05 January 2015

Characteristics of a Real Soldier

The term “professional” is a word that can be defined in many ways by differing points of view. I will be defining it from a military profession or "a profession of arms" point of view. Now we must understand that other professions will have vastly different and varying points of view.

In the profession of arms, it is our duty to do things that other Americans would,or could, not do. We, as Americans, are taught from childhood to respect the lives and freedoms of others. In turn, we want our lives and freedoms respected. This we know as the "Golden Rule". But it is our duty as professional Soldiers to, when necessary, infringe in the highest manner possible on another human being's rights by taking his/her life. The duty to lawfully take another human being's life is reserved only for those who truly understand the burden of that duty. The responsibility this duty brings is the highest, hardest and most challenging responsibility that can be given to anyone. Since the beginning of time, the Soldier has been entrusted with the burden of that duty.

Every leader must understand that it takes a certain type of character to be able to lawfully kill another. They must understand that it is not just about killing, but it is also about sacrifice. As Soldiers, we have a duty to our country to take the lives of our enemies. But the enemies that we are duty-bound to kill also believe that they are just as duty-bound to defend their beliefs with deadly force. The Soldiers selected to carry out the judgment of another man's death must understand that they do this at a risk to their own lives and to the lives of their Brothers around them. It is not until this understanding that they can truly be called Soldiers.

A Soldier is not just a person in uniform - a true Soldier forms specific character traits over the years. These traits in our profession are called "The Army Values". These values are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. It is essential for a Soldier to have these values in order to be entrusted with the responsibility of taking the life of another human being. I'll give you an example using Star Wars.  The reason a Jedi must be pure is because of their obligation to the security and welfare of the people they protect from the Dark Side. The Dark Side is the “easy wrong” where leaders conform to the Dark Side when they ignore certain regulations. They ignore these regulations because they think not obeying them is appealing, popular, and will help them gain respect in the eyes of their Soldiers. To help make my point I will use a quote from a SFC on a discussion about professionalism,  "I enforce the regulations, without complaining to my subordinates […] I follow regulations not because I believe in them but because I believe in my job as an NCO, if that makes sense".

The regulations that have been placed on Soldiers have not been placed there to annoy those who think they know what being a Soldier is really about. They have been placed there to measure one's ability to conform to and maintain the values expected of us as Soldiers. If every person in uniform were loyal, would there be a need for EO? If every person in uniform understood his or her obligation to duty, would there be AWOLS or prisoner abuse such as Abu Ghraib? If every person in uniform had respect, would the SHARP Program need to exist? If every person in uniform provided selfless service, would there be need for an Army Team Building? If every person in uniform had integrity, would there be an 8th Troop Leading Procedure? If every person in uniform had honor, would there be punishments for stolen valor? And finally if every person in uniform had personal courage, I wouldn't be writing this.

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