The Center for Army Profession and Ethic hosted a weeklong course for soldiers at Fort Hood from Feb. 4-8.
The Master Army Profession and Ethic Trainer is a five-day course specially designed to help Army professionals and leaders be able to better support and aid their commanders and units in managing a professional development program at their unit levels or Army school.
“We’re training the trainers,” said William Kuiper, course manager for Center for Army Profession and Ethic. “Training them in the importance of having a professional identity — this goes back to studying the effects that 10 years of war has had on our Army, professionally, ethically, morally and emotionally.”
Kuiper and his team at the center strongly believe in using active, face-to-face discussion about the topics stressed in the trainer course, as opposed to an online survey, phone calls or any other type of electronic communication.
Throughout the 40-hour course, selected soldiers from every unit at Fort Hood focused on three critical areas: mastery of key Army profession concepts, creation of unit character-development programs and continued growth in pursuit of their own personal character development.
The participants demonstrated and completed these tasks through different methods during the course, such as small-group discussion, each led by an instructor.
“At (the center) we began asking, ‘After 10 years of war, where are we?’ and what we got back from the force was that they felt they were a profession, but the professional aspects were being pushed aside,” Kuiper said. “We began going through and holding different courses on different installations to find out the effects of 10 years of war.
“The bottom line for the creation of the (ethic trainer) course is that the Army has been doing amazing things for 10 years — performing and completing their missions, meeting requirements and protecting the American people — all while under arduous circumstances, so it is not that the Army needs to be fixed; it is that we need to get back to the idea of the Army profession, identity, a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves.”
Kuiper said soldiers have had to be trained and sent downrange quickly, so weapons training and route clearance has taken a necessary priority over ethical, moral and professional training.
“We lost these values because throughout the war, (improvised explosive device) training was more important than leader-development training, because they needed to be trained and down range quickly — the Army ethics and morals were pushed aside,” Kuiper said. “We want to raise the importance of it again, integrate it back into training. Ethical decision making and Army values are still important.
“What is it that we want our soldiers to have? Knowledge, skills, attitude, good decision-making skills — sometimes it won’t be about how to pull the trigger, but more about if you should pull the trigger at all.”
The ethic courses were born at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., through the center and the Praevius Group teaming up in 2009, and have been making progress, traveling and growing in importance.
The instructors for the course are familiar with military background, with most of them being prior service, West Point graduates or full-time Praevius contractors.
The center, together with Praevius, has created methods of getting the course’s ethics and ideas across through discussion, not PowerPoint; through group activities, not video conference; and they have grown to travel the world holding courses. Their next assignment is in Korea.
One instructor, Joe LeBoeuf, West Point graduate and current faculty at Duke University, remembered the Army Values and Warrior Ethos in the Army as a profession.
“What does it mean to be a professional soldier?” LeBoeuf asked the course participants on day one. “Our armor is our identity, the Army’s way of thinking. We are trusted in society to make the right decisions all the time because we are professionals.”
“A profession is defined as a unique occupation of expert work,” Don Snider, U.S. Army War College professor and West Point graduate said. “The Army is undoubtedly a profession, and you are the professionals.”