Sir John Winthrop Hackett
In this brief lecture, General Hackett points up the critical moral qualities necessary for carrying out the function of military service. He emphasizes that virtues such as courage, fortitude, and loyalty are moral virtues for all human beings, but that in the military profession they take on special functional significance. He examines poor examples of military leadership on the part of both the French and the British, in World War I, highlighting the responsibility of military leaders to develop imaginative approaches and to become current in technological development of weapons and tactics. Clearly he believes that many French and British soldiers who died in World War I did so needlessly on the command of incompetent military leaders. Incompetence in this field seems in this view to be immoral.
I come now in these lectures to the twentieth century, in which reflection upon the profession of arms soon compels us to face critical issues of our time. Before discussing the grave dilemma created by the introduction into war of weapons of mass destruction, there is one thing I wish to say about the purpose of armed forces, the characteristics of armed service and of those who embrace it as a calling, and the relation of these institutions and men to their parent societies.
It is the business of armed services to furnish to a constituted authority—a government—the greatest possible number of options in situations where force is or might be used. The greater the strength
Reprinted from The Profession of Arms, The 1962 Lee Knowles Lectures, pp. 44-53. London: The Times Publishing Co., Ltd. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. © 1962 by General Sir John Winthrop Hackett.