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Old 11-04-2010   #1
Chuck Grenchus, CAPE
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Default The Army: A Profession of Arms

In his recent Army Greenbook article titled “The Second Decade,” the Army Chief of Staff addresses the topic of the Army Profession of Arms, and the merits of examining the impact of a decade of persistent conflict on the profession. (See http://www.ausa.org/publications/arm...Casey_1010.pdf ). The same topic was discussed in one of the Institute of Land Warfare (ILW) panels during the annual AUSA Meeting and Exposition. And earlier this year, the Commanding General of TRADOC dedicated an entire blog discussion to the Army profession. (See http://tradoclive.dodlive.mil/ ). Why an increasing emphasis on this topic and related discussion?

In short, periodic self-reflections and efforts to improve are what healthy professions or organizations do from time to time. In light of the influences , challenges, and even stresses that our Army has operated amidst for nearly a decade, coupled with the fact that ours is indeed an Army in transition, a valid need exists to “review, reemphasize and recommit to our profession” as the Commanding General of TRADOC recently stated. The persistent conflict has impacted both positively and negatively on the state of the Army Profession of Arms. This conflict has exposed strengths that have sustained us, while at the same time it has uncovered tensions and points of friction in our Army culture and DOTMLPF-P.

On 27 Oct 2010, the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army signed a Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Review of the Army Profession in an Era of Persistent Conflict. This TOR sets the stage for a future comprehensive review to examine the state of our profession after nearly a decade of war. The review will be comprehensive, and will include a survey of the entire force, analysis of relevant trends and indicators of individual and unit behavior, sustainment of an Army-wide dialog and discussion . . . all of which lead to a review of existing policies and programs that apply to the Army as an institution. A detailed concept plan for this is currently being developed.

The Army Chief of Staff acknowledges the importance of this to our profession’s future: “ . . . it is essential that we take a hard look at ourselves and ensure the we fully understand what we have been through, how we have changed and how we must adapt to succeed in an era of persistent conflict. I encourage all leaders to think about how to accomplish this. It is essential to the continued effectiveness of our profession and to ensure that our young leaders are prepared for success in the decade.”
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Old 11-04-2010   #2
Chris Barnes
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Default Domains of the profession

This Profession of Arms campaign will focus largely on 4 domains: military-technical, human development, moral-ethical, and political-cultural. It is important that the Army ensure strength in each domain.

I'm curious as to what domain people think needs to be studied the most.
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Old 11-05-2010   #3
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The Airborne guys I knew used to say it was the Profession of Legs that brought the Army low.
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Old 11-05-2010   #4
Bill Jakola
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Default What does it mean to be a profession of arms?

After 23 years of Army service, I find this question of what it means to be a profession of arms particularly interesting, since it seems to define the cultural fabric of my passion to serve my country while also subordinating that professional culture to our national ideals and civilian leadership. To defend our Nation with the ethical application of force of arms, our profession must maintain a clear sense of who and what we are by honestly studying our history to gain a more complete and nuanced understanding of our successes and our failures. War is such dangerous activity that people have developed the profession of arms, a dedicated group of certified, trained, equipped, organized, and led professional Soldiers, to execute warfare, but in the United States, as in many other countries, the profession remains subordinate to the political leadership who ultimately determine the scope of war.

This subordination of the profession to the political is key to understanding who is a member of the profession of arms and who is not. For example, Soldiers are clearly members, but are retired Soldiers members or newly hired Soldiers who have not completed basic training? Are DoD civilians part of the profession; they are certainly professionals doing military work, but are they working in the profession of arms. Are civilian contractors part of the profession? What about the civilian leadership, the President, or the Secretary of Defense or the Army?

Anchoring it's members in in a unified view of itself is a requirement of any profession and especially important to the profession of arms.
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Old 11-05-2010   #5
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Quote:
This subordination of the profession to the political is key to understanding who is a member of the profession of arms and who is not. For example, Soldiers are clearly members, but are retired Soldiers members or newly hired Soldiers who have not completed basic training? Are DoD civilians part of the profession; they are certainly professionals doing military work, but are they working in the profession of arms. Are civilian contractors part of the profession? What about the civilian leadership, the President, or the Secretary of Defense or the Army?

Anchoring it's members in in a unified view of itself is a requirement of any profession and especially important to the profession of arms.
Execellent points, Bill. I envision that what we discover and describe will be something of an apprenticeship model--people are initially admitted to the profession through the declaration (oath) of values and loyalty, but new members must view themselves as operating in a limited capacity with much to learn.

One important issue to consider is the roll of experience versus expertise/training. While we have young soldiers with a lot of specific warfighting experience, "credentialling" them without a greater understanding of the profession would be unwise.

Ultimately, professionals are those who have a proper framework for making sense of their experiences, and turn those experiences into useful tacit knowledge. Without that framework, lessons learned in Afghanistan or Iraq won't meaningfully inform these soldiers if they're deployed to a refugee situation, natural disaster, or different combat scenario in the future.

Professionals not only capitalize on experience, but do so in a meaningful way.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-05-2010 at 11:05 PM. Reason: Fix quote
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Old 11-05-2010   #6
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Perhaps part of our current problem are our efforts to overly expand the "profession" of arms to all who bear arms in the defense of their country. Certainly this is not the historic approach in the U.S.

European "professionals" rightfully looked down upon American armies made up of armature citizen soldiers as lacking the doctrinal uniformity of training, dress, mannerisms and tactics found in their professional forces. We wore the fact of our military being made up of such armatures as a badge of honor, and similarly mocked them for their stilted, predictable, "professional" ways.

Too much of a good thing, however is a bad thing, so we created the military academies so as to always have a core of professionals to build our citizen armies around whenever the need for such a force drove its formation.

The current professional force, like the strategies of containment it was formed to implement, is as obsolete as the smooth bore musket. The challenge is to get senior leaders to embrace such thinking after the current model being "what right looks like" for three generations.

Americans like their army being a little rough around the edges, and they like it being something that good citizens form in times of need, and that melts back down to its professional core once that need is over. The irony is, that the "profession of arms" that prevents the formation of such a citizenry, is perhaps the group that grieves their fading from the American fabric the most.
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Old 11-05-2010   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Americans like their army being a little rough around the edges, and they like it being something that good citizens form in times of need, and that melts back down to its professional core once that need is over. The irony is, that the "profession of arms" that prevents the formation of such a citizenry, is perhaps the group that grieves their fading from the American fabric the most.
Bob,

I don't mean to take anything from your excellent points but I would like to refocus them a bit. You maintain "Americans like their army being a little rough around the edges", however, I suggest Americans like their army to successfully defend the country no matter how rough or refined.

I agree with your view of the historical evolution of the American military is important and we need to keep the public interest in mind. But since we do not know what challenges we may face in the future and how much time we will have to respond, we cannot afford to build an army just in time of need "something that good citizens form in times of need".

If we have a quality professional force prepared to respond to the next challenge rapidly and at the earliest sign of trouble, by actively seeking out the weak signals, we are more likely to address the problem when it is small and less costly in resources of blood and treasure, to nip the problem in the bud so to speak. If we follow your advice, our forces would not be ready to react quickly and we would have to wait while we train the "good citizens" before we could act thus making us far less proactive and more likely to ignore small problems until they become overwhelming consuming far more blood and treasure.

Just saying.

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Old 11-05-2010   #8
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Quote:
This Profession of Arms campaign will focus largely on 4 domains: military-technical, human development, moral-ethical, and political-cultural. It is important that the Army ensure strength in each domain.
Chris as you know, technology constantly evolves and how we decide to adapt or employ it enhances (or detracts) from our ability to do our job, but it doesn't define our purpose and we're clearly not about technology. The same can be said about human development.

Our moral-ethical and political-cultural (not sure how you separate these two) IMO are clearly what defines are profession.

On a side note I agree with Bob's W that we risk losing something (and already have, again IMO) by over professionalizing the Army (which is frequently practiced as standardization, you will enter the borg and become incapable of independent thinking). Even SF has a lost a lot of the individualism (controlled by a common purpose) when it went to the Regt system.

Definitely important topics for our Army and our nation.
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Old 11-05-2010   #9
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There are two things we tend to do that I find worrisome:

1. Intel-driven operations that look for a threat to defeat as the root of every problem.

2. "Means"-driven operations that look for "Ways" to employ the Means we posses to defeat the threat derived by the Intel guys.

Question: Was Iraq the best "Ways" to defend America, or was it merely the best Ways to employ the heavy conventional Means that we possessed to engage the threat identified by the Intel guys???

There was no feasible way to employ those means in Afghanistan at that time, so they sat idle as senior leaders fretted over the threats painted by the Intel community. Where else could we possibly employ them, Iran?? (Probably lends some insight into why that bogeyman keeps getting tossed onto the table as well).

Imagine if when VP Cheney said "Sir, we need to go finish the job your father started with Saddam, besides the intel guys were just telling me that they've long suspected he possesses weapons of mass destruction" (ok, truth in lending, I have no idea what the VP recommended to the President); the Chairman would have spoken up that such an operation would take 90% of the current active force, or require at least 18 months to mobilize, train, and deploy an enhanced force made up of National Guard units; coupled with a "small draft" to ensure we had adequate troops in the pipeline.

Do we still go to Iraq? I doubt it. It was never essential, it was just the convenient Ways that fit our Means. The requirement to build a war fighting force in order to wage war provides the time to gain a broader perspective of the situation than the one provided in a morning intel brief in the Oval Office with a handful of senior leaders. In the Cold War we did not have that luxury, we had to have a larger than normal standing army to help deter that first push. We have different deterrence requirements today, and should shape our force to meet them.

No, in today's environment the US can be defended quite well by a much smaller force that the one we fund today. Trimming off the NATO mission and allowing the Europeans to resource their own national security would be a good step toward right-sizing, as would trimming off a half-dozen equally obsolete Cold War positions in Asia and the delusions of nation building as an answer to insurgency.

It is time for a return to strategy-driven operations; perhaps then we'll stop searching for round holes (Intel-driven) to pound our square peg (Means-driven) through.

Just a thought.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

Last edited by Bob's World; 11-05-2010 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 11-05-2010   #10
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Default Preventive war?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Jakola View Post
If we have a quality professional force prepared to respond to the next challenge rapidly and at the earliest sign of trouble, by actively seeking out the weak signals, we are more likely to address the problem when it is small and less costly in resources of blood and treasure, to nip the problem in the bud so to speak.
According to international law, this is illegal. It also violates the moral reasoning that underpins international law (Just War Theory). That being said, it does not follow that we won't do it anyway. My guess is that it isn't because anyone in the military necessarily wants to intentionally violate these laws and norms, it is that they have no idea what they are or how to apply them. The profession's interest in its moral-ethical knowledge usually ends with a notion of "leadership=ethics" (internal jurisdiction) and "following orders=ethics" (external).
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Old 11-05-2010   #11
Bill Jakola
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Default was just the convenient Ways that fit our Means

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
There

Do we still go to Iraq? I doubt it. It was never essential, it was just the convenient Ways that fit our Means.
Bob's W,

Great point and I completely agree that whatever force we build will tend to be used in ways that are more convenient to the strengths of that particular Army. So the question is what type of profession of arms should build. That in essence is the reason for this discussion the CSA asked us to have.

I value your end, ways, means, perspective as it really highlights the connection between the decision of what type of Army we make to what type of national strategy and policy we can follow. "Build it and they will come" may work for a field of dreams but in the real world we should think deeply about such decisions.

Do we need a large forward deployed force to keep us safe at home; maybe not, perhaps a smaller more expeditionary force would serves us better. But either way our political leadership may ask us to do things we did not anticipate, so a core aspect of any force should be the ability to adapt while engaged in the fight. The more adaptable the force the more easily it can transition along the full spectrum of conflict. Some may point out that such an adaptable force is also easier to use and thus more likely to be used. Providing political leaders with a profession of arms means they may be less inclined to solve problems with other means, but not providing such a force would leave the nation less prepared.

As a profession, we should strive to provide the most effective force possible within our means and trust the political leadership to use it appropriately. As a profession we should not attempt to limit our political leaders by designing a less than optimal force.


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Old 11-05-2010   #12
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Default Chris, you are going to have to educate me.

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Originally Posted by Chris Case View Post
According to international law, this is illegal. It also violates the moral reasoning that underpins international law (Just War Theory). That being said, it does not follow that we won't do it anyway. My guess is that it isn't because anyone in the military necessarily wants to intentionally violate these laws and norms, it is that they have no idea what they are or how to apply them. The profession's interest in its moral-ethical knowledge usually ends with a notion of "leadership=ethics" (internal jurisdiction) and "following orders=ethics" (external).

Okay, Chris, you are going to have to educate me. I do not see how preparing our force to be more responsive to a rapidly changing enviroment is illegal.

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Old 11-05-2010   #13
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Default Preventive War

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Okay, Chris, you are going to have to educate me. I do not see how preparing our force to be more responsive to a rapidly changing enviroment is illegal.

Bill Jakola
Here you are asserting a slightly different claim, but I assume the intent is the same. Preparing to be responsive to a "rapidly changing environment" is not illegal. I did not make that claim. Your claim went beyond preparation to an ability "to respond to the next challenge rapidly and at the earliest sign of trouble, by actively seeking out the weak signals, we are more likely to address the problem when it is small and less costly in resources of blood and treasure, to nip the problem in the bud so to speak." This is called preventive war in Just War Theory and preventive war is illegal in international law [see UN Charter, Art. 39-51]. This is rather uncontroversial. President Bush's NSS in 2002 makes an expanded claim for preemption "where the threats are large enough [p. 15, note 1]," but it did not claim a right to go around the world finding "weak signals" and eliminating possible future threats. Some claim that his NSS advocated preventive war and that this is the "Bush Doctrine," but neither the President nor his legal advisors made that claim. If you are interested, check out Jus ad Bellum criteria for more information on when it is considered justified for states to resort to the use of force.
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Old 11-05-2010   #14
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Default Ludicrous conclusion ...

by Chris Case that this, simply as stated:

Quote:
from Bill Jakola
If we have a quality professional force prepared to respond to the next challenge rapidly and at the earliest sign of trouble, by actively seeking out the weak signals, we are more likely to address the problem when it is small and less costly in resources of blood and treasure, to nip the problem in the bud so to speak.
constitutes a prescription for either preventive or preemptive war.

Bill's prescription does not necessarily call for a resort to armed force ab initio - nor, does Bob's World in his numerous posts on "nipping things in the bud".

Regards

Mike

Last edited by jmm99; 11-05-2010 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 11-06-2010   #15
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Default Mike, your view is closer to what I am trying to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
by Chris Case that this, simply as stated:



constitutes a prescription for either preventive or preemptive war.

Bill's prescription does not necessarily call for a resort to armed force ab initio - nor, does Bob's World in his numerous posts on "nipping things in the bud".

Regards

Mike
Look, I am not advocating preemptive war but keeping an eye on potential future problems seems only prudent.
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Old 11-06-2010   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
by Chris Case that this, simply as stated:



constitutes a prescription for either preventive or preemptive war.

Bill's prescription does not necessarily call for a resort to armed force ab initio - nor, does Bob's World in his numerous posts on "nipping things in the bud".

Regards

Mike
Mike,

Your claim is true--but my pointing out the possibility is hardly "ludicrous" as the title of your reply claims. I also did not claim there was any "necessity" in what Bill said either. In fact I even stated that I doubted "anyone in the military necessarily wants to intentionally violate these laws and norms." So I don't know where your claim that I somehow bestowed "necessity" of any sort on Bill's claim gets it support? But, I am the one who draws "a ludicrous conclusion" according to you. Thanks for your careful attention to what I wrote.

In addition, you claim that I somehow think that Bill's remark "constitutes a prescription for either preventive or preemptive war." I am not sure how my pointing out that descriptively his claim was (particularly without further qualifications), by definition, a description of a form of preventive war. I am not sure what you understand "prescribe" to mean, but my reply to Bill's claim was in an effort to clarify what he was describing. His response continues this effort towards a clear description. He has asserted that this is not what he meant to describe. Great. I never assumed he had bad intent or motives, but I do think we should make an effort to be clear when thinking about these things.

Now, if we want to get into a discussion of what sort of means that the military can use "to nip things in the bud" ab intitio that doesn't constitute force, war, etc., that could be interesting.

Best regards,
Chris

Last edited by Chris Case; 11-06-2010 at 12:19 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old 11-06-2010   #17
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"nipping things in the bud" is what the Special Forces community is doing in dozens of countries around the world every day. It is the largest aspect of Foreign Internal Defense. It is done best by small footprint operations executed with a regularity and in a manner that builds enduring relationships at the personal level. It works well.

Security Force Assistance is a steroid infused version of the same that could potentially see the Army attempting to send BCTs into a mission typically addressed by an ODA. Bigger footprints, different manner, less personal, less frequent. Another example of "Means-driven" operations. How to justify all these BCTs as operations draw down in Iraq and Afghanistan, employ them against an enduring mission that someone else is already doing just fine.

The Army did the same thing prior to the Balkans kicking off when it got involved with NORTHCOM and the National Guard's mission domestically. Increased OPTEMPO overseas soon made them wish they hadn't attempted that hostile takeover.

Yes, we need a professional core to the army, but we also need an army that does more than just change missions, it must change size as well.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 11-06-2010   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
"nipping things in the bud" is what the Special Forces community is doing in dozens of countries around the world every day. It is the largest aspect of Foreign Internal Defense. It is done best by small footprint operations executed with a regularity and in a manner that builds enduring relationships at the personal level. It works well.
This is interesting. How do we classify these types of actions? Are they acts of war, politics, justified self-defense, etc.? Also, regarding the claim that "It works well," I personally think we need to be more specific. Works well for what?
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Old 11-06-2010   #19
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Default My thought at your initial comment was

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...my pointing out the possibility is hardly "ludicrous" as the title of your reply claims...
"Make standing broad jumps at wrong conclusions often?"

That does not equate to ludicrous, a judgment call, however it does seem to imply that your comment was perhaps a bit hasty.
Quote:
...my reply to Bill's claim was in an effort to clarify what he was describing...
Perfectly understandable and I agree with you that he wasn't clear. Still, it helps to phrase questions with a "Did you mean..." as opposed to "That is flipping criminal..."

FWIW, you can use the search function on the site and discover that many discussions on the topic have been held and the post above by Robert C. Jones stating his opinion on what should happen have been echoed by me and others -- still others have posed alternatives.

Here are some Threads on or near the topic: LINK, LINK, LINK.
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Old 11-06-2010   #20
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It would also help if we actually conducted diplomacy, and had a robust diplomatic corps, and used the DoS instead of the DoD to elminate the need to constantly "nip things in the bud" militarily.
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