Academic journal article Military Review

The Army Profession of Arms

Academic journal article Military Review

The Army Profession of Arms

Article excerpt

The Army Profession of Arms serves our Nation and accomplishes missions at least cost to the members of the Profession, those volunteers entrusted to the profession by our Nation. The Army is made up of skilled and reliable practitioners, soldiers, noncommissioned officers, warrant officers, civilians, and commissioned officers, all collaborating in the application of the art and science of operations on land to get those missions accomplished in ways consistent with who we are as a people and faithful to our Constitution.

The history of our Army profession is intertwined with the history of our Nation, despite what some scholars and historians peg as the latter part of the 19th century as the beginnings of professionalism in the U.S. Army. I would insist there is abundant evidence that right from our Nation's very beginnings fighting for our independence, there were beginnings of professionalism. General Washington's continuing insistence on more professionalism led to longer enlistments for the Continental Army. At Valley Forge, Baron von Steuben undertook to create a more professional Army, training soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers on the discipline and competencies required for land warfare in those Revolutionary War set of conditions. General George Washington as well as his chief of artillery, Henry Knox, recognized the need for a school or schools to educate soldiers in the Profession of Arms to serve the Nation. Indeed, Washington's continuing emphasis on professional study of the art of war again as president, in his eighth address to Congress on 7 December 1796, led to the eventual opening of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1802 under the Jefferson administration:

The Institution of a Military Academy, is also recommended by cogent reasons... Whatever argument may be drawn from particular examples, superficially viewed, a thorough examination of the subject will evince, that the Art of War, is at once comprehensive and complicated; that it demands much previous study; and that the possession of it, in its most improved and perfect state, is always of great moment to the security of a Nation. This, therefore, ought to be a serious care of every Government: and for this purpose, an Academy, where a regular course of Instruction is given, is an obvious expedient, which different Nations have successfully employed.

The establishment of the first Army school, the Artillery School of Practice, in 1824 at Fort Monroe, Virginia, demonstrates that early on the U.S. Army and our Profession of Arms has recognized the need for expert knowledge in the art and science of war to serve our Nation. Others followed. That expert knowledge requirement, competence, was coupled with General Washington's earlier insistence, indeed demand, that character and leadership methods be consistent with who we wanted to be as a people and a Nation. Today, in this tenth year of war, our Army Profession's continuing devotion to development of expert knowledge for the missions of the Nation and service executed with the character and leadership methods reflecting the values of our Constitution remains faithful to the practices of those beginning times.

I am inspired every day by this "next greatest generation," by what those of you in the profession serving today are doing for our Nation in this now tenth year of war. You have done so with great courage, skill, results in Iraq and increasingly now in Afghanistan, and yes, at painful sacrifice to you and your families in conditions as tough as any the Nation has ever sent its Army into.

When things got really tough in the mission in Iraq, soldiers and their battle commanders stayed with it, true to your ethos, "I will never quit." You went back, and then went back again and again. You sacrificed. You did not quit even when others did. You taught yourselves how to fight an insurgency on the ground while writing new doctrine at home, and while simultaneously growing an Iraqi security force, promoting local and national governance and promoting the public good locally and nationally in the economy and in public works. …

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