By Mike Strasser, West Point Public AffairsMarch 23, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y., March 24, 2011 -- A survey was released Monday to thousands in the Army community asking them to take an introspective look at the service as a profession.
Two-hundred thousand Soldiers, officers, warrant officers and civilians are receiving an e-mail message from the Army Chief of Staff to participate in the Profession of Arms survey.
The survey is part of the yearlong Professional of Arms campaign, which Training and Doctrine Command launched in January with TRADOC commander Gen. Martin E. Dempsey leading the effort on behalf of the Army. The campaign was mandated by the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army to assess the state of the Army and take a critical look at how the last nine years of war have impacted the Profession of Arms.
A broad community of practice was designated to create the anonymous study, comprising subject matter experts from several institutions including the Army War College and the Army Civilian University. The survey is essentially a diagnostic focusing on six attributes of the Profession of Arms which will be assessed at individual, unit and institutional levels.
The survey is available at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/651660.
Self-assessment is nothing new in the Army and is required of every profession, according to Col. Sean Hannah, director of the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, the lead agency under TRADOC's Combined Arms Center for this campaign. Since Gen. William Westmoreland initiated a study in the early '70s, nearly every decade since has seen reviews conducted on the state of the Army.
"One of the main indicators of a healthy profession is internal assessment and also self-regulation," Hannah said. "It's necessary because we as a profession need to better define what makes us a profession and then reinforce those mechanisms that make us a profession."
"This is not in reaction to any problems," Hannah explained. "A lot of what we're doing is actually proactive. If you talk to senior leaders, yes, there are indicators out there. Some are weak signals and some are fairly strong signals that we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves as a profession. It is a tribute to our profession that while at war we are willing to reflect and be introspective on the status of our profession."
The campaign focuses on three fundamental questions:
1.) What does it mean for the Army to be a profession of arms'
2.) What does it mean to be a professional Soldier'
3.) After nine years of war, how are we as individual professionals and as a profession meeting these aspirations'
Also, each quarter during the campaign two questions will be posed to foster dialogue among different populations of the Army. The discussion has been vibrant, intense and gathering plenty of feedback in these early months of the campaign, Hannah said.
"This campaign, so far, is very successful. There are people all over the Army engaging in this," Hannah said. "I get e-mails every day from units and organizations. There are all kinds of major professional development sessions going on with thousands of Soldiers participating. We get reports rolling in from units in the field and the commands and organizations are doing what was asked of them to further this dialogue."
Hannah said the Profession of Arms campaign is probably the most far-reaching and in-depth assessment the Army has ever launched in its history.
"It can't be understated that this is an Army-wide effort," Hannah said. "This is something being done in a unique way because we have mobilized the entire Army. The Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army don't sign too many Terms of Reference during their tenure, so you know this is a major Army engagement and these are things they want us to focus on."
Even Westmoreland's internal review after the Vietnam War didn't analyze the entire Army population, said Mike Toler, CAPE Concepts & Plans Division.
"The study he commissioned addressed only the Officer Corps," Toler said. "But when you read the recommendations from the Westmoreland study and see how it impacted the Army over the next two, almost three decades for changes that we made to cope with the things identified through that, there were significant improvements made to the Officer Corps as a result."
He anticipates even greater changes resulting from an all-inclusive study. Toler, a 31-year retired Army officer, has been writing, thinking and living the Army profession his entire adult life, and even before.
"I'm from an Army Air Corps/Air Force Family, so as a military brat I've literally spent my whole life with the service," Toler said. "I feel honored to have the opportunity to be part of what is one of the most historic efforts of our great Army to examine itself. This is the first time in our entire history that we are attempting to do a holistic review of the state of the Army and the people who compose it, in regards to the Army as a profession."
The POA campaign can conceptually be defined by two components, Maj. Pete Jennings, CAPE research director, said.
"First we're trying to get our fingers on the pulse of the Army and assess the state of the profession by compiling its perceived strengths and weaknesses across the total Army," Jennings said. "After this assessment period, which includes many activities over the course of the year, there will be further dialogue activities to gather feedback from the force."
Ongoing campaign efforts have included dozens of TRADOC teams traveling throughout the country to conduct focus groups at Army installations.
Five major Army populations, or cohorts, are being targeted by subject matter experts of the same cohort: commissioned officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, Soldiers and DA civilians.
"The intent isn't just to conduct an assessment, produce a report and hand it to generals," Jennings said. "The guidance is to get the whole force energized and talking about this, and also to share what they're talking about."
Online blogs, professional development forums and social media sites are just some of the venues available to participate in the dialogue.
CAPE has established dedicated public (www.cape.army.mil) and AKO (https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/611545) websites which are updated with videos, campaign resources and links to internal blogs.
The professional bulletin "Army Sustainment" recently published a POA article asking readers to submit articles pertaining to the fundamental questions the campaign proposed.
"What we have found as we rolled this out is that it's not a hard sell," Hannah said. "Most of the people who consider themselves professionals are pretty engaged in this. There's no mandatory briefing packet here dictating that every Soldier in the Army has one hour on the profession of arms. We've purposely not done that."
"We want professionals having discussions amongst themselves about what makes them a profession, talking about their strengths and weaknesses and what can make them stronger," he said.