FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas --The Command and General Staff College hosted the Profession of Arms Forum Oct. 30-31 at the Lewis and Clark Center here. The two-day forum focused the attention of the 1,200 students in Command and General Staff Officers Class 2020 on the profession, ethics, and organization building.
During the conference students heard from the Commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Army's Staff Judge Advocate, two division commanders, well-known academic professors, and Jim Collins, best-selling author of "Good to Great." Following each presentation students had the opportunity to ask questions of the speaker or panel members and establish a rapport with top thinkers on these topics.
Gen. Paul E. Funk, II, TRADOC Commander led off the forum. He defined the profession using the words of Gen. (Retired) Martin E. Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Our profession is defined by our ethics, values, standards, code of conduct, skills, and attributes. It's incumbent on us to hold ourselves to a higher standard, to live the Army values, to be experts in the application of armed force, and to carry out our sworn duty to protect the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution through the ethical and just application of force."
He went on to say he considers the defining element in our profession of arms to be trust. "Trust is essential for the Profession of Arms. It is the bedrock, the foundation upon which our profession is based," Funk said. "Why is the military the most widely respected institution in our country? It's trust. Why will Soldiers willingly advance into harm's way when one of their leaders tells them to do so?" Trust. Why do we as leaders have the confidence to move forward, to attack, with only the belief that our Soldiers will follow and that our peers on our right and left will be there to cover our flanks when we need them? It's trust. Trust is not given it is earned. It is born from mutual sacrifice. It is born from setting the example. It is born of action, not words."
He then used the stories of Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. David Bellavia and Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy to illustrate his points on trust.
He transitioned to thoughts on leadership and quoted four of "Funk's Fundamentals." "9. Trust but verify. 15. A good idea only becomes great when it is shared. 25. The Army is a people business. And, 33. You are a professional, a professional athlete warrior, in a profession of arms, carrying your national colors -- be proud, train, and act like one.
He then challenged the audience using Fundamental 40 -- Leave the jersey in a better place than you found it. "How are you going to leave your jersey better?" he asked the captains and majors who will take their place as field-grade leaders in formations across the Army next year.
Funk was followed on stage by a 4-person panel discussing "The Profession of Arms and Mission Command." Panelists included Maj. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, Commander, 1st Infantry Division; Dr. Martin Cook, Professor Emeritus of Professional Military Ethics, U.S. Naval War College; Maj. Gen. James J. Mingus, Commander, 82nd Airborne Division; and Dr. Don Snider, Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.
Each panelist then answered the question "how has the profession of arms changed?" Kolasheski said he believes the profession is based on five things --- trust, honorable service, military experience, stewardship, and esprit de corps. Those things have not changed in his career, he said. What has changed is the operating environment and the demands we put on our Soldiers. Technology presents great challenges, he said. He also said "you never get enough time."
Cook added. "Focusing on the idea that military service is a professional activity became a common non-sectarian way of articulating the moral basis of military service. The professional has an obligation to be anticipating changes in the environment and foreseeing and preparing continually to meet those new challenges," he said.
The professionalization of the noncommissioned corps was what turned the Army of the late 70's into the professional army of the 90's said Mingus. "Officers can have great courage, confidence, and commitment, but if your noncommissioned officer corps is not helping you implement that, then it's almost wasted words.
Snider, one the authors of much of the Army's professionalism doctrine and literature, completed the initial panel. He said his biggest career challenge was to make and to keep the Army a profession and not let it lumber along as a big government bureaucracy. "Military bureaucracies lose wars," explained Snider. "Military professions create climates of trust, they create cohesive teams, and they win wars." He left the audience with three facts.
First, "You're not a profession because you say you are," he said. Second, bureaucratic tensions exist between the profession of arms and the Army's tendency to be a lumbering bureaucracy. Third, "what will determine if the units that day will behave as a bureaucracy or a profession -- Army leaders. Every day leaders have to leverage, they have to wrestle bureaucratic tendencies into professional tendencies."
On the second day, Cook was back for a panel talking about "Just War: Strategy and Ethical Considerations." His fellow panelists were Lt. Gen. Charles Pede, the Army Judge Advocate General; Dr. Brian Orend, Professor of Philosophy, University of Waterloo, Canada; and Dr. Pauline Shanks Kaurin, Professor of Military Ethics, U.S. Naval War College.
The Army's top lawyer led off the discussion of "Just War." Pede said the ability to wage just war is restrained by two things. One is our experience of the last 18 years fighting a counter-insurgency war that causes us to limit how we conduct war. The second is the legal maneuver space. This is an external threat that attempts to control our use of various weapons and methods according to humanity or public opinion, not according to international law.
Cook added that the international system has no natural shape. When there is order, it is by agreement. The system we grew up with was largely created in Westphalia in 1648 following religious wars in Europe. The Westphalian accords gave states two fundamental rights -- territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Now, other cultures are pushing back on a system that was largely created to deal with a European and Christian environment. "The conservation the world needs to have now is radically cross cultural," said Cook.
"The way I like to see just war is it's a middle ground tradition between two extremist perspectives," said Orend. The one extreme is a pacifist extreme. The other is a no-holds-bar pure, realistic, strategic, national selfishness. "Even though the challenges to just war theory and our ability to conduct just war are real and potent, it's important to keep in mind the need for that middle ground. That big, messy, complex middle ground."
Shanks Kaurin said "I think of just war theory as a mode of deliberation, a way of thinking about and having conservations on when war is just, how one might conduct war, and what happens after war." The question is how do you navigate that, she said. "I think how you navigate that is having people who have professional judgment and discretion. That's a piece of what I call ethical leadership."
"You aren't just members of the profession," she told the class. "You are now about to cross over into those that hold the profession, that will keep its traditions and norms, that will mold and change the profession as that is required. As the holders and molders of your community of practice, you need professional discretion to know when to keep things and when they have to change. And, that includes your engagement with just war thinking or just war traditions plural," she said.
Jim Collins, author "Good to Great" and "Turning the Flywheel," then talked with the audience about developing great organizations. Although his talk was not for attribution, it was based on the concepts in his best-selling book "Good to Great." It included Disciplined People: "Who" before "What"; Disciplined Thought: Fox or Hedgehog?; Disciplined Action: The Flywheel Effect; and Build to Last.
Combined Arms Center Commander, Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy closed the forum. He challenged the students to consider how to continue to evolve the profession. He reminded them, they are the next set of stewards of the profession. "That requires intellectual curiosity," he said. He said he considers that to be the number one key leader asset. He recalled the traits of a professional -- competence, character, and commitment and said "That's what it's all about, the competence, character, and commitment of our leaders and Soldiers. That's where you spend most of your time."