Military Professionalism in the Brave New World

In the changing security landscape of today’s world, the military men has to re-examine his contribution to society to stay relevant. As a naval officer posted to an air force unit after the Naval Warfare Officer Course, military professionalism to me has to go beyond the daily operations faced by the officer on the job at the tactical level. Transcending beyond the naval scope of operations, my previous posting in the Maritime Patrol Squadron has broaden my horizon while allowing me to examine my experiences in navy in a different light

The changing landscape has brought along many unknowns in the equation, making it a challenge for the military men and women. The nature of an unknown precedes that it cannot be prepared for and the training of the military officer must be sufficiently broad that he is able to fit new situations into an operating context and deal with it. At the same time, the military officer must be able to wrestle with complicated concepts and formulate actionable plans with dealing with complicated situations. This “specialized general expertise” forms the core of the military professionalism. Prolonged education and experience supports the formation of this expertise, with liberal education forming the base of the expertise and the military training and experience refining the knowledge of the military officer.

The new challenges also forces the armed forces to rethink its relevance as conventional war remains the last unthinkable option of policy. In the application of expertise, the military officer must not only be trained in managing man-made violence but often natural disasters as well. The warrior caste has to be transformed into the protectors. In dealing with HADR and other OOTW operations, a change of mindset must occur in the modern military officer as he is required from all spectrum of the peace to war continuum. Being operationally ready at all times becomes not just a goal but a reality to the modern military.

Being operationally ready fosters a sense of difference to the military officer, being set apart from the daily tasks of commence and societal building, to focus on readying itself. Set apart not just in function but also in appearance, the military officer is easily distinguishable to the eye simply by the uniform and insignia that he dons on. The rank and office of the military officer bears weight within and without the organization, giving instant credibility to his competency as well as his place in the chain of command within the military. In being, the military officer adheres to, not only the societal norms of law and order, but also a more clearly defined set of core values that he identifies with as part of the military profession. The functions, appearance, credibility as well as values of the military officer defines him as professional. Even the reservists, when being called upon, feels the pressure of these values when he wears the uniform and the eyes of the civilians are on him. While the sense of corporateness may not be as apparent to the reservists when he is not in uniform, the existence of a community outside of his commerce and normal societal sphere will continue to bind him back to the military profession.

Together with the regular military, the reservists understands the duties required of him when called upon. As the military, the profession is the sole guarantee for the military security of the society. This accountability to the society resonances throughout the military profession and is encapsulated in the officers’ creed. Each officer understands that they are the security foundation of the society on which the identity and purpose of the nation is built upon. While the changing landscape calls upon him to execute these responsibilities with a different hand, the duty remains unchanged. The officer may even work exclusively outside the military as part of a total defense of the nation. He may bringing together civil, economic, social and psychological defense with military defense as a coherent whole while executing his duties, but the duty remains unaltered. The duty of the military profession stands distinct and apart from the rest of the society and defines the profession.

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