Submitted via email by Second Lieutenant Phil Savoie – a response to “The Decay of the Profession of Arms“:

Important to the discussion of any decay of the profession of arms is deciding what is meant by the term “profession of arms.”  The Army is made up of many different individuals.  There are some who are naturally interested in the intellectual study of the use of force and devote themselves to its study.  However, I think there is a large majority who view their role in the military differently.  From my vantage point, the motives of officers  to serve are many.  I have seen cadets/officers motivated by a combination of:  a sense of adventure; the opportunity to work in a challenging and competitive environment; the chance to access and utilize the latest technologies; interest in the tactical level of war; practicing and developing leadership; and a sense of patriotism amongst others.  These motives seem natural and reasonable.  However, none of them involve a desire to develop an intellectual understanding toward the nature of war.  I would even argue that the above motivations are historically more prevalent in a nation with the tradition of a citizen based military.

The intellectual development associated with the profession of arms, specifically “the connecting of war to policy, of operations to achieving the objectives of the nation”[1] is sought only by those who find it interesting and choose to study it.   Apart from a basic understanding of strategy to provide insight for accomplishing tasks as part of a larger picture and provides a moral understanding to a particular use of force, many would rather not deal with issues of strategy and are happy to focus on their particular niche (i.e. flying an aircraft, leading a platoon of infantrymen, preparing intelligence briefings, engineering a more effective Kevlar helmet, helping a wounded Soldier walk again, etc.).  Just as strategic studies minded individual may have little interest in physics, apart from a basic understanding of how his projectiles will function when fired, the engineer heading a project to design the improved rocket/artillery round may have little interest in strategy except as it affects him.

Appreciating the diversity of thought and experience within the military may be important aspect of understanding the concept of a “profession of arms” and how potential shortcomings may be addressed.


[1] Richard Kohn, “Tarnished Brass: Is the U.S. Military Profession in Decline?” World Affairs Journal