Redefining the Modern Military

The Intersection of Profession and Ethics

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This edited collection examines the changing character of military professionalism and the role of ethics in the twenty-first-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 works to understand the role of ethics in the military, as well as how to better develop individuals in this often-lethal profession. This book is perfect for the faculty and students in our nation’s military academies, ROTC programs, officer commissioning programs, staff schools, and war colleges as they pursue professional military education and develop their own understanding of modern professionalism. 

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Editorial Reviews

“Redefining the Modern Military is very much an 'inside out' view of the military as a profession. That is the book's glory - the perspectives from within that it provides are invaluable. And beyond the chapters' contents the book is doubly important for what it represents: a strong and growing movement within the US military and allied western forces that is agitating for a fresh evaluation of what, exactly, it is to be part of this 'profession of arms'.” Defense-in-Depth
“An awesome example of collaborative writing to elevate the discourse in the profession of arms. Looking forward to Redefining the Modern Military and proud to see so many of our guild members as contributors.” The Military Writers Guild
“In the age of social media, we have an entire generation of company and field grade officers who are taking their professional military education into their own hands.... Ty and Nate seized on this moment to produce ... a book that will generate discussion across the services and the military establishment at large.... [T]his book surely has something for everyone. From company grade officers to flag and general officers, ... it will do what it sets out to do, which is nothing less than 'Redefine' the modern military.” From Balloons to Drones
“While the technology of our great profession of arms has changed through the ages, it's essence remains the application of force in a manner aligned with the values and expectations of our society. Finney and Mayfield have assembled in Redefining the Modern Military a masterful exploration of ethics and the profession of arms.” —Maj. Gen. Mick Rya Commander, Australian Defence College
Redefining the Modern Military brings together an impressively diverse group of writers to examine military professionalism through many different lenses. All share a frank, earnest, often fresh look at the topic. Practitioners and scholars of the military profession will find this collection to be an invaluable source for insight and inspiration.” —Dr. JP Clark, Army officer and former History Professor at the US Military Academy, Author, Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern US Army, 1815-1917
“Finney and Mayfield have put together an important volume on the profession of arms and ethics. We don't discuss or argue about (in the highest sense of the term) these matters enough in our community. We should, with vigor. Thanks to Nate and Ty for this service.” —Col. Celestino Perez, Jr., Professor, U.S. Army War College
“The United States military currently confronts powerful strategic, political, and cultural pressures that will affect how it performs future missions and relates to the republic it serves. In light of nearly two decades of difficult asymmetric wars, the rise of high-end conventional adversaries, new stresses on norms of civil-military relations, and a citizenry with a penchant for venerating military service, the time has come for a thoroughgoing interrogation of the meaning of military professionalism and ethics. In Redefining the Modern Military, Finney and Mayfield bring together a stellar group of officers, academics, and lawyers to begin that vital conversation. The arguments offered in these pages are as shrewd as they are important. Redefining the Modern Military should be read and debated by military professionals and citizens alike.” —Spencer D. Bakich, Director of the National Security Program at the Virginia Military Institute, Author, Success and Failure in Limited War: Information & Strategy in the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Iraq Wars
“The United States military currently confronts powerful strategic, political, and cultural pressures that will affect how it performs future missions and relates to the republic it serves. In light of nearly two decades of difficult asymmetric wars, the rise of high-end conventional adversaries, new stresses on norms of civil-military relations, and a citizenry with a penchant for venerating military service, the time has come for a thoroughgoing interrogation of the meaning of military professionalism and ethics. In Redefining the Modern Military, Finney and Mayfield bring together a stellar group of officers, academics, and lawyers to begin that vital conversation. The arguments offered in these pages are as shrewd as they are important. Redefining the Modern Military should be read and debated by military professionals and citizens alike.” —Spencer D. Bakich, Director of the National Security Program at the Virginia Military Institute, Author, Success and Failure in Limited War: Information & Strategy in the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Iraq Wars
“BRAVO for the reflective practitioners! This volume arrives just when needed in the evolution of our military professions. It provides the often irreverent, iconoclastic, yet always well-informed, views of military professionals now serving. The Stewards of America's military professions should listen carefully to these voices and foster the internal dialogues they initiate.” —Don M. Snider, PhD, Adjunct Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College
“With this ambitious and impressive new volume, Finney and Mayfield have assembled a premier collection of scholars and officers to explore the foundational questions of military professionalism and ethics. These issues are too often neglected in peacetime and marginalized in wartime, yet they sit at the heart of maintaining an effective and lethal military in a free society. Policymakers, scholars, military professionals, and students will all be well-served by this penetrating new book.” —Professor William Inboden, Executive Director and William Powers, Jr. Chair, Clements Center, Distinguished Scholar, Strauss Center, Associate Professor, LBJ School
“This fascinating volume on ethics and the military profession in the 21st century makes a tremendous contribution to the literature. It features an array of highly qualified and well versed authors, from active duty officers with very different service backgrounds and experiences to university faculty, lawyers, and aid workers. The chapters tackle difficult questions about the unique responsibilities that face military professionals. Building on classic texts, this volume significantly advances our understanding of how ethics and professionalism will interact for militaries operating in a changing world. It is a great example of interdisciplinary, policy relevant scholarship.” —Michael C. Horowitz, Professor of Political Science, Associate Director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania, Author of Why Leaders Fight and the award-winning The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics
Redefining the Modern Military is an important and timely work drawing on an interdisciplinary base of scholars and practitioners to examine the core ethics of the US military profession. Such introspection, as the authors argue, is indeed necessary as practitioners and scholars look back on decades of conflict and attempt to anticipate the changing military profession of arms for the future conflicts looming ahead.” —Dan Cox, Professor of Political Science at the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies
“This is a thorough, sober, and thoughtful analysis of the profession of arms in the 21st century. Ethics lie at the beating heart of service in America's military, and we stray from the moral core evident in this volume at great risk. Timely and profoundly important!” —Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), Dean, The Fletcher School, Tufts University and Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
“A profession cannot remain a profession simply by declaring itself to be one. Its members must earn and re-earn trust daily through ethical behavior and the application of expertise. In Redefining the Modern Military, editors Nate Finney and Ty Mayfield have initiated a long-overdue conversation about what it will take for members of the modern military profession to maintain, and in some cases regain, that trust. Their book asks tough questions that members of the profession should be asking and it will spark new new questions that will drive the conversation about military professionalism for at least the next decade. Redefining the Modern Military is a must-read for anyone who cares about professional military education or civil-military relations.” —Jim Golby, PhD, Former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Special Advisor to Vice Presidents Joe Biden & Mike Pence
“An essential, thought-provoking analysis of military professionalism - an elusive concept long pursued - but often misunderstood - by soldiers and civilians alike. The ideas in this book should be pondered and argued over in classrooms, tents, and around the 21st century equivalent of campaign campfires.” —Gen. Stan McChrystal, USA (Ret), Founder of the McChrystal Group and Former Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), Afghanistan
“In the conflicts of the future, professionalism and the ethical use of force will be even more important than today. The diverse approach to the issue in Redefining the Modern Military, provided by a plethora of different perspectives, is a necessary and invaluable re-assessment of this topic for the 21st Century and will hopefully begin a robust discussion that can only improve the effectiveness of our men and women in uniform. Highly recommend this text be used across our leader development institutions, inside and outside of the military.” —Col. Liam Collins, Director, Modern War Institute, Former Director of West Point's Combating Terrorism Center
“The 21st Century environment requires competent leadership, but competent leadership without character is failed leadership. Nowhere is that more true than within the Profession of Arms. Now, more than ever, leaders must not only possess the professional expertise and competence to operate in today's challenging and dynamic global environment, but more importantly, the moral-ethical foundation to build trust and live and lead honorably. Redefining the Modern Military astutely describes why both competence and character are vital to leadership in the military profession.” —Lt. General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., USA (Ret.), Former Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
“Finney and Mayfield offer a stimulating international mix of ideals, opinions, and contemporary looks at the profession of arms and the development of its ethic. The book provides a starting point for military professionals wishing to learn more about their art and the values which shape their profession. Finney and Mayfield offer a variety of viewpoints discussing the future of the military profession and the ethical application of lethal force as driven by technological advances and social morays. Redefining the Modern Military will inspire personal reflection on the meaning and application of the Army Ethic (ADRP 1), spark professional dialog among peers, and assist in strengthening the professionalism of our Soldiers and Army Civilians.” —Col. Geoffrey Catlett, Director for the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic at West Point
Redefining the Modern Military reminds us that the 'military professional' draws upon an established body of knowledge. Undeniably, there is an intellectual component to professionalism; an obligation to be inquisitive, particularly in times of intense change. True military professionals, however, go beyond admiring the problem; they actively find ways to turn concepts into actionable reform plans, drive those reforms through 'learning by doing,' turn theoretical knowledge into executable, practical improvement, and create new knowledge as well as relevant military capabilities. Today's true military professionals will find much in this collection to set their necessarily ambitious, but essentially pragmatic, reform agendas.” —Lt. Gen. Sir Paul Newton, KBE, CBE, MPhil, UK Army (Ret), Director, Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter and Former Commander, Force Development and Training
“It is a dangerous sign that nearly two decades fighting wars we have not won, Americans continue to trumpet the finest military in the history of the world instead of ruthlessly abrading the institution to improve. Redefining the Modern Military is an earnest exploration of what constitutes professionalism in the American military, how it is affected by long wars, technological and societal changes, and an appeal for critical thinking about failures both operational and ethical. I especially relished the chapters that wrestled with when and why to break the rules of the military profession. This book will be an educational touchstone and a great teaching tool for and about the American military.” —Dr. Kori N. Schake, Deputy Director-General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Author, Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military and Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony
“The authors put forward a much needed collection on what it means to be a member of the profession of arms in the 21st century. This book fuels the necessary conversation to make every curious reader a better warrior. Bravo Zulu!” —Rear Adm. Peg Klein, USN (Ret), Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Military Profession
Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics provides a penetrating analysis of American military professionalism and the ethical culture that underscores honorable service to the country. Editors Tyrell Mayfield and Nathan Finney, along with an impressive list of contributors from academia, the legal profession and serving officers, deliver a rich exploration of military professionalism from historical, civil-military, social, psychological, legal, and philosophical perspectives. The authors present not only critical analysis but recommendations for improving the state of the profession. This thought-provoking volume offers important insights for academia, as well as military professionals and military students charged to lead ethically in an increasing complex and challenging security environment.” —Col. David Gray, Ph.D., U.S. Army (Ret.), Director of the Center for Leadership and Ethics, Virginia Military Institute
“Defining our profession and adhering to and championing our ethic is most challenging when we, as the collective Armed Forces, struggle to study, structure, and learn from our past. Ty and Nate developed a great volume composed of varied perspectives that provide insight and historic context so WE can maintain and cultivate our profession for the coming decades.” —MG John Kem, Commandant, US Army War College
“Why do our military people need to be 'professional'? This outstanding collection of thoughts provides the essential context for military professionals who wish both to take their profession seriously and to develop a better understanding of themselves and their peers.” —Maj. Gen. Dr. Andrew R.D. Sharpe, CBE, PhD (Cantab), UK Army (Ret) Director of the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research Former Director of the UK Ministry of Defence's independent think-tank, the Development, Concepts, and Doctrine Centre
“As the United States confronts new and increasing threats to our security and vital interests, it is important that military institutions and leaders stay connected with those in whose name they fight and serve. That is why Redefining the Modern Military is an important book that deserves a wide readership. Reading this book will help citizens understand better not only the physical, but also the moral, ethical, and cultural elements of military effectiveness.” —H.R. McMaster, Former U.S. National Security Advisor, Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace
“With the honor and humility that make it unique, the profession of arms has repeatedly reflected and adapted following periods of armed conflict. How then can it learn in the midst of the longest period of continuous war in American history? In Redefining the Modern Military Nate and Ty have endeavored to lead a conversation that not only reflects on where the profession stands today, but perhaps more importantly, how our civilian-led institutions adapt our military to the future nature of warfare and the increasingly heavy responsibility placed on the individual citizen-service member.” —Daniel Feehan, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness)
“Compelling and topical, Redefining the Modern Military challenges readers to dissect the profession of arms against the backdrop of historical and contemporary challenges. A very timely work to help strengthen our understanding of what it means to be a professional fighting force in the 21st Century.” —Lt. Gen. Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO, Chief of the Australian Army

“This is an encouraging book; reflecting an evaluation of war, arguably at a time of conflict and growing operational demands on the U.S. and its allies…. A great book and one that no doubt will become a primer for future staff officers.” —The NAVY

“Finney and Mayfield’s purpose is to stimulate a dialogue about the military as a profession. They succeed. Redefining the Modern Military is relevant and appropriate reading for today’s military professional. This book is interesting, thought provoking, informative, and gives a voice to dissenting opinions about the nature of the military as a profession. The contributors do an excellent job of describing what makes the military a profession and the development of the professional ethos in the military. They also emphasize the importance of education, mentoring, and individual development to the continuance of this professional ethos. Finally, they make a compelling argument that periodic reexamination of the profession, carried out by practitioners, is a defining professional characteristic of the military. Their book is timely, and relevant, and should be added to your professional reading list.” —Military Review
“The editors of this volume have done the profession a great service by collecting and refining the ideas in this volume. They have not sought to develop a coherent and consistent assessment of the profession and thus tell us what we should think of its status and future. Rather, they have gathered contributors who disagree with one another without trying to win a debate. Thus, each contributor has added to the conversation in a unique and helpful way and they have collectively reminded military professionals and educators of their responsibility to join them in developing and conveying the profession’s expert body of knowledge and ethic.” —Parameters
“For students of military doctrine, especially young officers, Redefining the Modern Military could serve as a first stop in the search for a personal understanding of ethics or a relatable top-off after emerging from a professional education course.” —Air & Space Power Journal
“The diversity [of authors and editors] alone is enough reason to get this book, but an even better one is that it is readable… The editing is sharp and consistent. Unlike many collections, it appears the authors saw drafts of all contributors’ essays. And while one should never judge a book by its cover, when that cover has blurbs from retired Adm. James Stavridis, former National Security Advisor retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and a foreword by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, well, maybe one might want to take a look.” —ARMY magazine
“The editors Finney and Mayfield are to be congratulated for their attention to the key issue of exploring the relationships between military service, professionalism and ethical orientation. The military occupy a unique legal and social place in their capacity to dispense (extensive) lethal force. While much has been invested into the law of armed conflict in the hope that it will sufficiently restrain violence, there is the need for locating deeper registers of ethical duty. This duty finds expression in the recognition of the professional nature of military service and the rights and obligations that flow as a consequence. The approaches taken in this book to examine these issues do a magnificent job of revealing a rich and thoughtful literature of analysis. The book represents a key moment of reflection for all who are interested in understanding issues of restraint, professionalism and ethical boundaries in the conduct of contemporary military operations.” —Adelaide Law Review
“In Redefining the Modern Military, Nathan Finney and Tyrell Mayfield set out to explore the meaning of military professionalism and the military ethic as an element of professionalism…. As the editors and many authors argue, the current security situation—namely, the American military’s shift to great power competition after two decades of conflict in the Middle East—makes this an ideal time for thought on what it means to be a military professional. Finney and Mayfield make a valuable contribution to starting a discussion on the topic.” —Strategic Studies Quarterly