The Army and the Profession of Arms
[Y]ou may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life-but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.
This Kind of War
The Army serves the Nation. We defend America's Constitution and our way of life. We protect America's security and our Nation's interests. We answer the Nation's call to serve whenever and wherever required. We must prepare for decisive action in all operations. But above all, we are ready to fight and win the Nation's wars-our nonnegotiable contract with the American people. The Army is, and will remain, the preeminent land warfighting force in the world. We serve as the ultimate guarantor of our way of life.
Secretary of War Elihu Root wrote, at the dawn of the last century, "The real object of having an army is to prepare for war." He continued, "The regular establishment in the United States will probably never be by itself the whole machine with which any war will be fought." But Root also knew that the United States Army does much more than fight wars. Even as he wrote, the Army was establishing civil governments in recently acquired territories around the world and providing disaster relief after a hurricane. After fighting a war with Spain, the Army had reduced its strength but was recruiting a new force to conduct contingency operations in the Philippines. As we enter the 21st century, Secretary Root's themes remain. The Army-active component and reserve components-continues to provide trained and ready warfighting land forces capable of decisive action across a full range of military missions for joint, multinational, and interagency operations.
The Army organizes, equips, and trains Soldiers to fight. The Army fights wars, but it does a great deal more than that-and always has. During peace the Army focuses its capabilities on conducting operations to deter war, but if deterrence fails, it delivers a decisive victory. Fundamental to deterrence is the credible, demonstrated capacity to fight and win. This kind of credibility is achieved through rigorous, realistic training; sound doctrine; tough, disciplined, and fearless Soldiers; inspired leadership; modernized equipment; and a mix of organizations and capabilities that provides strategically responsive, deployable, sustainable, versatile, agile, lethal, and survivable striking power. Army forces with these characteristics can shape the strategic environment to reduce the causes for conflict before crises occur. If such proactive measures fail, The Army is capable of managing crises and conducting prompt, sustained, decisive land combat as part of the joint force. Army forces conduct offensive, defensive, stability, and support operations as part of a combatant commander's campaign. The Army's actions may include forcible entry from the land, sea, or air; decisive fires and maneuver; closing with and destroying a determined enemy; sustaining a joint force; setting conditions for a return to self-sustaining peace; and securing our homeland.
Often it serves to reflect on history to find direction for the future. . . In October 1781 our Army was neither fully manned nor equipped. But strong, positive leaders and determined courageous soldiers won final victory at Yorktown, ensuring freedom for the Nation.
John O. Marsh, Jr.
former Secretary of the Army
For 226 years, the United States Army has served the American people in peace and in war. Unified by a dedication to individual freedom, citizens from all walks of life formed the Continental Army in 1775. Wanting for every resource of warfare, the Continentals drew strength from strong leadership and selfless patriotism. Battles at Lexington, Concord, and Long Island, and the crucible of Valley Forge molded the heritage of service and sacrifice that won our Nation's freedom and sustains The Army's unique relationship with the Nation today. Citizen-soldiers have been the centerpiece to our formations ever since.
In 1781, with the support of our French allies, the Continental Army defeated the British at Yorktown and secured for the Nation the liberties so eloquently stated in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Yorktown, Virginia, 14 October 1781
As the siege lines of the combined French and American forces closed in on the trapped forces of General Charles Cornwallis, General George Washington ordered a night assault to seize two vital British strongpoints. While the French attacked Redoubt No. 9, American Light Infantry under Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton attacked Redoubt No. 10. As covering fire arched overhead, the Americans and French moved forward. The Americans, with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets, did not wait for sappers to clear away the abatis but climbed over and through the obstructions. Within ten minutes, the garrison of Redoubt No. 10 was overwhelmed. Combined with the French success, this attack sealed the fate of the British garrison and ultimately led to American independence.
Today, this same Army stands guard over those freedoms, still sustained by the selfless service of patriots. The traditions of commitment, dedication, determination, and character continue in today's all-volunteer force. Americans volunteer to serve their country in the profession of arms. They are neither forced nor compelled to serve except by commitment to their fellow citizens and their Nation. With this in mind, perhaps the most meaningful lines of the Declaration of Independence with respect to The Army are not the first lines, but the last:
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
This timeless sentence reflects the ideals of our civil society and The Army's professional ethos. For over two and one-quarter centuries, the Army has constantly served the American people with vigilance, dedication, and selflessness. The Army is a learning organization that has evolved together with the Nation through societal changes, technological advancements, and ever changing international relations.
Though constituted largely from militia forces at the beginning of the Revolution, the Continental Army that ended the Revolutionary War was a professional force by the standards of its day. Without the citizen-soldiers of the Continental Army, America would not have gained its independence. Reduced immediately after the Revolutionary War to 80 Soldiers in a single garrison, the Army reconstituted time and again in response to emergencies, usually to protect the frontier. It expanded significantly to fight the British in the War of 1812, a conflict that solidified the need for a standing army in the minds of the American people.
The Army was essential to America's growth. As the Nation expanded westward, the Army provided explorers to map new territory and find paths to extend the frontier. Army engineers built roads and canals and improved navigation on waterways. The Army kept watch over the frontier-first to protect the Indians, later to protect settlers. The Army expanded again to fight the Mexican War, its first foreign deployment.
In the 1860s, the Army and the Nation experienced their most trying period together, when both were torn apart by the Civil War. The Army grew dramatically-in size, professional ability, and technological sophistication-during four long years of war to preserve our Union. After the Civil War, the Army was the executive agent for reconstructing the South.
Changes in military thought and technology accelerated through the 19th century, even as the Army oversaw Reconstruction and continued its mission in the West. Drawing on the hard-won lessons of the Civil War, the Army established a school at Fort Leavenworth to integrate those changes. The School of Application for Infantry and Cavalry became the foundation of the Army's professional education system. The Spanish-American War in 1898 exposed organizational, logistic, and training deficiencies in the Army. In the early 20th century, the Army began to reform itself. It struggled to assimilate a host of technological changes, even as it took on new responsibilities as an expeditionary force for a burgeoning world power. The Army was responsible for governing several new possessions and for intermittently protecting the border with Mexico.
Suddenly, the Nation and the Army were involved in the first of two world wars, wars that transformed them both. A greatly expanded United States Army provided the land combat power necessary for the Allies to win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force, with many Leavenworth graduates among its leadership, won an important victory at Cantigny, won again in savage fighting in the Meuse-Argonne, and added the necessary energy to turn the tide on the Western Front.
Meuse-Argonne, 26 September-1 October 1918
The 369th Infantry fought valiantly in the Meuse-Argonne as part of the French 161st Division. Attacking behind a fiery barrage, the 369th Infantry assaulted successive German trench lines and captured the town of Ripont. On 29 September, the regiment stormed powerful enemy positions and took the town of Sechault. Despite heavy casualties, the 369th, called "Hell Fighters" by the French and Germans, relentlessly continued the attack at dawn. Raked by enemy machine guns, they assaulted into the woods northeast of Sechault, flanking and overwhelming enemy machine gun positions. The "Let's Go!" elan and indomitable fighting spirit of the 369th Infantry was illustrated throughout the battle. Their initiative, leadership, and gallantry won for their entire Regiment the French Croix de Guerre.
The advent of World War II likewise challenged the Army. The Army drew down precipitously in the interwar years, starved for money, equipment, and Soldiers. But as war began in Europe, the Army used its professional education system to mobilize, train, and equip a force that expanded to 89 divisions by the end of the war. A brilliant generation of Army leaders-Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton-deployed those formations to North Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific to defeat the Axis Powers.
Twice in the span of 30 years the Army provided decisive land power without which the forces of freedom and democracy throughout the world would likely have suffered defeat. The common experiences of millions of American Soldiers of two generations helped establish our Nation as a superpower.
By the end of World War II, the United States was a global power and the Army was spread across the globe governing occupied countries, assisting in reconstruction programs, and guarding new borders against new foes. An historic anomaly ensued: 45 years of Cold War against an implacable foe during which the Nation and the Army remained alert for imminent war. The strategic environment was dangerous but stable; a conflict between two roughly equal superpowers would have practically assured mutual destruction. As a result, the major wars of this period, in Korea and Vietnam, were limited in terms of American objectives and scope.
The 20th century ended with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Our Nation and the Army began yet another transition-one that is still underway. In the midst of this change, the Army responded to an unexpected crisis in the Persian Gulf, ejecting the Iraqi army from Kuwait in an unprecedented 100-hour ground offensive. The Army remained engaged in critical regions to reassure allies and deter aggression, to shape the international environment, and to prevent disorder from possibly leading to war. All the while, the Army prepared for an uncertain future in a far less stable world.
Throughout our history, the Army has demonstrated enduring principles and characteristics in its service to the Nation-subordination to civilian authority; ability to rapidly mobilize to support the Nation's interests; respect for human rights; integration of technology; and rapidly adapting to and learning to win in changing environments. Through every period, it continued to develop a professional Army made up of citizen-soldiers.
The purpose of any profession is to serve society. Members of a profession consider their vocation a life-long calling to provide a necessary and useful service. To fulfill those societal needs, professions-such as law, medicine, the clergy, and the military-develop and maintain distinct bodies of specialized knowledge and impart expertise in them through formal theoretical and practical education. Professions establish a unique subculture that distinguishes practitioners from the society they serve, while supporting and enhancing that society. To that end, professions develop particular vocabularies, establish professional journals, and even adopt distinct forms of dress. They create their own ethos and standards to maintain the effectiveness of their service. And because professions hold their members to high technical and ethical standards, society grants them a great deal of autonomy for self-government.
The fundamental characteristics of Army professionalism are a service focus, an expert knowledge, a unique culture, and a professional military ethos.
The Army's fundamental purpose is to serve the Nation and its people, defending their security and interests and securing their rights and liberties. This service ethic is central to our profession. Congress, representing the people, has the constitutional responsibility and power "to raise and support armies." The Constitution designates the President, also elected by the people, as commander in chief of the armed forces. Because of its constitutional powers and duties, The Army has responsibilities and loyalties to both the legislative and executive branches. Together, those branches of government "provide for the common defense." That phrase captures the essence of military service and the moral character of the Soldier's duty to defend the republic. When sworn into military service, each officer, in the Oath of Commission, and each enlisted Soldier, in the Oath of Enlistment, pledges "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States." That solemn pledge ties military service directly to the founding document of our Nation. It instills a nobility of purpose within each Soldier and provides deep personal meaning to all who serve.
Army professionalism is intellectual, physical, and moral in nature; it requires expert knowledge of the concepts and tools of its trade. It is intellectual because the unique body of expertise required in military operations is extensive. The conduct of war, its technology, and the execution of military strategy, operations, and tactics are complex matters, certainly as demanding as the practice of any other profession. Moreover, Army professionals must exercise their expertise against intelligent adversaries. The consequences of failure in our profession-both for the Soldier and the Nation-are more dire than those in any other.
Army professionalism is physical because warfare is physical. Armies persevere and endure in a brutal physical environment to break the adversary's will. They do not break human will by negotiating or removing weapons. Armies defeat their adversaries' will to resist by presenting the certainty of physical destruction and the loss of hope of rescue. This endeavor has been called "the management of violence." The Army professional's task is to exercise violent force to break the adversary's will quickly and at reasonable cost.
Army professionalism is moral because the capability to wield tools of destruction in a brutal environment carries with it a moral responsibility. Our professional moral imperative derives from ancient ethical and religious standards. The Law of Land Warfare, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Code of Conduct give structure to the moral imperative. The moral and ethical tenets of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Army values characterize The Army's professional ideals. As the environment of conflict becomes more complex, this moral dimension of Army professionalism takes on greater importance.
The need to master the intellectual, physical, and moral aspects of warfare forms the basis for our system of professional military education. Every Army leader must master all aspects of warfare, personally committing to the career-long process of learning, evaluating, and adapting to changing security environments, technologies, and military operations. Through this process, The Army professional continually develops expertise in the practice of the art and science of war.
Through our history, the Army has developed a unique professional culture. The Army's institutional culture encompasses the customs and traditions, norms of conduct, ideals, and values that have evolved over 226 years of campaigns and battles, of shared hardship and triumph. We all stand a little taller because we share the title, "Soldier."
The Army's institutional culture is fundamentally historical in nature. More so than other professions, The Army cherishes its past, especially its combat history, and nourishes its institutional memory through ceremony and custom. Our formations preserve their unit histories and display them in unit crests, division patches, and regimental mottos. Such traditions reinforce esprit de corps and the distinctiveness of the vocation. Our history of past battles bonds and sustains units and Soldiers. History reminds Soldiers of who they are, of the cause they serve, and of their ties to Soldiers who have gone before them.
Army customs give The Army's institutional culture daily life. For example, the salute is not simply an honor exchanged. It began in ancient times as a signal of trust between armed warriors. The salute said, "My hand is open to you as an act of trust between us." It remains a privileged gesture of respect and trust among Soldiers.
The Army also operates within the distinct legal culture of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In addition, The Army's institutional culture promotes certain norms of conduct. For example, discipline is central to our professional identity. Individual self-discipline emanates from personal courage. Soldiers, who must manage violence under the Law of Land Warfare, require the highest level of individual and organizational discipline. Likewise, because Soldiers must face the violence of combat, they require the stiffening of discipline to help them do their duty.
Discipline is based on pride in the profession of arms, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of battle or the fear of death.
General George S. Patton, Jr.
Part of our institutional culture, The Army's service ethic is a Soldier's commitment to place the Nation, The Army, its Soldiers, and their families above self. This commitment is expressed by the willingness to perform one's duty at all times and to subordinate personal welfare for the welfare of others, without expecting reward or recognition. Likewise, The Army is committed to developing values-based leadership and the well-being of Soldiers and their families. Soldiers with patriotism, pride in their profession, commitment to The Army and its values, and belief in the essential purposes of the military provide the inner strength that builds strong, cohesive units and enables The Army to attain its service ethic.
Another part of the institutional culture is to treat others with dignity and respect. The Army allows all Soldiers to serve to the best of their ability without fear of prejudice or discrimination. Treating others with dignity and respect leads to cohesive units. Cohesion and esprit de corps are key aspects of Army culture. Soldiers fight best as members of cohesive units with high esprit. In the immediate brutality of ground combat, distant ideals count for little. Unit cohesion-a shared sense of responsibility for each other's lives-holds Soldiers together in combat. That sense of belonging to a proud organization supplies an element of courage and commitment essential to successful military operations.
The Army ethos-a set of guiding beliefs, standards, and ideals-is the soul of our profession. The functional aspects of this ethos reflect professional competence. The Army ethos places requirements on individual Soldiers beyond those necessary in other vocations. The Army has expressed those requirements as values that each Soldier internalizes. Army values-Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage-guide the personal conduct of every member of The Army.
The Army ethos also demands adherence to all of the laws, treaties, and conventions governing the conduct of war to which the United States is a party. The laws of war seek both to legitimize and limit the use of military force and prevent employing violence unnecessarily or inhumanely. Therefore, the Army ethos calls for judgment in using violence, particularly in the presence of noncombatants.
The Army ethos also reflects our national culture, values, beliefs, and norms to the extent they are compatible with military service. The American Soldier is first a citizen, with most of the fundamental rights that any American enjoys under the Constitution. By taking an oath to defend the Constitution, the Soldier also accepts a set of responsibilities that other citizens do not. Soldiers agree to limit their freedom to come and go in order to be available on short notice as readiness demands. Soldiers subordinate their full freedom of expression to the needs of security and disciplined organizations. Soldiers accept these responsibilities as part of our nonnegotiable contract with the American people.
The measure of military professionalism is success in battle and other military operations. Military effectiveness is perishable. Therefore, every day in The Army, we do two things: we train Soldiers and we grow them into leaders.
Soldiers are on point for the Nation. To prepare them, The Army trains every day. In the wake of the War of 1812, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun articulated the sole purpose for a peacetime army-to prepare for war. Since that time, the Army has measured its readiness predominately in terms of its training effectiveness. For a century and a half, the Army has trained its formations according to contemporary doctrine, incorporating new technologies and the lessons of combat.
Since the mid-1970s, the Army has undergone a training revolution. It has developed a training doctrine with a system of training techniques and standards that allow Soldiers and units to acquire and practice their skills and maintain a high level of warfighting readiness. Candid after-action reviews and repeated application under changing conditions reinforce training and readiness standards. This training system, administered by dedicated professionals, sustains the process of developing Soldiers and units of uniformly high quality. This innovative training methodology has been so successful that it has been adopted by much of corporate America.
FM 7-0 (formerly FM 25-100) provides the doctrinal basis for Army training. Army training aims to impart to Soldiers and units the individual and collective skills, knowledge, and attributes required to accomplish their missions. The physical performance of mission essential tasks, while necessary, is insufficient to develop the required attributes to win-decisively. Soldiers and units understand that only tough, realistic exercises can help them perform effectively under the stress of military operations.
The American soldier is a proud one and he demands professional competence in his leaders. In battle, he wants to know that the job is going to be done right, with no unnecessary casualties. The noncommissioned officer wearing the chevron is supposed to be the best soldier in the platoon and he is supposed to know how to perform all the duties expected of him. The American soldier expects his sergeant to be able to teach him how to do his job. And he expects even more from his officers.
General of the Army Omar N. Bradley
Leadership is the lifeblood of The Army. Because of the personal and physical nature of ground operations, leadership is the most dynamic and essential element of land combat power. Confident, competent leadership unites the other elements of combat power and serves as the catalyst that creates conditions for success. It takes more than 20 years-a generation-to grow a brigade commander. Today's lieutenants and captains will command tomorrow's Objective Force brigades and divisions.
Leadership is vital to maintaining an agile and versatile force. Leaders inspire Soldiers to behave professionally and to accomplish missions effectively. Therefore, The Army grows leaders with the character, competence, commitment, and courage to take action when and where required. Leadership requires imagination and initiative. Sometimes that means taking action without orders; sometimes it means standing fast until new orders arrive. At all times, leadership requires sound judgment.
Army leadership begins with what the leader must BE, the values and attributes that shape a leader's character. Interpersonal, conceptual, technical, and tactical skills compose what a leader must KNOW. Leadership demands competence in a range of human activities that expand in complexity with positions of greater responsibility. But character and knowledge-while absolutely necessary-are not enough. Leadership demands application-action to DO what is demanded-often in complex and dangerous conditions. Action is the essence of leadership.
Under The Army's leadership framework based on BE-KNOW-DO, Army leaders adopt and internalize Army values and develop the requisite mental, physical, and emotional attributes. They learn the interpersonal, conceptual, technical, and tactical skills required to lead soldiers and accomplish missions. Leaders motivate subordinates, conduct operations, and continually develop and improve their units, their Soldiers, and themselves. Leadership is a life-long learning process-in the classroom, in personal study, and in practice.
The ambiguous nature of the operational environment requires Army leaders who are self-aware and adaptive. Self-aware leaders understand their operational environment, can assess their own capabilities, determine their own strengths and weaknesses, and actively learn to overcome their weaknesses. Adaptive leaders must first be self-aware-then have the additional ability to recognize change in their operating environment, identify those changes, and learn how to adapt to succeed in their new environment. Self-awareness and adaptivity are symbiotic. A self-aware leader who is not adaptive cannot learn to accept change and modify behavior brought about by changes in the environment. However, adapting without self-awareness is changing for change's sake-without understanding the relationship between abilities, duties, and the environment. There are numerous self-aware and adaptive leaders in our history-Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore in the Ia Drang Valley; General of the Army Douglas MacArthur at Inchon; General Matthew Ridgway taking command of Eighth Army in Korea; Major General William Sherman in the March to the Sea; and Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant's relentless assault on the Army of Northern Virginia. Some leaders-like MacArthur, Sherman, and Grant-mastered new skills and gained the initiative by proactively changing their environment before the adversary could react. Others, like Moore and Ridgway, recognized changes to their environment brought about by the adversary in time to save their commands from destruction. All were confident in their abilities and aware of the capabilities of their units. They did not fear the unknown, uncertainty, or ambiguity. On the contrary, they were willing to take risks, remained focused and mission-oriented, and determined to win a decisive victory.
Today's environment demands more from Army leaders then ever before. The Army needs adaptive leaders-leaders that can successfully operate across the range of military operations. It needs adaptive leaders who can be home one day and, within hours, conduct military operations anywhere in the world. The Army needs adaptive leaders who can operate in all technological environments-from hand-to-hand combat to offensive information operations. Ultimately, The Army needs adaptive leaders who can compel an enemy to surrender in war and negotiate in peace.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the Order of the Day, "Full victory-nothing else!" to 101st Airborne Division paratroopers, just before they board their airplanes to execute the airborne assault of Normandy.
When a country looks at its fighting forces, it is looking in a mirror; if the mirror is a true one, the face that it sees there will be its own.
General Sir John Hackett
The profession of arms involves the disciplined use of legally sanctioned force. It imposes many demands but imparts lasting rewards upon those who enter it. The professional calling of the Soldier is to defend the security of the Nation, its ideals, and its way of life. The challenge is to learn the profession well enough to accomplish any mission effectively while protecting the force, especially the lives of one's fellow Soldiers. We should not, however, expect war in the future to be easy or bloodless. Conflict results in casualties, despite our best efforts to minimize them. Understanding this, professionals develop and maintain cohesive units with high esprit, wherein Soldiers earn the trust of peers, subordinates, and superiors, and give that trust back in return. Army professionals voluntarily limit certain privileges and rights to competently practice the art and science of warfare. Challenge and selfless service are part of the contract-a Soldier serving the Nation.
The Army has adapted repeatedly and successfully to changing conditions and situations. The famed ingenuity and innovation of the American Soldier will continue to serve us well during periods of strategic transition. For The Army to maintain its place as the world's premier land force, we must always grasp opportunities afforded by evolving technologies and continue to develop new military capabilities. The Army will remain connected to the American people, our essential national role understood and supported by American society. We will remain one of the most esteemed institutions in the Nation and be an attractive profession to future citizen-soldiers. And while technologies and conditions will continue to change over time, we will remember our stock-in-trade-training Soldiers and growing them into leaders-the keys to our success now and in the future.
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