Monday, November 15, 2010

The Civil War and the Evolution of a Professional Military System.

There was a limited emergence of a professional pre-Civil War army, but the solid foundation of military professionalism began in the Civil War and continued strongly in the post-Civil War era.
After gaining experience and recognition during the Mexican and Indian wars, prominent graduates from West Point dominated the highest ranks on both sides during the Civil War. General Officers on both sides of the conflict such as Grant, Lee, Sherman and Jackson, set high standards of military leadership.
             Before the war, the Military Academy at West Point focused on small unit leadership with a technical focus on engineering. The war forced the Military Academy to greatly broaden their curriculum to better prepare new officers for a wider range of leadership responsibilities. The development of other technical schools broadened  the West Point curriculum beyond a strict civil engineering focus. Other Army post-graduate command and staff schools were created to allow professional military officers to continue their development. Now the Military Academy was only the first step in a continuing professional military education.
The professional military after the war was developed and maintained through a regular system of recruitment, professional training and education, and a high degree of leadership development. Through professional development and lengthening career commitments, professional soldiers developed a common vision of their collective role with respect to warfare. Their education did not end here. Professional military personnel also learned about foreign policies and domestic politics, among other diverse topics. The Civil War had a great impact on the professional military. The essential character of the post Civil War military professional would persist well into the twentieth century.