Our Army is in a period of transition as we continue the fight in Afghanistan and prepare for future conflict. During this period of transition, it is especially critical that leaders ensure that our Army maintains our capabilities and our strong ethical foundation by educating leaders, developing our expert body of knowledge (doctrine), training fundamental combat skills, and enforcing standards of discipline.
While the Army is a profession, the running of the Army consists of a series of bureaucratic processes. These processes, with their emphasis on efficiency, may cause us to lose focus of our professional responsibility to ensure combat effectiveness. We can't mistake activity for progress. Significantly, professions excel where bureaucracy cannot in the creation and adaptation of abstract expert knowledge and its application to new situations. Therefore, if America is to have the cutting edge of warrior Soldiers, effective technology, and victorious land combat forces for joint-operations, the professional nature of our Army must predominate over its bureaucratic tendencies.
Professions are not professions simply because they say they are. Their clients,
society as a whole, have to accept their claims and trust the professions with
jurisdiction over important areas of human endeavor.1
-Colonel Matthew Moten
ADRP 1 defines a profession as "a relatively high status occupation whose members develop and apply abstract [expert] knowledge as human expertise to solve problems in a particular field of endeavor."[i] There are five aspects of a profession that are inferred in this definition: (1) professions provide a unique and vital service to the society served, one it cannot provide itself, (2) they do so by the application of expert knowledge and practice; (3) because of their effective and ethical application of their expertise; (4) they earn the trust of the society, and (5) are therefore granted significant autonomy in their practice on behalf of the society.[ii]
Our Army today is a professional body that provides a service to the American People. Our representative government grants us the autonomy to use lethal force on behalf of the American people because we've earned their trust. We've earned that trust because we regulate our behaviors through our Uniformed Code of Military Justice, oaths, and creeds and because we possess a sound military judgment gained by expertise in the ethical application of land power. That expertise is only acquired through continuous education and experience. Every Soldier and leader is required to be a steward of our profession to ensure that trust remains intact and that we provide the best service to our nation.
A key component of our profession is our Army culture –the attitudes, values, goals, beliefs, and behaviors rooted in traditions, customs, and courtesies. influenced by leadership. Culture is to an organization as personality is to an individual. Although influenced by leadership, it is our culture that shapes how the Army views the environment and adapts to meet current and future challenges.
First, maneuver leaders should become familiar with the relevant Army doctrine and applicable legislation—to include the Constitution—to provide leaders with the principle-based foundation for studying the Army profession. Second, once familiar with relevant doctrine, leaders should read an article or book that provides an overview of how the Army Profession has evolved. Third, leaders should familiarize themselves with the oaths, norms and creeds that define our profession. Finally, leaders should use the discussion/reflection questions along with the content provided at the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) website to promote discussion within your unit.