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The Army Profession of Arms Campaign: A Year of Dialog After a Decade of Conflict

The Army has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq for more than 9 years. While prosecuting these conflicts, the Army has also been engaged in a major transformation, reorganizing as a modular force and aligning operations to the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) process. The Army’s senior leaders recognize that, after this period of changes and challenges, the time is ripe for institutional reflection and self-examination. So the Army Chief of Staff, General George W. Casey, Jr., has directed General Martin E. Dempsey, the commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, to lead a study and foster a dialog to answer three fundamental questions:

  • What does it mean for the Army to be a profession of arms?
  • What does it mean to be a professional Soldier?
  • After 9 years of war, how are we as individual professionals and as a profession meeting these aspirations?

The resulting Army Profession of Arms Campaign, announced at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington, D.C., last October, seeks to involve personnel in all Army cohorts—officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, enlisted Soldiers, and civilians—in an examination of the Army’s professional identity.

When introducing the campaign at the AUSA meeting, Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., commander of the Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, noted—

There actually have been a number of studies on the profession of arms over the years. Many of them were officer-centric. One of the more famous studies [was] in 1970, when the Chief of Staff of the Army, [General William] Westmoreland, went ahead and had done a study. That particular study was in reaction to a problem that was occurring within the officer corps at the end of Vietnam. And General Casey would be eager to say that our study today is not because of a problem, to address a problem. Our study today is to understand what our profession is. We have a tremendous opportunity with the all-volunteer Army to understand this profession and then, as another outcome, to prevent a problem.

The campaign will be conducted over the next year along three lines of operation: assess, dialog, and review.

Assess. According to General Caslen, the initial step of assessment will allow the Army “to understand where our force is and to survey and ask the tough questions.”

Dialog. Assessment will be followed by discussion involving all levels of the Army. The campaign is intended to be a bottom-up, not a top-down, process. As General Caslen observed, “This discussion really needs to take place at all echelons in our Army and to really embrace all levels of the Army.

Review. This final step in the campaign will take stock of the assessments and discussions, allowing the Army, in General Caslen’s words, to “understand how all of what we have learned affects our doctrine, how it affects our organizations, how it affects our leader development, [and] how it affects our training.”

The first half of 2011 will largely be devoted to assessment, with findings presented in conjunction with the Army’s birthday in June. The second half of the year will focus on discussions, with findings and recommendations presented to a conference of four-star generals at the end of the year. “The product of this study,” according to General Caslen, “is going to be to develop…the doctrine, the organization, the leader development of what really needs to take place in order to develop a professional force.”

As part of the Army Profession of Arms Campaign, Army Sustainment readers are encouraged to submit articles on the campaign’s two fundamental questions. If you would like to write an article for the discussion, please first contact the editor at robert.paulus@us.army.mil.

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