The Profession of Arms 

1/1/2011 

Profession of arms 
Spc. Joseph Murphy, front, and Sgt. David Shanahan, members of  Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul’s security force, secure a section of canal during a site survey near Highway 1, Zabul Province, Afghanistan.  Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said the Army’s new campaign will begin with assessments and dialogue and move into reviewing and revisions of what the entire Army is now and what it will be in the future.

The Army has launched an ambitious yearlong study of the "profession of arms" that will encompass leader development and ethics for all ranks, Department of the Army civilians and contractors.

Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kan., quoted the chief of staff’s 2010 GREEN BOOK article in explaining the rationale for the campaign after almost a decade of war.

He was speaking at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

In directing the Army Training and Doctrine Command "to conduct a study and lead the dialogue," Gen. George W. Casey Jr. wrote: "Our soldiers are experts, skilled in the profession of arms, bonded with comrades in a shared culture of sacrifice and service to the nation and Constitution, who adhere to the highest ethical standards and values and who live the Army Ethos."

Caslen said that earlier studies had been "officer-centric and designed to address a problem," but this campaign will begin with assessments and dialogue and move into reviewing and revisions of what the entire Army is now and what it will be in the future.

Adding, "Our study today is to validate what our profession is" looking at the positive achievements in the recent past and, in the words of Gen. Martin Dempsey, TRADOC commander, the "weak signals," such as the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and investigating officers in cases of civilian deaths.

"A secondary effect [of such a large review] is to prevent a problem."

The biggest difference in today’s Army versus the Army of 40 years ago is the professionalization of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, he said, and that is a key reason for the comprehensive approach to the study whose results will be discussed at the 2011 AUSA Annual Meeting, and a final report delivered by the end of the year.

In addition, the relationship between "those in the military and the Defense Department" to civilian authority will be a central area of examination. "We swear an oath to the Constitution," not to the senior uniformed officers or the commander in chief. "We are the servants of the American people," and "it has to be a relationship built on trust."

Caslen said in assessing the Army, "I believe it is more important to have the discussion rather than not discuss" issues that affect the Army. He added, "We believe this is a bottom up and not top down" study. "The point is that this discussion take place at all levels of our Army" and that it continues past December 2011.

"Information – that is the critical phase of the campaign," Caslen said in answer to a question.

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president, said this is an important effort with implications in policy, doctrine, relations within the Army and with the Department of Defense and the rest of the federal government.

"We have the opportunity to bridge the gaps that have always been there," particularly among the Army’s components, he said. "It’s hard to get dialogue in the Army going. This is the beginning of a very important dialogue."