The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H102: The Professionals

The 18th Century saw the perfection of the concept of the professional army. From the point of view of the monarch they were a great asset to the kingdom –ensuring protection from enemies from within as well as without the crown’s borders. The professional army had numerous positive attributes. It also had limitations. Both its attributes and its limitations directly effected how the Kingdoms and Empires of the 18th Century waged wars. What were those effects?

Today the Western military forces, including the U.S. Army, are considered the finest professional military forces ever produced. As a professional military force, what attributes, both positive and negative, does the U.S. military, and the army in particular share with the professional forces of Frederick the Great’s Prussia?

Do the professional attributes of the U.S. military effect how the U.S. military wages war in a way similiar to the professional’s effect on war in 18th Century? If so, how?

September 5, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. As Monarchs begin to see the utility in using peasants and people from the respective areas to wage war there was a realization in coast with fighting abroad. A defensive posture begins to rule the day of war fare. Through out history we notice a similar event, which is often attributed to the decline of a Hegemonic state. Hegemonic states often us the military to exert and maintain influence abroad. However, the maintaining of that influence comes at a monetary cost. Eventually the coast eats away at the states power and ultimately a decline in its ability to exert influence. This is the begin of the decline for the hegemonic state.

    Comment by Taron X Epps | September 6, 2018

  2. One limitation that today’s professional, voluntary military has about financial support by the people is that the people who are directly financially affected in the forming and sending of an Army can soon lose its support for the war and place pressure on leadership to end the conflict.

    Positively, the integration of discipline and drill as a tool to build “spirit de corp” continues to be a proven factor in creating cohesive and loyal (to each other) unit members.

    Frederick’s the Great attention to warfare history in developing his own tactics for his present military and future generals to critically study and learn the mind of the generals in the art of war is legacy that has influenced the way the United States approaches war tactics today.

    Comment by Carlis Ruiz | September 7, 2018

  3. The concept of the Professional Army had both limitations and positive attributes. Most of the limitations were related to the Monarch himself. Depending on which Monarch and Kingdom you fought for, your resources could be plentiful or minimal. For example, King Louis XIV of France had a lot of people to fight in his kingdom and more money than other Kings. The size of France enabled him to receive more money from the Monarchs through taxes. Other Kings tried to copy what he was able to do but did not succeed because they had less people to pay taxes and fight in the kingdom.
    Louis XIV’s Officer Corps was made up of Monarchs and created to promote honor and prestige. The positive attributes of honor and prestige develops a loyal Officer Corps. An Officer in Louis’ Army was able to sit with the King and other high ranking Monarchs during ceremonies. Another positive attribute was the ability to supply the Army. The King didn’t have to supply the whole Army with weapons. These weapons were procured by the Officer(Monarch) in charge of his Company. The downside of this was displayed if one Officer was not as rich as the other Officer. If the King supplied the money to the Officers to procure weapons, some of the Officers would be enticed by corruption. Some Officers would keep some of the money and buy subpar weapons. Another limitation would be displayed in the training of the Soldiers. Different Officers throughout the Kingdom would have different training requirements.
    Although Loius XIV developed the modern day structure of the professional army, there were both positive attributes and limitations.

    Comment by Michael L. Brown | September 7, 2018

  4. I want to comment about salary professional soldiers(a sort of mercenary) and drafted professional soldiers(volunteer). Nowadays some countries adapt conscript system and others adapt all volunteer system to keep their countries’ armed forces. And some countries apply both systems, which means that officers and NCOs are volunteers earning their salary while below them, other soldiers are drafted without salary. After France revolution, we define drafted army(the volunteer army) as the army consists of people who have patriotism and dedication to their countries. And the army features that the soldiers are volunteers for securing their value, territory, and people. So, we can think the army is stronger than salary soldiers who become for money when we imagine the France Revolution period. But, now, in several countries, an interesting thing happens. Salary professional soldiers have more patriotism than drafted professional soldier(volunteer). Many drafted professional soldiers lack patriotism, dedicational mind, and sacrifice. Rather, salary professional soldiers have the kinds of virtue. I think that it is good for the drafted soldiers in Democratic and Republic to recall the France Revolution and the implication of revolution of army at that time.

    Comment by kwon.moon | September 10, 2018

  5. There were several attributes and limitations that directly effected how wars were waged in the 18th Century. Most notably, Soldiers, especially the enlisted, were not trusted members of the military. Communication across the military formation was poor at best. Weapons systems of the time were inaccurate and usually effective at short distances. Military drill training and Soldiering took time, two years or more to turn a ragamuffin into a professional Soldier. Armies were expensive and required a heavy investment by the crown and/or country. Logistically speaking, military forces were a nightmare to support, which only got worse the further they traveled from their garrisons and stockpiles of supplies.

    Professional Soldiers wanted to serve and could be depended upon to train hard, follow instruction, and do what was necessary to fight and win. Regiments gave a sense of ownership and community to their forces. They put a high price tag on discipline and to fight with honor and courage, placing a lot of value on patriotism.

    Comment by Aaron S. Griffin | September 10, 2018

  6. The Kingdoms and Empires of the 18th Century shared many benefits in transitioning from Mercenary to Professional armies, but still had several limitations in the way they waged wars.

    First, going to war was extremely expensive. Rulers had to pay the wages for those in the military as well as the ability to sustain it. This caused armies to be relatively small in comparison to armies that arise in the future. Armies were also unable to extend their supply lines do to the costs of contractors transporting logistics back and forth to the armies. Armies did not yet live off the land, because they belonged to noble land owners. This also resulted in armies creating fortifications to protect themselves and equipment without overextending their logistic capabilities. Costs of new weaponry such as gunpowder also dramatically increased the cost in waging war. Drawing long wars out as seen in the 100 Years War could easily crush a nation’s economy. Wars were also very limited as armies never sought to overthrow regimes. As most of the aristocracy was related either by blood or marriage, a complete transition of power was unthinkable.

    The U.S. military shares many of the same attributes held by professional armies of the 18th century. A sense of nationalism is shared by all men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Many joined following September 11, 2001 as a means to defend the nation from terrorism. This sense of nationalism towards a state is exactly what transitioned wars from depending on mercenary armies. Today in the U.S. armed forces, the military is considered a profession similar to medical professionals. This is due to a dedication of lifelong learning to consistently analyze our shortfalls and develop means to improve the organization. The environment is ever-changing, so the men and women of the armed forces have to continually adapt in order to stay relevant. This also includes similar strategies to conduct individual and collective training that we see within the professional armies of the 18th century. This concept of constant training has become the cornerstone of the U.S. military, which we originally took from Baron von Steuben, a Prussian Officer who came to the colonies to help train the struggling Colonial Army to fight professional British forces.

    Comment by Andrew Lincoln | September 12, 2018

  7. A 18th century professional army had the benefit of having highly trained soldiers with a specific set of skills that were loyal to their nation. When monarchs first went away from hiring mercenary armies, the officer’s were aristocratic members of that nation’s society and, depending on the nation, were able to pay for the soldier’s equipment, food, and wages. By being able to do this, two things happened: the aristocrat was able to achieve a status through the military he would otherwise not be able to do and the soldier was able to receive a steady income. Revolutions, such as the French Revolution, shifted the influence of power from the crown to a citizen-ran government, and by doing this, nationalism came into fruition. In the “New Model Army,” all soldiers were specifically trained and members of a nation’s armed force were conscripted or volunteered due to these feelings of nationalism. The advantage of this was the dedication a person had to defend their homeland. A limitation was the cost of creating, training, and sustaining a home-grown army. Also around this time, arms and tactics came about that helped change the way nations fought. The flintlock musket and rise of generals, such as Napoleon, set forth a new age of war.

    Comment by Chris Brooks | September 12, 2018

  8. The development of the professional army positive attributes included professionalism and discipline, which was innovative characteristics to the Kingdoms and Empires of the 18th Century. However, even though these professional armies were trained, organized, and received money for their service, they still lacked the qualities of loyalty, allegiance, and commitment to the various kings.

    Our military today, evolved from great military minds and tacticians of the past, such as Frederick the Great of Prussia. Similar ideas of military ideology were to develop a strong honor to group, that is an esprit de corps. However, the loyalty and commitment in the 18th century was suspect, Today we have an Army that is devoted to the team, the command, and the nation’s interests; further, our soldiers of today have attributes such as commitment and character.

    Comment by Shannon Gorman | September 13, 2018

  9. A sub context of “revolutions” is military revolutions, and within that “revolutions of military affairs.” The evolution from mercenary armies to professional armies and then from professional armies to citizen-Soldier armies were RMAs within military revolutions.

    The professional armies, like Fredrick G’s, were very disciplined and had forbearance. They stood their ground in the face of death until, as Patton said, they saw the whites of their enemies’ eyes. This discipline came from fearing the officers over death. Additionally, professional armies were very loyal because they fought for the King. However, there was no patriotism or honor because it was the King’s fight, not the Soldier’s fight. Citizen-Soldier armies, however, have honor and patriotism because they fight for an ideology more than for a person. Further, professional army officers came from aristocracy who were in charge of training and funding their companies. The aristocracy were privileged and their rank came from the King; based on this privilege. Whereas, citizen based army officers are commissioned and promoted based on meritocracy.

    The second question posed is: Do the professional attributes of the U.S. military effect how the U.S. military wages war in a way similiar to the professional’s effect on war in 18th Century? If so, how?. Today the Western military forces, including the U.S. Army, are considered the finest professional military forces ever produced. As a professional military force, what attributes, both positive and negative, does the U.S. military, and the army in particular share with the professional forces of Frederick the Great’s Prussia?

    It could be argued that the U.S. military is a professional-citizen army. Soldiers and officers take an oath to the U.S. Constitution, not to one person. Additionally, the U.S. military fights to defend the principles of the Constitution; an ideology. What is shared between Fredrick G’s professional army and the U.S. professional/citizen army is discipline, forbearance, and training. Fredrick G’s installment of these principles continue today.

    Comment by Dustin Murphy | September 15, 2018

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