Note: As the Editor, to be honest, I put in a lot of time with War Council. I’m writing this having just put my 2.5 year old daughter to bed, and in the space of time I have (20 minutes) until my wife comes home from work. So it’s gratifying to get a positive response email from another member of the Profession of Arms – such as what follows:
I felt compelled to reach out to after reading your column “The Decay of the Profession of Arms” from foreignpolicy.com, over the weekend. Without unnecessary hyperbole, reading your article felt like a punch to the gut. It defined a larger issue that I feel I have been struggling with since my time in the service began 8 years ago. I will not go into each scenario I’ve encountered, I’ve tried to maintain the position that I am not privy to the e-mails, higher level conversations, or politics of those above me. But the underlying current I feel is that there is something wrong in the direction our Army is going. Specific to your article, it is the mundane (emphasis on PT Belts, Socks, etc.), reliance on power point, to lack of junior leader development in junior Officers and Warrant Officers (I’ve been told by O-5’s and O-6’s when I attend the AVCCC, that they had failed us [CPT’s, LT’s] in never counseling us, but that it was our responsibility not to do the same. In short, we failed to counsel you, we acknowledge this, and we still are not going to). And finally yours and MAJ Lujan’s emphasis on bureaucracy and in my experience bureaucracy under the guise of safety. I have the privilege in my current posting to be able to travel the globe on Aviation Assessment teams for all Combat Aviation Brigades and National Guard/Reserve Component Aviation Brigades. Through the assessment teams that I have been a part of, It has been revealed to me that my past experiences are not unique but systemic. I felt at the time, that I needed to do some research, reach out to mentors who have served as combat commanders, and perhaps publish. I kept thinking of potential backlash to such an endeavor, but after reading your article, I am more convinced than ever that this is something important. Which brings me to my final point.
The other punch in the gut from your article was directed towards me. “How can officers rightly call themselves members of the Profession of Arms and not know (or care) about studying the use of force?” The answer, for my part simply, is you are right and I have not, beyond rote memorization of Army doctrine as required to pass the AVCCC (that and an unhealthy emphasis on competitive ultimate Frisbee, but that’s another story). That is a reality check that was needed.
Sir, I will share your article with my peers and leaders. I have already taken your words to heart and have a lot of soul searching and action before me. If you’ve read this far, I thank you for your time and consideration and wish you well in your endeavors.
V/R, CPT Christopher H. Christian