Framing the Future of the US Military Profession

  • January 13, 2022
  • Dr Thomas P. Galvin, Dr Richard A Lacquement Jr

The military profession needs to be redefined by examination of its expertise and jurisdictions of practice, whereas previously the focus was on securing its professional identity. Twenty years ago, the original Future of the Army Profession research project responded to growing concerns among officers that the Army was no longer a profession in light of the post–Cold War drawdown and the onset of global operations including Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, the profession faces recurrent challenges raised by the changing character of war, the renewal of great-power competition, crises surrounding issues of sexual harassment and assault, the effects of a major global pandemic and associated social and political unrest, and the growing societal distrust toward professions in general. Richard Lacquement and Tom Galvin propose that the questions of professional identity, while still important, are now less salient than those about the professions’ jurisdictions of practice and domains of expert knowledge. Clarifying them will help better prepare US military professionals to exercise discretionary judgment effectively. They also propose a new Future of the US Military Profession research effort that addresses these jurisdictions across service, joint, and defense enterprises to clarify the divisions of professional work and responsibilities. This is a must-read for any steward of the military profession.