What do the ideas of narrative as doctrine, Stoicism, defeat, chivalry, and fighting for pay tell us about the development of military professionalism in the West? In his new volume, Soldiers and Civilization: How the Profession of Arms Thought and Fought the Modern World into Existence, Reed Robert Bonadonna addresses the role these and other developments in military history played in the development of military professionalism. His book is a fascinating and deep journey through military and intellectual history, which seeks to bring a historical and literary focus to a topic that tends to be dominated by social scientists such as Samuel Huntington or by ethicists rooted in the military practice such as Anthony Hartle. This volume appears unique in its focus and brings an important voice to the debate over the sources and nature of military professionalism in the West.
Professional Military Education (PME) covers a wide range of activities. In one sense it refers to a plethora of training, continuing education, and other activities designed to provide development to members of the military at various points in their career and to prepare them for the next level of responsibilities. The U.S. military requires professional education for both officers and enlisted personnel and its form, content, and objective varies across rank, service, and military role. But what is its overarching purpose? Why do we invest so much in this effort?
Military leaders must continue to uphold public confidence with exemplary behavior. This requires renewed commitment to education, self-improvement, reason, and duty. Placing blanket ethics training aside, we can start to relearn virtuous living by picking up copies of Republic and De Officiis. Indeed as professionals, we have an obligation to self-train on these classic works and groom our own moral excellence, for the trust of the society we serve depends on it.