 years. And notice that it was established with the intention to provide an Army that is capable of producing certain security conditions enumerated in the statute. In fact, like many other organizations in America, the Army is a producing organization—producing “the human expertise, embodied in leaders and their units, of effective military power for land campaigns.”7

Before a standing federal Army was created in 1803, the colonial militias were under close supervision of the colonial legislatures.8 The Army Officer Corps was later professionalized in the late nineteenth century through professional military educational systems such as staff schools at Forts Benning and Leavenworth and the Army War College. With these reforms, bonds of trust between the Army and the American people began to grow. For many years some believed that only officers were professionals9, but in the aftermath of Vietnam while rebuilding the ―"hollow" Army, professional status was extended beyond the officer corps and was earned through professional development by warrant officers, NCOs, and many Army civilians.

The Army‘s degree of professionalism has waxed and waned over the years, sometimes displaying more the characteristics of an occupation than a profession—more professional in periods of expansion and later phases of war and more “occupational” in periods of contraction after wars, e.g. post-WWII into Korea and post-Vietnam. This trend continued even after the establishment of an all-volunteer force in 1971 and the rebuilding of the Army NCO Corps post-Vietnam. It was highly professional in Desert Shield-Desert Storm and less so through managerial practices over the next decade of force reductions, the exodus of captains, and other talent.10 A recent report suggests that today‘s operating forces after nine years of war, exhibit more the traits of a profession than the force-generating, or institutional, side of the Army.11 Learning from our history of post-conflict transitions, we must not allow these professional traits to suffer—because today we are in an era of persistent conflict. There will be no “peace dividend” or “post-conflict” opportunity to relax our guard

As the Army reflects now on what it means to be a profession in midst of persistent conflict, a central question frames the major challenges now facing the Army‘s strategic leaders: the sergeants major, colonels, and general officers. How do we create the specific conditions for, and achieve those key attributes that ensure that the Army is a profession - one in which all Army professionals recommit, in the words of CG, TRADOC, GEN Martin Dempsey, “to a culture of service and the responsibilities and behaviors of our profession as articulated in the Army Ethic”?

Maintaining the Army as a Profession of Arms
To remain a strong profession in the face of today‘s challenges, Army leaders at all levels need a solid understanding of what it takes to earn our status. We then need to reflect on how well we are meeting these requirements, what strengths of the profession have sustained the Army, and what weaknesses and friction points need to be addressed. Toward this end, we need to agree on two important definitions:

  • THE PROFESSION OF ARMS. The Army is an American Profession of Arms, a vocation comprised of experts certified in the ethical application of land combat power, serving under civilian authority, entrusted to defend the Constitution and the rights and interests of the American people.
  • THE PROFESSIONAL SOLDIER. An American Professional Soldier is an expert, a volunteer certified in the Profession of Arms, bonded with comrades in a shared identity and culture of sacrifice and service to the nation and the Constitution, who adheres to the highest ethical standards and is a steward of the future of the Army profession.

Obviously, these two definitions are inherently linked—to be a professional is to understand, embrace, and competently practice the expertise of the profession. It is clear that professional Soldiers, as defined above, must be immersed in the environment and culture of the profession of arms, particularly in their early career. Soldiers must be led and inspired by exemplary role models to become experts and to assume the identity, character, and capabilities of a member of this profession. Soldiers must always feel that their role is a calling and not just a job or they will lack the inspiration and find it difficult to meet their aspiration to be an “expert and a professional” as stated in the ninth line of the Soldier‘s Creed.

The key components of these definitions describe the specific conditions that must be created by Army leaders on the ground—in every Army unit every day to maintain the Profession of Arms. They merit careful reflection, individually and institutionally, as this campaign proceeds.

“The Army as a Profession of Arms is a unique vocation.” Professional Soldiers are “volunteers... bonded with comrades in a shared identity and culture of sacrifice and service”
Army leaders establish a professional identity and culture rather than one of government occupation. This culture sponsors altruism, selfless service to the nation, and ethos toward the Army and its mission. It sponsors continuous self-assessment, learning, and development that together enable the Army to be an adaptive, learning profession. Within that culture, members of the profession create a Soldier‘s identity with a sense of calling and ownership over the advancement of the profession and the exemplary performance of its members, and serve in a bonded unity of fellow professionals with a shared sense of calling. Army leaders establish a culture where effectiveness prevails over efficiency and place primary importance on maintaining the profession through investing in the development of its Soldiers.

The profession is “comprised of experts.” “An American professional Soldier is an the Army Profession of Arms” Foremost, the Army must be capable of fighting and winning the nation‘s wars. Thus, the Army creates its own expert knowledge, both theoretical and practical, for the conduct of full spectrum operations inclusive of offense, defense, and stability or civil support operations. The Army develops Soldiers and leaders throughout careers of service to aspire to be experts and use their lethal expertise, both as individuals and as units, with the highest standards of character, for the defense of the Constitution, the American people, and our way of life.

The Army profession and its professional Soldiers are “certified” in the “ethical application of land combat” and the “Profession of Arms” To maintain the effectiveness of the profession, the Army tests and certifies its members to ensure each meets the high standards of the profession (both competence/ expertise and morality/character) required to ethically apply land combat power before being granted status as a full member of the profession; and recertifies each professional at each successive level of promotion/advancement. It therefore maintains systems to train and educate individuals in a trainee or apprenticeship status where they are mentored and developed until professional standards can be met.The Army and its professionals are “serving under civilian authority” The Army has no purpose except to serve the Constitution and the American people and thereby their elected and appointed representatives. In all aspects of its existence and operations the Army Profession advises with disciplined candor and is willingly subordinate to, and a servant of, the American people through their elected and appointed civilian authorities. Further, members of the Army clearly understand and accept the subordination of their personal needs to the needs of the mission.The Army is “entrusted to defend the Constitution and the rights and interests of the American people” Through exemplary duty performance, the Army maintains a trust relationship with the American people and earns institutional autonomy and high vocational status by demonstrating both effective military expertise and the proper and ethical employment of that expertise on behalf of the Nation. This is how the Army earns its legitimacy to operate under Joint Command, as negotiated with senior civilian officials, in Major Combat Operations, Stability Operations, Strategic Deterrence, and Homeland Security.

The profession practices the “ethical application of land combat power” and an American professional Soldier “adheres to the highest ethical standards” The Army establishes and adapts an Ethic that governs the culture, and thus the actions, of the profession and the practice of individual professionals, inspiring exemplary performance by all members. This Ethic is derived from the imperatives of military effectiveness and the values of the American society the Army serves. Further, the Army self-polices such that all leaders at each level guard the integrity of the profession inclusive of both its expertise and its Ethic. They set standards for conduct and performance, teach those standards to others, establish systems that develop members to meet standards, and take rapid action against those who fail to achieve standards. The duty to set the example for others falls to the greatest degree on the most respected and qualified members of the profession.

Each professional Soldier “is a steward of the future of the Army profession” The profession is maintained by leaders who place high priority on and invest themselves and the resources of the profession to develop professionals and future leaders at all levels. Leader development is an investment required to maintain the Army as a profession and is a key source of combat power. Leadership entails the repetitive exercise of discretionary judgments, all highly moral in nature, and represents the core function of the Army professional‘s military art, whether leading a patrol in combat or making a major policy or budget decision in the Pentagon. Discretionary judgments are the coin of the realm in all professions; foremost the military.

The Key Attributes of our Profession of Arms
We can now identify those attributes, at least an initial offering for debate and dialogue, which we as an Army should consider "key" as we seek to reinforce the profession during this transition. They are key in that while not inclusive of everything it means for the Army to be a Profession, they are inclusive enough to serve as "guideposts" for the development and stewardship of the profession. It‘s important to note that these attributes must be developed at both the organizational (the Profession) and the individual (the Professional) level:

Expertise                          Skill
Trust                                Trust
Development                 Leadership
Values                           Character
Service                            Duty

The rationale for this short list is straightforward.

  • The Profession of Arms requires expert knowledge (i.e. expertise), and that expertise is manifested as unique skills in the individual professional and by Army units.
  • The profession exists only through a relationship of trust with the client; and that trust is the same trust that enables the individual Soldier to develop within the Army as a profession, for Soldiers and units to bond, for Soldiers‘ families to trust the Army through myriad deployments, and for Army leaders to engage effectively in civil-military relations. In fact, that is why trust is clearly the most important attribute we seek for the Army. It is equally applicable and important in its simplest form to both profession and professional. It is our lifeblood.
  • To maintain that trust, the profession requires the continuous development of human practitioners, (i.e. experts) who hold high levels of knowledge, adaptability, resilience, and other attributes that make them effective members of the Profession of Arms. That development is manifested in leadership by professionals at all ranks.
  • The profession requires unwavering, deeply held values on which to base its Ethic. Those values, when well internalized, are manifested in the character of individual professionals. Such strength of character would include internalization of the Army values and ethos amongst other aspects of the Ethic.
  • Finally the profession provides a vital service to American society and does so in subordination. That service is manifested in the duty of the individual professional.

A Broader Framework for the Profession of Arms
Having specified the attributes that define the Army as a Profession of Arms and its members as Professionals, we can turn to a discussion of a broader framework for our discussion. Modern military professions have a unique character, a moral and legal foundation, that reflects their nation‘s heritage, values, and culture. In addition, all modern professions display at least three other common traits: they create and maintain internally their own expert knowledge and practices (expertise); they apply that expertise in an external situation or arena wherein their client wants it applied (a jurisdiction); and after a period of time, depending on their virtue and effectiveness, they will have established a relationship of trust with the client (legitimacy).12 We will briefly discuss each of these in turn.

The moral and legal foundation of the Army is the uniquely American values now embodied in our Constitution and subsequent statutes, including Title 10. We are the American Army, we are American Soldiers, and that uniqueness shapes our soul, both institutionally and individually! Thus our Ethic, our regulations, and professional standards are based on these larger moral and legal foundations. Our Oaths of enlistment and service, the Soldier and NCO Creeds, the Warrior Ethos, and the Soldier‘s Rules, among other expressions of our moral underpinnings, all express the will of the American people for their Army. This foundation answers the core questions such as: Why does the Army exist? Whom does it serve? Why does it fight? How do we fight? These topics are taken up in later sections.

Expertise. The first key attribute presented of the profession is its premier expertise—the art and science of ethically applying coercive or lethal land combat power to establish a more just peace, thus upholding and defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. To do this, the Army must continually build the expertise needed to be effective in future conflict and then develop new professionals certified in that evolving expertise of the profession. Given the demands of the Army‘s new doctrine of Operation Adaptability, the range of knowledge and expertise needed in the future will remain broad and include more than purely military tasks. To better understand the Army‘s professional expertise we can conceptually group it into four fields:13

  • MILITARY-TECHNICAL EXPERTISE enables the Army to conduct effective offense, defense, and stability or civil support operations on land at each of the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. This includes expertise in doctrine and TTP, our knowledge of the employment of combat power, the employment of weaponry and equipment and systems, as well as our knowledge and capabilities in science and technology, research and development, and acquisition to develop those tools of the profession.
  • HUMAN DEVELOPMENT EXPERTISE enables the Army to socialize, train, educate, and develop volunteers to become Soldiers and then to develop those Soldiers to be leaders within and future stewards of the profession. This includes training, education and development systems, human development, and mental and physical fitness.
  • MORAL-ETHICAL EXPERTISE enables the Army to fight wars and employ combat power morally, as the American people expect and as domestic and international laws require. This includes expertise related to ethical combat principles, ROEs, ethical culture and climates, individual moral development, and institutional values.
  • POLITICAL-CULTURAL EXPERTISE enables the Army to understand and operate effectively in our own and in other JIIM cultures across organizational and national boundaries. This relates to the fields of civil-military relations and media-military relations and includes language and cultural proficiency, negotiation, and civilian advisement.

These four broad areas of professional expertise enable the Army to generate and employ ethical combat power to achieve operational adaptability across the full spectrum of operations. Such capabilities extend beyond merely having knowledge in each area. It also includes the motivations of individuals and groups, their psychological and physiological attributes, culture and climate, and larger management systems and processes that must be synchronized to create each of the four fields of expertise. Further, each field of expertise has individual, organizational, and institutional level components. For example, Soldiers require sufficient moral-ethical expertise to guide their own conduct, yet at the organizational level, ethics need to be reinforced through leadership and unit culture. Furthermore, processes and systems must exist at the institutional level to enable moral-ethical practice and the development of individual professionals. Therefore, each of the four fields should be looked at as a multilevel system, with each level necessary but not sufficient by itself for the Army to be considered a profession. Again, the Army is not a profession just because it says it is. That prerogative rests with the client, the American people, who judge for themselves whether the Army is expert and virtuous.

War is a human event, a contest of wills between human groups. Therefore, it is the development of human knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes associated with each field of expertise that are of most importance to the profession.14 Therefore, a robust leader development system is the sine qua non for a professional Army. While every professional must have a sufficient level of expertise in all four fields to be effective, they don‘t need to be equally qualified in all. Development of professionals is a career-long process through training, education, and experience which should be managed to create the varied talent pool needed by the broad Army. Furthermore, the relative importance of the four areas of expertise changes across operational environments. Stability and support operations, for example, have shifted the need for political and cultural expertise to earlier in the career of many Army leaders.

The final element of this framework is the external environments in which the Army operates—where it applies its expertise with effectiveness and virtue—thereby earning the trust and confidence of the American people and its claim to status as a true profession. The Army practices in the JIIM environment in four general external jurisdictions, negotiated recently with our civilian leaders and the other services in 2006: major combat operations, strategic deterrence, stability operations, and homeland security.15

The Practice of the Army Professional and Trust
To understand the Army profession, we need to understand that the actual ―practice "of the Army professional, irrespective of rank or position, is the ―repetitive exercise of discretionary judgments"16 as they employ their professional skills. The essence of this definition is that true professionals control their own work. Most often no one tells the professional what to do or how to do it. Their actions are discretionary. Think of a leader on patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan, or a senior leader in the Pentagon making policy decisions. Each exercises discretionary judgment—not solved by a formula, rather drawn from years of knowledge and experience. That is the practice of the military professional‘s art. It is what the American people trust us to do.

Second, most of these discretionary judgments have a high degree of moral content, where decisions directly impact the life of other human beings, whether Soldier and family, the enemy, or an innocent on the battlefield. Such judgments must therefore be rendered by Army professionals of well developed moral character and who possess the ability to reason effectively in moral frameworks. As America trusts the Army‘s character and competence, no one tells us what to write in doctrinal manuals. Leaders have wide discretion in setting policies to educate and train Soldiers with that knowledge, and field commanders execute operations with wide discretionary authority. The nature of war requires this, even more so now under increasingly dynamic, decentralized operations.

The Army‘s operational successes and transparent attempts to learn from its challenges and failures (e.g., efforts to abate suicides, to care for wounded warriors, to develop resilience, etc.) have reinforced the trust relationship with the American people. However, just as we can build a reservoir of trust, we can also deplete it. There have been times in the past when the Army lost autonomy and some legitimacy with the American people when it failed to abide by an Ethic approved by the client. These incidents caused the Army to lose both legitimacy and autonomy, and external regulations were imposed. In the 1980‘s, an investigation revealed Drill Sergeants at Aberdeen Proving Ground were systematically abusing trainees. The abuse was long-standing and widespread. Because the Army failed to self-police adherence to an appropriate Ethic, Congress passed legislation with very specific language on how to train and lead our Soldiers. The people had lost trust in the Army‘s ability to repetitively exercise discretionary judgment, so they took that authority and autonomy away. Incidents such as prisoner abuse and unlawful or indiscriminate non-combatant deaths also deplete our reservoir of trust. Trust is the “coin of the realm” for professions – “may the client believe in us.” If we were to lose our trust relationship with the American people, the entire edifice of our profession would crumble.

The Balancing Role of the Profession’s Leaders
The continuous challenge for the strategic leaders of the Army since the latter decades of the 19th century when the U.S. Army was professionalized has been to keep the Army “balanced.”17 While there are many aspects to balance within an institution as massive as the Army, two are of particular relevance to this discussion.

The first is the role of strategic leaders, the sergeants major, colonels, and general officers, in balancing the relationship between the Army‘s four fields of expertise and its current and potential future operating environment. When out of balance, the Army does not have the right capabilities to employ when and where the nation needs them. For example, after the fall of Baghdad in March 2003, it became apparent that the Army fell short in maintaining this balance. Junior leaders found themselves fighting a counterinsurgency campaign for which they lacked the necessary expertise and equipment. Thanks to innovative and heroic leaders, the Army was able to adapt its doctrine, materiel, and operations to change the course of the Iraq war over a period of two to three years.

The second area of balance is the relationship between the Army‘s culture and climate and its institutional practices. How well these are aligned will influence the mindset of Army professionals, their commitment, satisfaction, and well-being. Specifically, as strategic leaders manage the institutional systems of the Army, their every action influences the five key attributes of the profession, the four fields of expertise, and has near or long-term effects on culture and climate. Strategic leaders‘ actions also signal to Soldiers and junior leaders whether they are serving in a profession where, for example, individual merits of competence and character are the sole measures of certification or, instead, in an occupational or bureaucratic system where other measures apply. Such actions determine whether Soldiers see themselves as professionals serving a calling or as time-servers filing a government job.

“Good bureaucracy” that provides the institutional support needed for the profession to thrive is critical. Thus strategic leader‘s actions must make clear to all that the institutional management systems support the profession and that when in conflict with other demands profession takes precedence. Strategic leaders, for example, must control personnel development, evaluation and certification, and assignment and utilization processes in ways that motivate aspiring professionals as they progress through a career of service. Some of these systems are now out of balance after nine years of war, making the current challenge more urgent. In short, strategic leaders ensure that they produce the necessary conditions for the Army to be a profession. Meanwhile, Army leaders below the ranks of sergeant major, colonel, and general officer make their own part of the Army more professional daily even if they don‘t control the levers of the major developmental systems, policy, and resources.18

The American people also care about these necessary balances. They want an effective and virtuous Army for the security of the Nation, one in which their sons and daughters can develop and mature positively through their years of service.

Section 2 – The Army’s Professional Culture

Army Culture and Its Influences on the Profession
In the contemporary era, understanding the way institutional culture shapes professional behaviour is an essential leader competence. Self-awareness at the institutional level is as important as is self-awareness at the personal level. What cannot be understood cannot be changed. Is the Army‘s culture well adapted to its current missions, and is it well adapted to the full spectrum of missions anticipated in the near future under the doctrine of “Operational Adaptability”

Army culture is the system of shared meaning held by its Soldiers, “the shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize the larger institution over time.”19 Institutions – organizations that endure – have distinct stable cultures that shape their behaviour, even though they comprise many, ever-changing individuals.20 An organization‘s culture generally reflects what it finds to be functionally effective in times of strong need. Culture goes beyond mere “style.” It is the spirit and soul of the body corporate, the “glue” that make units and commands distinctive sources of identity and experience. It is essentially “how we do things around here.”21

Closely associated with an organization‘s culture is its climate. In contrast to culture, which is more deeply embedded, organizational climate refers to Soldiers‘ feelings and attitudes as they interact within the culture. A “zero defect” culture, for example, can create a climate where Soldiers feel they are not trusted and create attitudes where transparency and open dialog are not encouraged. Climate is often driven by tangible aspects of the culture that reflect the organization‘s value system, such as rewards and punishments, communications flow, operations tempo, and quality of leadership. It is essentially “how we feel about this organization.” Unlike the more deeply embedded culture, climate can be changed fairly quickly (e.g., by replacing a toxic leader or improving a poor selection system).

Levels of Army Culture
Artifacts. These lie at the surface of culture. They include all the tangible phenomena that Soldiers see, hear, and feel when operating in an Army unit: its language, technology and equipment; symbols as embodied in uniforms, flags, and ceremonies; the myths and stories told about the unit; its published list of values. Chain of command pictures in a unit‘s orderly room, for example, are artifacts reminding all viewers of the hierarchy of authority and responsibility that exists within the Army.

Espoused Beliefs and Values.
These are what the Army says is important by its published doctrines, regulations, and other policy statements. Beliefs and values at this conscious level will predict much of the behavior and tangible material that can be observed at the artifact level. For example the Seven Army Values make up one representation of the core of the Army Ethic which is manifested at the artifact level in values cards and special dog tags. If leaders allow disconnects between word and deed, gaps can be created between espoused values, and values in use—when Soldiers or leaders do not “walk the talk” in line with espoused Army beliefs and values. This creates confusion across the ranks and leads to dysfunctional and demoralizing behavior. For example, if the Army espouses the importance of Soldier and leader education and professional development yet does not invest in it adequately, or has selection practices that make leaders who pursue broadening developmental experiences less competitive for advancement, the Army appears hypocritical. However, if the espoused beliefs and values are reasonably congruent with the Army‘s deeper underlying assumptions, then the articulation of those values into a philosophy of operating can be a powerful source to help create cohesion, unity of effort, and identity.

Basic Underlying Assumptions. This is the deepest level of culture. When a solution to a problem confronting the Army works repeatedly, it comes to be taken for granted. What was once a hypothesis gradually comes to be treated over time as reality. Assumptions such as “volunteer Soldiers and their families should be treated as deeply valued people” become so accepted it is rarely ever discussed except to determine how the Army can make them feel more valued.

The Functional Utility of Army Culture. We can identify three major cultural dimensions derived from its underlying assumptions that help us to understand what leaders must focus on as they guide the transition of the Army.22

Professional Identity. Guides the behavior of Soldiers at all levels and is characterized by an ethos of striving for excellence in functional specialties (e.g., infantry, logistics, aviation, etc.) and, at a higher level, on developing combined-arms campaign capabilities. It is buttressed by Soldiers‘ identification with the goals and ideals of the Army and by an Ethic of “service” before self and putting “duty first.”

Community. The bonds in and among units, influencing cohesion with Soldiers and their families, a cohesion that results from belonging to a “professional family” with shared mission, purpose, and sacrifice. Such cohesion is often best observed in a strong sense of clannishness, e.g., the “band of brothers” ethos reflected in Army subcultures such as Cavalry, Special Forces, etc.
A sense of community broadens Soldier‘s identity by developing the  “I” into the  “we.”23 This is the well-spring for cooperation and 360-degree loyalty and service derived from professional networks and the basis for unfamiliar attached units to quickly establish “swift trust.” These networks and the values on which they are based cause Soldiers to exert themselves for the benefit of those in other units and to put the institution‘s interests ahead of their own. It is also the root of selfless service for intrinsic reasons as no Soldier can ever be paid his or her true value to the Republic.

Hierarchy. Army culture has a strong tendency towards hierarchy based on explicit and implicit authority distinctions. Hierarchy not only leads to order and control, but also provides Soldiers with moral and contextual frames of reference. An effective hierarchy is as much about how and why the individual‘s job fits into the overall mission as they are about doing things “by the book.”

Professional identity, community, and hierarchy are rarely in perfect alignment. They exist in dynamic tension and must be managed by Army leaders. While “what works” changes as circumstances change, institutional reaction to new circumstances is not always rational. For example, the deep assumptions underlying the Cold War Army carried over in to the mid-1990s, causing the Army to continue to prepare for the “big conventional war” even though experiencing a decade of small conflicts against unconventional threats "amongst the people” in Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, and Haiti.24

In this next transition, the Army must consider carefully its professional culture. That is one thrust of this White Paper and campaign, to ensure culture is adapted appropriately at each of the three levels—artifacts, values and beliefs, and basic underlying assumptions. Cultural changes are occurring, perhaps in ways not yet realized or being managed. High promotion rates, for example, have implications on Army culture and its belief in a professional meritocracy. Therefore, the proper question is not whether Army culture will change in this transition, but rather how quickly and in what directions Army leaders will manage such change.

Section 3 – At the Core of Culture: the Army Ethic

The Heart of the Army: The Ethic
The moral complexity of the Army‘s lethality on the battlefield necessitates a strong professional Ethic at the institutional level and well-developed character and ethos at the Soldier level. Both are necessary conditions for the Profession of Arms. The U.S. Army now has many artifacts at the surface level of its culture that reveal the foundations of the deeply moral character of our profession. The purpose they all serve for aspiring professionals is spelled out in the Army‘s Blue Book that all new Soldiers receive:25

Being a Soldier means conducting yourself at all times so as to bring credit upon you and the Nation—this is the core of our Army culture. Our Army is a unique society. We have military customs and time-honored traditions, and values that represent years of Army history. Our leaders conduct operations in accordance with laws and principles set by the U.S. Government and those laws together with Army traditions and Values require honorable behavior and the highest level of individual moral character....

The Army Ethic is best understood as a framework for guiding relationships among moral values, ethical principles, and the martial virtues that create professional character, individually and institutionally. The Army currently has no published doctrine on the integrative role that these guiding relationships play. So for the purposes of this White Paper, the proposed definition of the Army‘s Ethic is:

The moral values, principles and martial virtues embedded in its culture that inspire and regulate ethical behavior by both Soldiers and the U.S. Army in the application of land combat in defense of and service to the Nation.26

Such a definition moves us beyond the realm of mere fact into the realm of values and moral relationships. The values we defend are the citizens‘ human rights and their collective right to political autonomy as a legitimate nation. It is because of its duty to the United States that the Army can do what private security firms or non-state actors cannot do: legitimately use coercive force as representatives of a legitimate and a sovereign nation. All Soldiers, regardless of rank or position, are thereby duty-bound to uphold the value that grounds that legitimacy—human rights.

A deep understanding of why and how we fight is no mere academic effort, but a functional imperative. Leaders must be able to teach these principles to their Soldiers to instill in them the unrelenting spirit to fight, knowing they are in pursuit of a noble and right cause. Army leaders must communicate these principles to our Nation to maintain their support of military operations and to inspire citizens to join the ranks of a virtuous Army, knowing they will serve with other professionals in an honorable manner. Leaders at all levels must also be able to externally communicate why and how we fight to coalition partners to gain and maintain their support. Finally, we must uphold these principles to potential adversaries, negating their ability to use our own unethical actions as reason to join against U.S. forces. These principles are outlined below to provide leaders with a narrative to articulate these core concepts.

Why We Fight – Foundational Values
The Army Ethic begins with the moral values the Army defends. The Army protects the rights and interests of the American People by conducting military operations in the service of government policy in a manner that respects the basic human rights of others.27 This is the foundational duty of the Army – it is why we fight.28 The defense of basic human rights from threat is the primary service that the Army provides the Republic. Its first duty is the defense of the security and integrity of the United States as a political nation—America‘s right to political autonomy. The Army is also called upon to defend other nations and peoples from aggression, massacre, or genocide. The moral legitimacy to use force in those cases still stems from protecting and respecting basic human rights. This is the only thing that can give the American profession of arms its legitimate claim to employ coercive and often deadly force. Further, this understanding provides Soldiers meaning, purpose, and justification for their often lethal actions.

The Nation, therefore, does not simply act in self-defense. Political autonomy is not an individual human right. It is a collective right of the American people. It is critical to understand that this right to political autonomy is based on the protection of human rights—therefore the Army must restrain its actions and fight with virtue to maintain its legitimacy as a profession and to steward the legitimacy of the United States. Thus, the values we defend—why we fight—are: human rights and the American citizens‘ right to political autonomy.29 This explanation has a number of important insights:

  • The United States‘ right to political autonomy is the moral basis for the Army‘s Ethic.
  • The protection of this right is the purpose the Army provides for the country it serves.
  • The Army fights to protect rights, and thus must seek to not violate rights in the process.
  • The Army‘s use of lethal force to defend the political autonomy of the United States or to defend other states, or political entities that adequately protect and respect human rights is lethal force directed toward a relevant good.
  • This moral purpose of the Army is defensible and necessary and provides Soldiers with moral purpose and justification and aids in their ability to make meaning out of their actions.

In sum, if a military action is justified, it is by definition morally justified. A firm understanding and internalization of this by Soldier‘s has been the core of their fighting spirit in past actions and often the difference between victory and defeat in cases where the Army has been outnumbered and outgunned.

How We Fight – With Values and by Ethical Principles
Understanding why we fight is necessary, but alone is insufficient. Values not expressed in action are meaningless. As the “way of war” evolves based on changing threats so has—and must—the Army‘s practice of war. The framework of the Ethic must tell us how to meet evolving threats without sacrificing the unchanging moral values such actions protect. To combat hybrid threats, the Army is challenged to broaden Soldiers‘ moral understanding of the means and ends of war and to change how it is characterized. Ends and means must vary across the spectrum of conflict and so too must the Army‘s Ethic if it is to provide Soldiers and leaders guidance as to the proper amount of risk and force necessary in a given operational context. The Army Ethic requires Soldiers and the organizations they create to move beyond resorting to deadly force whenever they can (according to law) by showing when they should (according to the Ethic).

The Army Ethic must accomplish at least three purposes:

  • First, it must establish core principles as guidelines for moral judgments based on the moral goal of a given operation, e.g., defense of America‘s autonomy and territory or responding to a humanitarian crisis. Each operation varies in goals and thus should also in means and ends
  • Second, it must inform operational design and mission command by helping leaders adapt to the operational context through applying the principles of the Ethic
  • Third, it must provide the standards and framework for the development of individual Soldier‘s character by instilling the profession‘s values and virtues

Moral Values. While the character of war has changed, the moral values we defend remain constant. The Army defends these values by bringing about the conditions for a sustainable peace. The Army Capstone Concept alludes to the core principle of seeking a morally better state of peace,30 which must be the ultimate objective of conflict. This core principle generates four basic responsibilities for the Army when planning, executing, and assessing military operations:

  • A clear understanding of the primary moral value of the operation
  • A clear understanding of the threat posed by the enemy to key operational goals
  • A clear understanding of what is the permissible moral cost to one‘s own and enemy forces and noncombatants in the pursuit of the operation
  • A clear vision of what “winning” entails and how the operation will reach a clear and satisfactory end state by achieving that envisioned better state of peace

Addressing these four points facilitates operational adaptability as called for in the Army‘s new capstone doctrine. This occurs as leaders continuously evaluate, anticipate, and manage transitions that occur among the four moral responsibilities above as operations evolve.

Principles of use of force. Tactically and operationally, leaders manage how their units fight through applying three primary ethical principles that establish the moral limits of military force. Applying these principles allows the professional to allocate risk among the competing goals of mission accomplishment, force protection, and avoiding harm to innocents. These principles are necessity, discrimination, and proportionality. These principles guide moral reasoning in operational planning and execution to determine who is liable to military force, the correct operational design, and the organizational and individual tactical actions employed. Ensuring moral action in conflict entails, whenever possible, forethought in the planning and rehearsal processes to identify relevant moral considerations and judgments before direct contact and tactical action.

The first ethical principle, necessity, states that the object of the military action, the enemy, must be the sort of threat that only responds to military action. The second principle, discrimination, is the requirement to target only non-innocent persons and property. The third principle, proportionality, is the requirement that the moral value of the goal achieved by the military action or operation is sufficient to offset the intended and unintended harm of the operation. Moreover, as the context and operational goals change, the relationship between the relevant moral variables also changes.31 Therefore, the Army must have robust moral development programs to develop leaders at all levels who understand these changing criteria and can employ moral wisdom.

Developing Individual Character to Enable the Use of Ethical Principles
Moral values, such as the seven Army values, and ethical principles must be expressed through action or they serve no purpose. The profession‘s moral-ethical capabilities must be manifested at both the institutional and the individual levels. At the institutional level, the Army Ethic provides the framework for developing units and Soldiers‘ professional character by placing the required martial virtues in the service of the Army‘s duty. Based on the duty of the Army, Soldiers must commit to take actions and make sacrifices that place them at increased risk of danger or death to safeguard innocents, accomplish the mission, and protect their fellow Soldiers. A Soldier‘s character is then reinforced through leadership and unit culture and climate.

Ethical principles such as necessity, discrimination, and proportionality can guide tactical action. However, many of the critical ethical actions required of Soldiers in conflict do not admit to cool reflection, but must happen rapidly by habit, “moral intuition,” and ingrained strength of character. As noted by Fehrenbach, we need something that comes to life in a professional Soldier “and knowing they are disciplined, trained, and conditioned brings pride to men – pride in their own toughness, their own ability, and this pride will hold them true when all else fails.” Developing this well-placed pride and discipline in the Soldier is the role of Army leaders at all levels. In sum, as noted by Sir John Hackett, “What a bad man cannot be is a good soldier.” Such strength of character can be motivated through key psychological capacities and ethos.

Ethical psychological capacities. Soldiers must be able to call upon psychological “resources” under complex and difficult moral dilemmas to maintain their moral compass. Key psychological resources for moral action include capacities for self-command, empathy, and moral pride.32 If Soldiers have a clear grasp of the ethical principles of necessity, discrimination, and proportionality, these moral capacities will allow them the ability and confidence to turn moral understanding into professional action. This is because moral action requires one to take responsibility, be motivated to act, and overcome their fears to act morally. If any of these are lacking, moral action will not occur. Developing these capacities in Soldiers supports operational adaptability by placing the capability for ethical action under the control of autonomous professionals. This can empower the individual Soldier to take the right actions quickly and without excessive dependence on higher control.33

Self-command motivates Soldiers to confront dangers and accomplish the mission while respecting human dignity. Virtues underpinning this capacity are moral and physical confidence and courage, conscientiousness towards duty, selfless service, and honor among others.34 The capacity for empathy motivates Soldiers to bear risk in a way that accomplishes missions and protects the force. The capacity for moral pride creates an enduring and resilient personality that can act in trying circumstances. Corresponding virtues include integrity and discipline and taking  “ownership” over the ethical behavior of others in the unit.

Warrior Ethos. Beyond these ethical psychological resources, there is a more intangible spirit of the Soldier. Soldiers are not just called upon to perform mere ethical behavior (e.g., doing what is expected and not committing unethical acts). That is necessary but not sufficient. What is required of Soldiers is ethics beyond expectations—that is virtue. What makes a Soldier brave enemy fire to save a wounded comrade is not “ethics” as normally defined, but a developed personal spirit, a love and bond with fellow comrades that we can define as Ethos— “extreme levels of strength of character required to generate and sustain extra-ethical virtuous behavior under conditions of high moral intensity where personal risk or sacrifice is required in the service of others.”35 Such virtue was clearly evident in the heroic actions of Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta in Afghanistan who recently earned the Medal of Honor. Ethos is generated, as in Sergeant Guinta’s case, from an individual‘s possession of high levels of character, such as valor, integrity, chivalry, empathy and goodwill toward others.

The Army has four statements of Warrior Ethos in the Soldier‘s Creed: “I will always place the mission first, I will never leave a fallen comrade, I will never quit, I will never accept defeat.” These statements list exemplary behaviors which would flow from a Soldier‘s ethos and provide the inner strength for an individual to “willingly endure the cognitive, emotional, and physical hardships normally associated with dangerous contexts—and if ultimately needed—to risk physical injury or death with little extrinsic reward.”36 As an Army it will be important, as a part of this campaign, to define the developmental processes that build ethos and to reinforce them.37 We know that development of professional character occurs at three levels – institutional, unit, and individual. Professional character requires a pervasive disposition toward the ethical capacities of self-command, empathy, and moral pride. The creation of such disposition is, perhaps, the Army‘s primary moral task because it enables an authentic and stable expression of the values our profession exists to defend.

Organizational Level Influences on Ethics and Virtue
Leaders at all levels can set the conditions for ethical culture where ethical and virtuous behavior is rewarded and unethical behavior is punished. Leaders can also create normative pressures to align ethical behaviors by communicating the values and ideals of the unit that all Soldiers are expected to honor.38 Finally, leaders serve as powerful role models for others‘ behavior by showing what expected behaviors are through their own example which leads to Soldiers‘ emulation of their leader‘s actions.39

Therefore, ethical and virtuous behavior do not stem from just the individual Soldier. Building moral-ethical character must occur across organizational levels. Units develop collective norms that influence Soldiers through mechanisms such as unit climate and culture.40 Units can thus “bolster” the character of their Soldiers through various social learning and social identity processes. For example, as a unit develops shared beliefs about the treatment of prisoners of war, these shared beliefs may be reinforced as members observe other group members‘ actions with prisoners, and thus over time become part of the group‘s norms for expected actions. These norms then serve to guide individual actions and become part of culture and taught to new members as the  “correct” way to act.41 This reinforcement then influences individuals‘ identity and values over time—they come to see themselves as a moral actor.42

Section 4 – The Army Ethic and External Relations

Trust is the cornerstone for the Army‘s relationship with the American people. One major aspect of that trust is the foundational subordination of the Army to civilian authority. Such subordination is derived from two sources: legally from the Constitution and federal statute and morally from the values of America and the norms of American civil-military relations. Under these moral norms civilian leaders, Executive and Congressional, have full authority over the military, and upon considering the advice of military leaders, are empowered by the American public to have ultimate authority over the military, its capabilities, and its use. In contrast, every volunteer Soldier upon oath, regardless of rank or component, becomes a servant of the State to do its will while subordinating their own will and some of their rights as a citizen to the true faith and allegiance they willingly bear to the Constitution.

The Army Ethic must encompass and control these relationships by committing Soldiers and leaders to disciplined candor when advising and interacting with civilian officials or public audiences. Soldiers and leaders must also keep in mind the common goal that both civilian and military authorities serve to defend the Republic. Soldiers must be mindful of military-media relations such that their remarks to the media do not embarrass, slight, or constrain the decision-making ability of civilian officials.

A Moral Conception of Service
In America, the military‘s subordination to civil authority is codified in law. But that has never been needed to keep the American military subordinate within our well-established democratic system. However, military insubordination can occur in other forms not covered by statute and in more subtle forms such as selective sharing of information, stonewalling civilian initiatives, bureaucratic foot-dragging on policies, or institutional policy promotion in the media.43 It is thus the moral basis for military subordination that is most critical to support the foundational values of the Army‘s Ethic. Soldiers at all levels must accept that a core moral imperative from the founding of America is that the military will never threaten the democratic ideals of the Nation.

All Soldiers swear to support and defend the Constitution. However, the Constitution alone is not the source of their authority. The source of military authority flows from the American people through the Constitution, through elected and appointed officials, to the officers they appoint, and finally to those Soldiers entrusted with executing orders. There is a dynamic relationship in this authority hierarchy. The people have the power to amend the Constitution and to elect the political leaders who both authorize and fund the military. The military remains loyal to the people and the Constitution by fulfilling its function in accordance with the guidance, laws, and regulations passed by those with the authority to do so.

This chain of authority argues against the idea that the ultimate loyalty for Army professionals is simply to the Constitution. Rather, Army professionals are loyal to the Constitution, and thus to the people, by being obedient to elected and appointed officials and the Commander-in-Chief. Thus, being willingly subordinate to civilian authority is based on loyalty to the source of its authority. This principle was perhaps best exemplified by General George Washington in his resignation to Congress at the close of the Revolutionary War. By this act he ensured that his immense national popularity as a military leader and hero would not overshadow the necessary power of the fledgling Congress. Thus the American military has long recognized and embraced a moral tradition of subordinating service to country.

Norms for Civil-Military Relations
Within the military‘s willing subordination to civilian authority, the spheres of responsibility of civilian and military leaders do overlap as the line between making and executing policy is not always clear. Military professionals hold unique expertise and their input is vital to formulating and executing effective policy. This requires that the military‘s unique perspective and advice be heard in the formulation of laws and policies that create, support, and employ our armed forces, or its effectiveness can be reduced to the detriment of the Republic. Thus, it is the moral duty of leaders to ensure that the military perspective is candidly presented in all appropriate forums, just as much as it is a moral imperative that such advice is offered properly, respectfully and as advice not advocacy. This is known as correctly “representing” the unique perspective of the Profession of Arms, “to represent the claims of security within the state [government].”44

History has shown that the key condition for effective American civil-military relations is a high level of mutual respect and trust between civilian and military leaders.45 And, the best way for military professionals to fulfill their obligations to create such respect and trust is by following a set of norms that have proven successful in the past in civil military interactions that produced effective policy and strategy. This list is for dialogue and refinement as this White Paper is discussed throughout the Army:46

  • The military‘s first obligation is to do no harm to the democratic institutions and the democratic policy-making processes of our government. Military leaders should apply their candid advice and expertise without taking any actions that, in effect, have a self-interested effect on policy outcomes.
  • Military professionals should have the expectation that their professional judgments will be heard in policy deliberations; however they must also develop the judgment to recognize when the bounds of the policy making process might be breeched. When acts of dissent take them beyond representation and advice into policy advocacy or even public dissent, they must recognize that they have gone beyond the limits of their uniformed role and have exhibited behaviors that potentially undermine the authority of those elected officials responsible for policy formulation and execution.
  • Military professionalism requires adherence to a strict ethic of political nonpartisanship. Army professionals must be capable of serving any officials that prevail in our democratic political process. Such non-partisanship must be recognized as entailing some voluntary limitations on Soldiers and leaders liberties as citizens.
  • Retired Army Soldiers and leaders have continuing responsibility to act in ways that are not detrimental to the effectiveness, and particularly the publicly held trustworthiness of the Profession of Arms. Such responsibilities specifically include precluding perceived conflicts of interest in their partisan political activities, their employments, and their roles in the media.
  • The effectiveness and legitimacy of Army professionals depends also on their healthy interactions with the “fourth estate” of our government—the news media. Within reasonable standards of operational security, Army professionals must accept the opportunities that occur to facilitate the press‘s legitimate function within American society and its political processes without undermining or limiting the policy making options of civilian authorities.

Clearly, one of the Army‘s enduring challenges, and one that needs careful focus now after nine years of war, is how and how well it is developing leaders at all levels who are capable of, and comfortable with, living and serving by these moral civil-military norms.

Section 5 - Conclusion

Adapting the Army as Profession of Arms After a Decade of War
This White Paper is intended to supply the framework and common language needed to begin a dialogue among Army professionals about ourselves and our future both as individuals and as a revered and effective military institution. To that end, sections of the paper have provided general understandings of the key attributes of the Army as Profession, its Culture, its Ethic, and its external relations. These concepts and definitions will be refined through dialog and later published in doctrine. It is time now to turn to key questions and start the dialogue and assessments.

As the Army assesses itself as Profession of Arms, there are major strengths that have sustained the profession as well as tensions within its professional culture and Ethic. Some of these tensions existed before the attack on 9/11 and have been exacerbated by the decade of war (e.g. the tension between industrial-age personnel systems vs. the talent needs for the current and future Army47) while others are new due to that extended conflict (e.g., the promotion of Soldier health and well-being vs. the debilitating demands of repeated combat deployments48). To these two examples could be added many more.

After nine years of war, we need a thorough assessment across all of the key attributes of the Profession of Arms. Again, to center our efforts we will begin by focusing on five key attributes of the profession and the Army professional:

Expertise                                  Skill
Trust                                       Trust
Development                       Leadership
Values                                 Character
Service                                   Duty

The specific questions with which we will start are:

  • What are our current strengths as a profession/as professionals?
  • What are our current weaknesses as a profession/as professionals?
  • Have we identified the right key attributes of the profession/of professionals in this white paper?
  • Are we adequately developing those attributes in our professional military education, in our tactical units, and in our self-development, and do our organizational systems and processes reinforce these attributes?
  • Are the roles and responsibilities in sustaining the profession different for officers, NCOs, and Warrant Officers, and are we adequately preparing leaders for these stewardship roles?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the Army Civilian in sustaining the profession and are we adequately preparing leaders for these sustaining roles?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the retired military in sustaining the profession?
  • How do responsibilities change as the professional gains seniority and, in particular, in dealing with the public, the media, senior civilian leaders, and coalition partners?

So, now on to the work of a learning institution doing what it must do to reinforce itself as a Profession of Arms after almost decade of conflict. Let the dialogue and assessment begin.


1. For major recent works on professions see, Andrew Abbott, The Theory of Professions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) and, Eliot Freidson, Professionalism Reborn: Theory, Prophecy and Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
2. See T.O Jacobs and Michael G. Sanders, “Principles for Building the Profession: The SOF Experience,” Chapter 20 in Snider and Matthews (eds.), The Future of the Army Profession, 2d Edition (NY: McGraw-Hill, 2005): 441-462.
3. David Segal and Karen DeAngelis, “Changing Conceptions of the Military Professions”, chapter 10 in Suzanne C. Nielsen and Don M. Snider (eds.), American Civil-Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in a New Era (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009): 194-212.
4. For an explanation of the three main trust relationships of the Army as a profession of arms, see: Don M. Snider, Dissent and the Strategic Leadership of Military Professions (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2008).
5. James H.Toner, True Faith and Allegiance: The Burden Of Military Ethics (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1995): 22-23.
6. Sean Hannah (forthcoming). Leadership in the Profession of Arms. The Oxford Handbook of Leadership. Oxford University Press.
7. See Les Brownlee and Peter Schoomaker, “Serving a Nation at War,” Parameters 34 (Summer 2004): 4-23.
8. See, Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America, Revised and Expanded ( NY: Free Press, 1994): 5.
9. Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1957): 16.
10. For an excellent discussion of the negative impact of that issue on the Army Officer Corps, see Mark Lewis, “Army Transformation and the Junior Officer Exodus,” Armed Forces and Society, Vol. 31, No.1 (Fall 2004): 63-74.
11. TRADOC/ARCIC Study of Army Culture, 2008.
12. See James Burk, Expertise, Jurisdiction and Legitimacy, chapter 2 in Don M. Snider and Lloyd J. Matthews (eds.), The Future of the Army Profession, 2d Edition (NY: McGraw-Hill, 2005): 39-60.
13. See, Richard Lacquement, “Mapping Army Professional Expertise and Clarifying Jurisdictions of Practice,” chapter 9 in Don M. Snider and Lloyd J Matthews (eds.), The Future of the Army Profession, 2d Edition: 213-236.
14. This widely acknowledged conclusion remains unaddressed; many of the Army‘s human development and human resources systems remain from industrial age practices, likely inadequate to the present and future needs of the profession. See the monograph series: Toward a US Army Officer Corps Strategy for Success by Casey Wardynski, David S. Lyle and Michael J Colarusso (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2009-2010). This conclusion was further reached in a research project on the Army as profession in 2002; it is doubtful that it is invalid after nine years of war in which the Army had to rely more on its human than its technological capabilities. See Don M. Snider and Gail Watkins, “Project Conclusions,” chapter 25 in: The Future of the Army Profession, 1st Edition): 537-547
15. Joint Publication 3.0 Operations (pub data)
16. See Don M. Snider,, “The Multiple Identities of the Professional Army Officer,” chapter 6 in The Future of the Army Profession, 2d Edition: 143.
17. This is a commonly used phrase of the current Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, in addressing points of imbalance between current and desired states of the Army; particularly during the first two years of his tenure of stewardship.
18. See Leonard Wong and Don M. Snider, “Strategic Leadership of the Army Profession,” Chapter 28 in The Future of the Army Profession, 2d Edition: 601-624.
19. See, FM 6-22 Army Leadership (Washington DC: HQ, Department of the Army, 2006): 8-1.
20. A. L. Kroeber and C. Kluckhorn, Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions (NY, 1952); Edgar Schein, Sense and nonsense about culture and climate, in Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate, ed. Neal M. Ashkanasy, Celeste P. M. Wilderom and Mark F. Peterson (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000), xxiii-xxx..
21. See Joseph J. Collins,, American Military Culture in the Twenty-First Century (Washington DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2000). See also, Don M. Snider, “An Uninformed Debate on Military Culture.” Orbis 43(1), 1999: 11-16.
22. Nick Jans, with David Schmidtchen, The real C-cubed: Culture, careers and climate and how they affect military capability, Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No 143: Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University: 2002; see also John Keegan, A History of Warfare (London, 1993), xv.
23. The landmark study in this field, of regional economic performance in Italy, found over a 20-year period that social capital in each region was a crucial factor in explaining differences in wealth creation, business innovation, entrepreneurship, and government performance. See Robert D. Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).
24. James Dewar,, “Army Culture and Planning in Time of Great Change,” draft RAND Report, DRR-758-1-A, September 1996.
25. HQ, Department of the Army, TRADOC Pamphlet 600-4, October 2010: 16.
26. Robert Caslen, Jr., & Erik Anderson (2010), "Reconnecting with our roots: Reflections on the Army‘s Ethic," Military Review, 110-116: also see Chris Case, Robert Underwood, & Sean Hannah (2010). "Owning Our Army Ethic," Military Review, 3-10.
27. A definition of human rights is contentious. To avoid controversy, the human rights in this paper are “thinly” conceived. This means the rights that matter most in military operations are a small set of basic human rights consisting of the rights against torture, rape, unjustified killing, arbitrary imprisonment, access to basic subsistence, and personal liberty. This conception of human rights is both consistent with the founding of the United States and defensible as objective moral goods which serve in part as as a founding source of the Army Ethic.
28. In order to establish a moral basis for the Army Ethic we need to examine the good the Army provides. Field Manual 1 states the Army is the defender of “our way life.” However, achieving objectives or defending a “way of life,” are goals that many organizations could adopt as their purpose. Drug cartels, the mafia, or Al Qaeda, could easily make the same factual claim. They too are defending their ways of life. Another view of the Army‘s purpose is that it provides for a “common defense.” Again, other organizations that practice collective violence can make the factual claim that they act in their own “common defense.” However, the defining difference between these organizations and the Army is the moral end, or purpose, which our use of collective violence seeks to achieve. The Army‘s purpose is the defense of the United States as a political nation that protects and respects human rights. This gives the American profession of arms its legitimate claim to employ coercive, and often lethal, force. This moral purpose separates the Army, and Soldiers within it, from organizations that practice unjustifiable collective violence. Not just any state can justifiably defend its power through violence or violence leading to no moral good would be permissible. Simply put, the Army‘s and its Soldiers‘ duty to provide for the “common defense” is more than the simple protection of power.
29. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists 26 human rights, among which are rights to leisure and rest. While it seems reasonable that such a right deserved defense through political action, it seems unreasonable to defend it through the use of force. So, for the purposes of this paper, the authors recognize that we have left some ambiguity regarding what rights under what conditions should be defended by military force. The authors also recognize that determining when force should be used is primarily the responsibility of the government.
30. “National security guidance requires the military to be prepared to defend the homeland, deter or prevent the use or proliferation of WMD, win the nation‘s wars, deter potential adversaries, protect the global commons (sea, air, space), develop cooperative security, and respond to civil crises at home and abroad.”
31. Rodin, David, “Justifying Harm” Forthcoming, provided by author.
32. Glover, Jonathan, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, pg. 22-27. Glover‘s terms for the moral resources are “respect” “sympathy” and “moral identity.” The terms in this paper are, arguably, consistent with Glover‘s use and more immediately relevant to developing a military moral psychology.
33. Sean Hannah, & Bruce Avolio (forthcoming), “Moral Potency: Building the capacity for character-based leadership,” Consulting Psychology Journal. See also, Sean Hannah, Patrick Sweeney, & Paul Lester (2009). The courageous mindset: A dynamic personality system approach to courage. In C. Pury & S. Lopez (Eds.), The Psychology of Courage. American Psychological Association; and, Sean T. Hannah & Patrick Sweeney. Chapter 4 in Snider and Matthews (eds.), Forging the Warriors Character. (McGraw-Hill, 2008): 65-90.
34. This list is not intended to be the definitive list of the virtues the Army requires.
35. Sean Hannah, & Bruce Avolio (forthcoming). Leader character, ethos, and virtue: Individual and collective considerations. Leadership Quarterly.
36. Sean Hannah, Donald Campbell, & Michael Matthews (2010). Advancing a research agenda for leadership in dangerous contexts. Military Psychology, 22, S157-S189.
37. Sean Hannah, & Bruce Avolio (2010). Ready or not: How do we accelerate the developmental readiness of leaders? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, pp. 1-7.
38. Brown, M. E., Treviño, L. K., & Harrison, D. A. 2005. Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97, 117-134; Power, C., Higgins, A., & Kohlberg, L. (1989); Treviño, L. K., Weaver, G. R., & Reynolds, S. J. 2006. Behavioral ethics in organizations: A review. Journal of Management, 32, 951-990.
39. Mayer, D. M., Kuenzi, M., Greenbaum, R., Bardes, M., & Salvador, R. 2009. How low does ethical leadership flow? Test of a trinkle-down model. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 108: 1-13.
40. Power, C., Higgins, A., & Kohlberg, L. (1989). The habit of the common life: Building character through democratic community schools. In L. Nucci (Ed), Moral Development and Character Education: A Dialogue (pp. 125-43). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan; Selznick, P. (1992). The moral commonwealth. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
41. Hofmann, D. A., & Jones, L. M. (2005). Leadership, collective personality, and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 509-522; Hinds, P. J., & Mortensen, M. (2005). Understanding conflict in geographically distributed teams: The moderating effects of shared identity, shared context, and spontaneous communication. Organization Science, 16, 290-307.
42. Aquino, K., & Reed, A. 2002. The self-importance of moral identity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83: 1423-1440.
43. Risa Brooks, “Militaries and Political Activity in Democracies,” chapter 11 in, Suzanne Nielsen and Don M. Snider (eds.), American Civil-Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in a New Era (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009): 213-238.
44. See, Matthew Ridgway, “The Statesman vs the Soldier,” in Soldier: Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgeway (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956): 266-273. See also, Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State, op. cit.:71-74.
45. This is a central finding in Nielsen and Snider, American Civil-Military Relations, op cit.
46. List adapted from, Marybeth Ulrich, “Infusing Normative Civil-Military Relations Principles in the Officer Corps,” chapter 20 in: Don M. Snider and Lloyd J. Matthews (eds.), The Future of the Army Profession, 2d Edition: 655-682. Se.e also, Matthew Moten, “Out of Order,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 5 (September-October 2010): 2-4.
47 See the monograph series by Wardynski, Lyle, and Colarusso, Toward US Army Strategy for Success: A Proposed Human Capital Model Focused on Talent (Carlisle: Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2009-2010).
48. See, Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention Report (Washington DC: HQ, Department of the Army, 2010).


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Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2014 12:18