War, Morality, and the Military Profession

By Malham M. Wakin | Go to book overview

lie elsewhere. As a result, his motivations, values, and behavior requently differ greatly from those of the career professional.

The enlisted men subordinate to the officer corps are a part of the organizational bureaucracy but not of the professional bureaucracy. The enlisted personnel have neither the intellectual skills nor the professional responsibility of the officer. They are specialists in the application of violence, not the management of violence. Their vocation is a trade not a profession. This fundamental difference between the officer corps and the enlisted corps is reflected in the sharp line which is universally drawn between the two in all the military forces of the world. If there were not this cleavage, there could be a single military hierarchy extending from the lowest enlisted man to the highest officer. But the differing character of the two vocations makes the organizational hierarchy discontinuous. The ranks which exist in the enlisted corps do not constitute a professional hierarchy. They reflect varying aptitudes, abilities, and offices within the trade of soldier, and movement up and down them is much more fluid than in the officer corps. The difference between the officer and enlisted vocations precludes any general progression from one to the other. Individual enlisted men do become officers but this is the exception rather than the rule. The education and training necessary for officership are normally incompatible with prolonged service as an enlisted man.


Notes
1
This author has discovered only one volume in English which analyzes officership as a profession: Michael Lewis, England's Sea Officers:The Study of the Naval Profession ( London, 1939). More typical is the standard history of the professions in Great Britain which omits mention of the military "because the service which soldiers are trained to render is one which it is hoped they will never be called upon to perform." A. M. Carr-Saunders and P. A. Wilson, The Professions ( Oxford, 1933), p. 3. Sociological studies, following Max Weber, have usually analyzed the military as a bureaucratic structure. See H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (eds.), From Max Weber ( New York, 1946), pp. 221-223; C. D. Spindler, "The Military—A Systematic Analysis", Social Forces ( October 1948):83-88; C. H. Page, "Bureaucracy's Other Face", Social Forces ( October 1946):88-94; H. Brotz and E. K. Wilson, "Characteristics of Military Society", American Journal of Sociology ( March 1946):371-375.

While bureaucracy is characteristic of the officer corps, it is, however, a secondary not an essential characteristic. Other writers have followed the liberal tendency to identify the military with the enemies of liberalism and have stressed the feudal-aristocratic elements in militarism. See Alfred Vagts,

-33-

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