The Army Profession: Keeping the service on the right path

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Piper, Soldiers Live


In this November 2012 photo, Soldiers with 5th Signal Command reaffirm their oath of office during the Operation Solemn Promise annual commemoration ceremony in Wiesbaden, Germany. At the core of the professional force are competence, character and commitment, "The Three Cs of the Army Profession." (U.S. Army photo by Jonathon Gray)

In this November 2012 photo, Soldiers with 5th Signal Command reaffirm their oath of office during the Operation Solemn Promise annual commemoration ceremony in Wiesbaden, Germany. At the core of the professional force are competence, character and commitment, “The Three Cs of the Army Profession.” (U.S. Army photo by Jonathon Gray)

After success during the Cold War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, today’s Army leaders are looking to the future of the Army profession.

“We have to set some priorities as we move forward,” said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. “We’re coming out of 12 years of war, but we’re also in a time of fiscal uncertainty. We have to make sure that we keep the Army on the right path.”

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh said that during visits with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw young officers and noncommissioned officers exercising incredible authority, leading their troops professionally and successfully.

“These young Soldiers have used that authority and flexibility with great success,” he said. “As we transition from over a decade of continuous warfare, we’re going to have to work very hard to ensure we provide them the kind of challenges, the kind of opportunity for satisfaction that they’ve experienced and have had available to them in their deployments in the last decade plus.”

Future operating environments will be no less challenging than the environment of the past 12 years, Odierno pointed out, saying that the Army’s number one priority will be leader development because “the strength of our Army is our officer (and) noncommissioned officer corps.”

The training Soldiers receive leads to the flexibility and adaptability the Army needs both now and in the future, Odierno said, because the nature of warfare is evolving and the world is becoming more complex. “We have to develop leaders that can operate in that environment.”

The Army moving forward will be globally responsive and regionally engaged, according to Odierno, and capabilities will be tailored to meet the needs of combatant commanders.

“We’ll see the opportunity for Soldiers and our leaders to operate across many different areas of the world, from the Pacific to the Middle East to Latin America, as they support combatant commanders,” Odierno said. “You won’t see large exercises … but you’ll see smaller, very scaled and tailored capabilities that we use … in the future. I think that’s a really important part as we look ahead to what kind of things we’re going to ask our Soldiers to do.”

At the core of the professional Army, which comprises Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians, are competence, character and commitment, known as “The Three Cs of the Army Profession.”

Building individual and collective skills is key to achieving and maintaining competence, Odierno explained. “We want each individual very competent with whatever they do, whether they are artillerymen or infantrymen or personnel specialists or logisticians.”

To that end, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said the Army is examining what defines the profession within different career fields around the Army. “For those where we don’t have very well-defined standards, we are going to develop standards that really define what the profession means at that specific MOS.”

Army senior leaders stressed that character has to be key element of the Army profession because of what the nation asks of its Soldiers and Army civilians. Even the way character is defined matters: The Center for the Army Profession and Ethic describes character as an Army professional’s consistently and faithfully demonstrated dedication and adherence to the Army’s values, virtues, purpose, identity, ethics and morals in decisions and actions.

“We are given a very important responsibility and we have to be able to execute that (with) the highest character and with the appropriate moral and ethical values, so it’s important that we build that,” Odierno said.

The final tenet of the Army Profession, commitment, is the resolve to contribute honorable service to the nation, perform duties with discipline and to standards, and strive to successfully and ethically accomplish the mission despite adversity, obstacles and challenges.

“It’s commitment to your unit, commitment to the Army, commitment to the joint force, commitment to the nation,” said Odierno.

Chandler explained that based on “The Three Cs,” there is an “expectation that as a professional you are going to set certain standards and meet certain standards at each portion of your career.” He added that those areas are tied to promotion, education — military and civilian — on-the-job experience and off-duty conduct.

“We expect you to be a professional all the time,” Chandler said.

Professionals equally important to their uniform-wearing counterparts, Army civilians are integral to the service’s success. “We need to invest in our civilians no differently than we invest in our military,” said Under Secretary of the Army Dr. Joseph W. Westphal.

Unless there is support behind the Soldiers and their units, they cannot be successful, Westphal explained. To ensure that the Army has both the best-qualified and trained civilian workforce, he said the service must provide them with a sense of value within the organization, give them careers, invest in their professional growth and assure them that there is a future in serving their country and the Army.

To that end, the Army has developed civilian career paths and ensured that employees understand those paths and how they provide career-advancement opportunities, Westphal said. “We need to also give them a sense that we value their work and we value their development.”

He explained that hundreds of thousands of civilians work hard to ensure warfighters get what they need, “so those civilians are critical to the mission, and we need to invest in them.”

That investment in the profession will continue to keep the Army strong, senior leaders agree, strong and capable of defending the nation no matter where future mission may take the Army.

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