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Army Professional Expertise and Jurisdictions

Authored by Colonel Richard A. Lacquement Jr.. | October 2003

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SUMMARY

Changes in the international security environment and in technology challenge leaders to defi ne the Army?s role for the future. Effective strategic leadership of the Army profession will be an essential component of successful transformation. To serve American society effectively, strategic leaders of the profession must defi ne, prioritize, and limit the expert knowledge of the profession clarify the jurisdictions within which this knowledge applies, and then develop professionals to apply this knowledge.

There are three main reasons to map and prioritize the Army?s professional expertise and jurisdictions:

  • Facilitate choices about the use of constrained resources;
  • Reestablish the Army?s collective professional identity; and,
  • Move beyond the concept of ?full spectrum dominance.?

This monograph provides a framework intended for use by the Army?s strategic leaders. But it also should be a point of departure for debate among all members of the profession. The most important purpose of this framework is to provide a mechanism for HOW TO THINK about Army expert knowledge and jurisdictions. This monograph offers some general recommendations derived from my application of the framework and its logic. These recommendations represent just one possible view. Ultimately, the strategic leaders of the Army will decide priorities and boundaries.

Recommendations include:

  • Eliminating of combat service support branches as basic branches for commissioned offi cer accession.
  • Strengthening precommissioning standards for combat and combat support offi cers to include certified military training and educational components.
  • Establishing clearer qualitative standards for assignment, promotion, and retention of commissioned offi cers (in terms of physical capacity, psychological capacity, and demonstrated performance).
  • Refocusing the offi cer career management and education system.
  • Developing coherent intellectual justifi cations and defense of jurisdictions related to the leadership of Army soldiers in the organized application of coercive force (war, peace enforcement, peacekeeping).
  • Better articulating reasons for avoiding jurisdictions that do not require unique Army expertise (humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, homeland security).

Introduction.

Our nonnegotiable contract with the American people is to fi ght and win the nation?s wars. Every other task is subordinate to that commitment. To discharge our responsibilities to the Nation, we maintain several core competencies. These are the essential and enduring capabilities of our service. They encompass the full range of military operations across the spectrum of confl ict, from sustained land dominance in wartime to supporting civil authorities during natural disasters and consequence management.1

Field Manual 1, The Army, June 14, 2001

This quote from Field Manual (FM) 1, the Army?s capstone manual, declares broad and compelling responsibilities for the Army. Aside from the priority for warfi ghting, however, it provides an undifferentiated and almost limitless range of operations for which the Army must prepare. This is a noble aspiration that refl ects the best ?can-do? spirit of loyal service to the nation. It is, however, a problematic practical foundation that obscures signifi cant limitations and trade-offs required to concentrate the army?s fi nite resources?personnel, material, and funds?on the most important requirements. Changes in the international security environment and in technology challenge leaders to defi ne the Army?s role for the future. Effective strategic leadership of the Army profession will be an essential component of successful transformation. To serve American society effectively, strategic leaders of the profession must define, prioritize, and limit the expert knowledge of the profession, clarify the jurisdictions within which this knowledge applies, and then develop the professionals to apply this knowledge.

This framework is intended for use by the Army?s strategic leaders. It is also a framework for debate among all members of the profession. I hope it will generate an institutional exchange of ideas that can lead to renewed consensus on the Army?s professional essence.

Conclusion.

Army leaders must nurture a strong, healthy relationship between the Army and the society it serves. To do this effectively, they must think strategically about the future of the profession. Strategic leaders need a clear understanding of the nature of the Army?s expertise and the jurisdictions within which it can be usefully applied. Strategic leaders of the profession must negotiate jurisdictions with society?s civilian leaders from the fi rmest possible foundation derived from what Clausewitz called ?the grammar of war.?49 Military advice not derived from professional expertise compromises the legitimacy of advice in other contexts.

Positions based on either an overly narrow or an overly broad conception of the military?s professional expertise could ultimately have negative consequences. The input of military offi cers could come to be seen either as irrelevant to the needs of the policy-maker, or as having dubious professional credibility.50

Strategic leaders imperil the Army institution if they lose sight of the professional foundations of their role and allow themselves to be drawn into policy and other debates that exceed their professional expertise and experience. It is a fi ne line between Clausewitz?s wise counsel for offi cers to be sensitive to the political context within which they operate and actually stepping in to try to determine appropriate policy goals. The framework presented here can help draw that line more clearly.

The security challenges of the future are complex, demanding, and uncertain. The territory may be diffi cult to negotiate, but many sound guidelines are available to map a successful course. The Army needs strategic leadership to determine the required expert knowledge for specifi c professional jurisdictions and to develop the individuals to apply this professional expertise appropriately. The Army?s strategic leaders must also negotiate to bound and prioritize the profession?s jurisdictions and expertise with the civilian leaders representing society. These efforts will more resolutely set the Army on a successful axis of advance to meet the nation?s future security challenges.

ENDNOTES

1. FM 1, The Army, Washington, DC: Department of the Army, June 14, 2001, p. 32.

49. Clausewitz, p. 605.

50. Suzanne Neilson, ?Rules of the Game? The Weinberger Doctrine and the American Use of Force,? in Snider and Watkins, eds., The Future of the Army Profession, New York: McGraw-Hill Primus Custom Publishers, 2002, p. 219.