.

Author Interview: Redefining the Modern Military

 

Our post this week comes from the book Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics. This edited collection examines the changing character of military professionalism and the role of ethics in the 21st-century military. The authors, who range from uniformed military to academics to non-uniformed professionals on the battlefield, delve into whether the concepts of Samuel Huntington, Morris Janowitz, and Sir John Hackett still apply, how training and continuing education play a role in defining a profession, and if a universal code of ethics is required for the military as a profession. Redefining the Modern Military puts a significant emphasis on individual agency for military professionalism as opposed to broad
organizational or cultural change.


The book was edited by Nate Finney, an officer in the U.S. Army with a focus on strategy and planning. He is the creator and co-founder of The Strategy Bridge, the founder and first managing director of the Military Fellowship at the Project on International Peace & Security, a founding member of the Military Writers Guild, a term member at the Council on Foreign
Relations, a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, and a visiting fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He has published in several online forums, print
publications, and peer-reviewed journals. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
and
Tyrell O. Mayfield is an officer in the U.S. Air Force with a focus on advising foreign partners and expeditionary security. He is a co-founder of The Strategy Bridge, a founding member of the Military Writers Guild, and has published photography and written work in several online forums, print publications, and peer-reviewed journals. He lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

 


Enjoy the following interviews with the contributing authors!

Simon Anglim

Simon Anglim is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, is the author of two books on Major General Orde Wingate and over a dozen papers in referenced journals, as well as a regular contributor to The Strategy Bridge. He previously spent five years as a historian with the British Ministry of Defence. Steven L. Foster is an officer in the US Army and has extensive experience in logistics, with an emphasis in operational and strategic planning. He currently serves as a strategic planner at United StatesTransportation Command and holds a Master of Public Policy with an emphasis in National Security Policy from George Mason University. Steve’s interests include policy, strategy, and history, and he is a Senior Editor at The Strategy Bridge. He also has experience in the private sector in business management and a strong interest in leader development and talent management. Steve is an Active member of the Military Writers Guild.

How has writing this chapter made me a better thinker?

I’ve actually been touching on the importance of education in the military for two decades, in my previous career with the UK Ministry of Defense, working alongside the old Royal Army Education Corps (now the Education and Training Services Branch of the Adjutant General’s Corps) and subsequently as an academic, where I now teach courses on War and Society and Contemporary Warfare. What writing this chapter has done for me is to bring a lot of previously rather separate stands together into a single hypothesis, that 21st-century armed forces need knowledge as well as training, particularly in today’s often rather unclear and ambiguous environment. Much of what is ingrained via education is in lieu of knowledge past military and political generations would simply glean via experience. It is also vital that officers be taught how to think, not just what to think, in particular, the vital questions of ‘so what’ and ‘do I accept this’?

What books have had the greatest impact on me as a thinker?

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

 

 

 

Morality and War by David Fisher

 

 

 

Small Wars by Major General Charles Callwell

 

 

 

Oman’s Insurgencies by John Peterson.

I recommend strongly that the latter three be added to the USAF reading list.

 

 

Where can I find the book?

Amazon, obviously, but some attempt at least should be made to get it out in bookshops, and I recommend Foyle’s as a good UK outlet. I intend to put the book on the reading lists of both my modules at King’s so the library there should order multiple copies.


Steven Foster
Steven L. Foster is an officer in the US Army and has extensive experience in logistics, with an emphasis on operational and strategic planning. He currently serves as a strategic planner at United States Transportation Command and holds a Master Public Policy with an emphasis in National Security Policy from George Mason University. Steve’s interests include policy, strategy, and history, and he is a Senior Editor at The Strategy Bridge. He also has experience in the private sector in business management and a strong interest in leader development and talent management. Steve is an Active member of the Military Writers Guild.

What books had the most impact on you and your development?

Without a doubt, one book that had an early and lasting impact on my development as a soldier and leader was Hal Moore and Joe Galloway’s We Were Soldiers Once…And Young. The way Moore and Galloway captured the raw, muddy boots perspective of the troopers and leaders of 1-7 Cavalry truly resonated with me when I first read it as a young Second Lieutenant in the same unit. As Moore says in the book, “Some commanders used their helicopter as their personal mount. I never believed in that. You had to get on the ground with your troops to see and hear what was happening. You have to soak up firsthand information for your instincts to operate accurately.” As a young officer, it helped me stay grounded and focused on the welfare of my troops. Today, from a professional ethics standpoint, I think there is still value in this in that helps frame our decisions in a much more clear-eyed manner, keeping in mind that every plan we write, every order we publish, every task we assign has a soldier on the other end executing it, and we owe them the most well-informed decisions to ensure their work is not in vain.

Why is reading important for our military and/or the Nation?

It should go without saying that a dedicated program of lifelong study is vital to the continued development of military professionals. No military career goes by without a daily physical training regimen consisting of muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness training. Yet, many officers and NCOs fail to engage their minds through reading and self-study the way they train their bodies, and simply “phone it in,” knowing that a bare minimum of reading at Professional Military Education courses will get them by. This neglect leaves a harrowing gap in development of skills, in critical thought, broadening of viewpoints, or simply engaging in an exchange of ideas. This is not to say that everyone in uniform should immediately run out and purchase a copy of “On War,” subscribe to “Foreign Affairs,” and start quoting Samuel Huntington at every opportunity. In fact, there have been several recent articles on the importance of military professionals including fiction, and even science fiction, in their reading rotation. However, we have an obligation as professionals to look for as many opportunities as possible to engage in the marketplace of ideas, by reading and writing, to keep our minds sharp, to understand the context -historically, socially, politically, and beyond – of the world we live in and the nation we defend.

How has writing Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics made you a better thinker?

I knew if I was going to put my ideas on paper, literally, to go forward in a published work- I would not put my name on a piece of work I did not feel I had not put my best effort into arguing effectively. For a group of military officers, academics, and interagency professionals to go after the likes of Huntington, Janowitz, and Hackett, to reexamine the state of the military profession through so many different perspectives is a Herculean undertaking. What was great about the process of publishing this text was the iterative process we went through to get it to publication. This, to me, was a great exercise in going back a few times and re-reading, editing, questioning assertions and assumptions, and reframing arguments. My chapter started as a 1,500-word article on The Strategy Bridge. Taking a 1,500-word journal article and expanding it to a 5,000-word book chapter is no easy task, but it was a great exercise in research, in editing, and in critical thought. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this publication journey.

Where can people reach out to you? Are there any FB/ Linkedin/Twitter links you would like me to add?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenlfoster/
https://www.facebook.com/stevenlfoster22
https://twitter.com/slfoster22


Ray Kimball
Ray Kimball is an officer in the US Army with service from the tip of the spear to echelons above reality. He has an abiding interest in leader development and decentralized learning and is a regular contributor to The Strategy Bridge. Ray is a member of the Military Writers Guild.

 

What books had the most impact on you and your development?
There’s three I’d point to:
James Kitfield, Prodigal Soldiers. This is one of the definitive stories of how jointness was born in the post-Vietnam era. I read this as a cadet and was amazed by the candor of the protagonists in talking about just how bad things got right after Vietnam. It reminds me of our obligations to the country and the profession.

 

James Mason, Chickenhawk: An amazing history of Army Aviation during Vietnam. I read this early on in-flight school at the recommendation of an instructor pilot to get a sense of the stresses of flight operations in combat. Mason’s discussion of his post-traumatic stress also helped me come to terms with my own a decade after I originally read the book.

 

Jim Collins, Good to Great: I know there’s a lot of critiques on this one – that many of the businesses profiled went belly up later, for instance. That, to me, is immaterial – Collins’ point is that these are principles that, appropriately applied, can give an organization an edge. That’s it – no guarantees of success, just an edge. In an era where we’re pointing eroding advantages over peer competitor forces, that should be a sobering caution and a call to relook what we think are our enduring advantages.

Why is reading important for our Army and/or the Nation?

There aren’t a lot of truly original ideas out there; I’m a big fan of the saying “If you want a new idea, read an old book.” Reading is a simple but efficient way to expand your perspective and challenge your own thinking. We would never be comfortable with someone who stopped doing physical training because they felt they’d achieved everything they needed to in the physical domain. We ought to have the same approach to professional reading and lifelong learning.

Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics talks about ethics in a military sense. But I’m no combat vet, I’m a dad who lives in the suburbs, how would this book benefit me?

I’ll speak solely for my own chapter: as a suburban dad, odds are good you’re in a workplace. And if you’re there, you likely either have a mentor, want one, or you are one. My chapter is all about workplace mentoring, understanding how it works, and thinking about ways to make it better in support of your profession. All of us can potentially benefit from mentoring, either as a mentor or as a protege.

Other than your book, are there any books you would recommend being added to a professional reading list?

Yes! Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, by W. Brad Johnson and David Smith. There’s extensive research out there that shows all the ways workplace mentoring breaks down when it runs into gendered barriers. Johnson and Smith dispassionately and clearly present that research and provide some simple and clear suggestions for fixing it.

 


 Brian Laslie
Brian Laslie is the Deputy Command Historian for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command and an adjunct professor of history at the US Air Force Academy. After spending six years in the US Air Force, where he served as a logistics
officer and instructor, he left active duty to get his Ph.D. in Military History from Kansas State University. He is the author of The Air Force Way of War: US Tactics and Training After Vietnam and Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the US Air
Force.

What books had the most impact on you and your development?

I’ve been answering this question on social media with some friends recently trying to determine which books had the biggest impact on us. For me, three that always come straight to the forefront are: Bert Frandesen’s Hat in the Ring which made me want to study air power in grad school.

 

Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions changed the way I thought about history.

 

 

 

Mark Clodfelter’s The Limits of Air Power taught me how to analyze modern air power.

 

 

 

Why is reading important for our Military and/or the Nation?

Reading across a broad spectrum is fundamental to the military professional, and by that I encompass the “total force” approach to include active duty, guard, reserves, and civilians. It allows us to use the past to help guide our actions in the future and I think this can be done by reading a wide variety of materials including both fiction and non-fiction.

How has writing Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics made you a better thinker?

The editors Ty and Nate came to me at a fortuitous time. I was writing a second book, doing research at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, taking the command and staff college course, and rather immersed in air power history and thought. They caught me at a time where I could sit down and really think about the history of the air arm across a spectrum. I think they really helped me coalesce my own beliefs about what the history of the Air Force was and how it applies to Airmen today.

Is there one short story from your book you would like to share?

My chapter focuses on the development of the USAF. I look at that “maverick” streak so common in Air Force icons including Billy Mitchell. I wondered if this maverick streak extended to the service as a whole…what I found was the USAF was a service founded as much on insubordination as it was on innovation.

Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics talks about ethics in a military sense. But I’m no combat vet, I’m a dad who lives in the suburbs, how would this book benefit me?

We happen to live in an age where it’s accepted the military can learn from the civilian community and vice versa. I’m reminded that John Boyd’s OODA loop is accepted business practice and Stanley McChrystal’s “Team of Teams” is being read by management professionals. So, although Redefining the Modern Military is geared to the military I think there are professional, ethical, and life lessons that anyone could take from this book.

Other than your book, are there any books you would recommend be added to the Air Force reading list?

As a historian who studies air forces and air power, I tend to keep a running list of recent scholarship that would make great additions to the chief’s list: Craig Morris’ The Origins of American Strategic Bombardment Theory, Steve Bourque’s Beyond the Beach, Sarah Rickman’s WASP of the Ferry Command, Steve Fino’s Tiger Check…the list goes on and on. Oh yeah…Architect of Air Power by me ;)!

 

Thanks to all the authors and editors for sharing their insights! We are looking forward to the release of this book on October 15!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: