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The decay of the profession of arms

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The Profession of Arms is decaying (weakening or fraying -- as opposed to a relative decline), and the primary causes are neglect, anti-intellectual bias, and a creeping, cancerous bureaucracy.

Permit me to explain, to diagnose the patient's condition, in order to arrive at a common understanding of the illness. Let's begin with the Profession of Arms: This is society's armed wing, principally charged with guarding the safety and interests of that society. In some way, every political entity must use force or at least threaten to use force for it to survive in the international system. The members of the Profession of Arms are the custodians of the specific military knowledge that enables national survival. As Don Snider has put it, these commissioned members have one critical function, which is to successfully provide "the repetitive exercise of discretionary judgment[s] ... of high moral content." In essence this is military judgment, which today is decaying and being compromised through apathy, disregard for intellect, and a mammoth bureaucracy.

Symptoms: Where there's smoke... I teach a course called DS470: Military Strategy at West Point. I was accepted to the assignment in 2009, and attended graduate school from 2010 until the summer of 2012. While in graduate school, I read everything I could to prepare myself for teaching the course. The course includes a two-week block on the Iraq War, and in preparation I came across Professor Richard Kohn's scathing criticism in his 2009 World Affairs Journal article (previously a lecture), "Tarnished Brass: Is the U.S. Military Profession in Decline?" His commentary was stunning at times, and this line chilled me:

Iraq has become the metaphor for an absence of strategy.... In effect, in the most important area of professional expertise -- the connecting of war to policy, of operations to achieving the objectives of the nation -- the American military has been found wanting. The excellence of the American military in operations, logistics, tactics, weaponry, and battle has been manifest for a generation or more. Not so with strategy.

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The creeping, cancerous bureaucracy has been growing since the days of Eisenhower, right?

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