Preserving the Army Profession

George Washington and troops during the American Revolutionary War

America’s Army was founded on June 14, 1775. Under the new Constitution enacted in 1789, it became a military department of the federal government, a hierarchical bureaucratic institution. Many decades later, by the early 1900s, generations of foresighted Army leaders slowly transformed the Army into the modern professional entity of which we are members today.

The first cohort professionalized by today’s standards was the officer corps. It developed a codified body of expert military knowledge in land warfare doctrine, instituted formal programs of career-long military education, and cultivated a unique military culture grounded in the Army Ethic of honorable service to the Nation. Because of these and other such advancements listed above, bonds of trust between the Army and the American people began to grow.

For many years, some believed that only officers were professionals. But in the aftermath of Vietnam, while rebuilding the hollow Army of the 1970s, such status was extended through professional development to warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, and Army Civilians as their vital contributions and value to the profession gained recognition.

The Army as an institution has a dual character. It is both a governmental occupation within a military department organized as a hierarchical bureaucracy and, more recently, recognized collectively as a military profession. These two aspects of the institution—bureaucracy and profession—have very different characteristics, ethics, and ways of behaving. Both aspects are necessary within the variety of organizations and functions within the Army, but overall the challenge is to keep the predominant culture and climate of the Army as that of a military profession.

U.S. Army’s Birthday: June 14, 1775