The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

The People’s Army –An Idea Who’s Time has Past?

Some say that the concept of a “People’s Army” that is large, represents the responsibility of citizens doing their duty in service to the nation, but is relatively untrained, is a quaint 19th Century idea that is irrelevant to the modern nation state. What the modern nation state needs is a military that is highly skilled, manned by expert long service professionals, who are capable of precisely wielding the sophisticated high technology weapons of the 21st century to achieve decisive effects with minimum collateral damage. A professional l military allows war to be executed quickly and with the minimum of casualties to all concerned. A “people’s army” is good for violent, costly, and chaotic revolution, but the professional army of the stable nation state is the ultimate military force.

A different point of view insists that the professional army is a costly and wasteful arm of government that permits a nation to constantly wage war without the commitment or approval of the vast majority of the population. The standing professional army is inherently destabilizing to the international system. This argument maintains that when the cost of war is low than war is common. Thus, the relative ease and lack of debate with which the U.S. entered war with Iraq was a function of the standing professional military that made engaging in war “too easy” for the American population.

Does a professional army allow a country to go to war with the minimum of disruption to civilian life? Is this a good thing or does it contribute to the willingness / ease with which a country might decide on a war option?

The trend of Western Armies is toward small, professional, volunteer forces. Has the nature war changed in the 21st Century to make the people’s army irrelevant? Or, have transnational groups taken the idea of the “people’s army” to the next level and found a way to match it asymmetrically against a professional force?


September 13, 2012 - Posted by | H100 | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. A professional army does allow a country to go to war with minimum disruption to life. The standing professional army allows for the same amount of impact, effect, and results to take place with a smaller force and less disruption to the citizens and infrastructure where the conflict is taking place. The professional force limits the amount of disruption to human life on both military forces, as well as civilian loss of life, and collateral damage. This ability to go to war with minimal damage is a good thing because it allows for an increase of military options (smaller and more precise). This limits disruption and damage which may not have been accomplished with a larger, less trained army. If a nation wants to go to war they will. A professional army will not make them more willing to wage war; it will just give them more effective options.

    Although the “people’s army” has become irrelevant as the nature of war has changed and the required size of the army has changed, the concept of service to the nation has not become irrelevant and should not be forgotten. Citizens still need to have the responsibility of “doing their duty in service to the nation”, it just may longer be in the form of military service. This nonmilitary service to the nation could come in many forms. It could be any job or act of service that directly benefits or strengthens the nation or its people.

    Transnational groups and the nation’s professional force have developed together. As the nation’s professional army is faced with an increasing asymmetric fight, the professional force has increased their ability to operate as a small, precise, and highly specialized professional force which is proving to be most effective against the transnational groups.

    Comment by John Nash | September 16, 2012

  2. Good morning, my name is MAJ Cesar Rodriguez from CGSC SG 11C. I want to comment on the question,”Does a professional army allow a country to go to war with the minimum of disruption to civilian life? Is this a good thing or does it contribute to the willingness / ease with which a country might decide on a war option?”

    In my personal experience, currently I am an AGR Military Police Officer, but right before September 11, 2001 (911), I was a TPU Soldier and in the process of transferring into the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR). The primary reason was because I was in a stage in my life in where my military service in the Reserves was taking up a lot of time and I needed to devot more time to the small business profession in which I had. Neadless to say that after 911 I was obviously mobilized, not only once but three times and a three years COADOS in a period of seven years. Obviously, this was a major disruption in my civilian life, which lead me to ultimately joining the AGR program.

    Through out my military career, I commanded two different Military Police units, one for 39 months and another for 25 months, thru an array of Deployments, Mobilizations and GWOT missions. My experience has been, that despite having the USERRA federal law, which covers Reserve Soldiers when brought on Title 10 Mobilization, to not be discriminated from their civilian employment, which in return disrupts their civilian life, it is never the same for reserve Soldiers when they get back. Yes employers from private, state and federal agencies give these Soldiers the same status in rank and pay (which are the most important) because of USERRA to Soldiers, but they still don’t look at them with the same eyes as when they left. Imagine those reserve Soldiers that we had to pull for mobilization two, three or four time because of their critical military specialties. So NO, it is impossible for a professional army to go to war with minimum disruption to civilian life for those citizen Soldiers.

    When the country decided to go to war, we failed to look at the different scenarios our Citizen Soldiers as veterans would face. But, I will say that through out our 10 years at war, we did do a good job at identifying the problems for these Citizen Soldier veterans as they arose and took corrective action. Despite the great efforts we still have a long way to go. I think that the actions we took with our citizen Soldiers will impact in the future the ease in which our country will decide a war as an option among other options.

    MAJ, MP
    CGSC SG:11C

    Comment by MAJ Cesar Rodriguez, SG: 11C | September 16, 2012

  3. A professional army does enable a country to initiate conflict with minimal impact to civilian life, however the duration of this protection from disruption is dependent on the length and nature of the war. If it is direct action, i.e. Grenada or Panama type action, the professional army bears the burden of war and insulating the general population. However, if we are in a protracted war with high causalities or a need for a large force, the civilian population will then have to step up to the plate to help with this burden.

    A professional army creates an environment that is conducive to use the military option over extended diplomatic options. A great example of this would be the US and its Department of Defense. We have had several military actions, Grenada, Panama and Bosnia that demonstrate the willingness to go to war over extended diplomatic efforts. A professional Defense Department provides the POTUS the ability to strike quickly and hard while knowing the forces are ready for the challenge. This willingness is predicated on previous success and a high readiness rate, something that only a professional army can provide.

    Comment by Luke Jacobs | September 20, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: