ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, April 01, 2014 —
Service members at all levels must recommit to doing the small things that will add up to restore the profession of arms, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said today.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that over the past 12 years, the pace of operations has been such that leaders have neglected some of the safety nets traditionally used to manage the behavior of the force.
With constant deployments, commanders dispensed with safety nets like inspections and climate surveys. “I would describe these as the small disciplines that when added together produce the larger professional behavior and ethic we call arms,” the general said. “We were so busy, we simply failed to use the tools available to police ourselves.”
This is not a profession in crisis, though it could become one if these issues are not addressed, Dempsey said.
The chairman said much unethical behavior is being lumped together. “There’s criminal acts, there’s ethical mis-steps, there’s unacceptable behaviors -- all these issues get blurred together, but they are very different,” he said. “The one thing they have in common is they erode our profession. It erodes that which allows us to call ourselves a profession.”
The first step to solving this problem, he said, is to look at it through the filter of the profession.
“The second is put teeth back into these safety nets we had in things like inspections, climate surveys and leaders just walking around,” Dempsey said. “Focus on the safety nets that we have available to us.”
Finally, all service members have to understand to work this from the top down and the bottom up. The chairman spoke about his visit to cadets and midshipmen at West Point, N.Y., and Annapolis, Md., last week.
“I told them we can solve this,” he said.
The chairman told the cadets and midshipmen that the day they graduate they become owners of the profession.
“They are no longer net consumers, they have got to be net producers,” Dempsey said. “And they own the profession just as much as I own it.
“Lieutenants and ensigns -- we do have to let them be apprentices for a length of time,” he continued, “but not on the issue of professionalism.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)