Two Responses to Robert Hynes' "Army Civilians and the Army Profession"

Military Review, September/October 2015 | Go to article overview

Two Responses to Robert Hynes' "Army Civilians and the Army Profession"


(Military Review, May-June 2015)

I appreciate Lt. Col. Robert Hynes, retired, providing his recent article, "Army Civilians and the Army Profession", in the May/June issue of Military Review, creating the opportunity to engage in a professional dialogue on the membership of the Army civilian within the Army profession. As a discussion focused on the validity of the academic research underpinning the inclusion of Department of the Army civilians in our doctrinal discussions on the profession, I am sure he will find a small minority of supporters. My personal experience -after many years as an Army professional and from exposure to a majority of the Army's uniformed and executive senior leaders-is that most Army soldiers and civilians would find the academic discussion mildly interesting yet reject the article's conclusion within their normal framework of never wasting talent, soldier or civilian, and fully accept the definitions in our Army doctrine.

ADRP 1, The Army Profession, defines the Army profession as "a unique vocation of experts certified in the ethical design, generation, support, and application of landpower, serving under civilian authority and entrusted to defend the Constitution and the rights and interests of the American people;" whose members, (1) provide a unique and vital service to society, without which it could not flourish, (2) provide this service by developing and applying expert knowledge, (3) earn the trust of society through ethical, effective, and efficient practice, (4) establish and uphold the discipline and standards of their art and science, including the responsibility for professional development and certification, and (5) are granted significant autonomy and discretion in the practice of their profession on behalf of society. Two of Hynes' arguments focus on a professional ethic and certification. The Army Civilian Corps easily meets his objections. First, the code of ethics can be found in the Civilian Oath of Office, a legally binding (i.e., can serve as a basis for criminal prosecution) affirmation that significantly mirrors their soldier counterparts as set out by the United States Code (U.S.C.), in their annual evaluation, and in the Civilian Corps Creed. Second, concerning certification, every civilian is hired under the merit system principals defined in Sections 2301 and 2302 of Title 5 U.S.C. In contrast to their soldier counterparts, civilians meet their very first certification by proving the commensurate level of education, experience and competency defined in the documented position description.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I would close with saying that the thousands of Army civilians I work with think of themselves as professionals, a part of the Army profession, trying our best every single day to conduct business as experts in our fields, practice our craftethically, portray the Army Values and ensure the Army remains preeminent in land power application for our Nation.

-Kirby R. Brown, Army Professional

What is a profession, and what is a professional? These questions occurred to me as I read the article "Army Civilians and the Army Profession" by Lt. Col. Robert Hynes, retired. The terms professional and profession have many definitions. One definition comes from the Society of Human Management, which defines a profession as "an occupation or practice that requires expertise, complicated knowledge and skills-acquired through formal education and follow-on practical experience." Organized professions are also governed and policed by a recognized and associated body. …

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