Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics

Redefining the Modern Military expands upon and refines the ideas on the role of ethics and the profession in the 21st Century. The authors delve into whether Samuel Huntington and Morris Janowitz still ring true in the 21st century; whether training and continuing education play a role in defining a profession; and if there is a universal code of ethics required for the military as a profession. 

This edited volume is unique in how it treats the subject of ethics and the military profession, as well as the types of writers it brings on board to address this topic. The book puts a significant emphasis on individual agency for military professionalism as opposed to broad organizational or cultural change. Such a review of these topics is necessary because the process of serious, intellectual self-reflection is a requirement -- especially in a profession that involves life and death of people and nations.


“This is a thorough, sober, and thoughtful analysis of the profession of arms in the 21st century.  Ethics lie at the beating heart of service in America’s military, and we stray from the moral core evident in this volume at great risk.  Timely and profoundly important!” - Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), Dean, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander

“An essential, thought-provoking analysis of military professionalism – an elusive concept long pursued - but often misunderstood - by soldiers and civilians alike.  The ideas in this book should be pondered and argued over in classrooms, tents, and around the 21st century equivalent of campaign campfires." - GEN Stan McChrystal, USA (Ret), Founder of the McChrystal Group, Former Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), Afghanistan

"The 21st Century environment requires competent leadership, but competent leadership without character is failed leadership. Nowhere is that more true than within the Profession of Arms. Now, more than ever, leaders must not only possess the professional expertise and competence to operate in today's challenging and dynamic global environment, but more importantly, the moral-ethical foundation to build trust and live and lead honorably. Redefining the Modern Military astutely describes why both competence and character are vital to leadership in the military profession.” - LTG Robert L. Caslen, Jr., USA (Ret), Former Superintendent of the United States Military Academy

“Redefining the Modern Military reminds us that the ‘military professional’ draws upon an established body of knowledge. Undeniably, there is an intellectual component to professionalism; an obligation to be inquisitive, particularly in times of intense change. True military professionals, however, go beyond admiring the problem; they actively find ways to turn concepts into actionable reform plans, drive those reforms through ‘learning by doing,’ turn theoretical knowledge into executable, practical improvement, and create new knowledge as well as relevant military capabilities. Today’s true military professionals will find much in this collection to set their necessarily ambitious, but essentially pragmatic, reform agendas.” - Lt Gen Sir Paul Newton, KBE, CBE, MPhil, UK Army (Ret), Director, Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter


“While the technology of our great profession of arms has changed through the ages, it’s essence remains the application of force in a manner aligned with the values and expectations of our society. Finney and Mayfield have assembled in Redefining the Modern Military a masterful exploration of ethics and the profession of arms.” - MAJGEN Mick Ryan, Commander, Australian Defence College

“The authors put forward a much needed collection on what it means to be a member of the profession of arms in the 21st century.  This book fuels the necessary conversation to make every curious reader a better warrior.  Bravo Zulu!” - RADM Peg Klein, USN (Ret), Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Military Professionalism



Thanks & Congrats to Nate Finney and Ty Mayfield for this substantive contribution to the dialogue about the military profession. A must-read for our Officers.” - COL Kirk Dorr, Director of the US Army’s School for Advanced Military Studies

“Redefining the Modern Military brings together an impressively diverse group of writers to examine military professionalism through many different lenses. All share a frank, earnest, often fresh look at the topic. Practitioners and scholars of the military profession will find this collection to be an invaluable source for insight and inspiration.” - Dr. JP Clark, Army officer and former History Professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Author, Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern US Army, 1815-1917

“Finney and Mayfield have put together an important volume on the profession of arms and ethics. We don’t discuss or argue about (in the highest sense of the term) these matters enough in our community. We should, with vigor. Thanks to Nate and Ty for this service.” - COL Celestino Perez, Jr., Professor, U.S. Army War College

"This comprehensive text is the closest any student can get to 'one-stop shopping' on the topic of the U.S. military profession." - Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria II, Editor, Parameters and Author of Reconsidering the American Way of War: US Military Practice from the Revolution to Afghanistan

“The United States military currently confronts powerful strategic, political, and cultural pressures that will affect how it performs future missions and relates to the republic it serves.  In light of nearly two decades of difficult asymmetric wars, the rise of high-end conventional adversaries, new stresses on norms of civil-military relations, and a citizenry with a penchant for venerating military service, the time has come for a thoroughgoing interrogation of the meaning of military professionalism and ethics.  In Redefining the Modern Military, Finney and Mayfield bring together a stellar group of officers, academics, and lawyers to begin that vital conversation.  The arguments offered in these pages are as shrewd as they are important.  Redefining the Modern Military should be read and debated by military professionals and citizens alike.” - Spencer D. Bakich, Director of the National Security Program at the Virginia Military Institute and Author, Success and Failure in Limited War: Information & Strategy in the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Iraq Wars

“An awesome example of collaborative writing to elevate the discourse in the profession of arms. Looking forward to Redefining the Modern Military and proud to see so many of our guild members as contributors.” - The Military Writers Guild

"BRAVO for the reflective practitioners! This volume arrives just when needed in the evolution of our military professions. It provides the often irreverent, iconoclastic, yet always well-informed, views of military professionals now serving.  The Stewards of America's military professions should listen carefully to these voices and foster the internal dialogues they initiate." - Don M. Snider, PhD, Adjunct Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College

“With this ambitious and impressive new volume, Finney and Mayfield have assembled a premier collection of scholars and officers to explore the foundational questions of military professionalism and ethics.  These issues are too often neglected in peacetime and marginalized in wartime, yet they sit at the heart of maintaining an effective and lethal military in a free society.  Policymakers, scholars, military professionals, and students will all be well-served by this penetrating new book.” - Professor William Inboden, Executive Director and William Powers, Jr. Chair, Clements Center, Distinguished Scholar, Strauss Center, Associate Professor, LBJ School

“This fascinating volume on ethics and the military profession in the 21st century makes a tremendous contribution to the literature. It features an array of highly qualified and well versed authors, from active duty officers with very different service backgrounds and experiences to university faculty, lawyers, and aid workers. The chapters tackle difficult questions about the unique responsibilities that face military professionals. Building on classic texts, this volume significantly advances our understanding of how ethics and professionalism will interact for militaries operating in a changing world. It is a great example of interdisciplinary, policy relevant scholarship.” - Michael C. Horowitz, Professor of Political Science , Associate Director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania, Author of Why Leaders Fight and the award-winning The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics



"Redefining the Modern Military is an important and timely work drawing on an interdisciplinary base of scholars and practitioners to examine the core ethics of the US military profession.  Such introspection, as the authors argue, is indeed necessary as practitioners and scholars look back on decades of conflict and attempt to anticipate the changing military profession of arms for the future conflicts looming ahead." - Dan Cox, Professor of Political Science at the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies

"A profession cannot remain a profession simply by declaring itself to be one. Its members must earn and re-earn trust daily through ethical behavior and the application of expertise. In this ambitious volume, editors Nate Finney and Ty Mayfield have initiated a long-overdue conversation about what it will take for members of the Modern Military Profession to maintain, and in some cases regain, that trust. Their book asks tough questions that members of the profession should be asking and it will spark new new questions that will drive the conversation about military professionalism for at least the next decade. The Modern Military Profession is a must-read for anyone who cares about professional military education or civil-military relations." - Jim Golby, PhD, Former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff & Special Advisor to Vice Presidents Biden & Pence