War, Morality, and the Military Profession

By Malham M. Wakin | Go to book overview
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2 Officership as a Profession

Samuel P. Huntington

Military scholars already view The Soldier and the Stateas a classic examination of the military as a profession. In this opening chapter, Huntington posits the thesis that modern military officership is a profession in an analogous sense to medicine and law. He provides defining characteristics of a profession (expertise, responsibility, and corporateness) and argues convincingly that military officers meet the criteria of professionalism. He identifies the central skill of military leadership, describes the special knowledge required of military leaders, and suggests the type of education and training appropriate to the profession. He makes illuminating comments concerning the realm of the military officer's competence, his relationships to the state, and the role ideally played by rank and bureaucratic structure. A central theme to be pursued in this text is his view that "the profession thus becomes a moral unit positing certain values and ideals which guide the members in their dealings with laymen."


Professionalism and the Military

The modern officer corps is a professional body and the modern military officer a professional man. This is, perhaps, the most fundamental thesis of this book. A profession is a peculiar type of functional group with highly specialized characteristics. Sculptors, stenographers, entrepreneurs, and advertising copywriters all have distinct functions but no one of these functions is professional in nature. Professionalism, however, is characteristic of the modern officer

Reprinted by permission of the publishers from The Soldier and the State by Samuel P. Huntington , Cambridge, Mass.: The Belnap Press of Harvard University Press, © 1957 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; © 1985 by Samuel P. Huntington.


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