What makes the Army a profession? What makes an Army professional? How can the Army develop professionals for the Army of 2020?
These and other critical questions were part of a seminar Dec. 5 at the Lewis and Clark Center that introduced a new training program called "America's Army — Our Profession."
The seminar was hosted by Sgt. Maj. David L. Stewart, senior enlisted adviser and a development and education leader for the Combined Arms Center's Center for the Army Profession and Ethic at West Point, N.Y. Stewart said the program developed when the Army realized that it needed to assess how protracted years of war impacted the profession and develop a doctrine "so that we never forget what the basic things are that make us better."
The program emerged after a yearlong initiative that included focus groups at five major installations, 15 symposiums and two Armywide surveys. During calendar year 2013, the program will be brought to several installations to generate dialogue for soldiers and Army civilians to increase their understanding of the Army profession. All Army commands are encouraged to become familiar with training support packages available at cape.army.mil.
"We just can't spend one year thinking about this," Stewart said in an interview after the seminar. "These are the discussions that we really, really need to have from here on out. We can never afford not having these discussions about the profession and what it means to be a professional like we did the last 10 years.
"Being extremely busy in two conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan, we as an Army kind of forgot what some of these important things are," he said, noting that an after-action review was called for. "We need to figure out how we are living up to these expectations that the American people have for the Army."
In remarks at the seminar, Don M. Snider, senior fellow at CAPE, said that three criteria — the three Cs — have been developed in a doctrine defining what it means to be an Army professional: competence, character and commitment. In addition, five elements make the Army a profession: military expertise, honorable service, trust, esprit de corps and stewardship of the profession.
The Army represents a "unique vocation that provides for society a vital service which it cannot provide for itself," Snider said, namely securing the nation.
In a Nov. 27 opinion piece published by the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, Snider wrote: "Rightly understood, military professions are quintessentially human institutions whose success or failure rests almost solely on the competence and character of their people. To be sure, all of our forces use billions of dollars of technology, but it is all at the beck and call of a human operator or commander who uses discretionary moral judgments to apply that military power. That is the art of being a military professional, making repetitive discretionary judgments often scores of times a day that are both effective militarily and within the moral norms expected by the military's client — the American people."