Brito: Profession of Arms ‘Part of Our DNA’

Brito: Profession of Arms ‘Part of Our DNA’

Gen. Gary Brito leads a panel discussion on the Army Profession at AUSA 2023.
Photo by: Jeromie Stephens for AUSA

Reinforcing the fundamentals of professional soldiering has emerged as a drumbeat among Army leaders as they prepare the force for future combat.

The focus on strengthening the Army profession is less a change than it is an effort to instill anew the foundational tenets of cohesive teams—teams that are built on trust and discipline and rely on competence, character and standards.

“It’s always been part of our DNA as a military, but it’s an inflection point right now for our Army,” Gen. Gary Brito, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, said Oct. 11 during a forum on the Army profession at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

“Switching from [counterinsurgency] to large-scale combat operations, it just fits in well, and we also have some new Army leadership, so I would say that we’ve had a strong Army profession, [but] there’s a point that we always re-look at it as well,” Brito said.

Jeffrey Peterson, director of the Character Integration Advisory Group at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, said instilling an ethos of professionalism among the young men and women who will become the Army’s future leaders starts at school and continues through regular reinforcement.

“There is a bit of a back-to-basics approach here, there is no silver bullet to this,” Peterson said. “This requires consistent effort, consistent discussion and consistent prioritization on adhering to Army Values and living by our ethic, and always asking if what we're doing is building trust or undermining trust, no matter what the task.”

Peterson pointed out that because competence in basic soldiering skills is easier to measure than character and commitment, it’s understandable that it would receive most of the attention. But, he said, taking character and commitment out of the equation would result in failure.

“You can be really competent, you can have pretty good character, but if you’re not committed to the mission, to the organization, to your unit, then you’re probably not going to be trustworthy, because when the chips are down, you’re going to be looking out for yourself more than you are your soldiers, your unit or the mission,” Peterson said.

Strengthening the Army profession is one of the top priorities of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer has placed a focus on being “brilliant at the basics,” with a promise to renew the focus on standards and discipline.

“The character of war is changing, and we have to transform,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Harris, senior enlisted leader at Training and Doctrine Command. “We are continually transforming. That goes right with our being a steward of our profession. We have to continually reinforce what we do.”

Brito pointed out that the culture of pride in being a soldier starts when young people arrive for Initial Entry Training and when officers go through the Basic Officer Leader Courses. Training, education and reinforcement of the Army profession is instilled “through the continuum of learning,” Brito said.

“So, that private today is going to come back as a sergeant later on for some additional education, the same with the lieutenants, they’re going to come back as a captain major later on, so it's reinforced there,” Brito said.

— Gina Cavallaro