Survey looks into Army as Profession of Arms

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A survey was released in late March to thousands in the Army community asking them to take an introspective look at the service as a profession.

Two-hundred thousand soldiers, officers, warrant officers and civilians are receiving an e-mail message from the Army chief of staff to participate in the Profession of Arms survey.

The survey is part of the yearlong Professional of Arms campaign, which U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command launched in January with the then-TRADOC commander, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, leading the effort on behalf of the Army.

The campaign was mandated by the secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff to assess the state of the Army and take a critical look at how the last nine years of war have impacted the Profession of Arms.

A broad community of practice was designated to create the anonymous study, comprising subject matter experts from several institutions including the Army War College and the Army Civilian University.

The survey is essentially a diagnostic focusing on six attributes of the Profession of Arms which will be assessed at individual, unit and institutional levels.

The survey is available at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/651660.

Self-assessment is nothing new in the Army and is required of every profession, according to Col. Sean Hannah, director of the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE), the lead agency under TRADOC’s Combined Arms Center.

"One of the main indicators of a healthy profession is internal assessment and also self-regulation," Hannah said. "It’s necessary because we, as a profession, need to better define what makes us a profession and then reinforce those mechanisms that make us a profession."

"This is not in reaction to any problems," Hannah explained. "A lot of what we’re doing is actually proactive. If you talk to senior leaders, yes, there are indicators out there. Some are weak signals and some are fairly strong signals that we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves as a profession. It is a tribute to our profession that while at war we are willing to reflect and be introspective on the status of our profession."

The campaign focuses on three fundamental questions:

  1. What does it mean for the Army to be a profession of arms?

  2. What does it mean to be a professional soldier?

  3. After nine years of war, how are we as individual professionals and as a profession meeting these aspirations?

Also, each quarter during the campaign two questions will be posed to foster dialogue among different populations of the Army.

"This campaign, so far, is very successful. There are people all over the Army engaging in this," Hannah said. "I get e-mails every day from units and organizations. There are all kinds of major professional development sessions going on with thousands of soldiers participating. We get reports rolling in from units in the field and the commands and organizations are doing what was asked of them to further this dialogue."

Hannah said the Profession of Arms campaign is probably the most far-reaching and in-depth assessment the Army has ever launched in its history.

"It can’t be understated that this is an Army-wide effort," Hannah said. "This is something being done in a unique way because we have mobilized the entire Army."

The Profession of Arms campaign can be defined by two components, Maj. Pete Jennings, CAPE research director, said.

Adding, "First we’re trying to get our fingers on the pulse of the Army and assess the state of the profession by compiling its perceived strengths and weaknesses across the total Army." After this assessment period, which includes many activities over the course of the year, there will be further dialogue activities to gather feedback from the force."

Five major Army populations, or cohorts, are being targeted by subject matter experts of the same cohort: commissioned officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, soldiers and DA civilians.

"The intent isn’t just to conduct an assessment, produce a report and hand it to generals," Jennings said. "The guidance is to get the whole force energized and talking about this, and also to share what they’re talking about."

Online blogs, professional development forums and social media sites are just some of the venues available to participate in the dialogue.

CAPE has established dedicated public (www.cape.army.mil) and AKO (https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/611545) Web sites that are updated with videos, campaign resources and links to internal blogs.

The professional bulletin "Army Sustainment," recently published an article asking readers to submit articles pertaining to the fundamental questions the campaign proposed.

"What we have found as we rolled this out is that it’s not a hard sell," Hannah said. "Most of the people who consider themselves professionals are pretty engaged in this. There’s no mandatory briefing packet here dictating that every soldier in the Army has one hour on the profession of arms. We’ve purposely not done that."

Adding, "We want professionals having discussions amongst themselves about what makes them a profession, talking about their strengths and weaknesses and what can make them stronger."